back to article ‘Elders of the Internet’ apologise for social media, recommend Trump filters to fix it

A new Internet Engineering Task Force draft proposes to apologise for social media. Issued on Monday July 16th, the draft titled “Social Media (An Apology)” is signed by “The Elders of the Internet” and opens by noting “Recently, you may have noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of opprobrium, outrage, hate speech and …

  1. MatsSvensson

    Man-"kind"

    The Internet, and the species that created it, was a mistake.

    Now the time has come to correct that mistake.

    997

    991

    983

    977

    ...

    ..

    .

    1. cbars
      WTF?

      Re: Man-"kind"

      I agree, let's implement worldwide universal education and call ourselves "san-HairApes" while we rebrand our creation the World of Interconnected fiefdom Networks

    2. macjules Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Man-"kind"

      Perhaps this should be followed up by an apology from CERN for their April 1993 statement. Something along the lines of, "Yes we know we said the World Wide Web would be free to anyone, but we didn't consider that the average troll could actually use a keyboard, let alone know how to switch on their computer. Sorry about that.".

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Trump Filters?

    Wot! you don't mean filtering out everything that 'TheRealDonaldTrump' tweets?

    Do that and the world will be a far safer place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trump Filters?

      I thought they meant those deodorising underpants for a while there...

    2. Shadow Systems

      Re: Trump Filters?

      "...paranoid thought when you wake up in the dead of night, and shrieking nutjob you'd usually cross the street to avoid."

      My first thought was "That sounds like the CheetoInCheif!" only to have it confirmed when TFA specified the orange haired Dunderkind. =-Jp

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trump Filters?

      Absolutely we need more filters. That will totally fix the ideological balkanization that renders otherwise normal people into triggered wrecks when they stumble upon speech heretical to their preferred orthodoxy.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    There's something wrong with social media

    If it makes supposedly intelligent people like Musk behave the way he does, there's something up with Twitter, Facebook, and the rest.

    To start with, Twitter's maximum length is pretty useless for anything except pithy insults. Maybe there could be something like a minimum 500-character length so people who just want to insult from behind the keyboard/screen would get bored and go away.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's something wrong with social media

      Musk has publicly admitted mixing alcohol with sleeping pills for recreational purposes (citation as per wikipedia). I don't think the paedo rant was social media induced.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: mixing alcohol with sleeping pills

        The new go to when someone famous says something racist, insulting or nasty. In my mind they can claim alcohol with sleeping pills all they want the only word that sticks for me is tw*t.

        1. Unicornpiss
          Pint

          Veritaserum

          The thing about alcohol (and drugs), is that it only brings out what is already there in your psyche. A lot of mistakes in politics, hiring, marriage, etc. could likely be avoided by giving someone a few drinks and then letting them speak their mind before making an evaluation. Or perhaps requiring a final debate to be done under the influence of Pentohol.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Veritaserum

            I like the Viking custom of trying to reach agreement on an important matter by holding a drunken conclave in the evening followed by a sober one the morning after. Everyone speaks their mind while drunk and then has to take a more responsible approach while hungover.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Veritaserum

              "Viking custom of trying to reach agreement on an important matter by holding a drunken conclave in the evening"

              With Vikings (other, similar cultures are available) that only works if weapons are checked in at the door.

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: Veritaserum

              I like the Viking custom of trying to reach agreement on an important matter by holding a drunken conclave in the evening followed by a sober one the morning after.

              The morning session may not be quite coherent, but at least there won't be much shouting.

          2. phuzz Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Veritaserum

            A lot of mistakes [...] marriage, etc. could likely be avoided by giving someone a few drinks

            That's why the British way of courting is to get drunk enough to fall into bed together.

            Doesn't seem to change divorce rates though, perhaps they should try drinking more?

          3. Lt.Kije

            Re: Veritaserum

            Everyone of us probably has nasties lurking in our psyche. A Hallmark of intelligent civility is too keep under control.

          4. Uffish

            Re: Pentahol

            or Pentothal.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: mixing alcohol with sleeping pills

          It is weird. I've been drunk and also (now long ago) drunk and on various nonlegal drugs at the same time. I don't remember it suddenly turning me into a bigot. Perhaps that's because I don't remember at all the times that it did, but I have this nasty suspicion that, just perhaps, those people already thought the things they only dare say when they were off their heads.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: mixing alcohol with sleeping pills

            Documented cases

            Not making any excuses, guy knew whatever it was he may have been doing.

