Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and a non-profit are coming together in the hope of devising what they call a governance infrastructure of the internet – via something called Applied Social Media Lab (ASML).
For those wondering, who even asked for the internet to receive a “governance infrastructure” and what it’s goals and results are supposed to be?, some hints as to the answer to that question can be found in the fact this above all concerns Big Tech and its platforms (i.e., the highly influential segments of the internet), and then, there’s the issue of who’s bankrolling the effort.
Namely, Harvard’s new lab is possible thanks to a donation from Project Liberty. Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society has received money from government entities, and has in the past counted the US State Department (and the USAID agency) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) among the donors, as well as the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, Omidyar Network, and corporations ranging from Google and Reuters to AT&T.
And this is not an attempt isolated to one university: Project Liberty is involved in establishing similar outfits in other universities such as Stanford and Georgetown.
Billionaire Frank McCourt, who made his money in various sports franchises both in the US and Europe, is, judging by his statements made late last year, now spending most of his time “shoring up our political system and society, focusing on the foibles of the internet, through a network of companies.”
That certainly tracks with what Project Liberty is doing now at Harvard and elsewhere. And McCourt is these days saying that the purpose of these exercises is to create “a better internet.”
Another vague phrase that means nothing until its meaning is explained, but according to reports, Project Liberty is not currently in the mood to do that. Specifically, one of the questions still without the answer is if this “better internet” will come about with any input from the right wing/conservatives, and also, in what way social networks can be managed “ethically.”
The involved universities are also not providing answers to these questions.
However, critics have something to say about all this. “The issues Harvard seeks to address through this social media lab – ranging from misinformation to content governance – are entirely subjective,” said Article III Project to The College Fix, adding:
“Institutions like Harvard should be bastions of free speech, but instead, projects like this one will likely only suppress freedom of speech on social media.”
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