ICCC Public Sphere Essay

Social media is often construed as a public sphere, but is it? Describe a public sphere and its necessary conditions and discuss whether Facebook meets these criteria. Then, address the question of whether this space should be moderated. Be sure to provide a definition for content moderation and give examples. Describe the major arguments for and against moderation, and state your position and reasoning.

Your response should be two to three pages (500 to 750 words) in length, plus references. You should use the reading linked and the readings attached to support your claims—be sure to cite correctly.

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Dwoskin, E., Whalen, J. & Cabato, R. (2019, Jul 25). Content moderators at YouTube, Facebook and Twitter see the worst of the web — and suffer silently. Washington Post.com.

1
all platforms moderate
In the ideal world, I think that our job in terms of a moderating function
would be really to be able to just turn the lights on and off and sweep the
floors … but there are always the edge cases, that are gray.
-personal interview, member of content policy team, YouTube
Titled The Terror of War but more commonly known as “Napalm Girl,” the
1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning photo by Associated Press photographer Nick
Ut is perhaps the most indelible depiction of the horrors of the Vietnam
War. You’ve seen it. Several children run down a barren street fleeing a na­
palm attack, their faces in agony, followed in the distance by Vietnamese
soldiers. The most prominent among them, Kim Phuc, naked, suffers from
napalm burns over her back, neck, and arm. The photo’s status as an
iconic image of war is why Norwegian journalist Tom Egeland included it
in a September 2016 article reflecting on photos that changed the history
of warfare. And it was undoubtedly some combination of that graphic suf­
fering and the underage nudity that led Facebook moderators to delete
Egeland’s post.
After reposting the image and criticizing Facebook’s decision, Egeland
was suspended twice, first for twenty-four hours, then for three additional
days. 1 Norway’s daily newspaper Aftenposten then reported on his suspen­
sions and included the photo; Facebook moderators subsequently instruct­
ed the newspaper to remove or pixelate the photo, then went ahead and
deleted it anyway. 2 The editor in chief of Aftenposten took to the newspaper’s
front page to express his outrage at Facebook’s decision, again publishing
the photo along with a statement directed at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
1
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