          2. Martin-73

            Re: mixing alcohol with sleeping pills

            Currently mixing antidepressants with beer. (well budweiser, it was late and it was all they had). It has made me hate american beer, but that's a positive, and not bigotry

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There's something wrong with social media

        Musk has publicly admitted mixing alcohol with sleeping pills for recreational purposes

        Ah, I see - the Rosanne Bar defence. Let's see how well that works for him!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There's something wrong with social media

          Ah, I see - the Rosanne Bar defence.

          He didn't state it as a defence. I stated it as a more likely explanation for his meltdown than social media having secret powers to turn ordinary people into twats with no sense of self preservation.

          His admission is from a year ago.

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: There's something wrong with social media

            "He didn't state it as a defence."

            No, his actual defence was to bet a signed dollar that it was true.

            If I were the victim, I'd seriously consider taking up the bet and then going to court to obtain the dollar (plus costs, obvs). It might be worth a fair bit if Mr Musk fails to prove his case.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: There's something wrong with social media

              No, the bet was more of the same. Incoherent, probably intoxicated ranting.

              He hasn't offered a defence, probably because he's smart enough to realise that there is none. An apology would only make his position worse, better to get sued for a few million and get over it.

              I hope the guy does sue him and get a seven figure settlement. On the other hand if I had to advise Musk on how to handle this situation ... I'd probably kick him in the balls and walk away.

              1. Brangdon

                Re: seven figure settlement

                Why on earth would he get a seven figure settlement? He'd have to show damages to that amount, and since no-one believed Musk the damages would be close to zero.

                If it came to a lawsuit, then his claim that Musk developed the submarine purely for PR reasons would be more damaging. Many people believe it, partly because he said it while claiming to be an expert on the rescue. (I'm not defending what Musk wrote, because it did cross a line, but the diver was being a dick.)

                I see Musk has now apologised. Good.

                https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-44870303.

                https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-full-story-behind-Elon-Musks-involvement-with-the-Thai-cave-rescue-effort.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: There's something wrong with social media

      No, they'll just copy-and-paste until they get over the minimum. I'm reminded of a fictional title that was essentially the word "f@(#" repeated 8,000 times.

      PS. For some reason, the title to which the above refers should make for some very good reading in today's screwed-up country. I Hate It Here.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: There's something wrong with social media

        "No, they'll just copy-and-paste until they get over the minimum."

        That can be dealt with by applying the repetition rule from "Just a minute". The deviation rule could also be applied, except at el Reg, of course, where it's mandatory.

    3. matjaggard

      Re: There's something wrong with social media

      Maybe 500 words. If you can't put together a well discussed argument then stick to shouting in the road.

      1. Robert Helpmann??
        Childcatcher

        Re: There's something wrong with social media

        Maybe 500 words. If you can't put together a well discussed argument then stick to shouting in the road.

        With 140 words, give or take, you can put together a sonnet. Then again, the internet has thoroughly disproved the infinite monkey theorem, so that really doesn't offer much hope... Perhaps a platform that forces people to post in verse might be worth a shot just the same.

    4. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: There's something wrong with social media

      I'm afraid supposedly intelligent people have been behaving in bizarre ways long before the invention of social media - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle spent the latter part of his life trying to convince people of the existence of fairies. Technology (in his case, a faked photograph) may be an enabler of idiocy, but it's not the cause.

    5. msknight Silver badge

      Re: There's something wrong with social media

      "Maybe there could be something like a minimum 500-character length so people who just want to insult from behind the keyboard/screen would get bored and go away."

      Nah, they'll just program a macro key to spam, "Kappa Kappa Kappa," until it reaches the required limit.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's something wrong with social media

      You gift Twitter too much credit... pithy? Most of them can barely be considered insults.just pure contempt and poor grammar wrapped in a neat basket.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: just pure contempt and poor grammar wrapped in a neat basket.

        I would love to see statistics on what percentage of tweets contain only the three words "Don't care, virgin"

    7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: There's something wrong with social media

      "Maybe there could be something like a minimum 500-character length"

      The opposite tack could also be taken. Reduce the maximum length to the point where serious effort is required to condense a thought to anything meaningful. The two could be combined - nothing allowed between 5 words and 500 words.

  4. Ben1892

    The Elders of the Internet know who I am?

