The internet used to be a place where users could create anonymous identities to either be themselves or somebody else online. The internet died the day someone figured out how to get users to order online for pizza delivery.
It dies again, as a once open place for discourse is now a personal curated feed of self-aggrandizing content designed to make us stay on social media for longer. The internet is no longer a place where users see the same thing.
I used to think that social media did not cause rifts but simply magnify the emotions already in place, which is only part true: it serves as an excuse for tech companies, being partisan of the world wide web to thwart accountability for what takes place on their platforms. Fights, scams, and black markets that normally would take place offline and be shut down now find their places in unregulated open spaces online.
The origins and the way activism evolved in the online ecosystem is not an atonement for the violence that now occurs in the space. In the early 2000s shortly after the birth of the internet, a group called Yes Men made use of P2P networks, email campaigns and text groups, impersonating the World Health Organization (WTO), National Rifle Association, New York Times, and Shell. This is all due to the ease of dissemination of information and the allowance of anonymity of users online. The observation and growth of this form of activism grew as other riots, rallies and groups made use of the same technologies to serve as infrastructure for their voices and social justice.
The internet’s novel innovation alone is not the reason for its success. It is often not sparks of innovation that inspire change but mass adoption of the mundane. It became a place where normal daily activities were supplemented with online interactions. The internet is no longer The Internet.
As the internet has now become a place that reflects the real world, authorities and regulators can now serve their part. Like nations as part of a whole, tech companies should pay their civic dues as they now serve as places of discourse and commerce where physical spaces and borders used to be.