About Reddit, deepfakes and ethical issues

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About Reddit, deepfakes and ethical issues

Why we need respect and freedom of speech in equal measure

Valentin's photo
·Mar 13, 2023·

3 min read

A few days ago I saw a video on Youtube of the youtuber "Jasmin Gnu" (No, there is no connection between the individual and the GNU Project :)). In the video she and other youtubers talked about the topic of Deepfakes and the sexualization of various individuals with the help of this technology. Feel free to watch this video as well.

In the video, reference was made again and again to the platform Reddit, on which such fake content and sexualizing comments etc. can be found.

This video is in my eyes extremely well suited to show that there is apparently an ethical conflict between freedom and respect. On the one hand, I am strongly convinced that it would be wrong to moderate or censor Reddit or other such platforms in the future. That would be wrong and opens the door to censorship in political terms at the urging of political or even economic actors. On the other hand, I can understand the demand for more respect and enforcement of rules in dealing with each other.

In the first moment we think that this is a conflict and that we are not able to resolve it. However, this is not the case. If we lack respect and certain rules of decency, some users, especially those affected by hate speech or other disrespectful behavior, will turn away from the respective platforms and fear to continue posting content or expressing their opinions on the Internet to the same extent, which in turn would lead to a loss of freedom of speech and that is certainly not our goal.

So here it comes down to a balance, but more important than such a balance, which can never be definitively established anyway, is Transparency.

Transparency, so that disrespectful content (such as this particular content, which was criticized in the above video) is still accessible to the public, but not to the same level as before, instead with more context. But there are some experts who know what they are talking about, so I, as a non-expert, do not want to spread any half-knowledge or non-knowledge here. For more information, please read the following article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil rights organization that advocates for rights in the digital space and of which by the way I am a member (so feel free to read the article and support the EFF if possible :) )

So what do I want to show/explain here with this post:

Quite simple: Let's not be too polarized and guided by our first instincts. Because yes, in the first moment I am also of the opinion that one should not "touch Reddit or the Internet in general", but this view is anything but rational. Because a disrespectful and stressful/unpleasant environment also leads to the situation that free opinion disappears from the Internet and the great achievement of the Internet, namely that of unlimited communication with each other, loses a large part of its effectiveness.

At the same time, we should refrain from calls upon platforms like Reddit to "finally take action against such respectless content" and keep in mind that these are very powerful and extremely delicate tools (like when you log into a GNU/LINUX system as a root user). Rather, we should be more aware of this topic and support efforts like the implementation of the "manila principles".

So let's all be more respectful in dealing with others on the internet, because we are all just people. Nevertheless, or even because of that, let's protect freedom of expression and information on the Internet.

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