21ST CENTURY PRUDERY: You Can’t Say That On The Internet:
A BASTION of openness and counterculture, Silicon Valley imagines itself as the un-Chick-fil-A. But its hyper-tolerant facade often masks deeply conservative, outdated norms that digital culture discreetly imposes on billions of technology users worldwide.
What is the vehicle for this new prudishness? Dour, one-dimensional algorithms, the mathematical constructs that automatically determine the limits of what is culturally acceptable.
Consider just a few recent kerfuffles. In early September, The New Yorker found its Facebook page blocked for violating the site’s nudity and sex standards. Its offense: a cartoon of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Eve’s bared nipples failed Facebook’s decency test.
That’s right — a venerable publication that still spells “re-elect” as “reëlect” is less puritan than a Californian start-up that wants to “make the world more open.”
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