In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

A Friday Night Libel

As I say again, the best thing about mass communication is that it allows everyone to talk to one another; the worst thing about mass communication is that it allows everyone to talk to one another.

My use of Twitter has somewhat declined since my new job began, but I reposted a photograph taken by the blogger Gareth Soye. The photograph contains tweets from Brian Stuart, who is apparently active on tumblr, which said: “Most white people would derisively scoff at the fact photography is a persistently racist technology.”

Mr Stuart’s point was about structural racism, but it would seem unusual to claim that a technology itself is inherently racist, rather than utilised in favour of wider racism throughout society. For example, a Harvard study found there were racial biases in Google searches, but Arwa Mahdawi of The Guardian states: “getting rid of this bias isn’t a matter of algorithms, it’s a matter of changing attitudes.” Modern cameras have default settings, and these defaults are usually geared towards ‘point and click’ – or causal – users. Indeed, these default settings often show my skin to be incredibly pale and pasty. However, these settings may be changed to suit the photographer and their subjects.

I fully and completely reject this absurd accusation. (Photo: Twitter/Gareth Soye)

I fully and completely reject this absurd accusation. (Photo: Twitter/Gareth Soye)

For the high crime of retweeting that photograph, Mr Stuart labelled Mr Soye, myself and others as “white supremacists”. There are two possibilities: Mr Stuart does not know the meaning of the term; or Mr Stuart lobs the term with insouciance towards its severity. Mr Stuart fails to explain how rejecting that photography is a “persistently racist technology” is synonymous with being a white supremacist, defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary to mean “a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races”.

There are other factual problems with Mr Stuart’s accusation: Mr Soye is described as a “UK racist”, when he in fact lives in Dublin; and I made no contact with Mr Stuart, despite Mr Stuart’s statement that Mr Soye “screenshot it to get his minions after me”.

A problem with how people use Twitter is that they can make grotesque and libellous accusations, and then block the subject of these accusations for fear of a substantial retort.

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One comment on “A Friday Night Libel

  1. Pingback: iCampaign: The Beasts Within | In Defence of Liberty

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This entry was posted on April 5, 2014 by in Site-Keeping and tagged .
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