The latest nonsense from government is a proposal to force Facebook to remove all posts made prior to your eighteenth birthday. It’s making its way through the English Parliament and has the support of the Queen who announced its existence in her speech on June 21.
Fine, I think it’s a silly law, but why? Let me clarify, because that’s what people who are interested in real conversation do. We don’t just tell you you’re an idiot and move on. We explain why you’re an idiot and listen when you explain why we’re wrong.
My first objection is all about freedom and liberty. I’m free to delete any post myself. Now, I agree the current system of having to delete posts one at a time rather than in bulk by date should be updated, but there is no way we should be allowing a Facebook algorithm to delete millions of posts automatically.
Breaking news, I’m old enough that when I turned eighteen Facebook, Social Media, and the World Wide Web simply did not exist. None of my pictures are going to be deleted. It’s not a concern of mine, but if I were one of the affected parties, I’d be angry my pictures were being deleted without my permission. There’s no way the government should be in charge of that decision. And let’s not blame Facebook if this law is enacted. It’s not their fault. It is simply the government telling me any pictures I posted before I turned eighteen are potentially dangerous for me.
This leads me to my second issue with this proposed law. It is part and parcel of a mantra that makes me literally sick to my stomach: We’re doing it to protect the children. No, you’re not. You’re doing it to force your misguided sense of morality onto the rest of us. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard wannabe fascists claiming they want to take away my freedom because they are trying to protect the poor, helpless children. The children are always the excuse and my freedom is always the victim. I’m not buying it.
It also insults everyone under eighteen. Basically, the law is telling them they might do something foolish, therefore we’re going to protect you from yourself. My experience is that quite a few people under the age of eighteen are far less foolish than many adults I know. Sure, some kids post photos that might embarrass them later in life, so do many adults. The government can’t protect us from such self-inflicted damage nor should they be trying to do so. Parents should monitor their child’s Social Media posts, not the government.
My fourth objection is less philosophical and more practical. Every post that anyone makes is available to be Shared on Facebook. It is available to be posted to other Social Media platforms. It is available to be copied and stored forever. Trying to delete something that’s been out on the internet is pretty much closing the proverbial barn door after the cows are out. It is not going to work.
So, let’s recap. The legislation takes away the freedom of adults by automatically removing pictures they might well want to remain in place and which they could relatively easily remove themselves. It is an excuse for government to intrude on our lives in the name of helping children. It insults the very children it is intended to protect. In the end, the pictures will probably still be out there.
Yeah, it’ll probably pass.