The issue as we see it with modern social media is the way in which rules are enforced. There are many good reasons to itemize specific behavior which is not allowed, but the downside is that extremely specific rules are easy to maneuver around. We’ve all experienced someone who’s a real jerk on the internet but manages to never get banned because they never explicitly violate any rules. “I’m not sexist!” they’ll claim, but then happen to post a lot of articles calling into question modern feminism or criticize the wage gap…

We think many people today would agree that someone ‘debating’ the benefits of phrenology in the open would constitute racist behavior, but there was a time and place in the world where it was considered real science, despite many scientists distancing themselves from this field very early on and critics writing scathing commentaries on this emerging field. This same guise of civility is frequently exercised by bigots, with modern examples of sexism, homophobia and transphobia being easily found on nearly any major social media platform.

Humans are pretty good at figuring out when someone is being a jerk online, even if they are acting within the defined rules. One solution to this problem is to recenter humans in our online social platforms. This is our approach at Beehaw. The idea of not having a ton of explicit rules and instead having simple rules like “Be(e) nice” is a startling one for most, because it upends what we’ve come to know and expect from the internet. However, by keeping the rules simple and instead attempting to enforce the spirit of the rules, we’re also able to deal more effectively with problematic individuals and create a space in which you aren’t worried about whether you’re going to have explain to someone why you’re a human and why you shouldn’t be subject to incessant bigotry online.

Last updated 10 Sep 2023, 13:37 -0400 . history