, 17 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
Some thoughts on the recent @Cloudflare #8Chan decision,
esp their recent blog outlining the decision to cut their services to the site from an #anthro #PhD who studies such #Internet companies:


So much of Cloudflare's reasoning is endemic to a number of cultural tendencies I see in my research across "Internet infrastructure providers".

Understanding these is necessary to tackle discussions about the responsibility of tech companies in such tragic events. 2/17
Many smart people like @beccalew @BostonJoan @JessieNYC are discussing the ramifications of the Cloudflare decision.

I will focus on the fact that there is a problem in how these companies see their tech & connect this vision to a sense of corporate responsibility. 3/17
Clue #1: "Cloudflare is a network provider. In pursuit of our goal of helping build a better internet (..)"

We all want "a better Internet". But this can't be a "more Internet = better Internet". Who are you building that Internet for? Who benefits from it and who suffers? 4/17
Clue #2: "We continue to feel incredibly uncomfortable about playing the role of content arbiter and do not plan to exercise it often."

This gets at the crux of the issue. Many Internet "conduit" companies frame their day-to-day operations under the guise of Neutrality. 5/17
Yet, the services CF provides are not neutral. They have politics, ask @langdonw. CF decides what stays up & what comes down - it is their main biz.

So every day that they do their regular work they ARE being a content arbiter. Not just days they decide to pull the plug. 6/17
See also this great piece by @Klonick after the CF decision to stop providing services to another questionable client:


Clue #3: "Cloudflare is not a government. While we've been successful as a company, that does not give us the political legitimacy to make determinations on what content is good and bad. Nor should it."

Same stuff. Yes - great, you work w gov'ts & care about Rule of Law. 8/17
But let me fix that paragraph for you:

"Cloudflare is not a government. We have been successful as a company, which has given us a market share such that every day we make determinations about what content is good and bad." 9/17
Clue #4: "Conduits, like Cloudflare, are not visible to users and therefore cannot be transparent and consistent about their policies."

Setting aside the question of whether you aren't a content provider, which is questionable, see @suusreport 10/17
Imagine this Peek-A-Boo logic applied to any other conduit provider:

Gas: You don't see our pipes so we can't give you consistency in our policies for explosions. Soz.

Oil: well, leaks happen, no transparency about why tho.

Electricity: yeah outages happen, whoops. 11/17
Clue #5: You can't frame your responsibility by forging an artificial disconnect between content and conduit, especially not when you are - as you state in your blog - this big: 12/17
As @esmpsn famously said about big tech companies denying their responsibility for their corporate impact:

"You can't simultaneously be David and Goliath". 13/17
Clue #6: "And, in some cases, it may mean moving enforcement mechanisms further down the technical stack."

Wait, so you do moderate content? I am confused now. 14/17
I get it. I really do. This stuff is hard. And I appreciate the difficult decisions that Cloudflare faces. But here are some things they could do, organized by each clue:

Clue #1: Be explicit about what it means for *your* company to build "a better Internet". This will help with the policy consistency issues mentioned throughout the blog.

Clue #2: Don't kid yourself, you police content every day. It's your biz. Be explicit about it. 16/17
Clue #3: see 1 and 2

Clue #4 + 5 + 6: Stop abdicating responsibility by framing your services as neutral.

It's unconvincing - it might legally cover you for now but it's not a longterm strategy. Take responsibility for what you believe & enable.

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