Safe Spaces Are an Answer to the Ever-More-Hostile Internet



4th Dec

Safe Spaces Are an Answer to the Ever-More-Hostile Internet America is finally waking up to the fact that the internet is an increasingly hostile and unsafe place to do business, hang out or share with friends.

The epicenter of the problem tends to be at social media networks—specifically Twitter , TWTR 0.63% YouTube and Facebook —where Russian bots, fake news, creepy ad tracking, political polarization, sketchy videos and oh so many internet trolls can be found. While the ad revenue is still pouring in, it’s no wonder people are limiting what they share and how they interact online.

Evan Spiegel, chief executive of Snap Inc., creator of Snapchat, articulated it well—if self-servingly—this week in a post: “The combination of social and media has yielded incredible business results, but has ultimately undermined our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media.” Mr. Spiegel unveiled a redesign of Snapchat that separates professional content from personal sharing.

A new breed of apps and services takes this to heart. Having learned from the tech giants’ mistakes, they are emerging as islands in the internet storm—I call them “safe spaces.” They filter content without asking for personal data and without lulling us into the cycle of mindless engagement that mostly rewards advertisers. Smaller in scope, they are teams of people assisted by algorithms—not the other way around.


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