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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Future of Morality, at Every Internet User's Fingertips

By Tim Hwang
The Atlantic
Originally posted August 5, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

The choice not to link is therefore a personal moral act: It invokes an individual responsibility around making content accessible to others online. The economics of advertising are such that linking provides a frictionless channel for an audience’s attention (read: money) to reach content. The web of information stitched together by an individual as they browse and publish across the Internet is also implicitly a web of support for the content being linked to.

This shuffles up our traditional notions of what it means to link. Linking is tangled up with our concepts of proof and good argumentation online. One links to something else in order to provide a citation that backs up a point—that’s how I’m using links in this very article, for instance. The often-heard call of “citation needed” on Wikipedia echoes much of the same functionality.

Choosing not to link in that context represents a belief that the ethical duties around linking will sometimes outweigh the need to use linking to facilitate discourse and debate online. In some ways, it implies that the latter use is the lesser necessary as the ability to find information has grown enormously from the early days of the web.

The entire article is here.

Note: The article provides examples of why linking may be rewarding inappropriate, unethical, or immoral acts by internet sites and authors.

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