There’s something that I’ve puzzled over and even been astounded by more and more lately. And it kinda blows me away.
I help moderate a Christian “instance” – or social group – on Mastodon. Part of the beauty of the fediverse is that one can belong to nearly any instance, yet see what is being posted in other instances – or even other services! And free speech reigns supreme. Given that “my” instance is Christian we have rules by which our members must abide to keep things pleasant, clean, and godly for all. However due to the nature of the beast, outside posts (called “toots”) are seen by all of our members who view the federated feed; this includes all toots by shared by anyone who is followed by any member of our instance. And not everyone – especially on a free-speech platform – shares family-friendly ideas and speech ?.
And so I scan the federated feed for a couple of hours every day, removing these toots from our instance’s feed. This doesn’t remove them anywhere else, free speech is still honored and the toots still spread across the vastness of the fediverse. They are only hidden from our little corner of the federated universe…similarly to the way someone shouting profane language would be removed from a church but would still be free to share what’s in their heart elsewhere.
Really, this is how free speech works. The speaker is free to share their ideas and thoughts, and is solely responsible for any fallout that may occur, as well as potential accolades or even internet fame ?. The listeners have the choice to hear it, walk away, turn it off, and avoid it ?; they are solely responsible for their response to it, or even if they choose to see it. It is a beautiful system! Well, at least it was until the whole “responsibility” part of it became misplaced or was removed from the equation altogether…but that’s a topic for another time…
Part of moderating isn’t only about keeping the nastiness out of our peaceful place, it is also dealing with reported complaints about our members from other people or instances. You’d think that wouldn’t be much of an issue wouldn’t you? Oh but you would be surprised! We see reports from people wanting posts removed (or even further actions taken!) with which they simply disagree, and more often than you’d think! I scratch my head, rereading the “offensive” toot over and over again, wondering what the problem could possibly be to warrant such requests! Nothing illegal…no violence…no profanity…no bullying…no harassment…no ridicule…simply a difference of opinion (“hurty words” some call it ?), expressed solely as the thought of the writer, no reflection on anyone else, typically. And, for the most part, those who submit such reports are often those who scream the loudest – figuratively speaking – if their own words are even slightly criticized…or those who claim to be the greatest fans of “free speech” – their own definition of it, at least! It totally amazes me!
There’s another part to this. But I’ve been typing – and you’ve been reading, hopefully – long enough. I just had to get that off my chest. And now, back to my moderating duties! ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
(NOTE TO SELF: Let’s do CWs next!)