You have probably heard of Twitter and Facebook jail. Maybe you’ve spent time in one or the other. All over the internet are a variety of digital jails any one of us can end up and if we’re not careful. Heck, there’s even Poshmark jail. Where does it all end? And why does it seem so hard to stay out of jail these days?
The idea of an online jail is pretty straightforward. If you land yourself in a platform’s jail, you are temporarily locked out participating on that platform. If you are in Poshmark jail, you will not be able to post new products for a certain amount of time. If you’re in Facebook jail, you won’t be able to post or comment.
Believe it or not, even Google has its own version of online jail. If you are caught manipulating search engine results with black hat practices, Google algorithms may block your site from showing up on its SERPs for a time.
So what’s it all about? Platforms have implemented the jail system for three primary reasons
1. Reducing Spam Activity
The original impetus behind the jail concept was internet spam. As awesome as the internet is, it has become a dumping ground for spammers looking to make a buck and move on. So much of what constitutes online content these days is nothing more than junk. Too much junk on a platform pollutes it.
The previously mentioned Poshmark is a good example. As a social commerce platform, Poshmark cannot afford to allow its site to be littered with spammers. Otherwise, it becomes a cluttered mess in which legitimate sellers can’t get their products out there and legitimate buyers can’t find what they want to buy.
Google jail exists for a similar reason. Google works tirelessly to keep junk sites out of its SERPs. Their business model requires it. So black hat developers are punished whenever they are discovered.
2. Preventing Fraudulent Activity
Online jails serve a secondary purpose of helping prevent fraudulent activity. Unfortunately, platform owners have to be cognizant of the fact that scammers routinely set up fake accounts in hopes of ripping people off. They use all sorts of platforms to do what they do. They are on Facebook, Twitter, and just about everywhere else.
Online jail slows scammers down. If they do not learn how to stay out of jail, they may even get so frustrated that they leave a platform and go elsewhere. But such cases are the exception rather than the rule. Sophisticated scammers know how to stay out of jail as well as any PoshyVa virtual assistant.That is why platforms are getting tougher.
3. Controlling Content
The final reason for online jail is a bit more ominous. Some platforms use jail to control content based on point of view. As you know from endless media reports over the last several years, online platforms have been under pressure to suppress certain points of view that don’t fit the mainstream. To be as blunt as possible, this amounts to censorship.
To be fair, private platforms have every right to control content. That is one of the beauties of an economic system based on free markets and private ownership. But just because companies can engage in content control doesn’t mean they should engage in censorship. Those that cross the line are guilty of censoring thoughts and ideas they don’t agree with. That is dangerous.
Online jail is a real thing. You know if you’ve ever spent time in one. If you haven’t, count yourself lucky. Your turn may be just around the corner.