So shortly after wondering if weaponized memetics meant that the internet had been on balance a bad idea the Republican candidates in the US all decided talking about shutting down free expression on the web was a good idea.
This isn't company I really want to keep.
There is a problem with the electronic commons though. There is a spectrum of trolling that in its mild form is irritating and in its worst form is terrorism, and there are really no effective checks in the networked environment to contain or discourage it.
You could argue that this just reflects the actual world, but I'd counter that the internet isn't a state of nature, it is a constructed environment, it is literally built of rules. The thing is those rules only govern how data is relayed from machine to machine. The rules only constrain the behavior of machines. But in every other forum of mass public gathering there are rules that constrain the behavior of people.
I'd argue that this is the main reason why social media platforms have become most people's preferred networked environment. These platforms are hosted by entities with accountability and an interest in civility, mostly. Comparatively. They come with an authority that can be petitioned for aid or redress.
I'm not naive enough to believe that any such authority can be devised for the whole internet that wouldn't be an overbearing nightmare.
But this does seem to be the arc of how the internet dies. Trolls ruin freedom of expression. Everyone retreats to social platforms for some peace. As most people interact on the network only through these platforms they gain power and really have no actual stake in a free internet. They are all actually for profit businesses.
And they have all but captured all the traffic of the formerly open web because they provide rules for people, not just machines.