Content Filters and Parenting

I agree with Doctorow's main argument as well. With today's technology, content filtering is done on a best effort basis and it is highly likely that certain adult content will inevitably slip through the filters. Hence, good parenting is equally important to educate the child about inappropriate content and navigating away from such content.

Sebrinah brought up how internet content is "way too vast" to be "restricted in real time". This problem is addressed in Cobbe's article where she brings up 2 different forms of moderation [1]. An "ex post approach to moderation" would indeed face this issue since it is reliant on user reporting and thus the infringing content may remain online temporarily. However, Cobbe has also suggested "ex ante forms of moderation" which entails identifying infringing content and blocking it from being published entirely. This approach would address the problem of "real time" restriction of content.

"Ex ante forms of moderation" can be extremely effective especially if the same infringing content is repeatedly posted. Project Arachnid, which uses file hashes to detect known child abuse images was successful in detecting over 7.5 million suspected child abuse images [2][3]. It is important to point out the 7.5 million detections include both ex post scanning of existing material as well as ex ante blocking of upload attempts. Since the number of child abusers is extremely small (thankfully), it is possible to build a database of these images and use such search techniques. However, the volume of adult content is much larger. According to surveys, over a quarter of British teens aged 14 to 17 have sent sexual images to a partner [4]. It would be an insurmountable task to build such a database. Hence, while ex ante moderation might prima facie seem to be a viable solution, upon closer analysis, the issue of filtering adult content continues to be extremely challenging. Thus, good parenting is still invaluable and parents must take some responsibility in this aspect of their child's development.

[1] Cobbe J, 'Algorithmic Censorship by Social Platforms: Power and Resistance' (2021) 34 Philosophy & technology 739, pg. 740

[2] 'Canadian Centre for Child Protection', 'Project Arachnid', accessed 14 February 2024

[3] UK Government, Online Harms White Paper (UK Government), accessed 14 February 2024, pg. 39

[4] ibid. pg. 20