Why can’t Internet companies stop awful content?

Enlarge / Don’t abandon the Internet yet! (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Eric Goldman is a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law
and co-director of the High-Tech Law Institute. Jess Miers is an Internet Law & Policy Foundry fellow and a second year Tech Edge J.D. student at Santa Clara University School of Law. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Ars Technica.

For the first two decades of the commercial Internet, we celebrated the Internet as one of society’s greatest inventions. After all, the Internet has led to truly remarkable outcomes: it has helped overthrow repressive political regimes, made economic markets more efficient, created safe spaces for otherwise marginalized communities to find their voices, and led to the most exquisite cat videos ever seen.

But in the last few years, public perceptions of the Internet have plummeted. We’ve lost trust in the Internet giants, who seem to have too much power and make missteps daily. We also are constantly reminded of all of the awful and antisocial ways that people interact with each other over the Internet. We are addicted to the Internet—but we don’t really love it any more.

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