My recent experience with Facebook got me thinking about the precariousness of our online existence. Interestingly, yesterday (just as my problem was resolved) the paper had a four-column article on the issues involved "Online Freedoms Inconsistent." When we sign up for these free services, we are at the mercy of the service provider. We can be screened, edited, or (as I was) summarily booted out, and we have no court of appeal because this is a private enterprise. That's perfectly legitimate, but my experience this week told me not to take too much for granted. Just two days before I found myself exiled from the Facebook community, I published a post about a pro-life video that had been taken down by YouTube for violating unstated criteria. I kind of wondered if my FB experience was in some way related to my having put that post on my FB page and not only on my blog... In other words, is Orwell's Big Brother online?
As the AP article noted: "Community backlash can restrain service providers, but as Internet companies continue to consolidate and Internet users spend more time using vendor-controlled platforms such as mobile devices or social-networking sites, the community's power to demand free speech and other rights diminishes. Weinstein, the veteran computer scientist, said that as people congregate at fewer places, "if you're knocked off one of those, in a lot of ways you don't exist.""