    Quite simply the best ever sketch of The IT Crowd

  5. entfe001
    Headmaster

    Every IETF document needs its errata

    Appendix A. The Edlers of the Internet...

    1. Alister
      Facepalm

      Re: Every IETF document needs its errata

      The Edlers

      Oops, Muphry's law (sic)

      When using the pedant icon, check you work...

      1. Florida1920

        Re: Every IETF document needs its errata

        When using the pedant icon, check you work...

        Maybe he was very drunk at the time he typed that (hic).

  6. abola2121

    They had me at "Trump filters"

    This seems more like a group of trolls with too much time on their hands than a legitimate task force.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: They had me at "Trump filters"

      Anyone calling themselves a "Task Force" is rarely legitimate.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: They had me at "Trump filters"

        Anyone calling themselves a "Task Force" is rarely legitimate.

        The IETF fits into your rare exceptions class.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: They had me at "Trump filters"

        Anyone calling themselves a "Task Force" is rarely legitimate.

        They mispeeled "Tssk Force".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

    Fortunately readers like "Agent" allowed you to be selective in blocking specific posters - or to truncate a thread. It was only your view that was filtered - sparing your blood pressure.

    Sensible people used a email address in the post which while valid - could be left unread.***

    ***I wonder what happened to the public black-hole email address in Demon that someone was providing? In those innocent days they presumably did not mine it for people's news group predilections? Or at least only did so for their amusementacademic research.

  8. -tim
    Pint

    RFC number?

    Too bad RFC-666 has already been taken.

    At the current rate RFC-31337 won't be assigned for about a century.

  9. rg287 Silver badge

    The most proven way to win is not to play.

    Sneaky WarGames reference? Slightly paraphrased mind you.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

    USENET is a red herring.

    USENET was public space, policed by those who used it.

    Social media is private space, and its owners refuse to take responsibility for policing it.

    1. Joe Harrison

      Re: "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

      When a private entity controls public discussion you know that just ain't right. If I decide it's my mission to reveal to the world that Trumputin is building a weaponised nanobot factory in earth orbit then it's legit for people to block my posts if they want.

      But I sure don't want Facetwitter deciding (as they would be perfectly entitled to) that I am persona non grata and routing my stuff into the bit bucket before people even see it.

      1. Nick Kew

        Re: "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

        @Joe Harrison

        Private entities controlling public discussion has been the norm through our history. Think Rupert Murdoch or St Paul, to take just two instances from different eras. Genuine commons like Usenet, or like the old Icelandic Thing, are exceptional.

        Today's social media are as close to true egalitarianism as history allows. That's why governments around the world - including those that espouse free speech - are desperate for them to be more policed.

    2. Alister

      Re: "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

      September 1993, that was the problem.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

        Current date: Tue Sep 9086 1993.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

        alt.* was the warning, September 1993 was when it landed in our laps.

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

      "Social media is private space, and its owners refuse to take responsibility for policing it."

      There's a story somewhere today that Farcebook "moderators" are deliberately keeping offensive material online because they believe it would hurt their bottom line to censor it. If that is the case, they are making editorial decisions, which makes them liable as publishers, and have admitted a financial incentive to publish material including hate speech and physical abuse of children.

      I'm pretty sure *I'd* be in deep shit if I published such material on my own web-site and I'm pretty sure that "but this is how I make my money" wouldn't be accepted as an adequate defence.

    4. DaiTengu

      Re: "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

      Prior to that, there was Fidonet, which was called "Fight-o-net" for a reason.

      Why that didn't send up any red flags, I'll never know.

  11. Nick Kew
    Coffee/keyboard

    Feeling the heat

    Damn, I've never known an April 1st quite this hot!

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I'm surprised they didn't include RFCs 1149 & 2549 as mitigations. Increasing latency has a dampening effect.

  13. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Boffin

    Well done

    However, The Internet is what you make of it. You may, if you wish, completely ignore Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of them, and use the 'net for whatever you like. That's the wonderful thing about it: it's just a series of tubes, through which you can pump any bits you'd like: environmental data, video, phone calls, whatever your mind can dream up.

    RIP, "The Hawk".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well done

      "[...] and use the 'net for whatever you like.

      As long as your ISP isn't blocking based on government instructions - or from non-government organisations that seem to have been given much the same powers to make arbitrary decisions.

