Monday, May 6, 2013

Move Over Big Brother, Here Comes Big Business

One of the largest internet credit card processors in the world has recently announced a policy of zero tolerance regarding the use of certain words on sites it represents. How long will it be before all the others follow?

Since writing the original article, I've received a more complete list of "banned" words. Again, you will notice that no actual vulgarities are included, but there's a lot of very innocent terms whose sexual connotations, while conceivably negative, are almost extraordinarily minimal. Okay, deep breath (you'll need it)... 

rape (and variations... raped, raping etc)
scat / skat (and variations... scatology, scatalogical etc)
abduct (and variations)
kidnap (and variations - so there goes any attempt to dicuss Robert Louis Stevenson's second best-loved novel)
Lolita (ditto Vladimir Nabokov's best-loved book)
hypnotic, hypnosis, hypnotize, hypnotherapy... in fact, any word beginning with hypno-...,
celebrities (and variations/abbreviations thereof)

other terms... necrophilia, pedophilia (and associations - underage, pre-teen etc), zoophilia... fall into illegal territory, so their presence on the list could be considered understandable. At the same time as they brightly highlight another iniquity of this regime, the absolute absence of any human agency in actually checking the context of these words' usage. If you are going to police the Internet, then police it properly.

Right now, the companies employing this system are essentially practicing the linguistic equivalent of racial profiling... the assumption that all uses of a given word are illegal, just because a small handful of them might be.

And it's only going to get worse.

1 comment:

chuck... said...

Why won't you name the company, please?

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