  14. FuzzyWuzzys
    Mushroom

    Sink Holes of Negativity is perfectly correct

    Social media sites are just that, they do indeed amplify negativity. They encourage morons to constantly battle each other to go "one-up", better house. better car, better phone, better body, so the 99.9% of the rest of humanity feels like shite compared to it. Most of us can see it's all bollocks, all made up tosh. The huge loans people take out to get a better car, better house and better anything just to brag to each other about how great their lives are but some people can't see that and they think they have to compete or worse, think they cannot compete and feel awful 'cos their lives don't match the made up bullshit they see in their social media feeds.

    The sickly travelling couples, snogging at every major worldwide destination, sipping exotic drinks in far flung places and proclaiming their perfect relationship in a series of images so vacant and dettached from reality you wonder if they're actually the invention of some marketing group working out of a backstreet office in Shoreditch!

    Social media was fun at first but now it's just a quagmire of negativity and bullshit. The quicker we all start to quit it and go back to isolated websites for key interests, the better we'll all be!

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Sink Holes of Negativity is perfectly correct

      Whilst I'm not defending social media, what you have just defined above is apparent in ALL formats of media. Including printed, broadcast or social.

      But to be honest, I really don't care enough about it to be bothered by it, and mostly pay it no attention.

    2. Pete4000uk

      Re: Sink Holes of Negativity is perfectly correct

      There are a fair few 'individuals' who seem to have a life of richness and travel who in reality have a company behind them.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Sink Holes of Negativity is perfectly correct

        There have always been echo chambers, where people amplify each other's biases. The Internet simply made these echo chambers more accessible to everyone. Who needs a lodge meeting or so on every week (and explaining where and when you're going) when you can just sit in front of your computer from the comfort (and privacy) of your home?

  15. David Lawton

    I'm all for more Pepe meme's

  16. GIRZiM

    Antisocial Media

    Over the decades, I've found various things, including Usenet back in the day, to be a dreadful timesink.

    What I haven't found, however, is that my days consist of flamewars, oneupmanship, feeling negative about myself and/or my life in comparison to others, or any of the other negative nonsense people complain about.

    The conclusion I draw therefrom is that, if your life on social media consist of those very things then, maybe, the problem isn't social media but the people with whom you are associating.

    The solution?

    Find better 'friends'.

    Separately, although the proposition is obviously a joke, when I read the proposal that people stick to 'memes', I couldn't help but wonder how would that stop people creating memes along the lines of "I hope your children have birth defects, you fucktarded waste of space!" - but maybe that's just me ;-)

  17. John Carter
    FAIL

    Usenet was peak internet

    And then the private companies came along to muck it up.

  18. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
    Joke

    These are not the real Elders of the Internet...

    they'd never ever use a hotmail address!

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: These are not the real Elders of the Internet...

      Well, obviously. The real Elders are reached via example.com (officially reserved, but we know different, eh?), but only if you connect using IPv6 and have the IPsec configuration right.

  19. CommanderGalaxian
    Paris Hilton

    IQ tests should be needed for Internet access.

    The Internet needs to be sectioned off into walled gardens based on IQ.

    IQ < 50 = idiot, padded cell playpen.

    IQ < 70 = morons, but hopefully will fail the test : "stick your tongues on the terminals to see if there is a lethal voltage".

    IQ < 100 = kinda like above average IQ people when drunk - so can be tolerated.

    IQ > 100 = fingers crossed, can self-segregate.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: IQ tests should be needed for Internet access.

      Question: How willing are you to have Big Brother watch over you given the Internet basically means everyone can be a fool from the privacy of their own homes? You're basically talking regulating home behavior.

    2. Francis Boyle

      Fuck IQ tests

      Being stupid is a choice people make (a.k.a intellectual laziness).

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Fuck IQ tests

        And evidence is growing that this is the DEFAULT choice (meaning people WANT to be stupid--life is too complicated to stand otherwise).

  20. Bavaria Blu
    Go

    Just regulate the internet

    In Germany Facebook posts are screened for illegal content, it is easy to get the big internet companies to clean up their act if there is a legal requirement to do so. If television had had no regulation, it would have developed into a 24/7 pr0n and violence fest too. In the US "free speech" means anarchy online as these ancient rights were not thought out for the modern world.

    Don't through the baby out with the bathwater, just apply the same rules to Yourtube as you'd apply to ITV.

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