Cancel culture assumes perfect information

I think cancelation arises from a misunderstanding or a miscommunication. The person who is canceled simply does not know where the line is drawn, only that there is a line which unbeknownst to him he overstepped. It’s a sort of information asymmetry.

How was someone like David Shor supposed to know that the study he cited, which he perceived as being seemingly innocuous, would get him fired, and worse, no appeal process. I’m sure had he known he would not have posted it out of politeness and courtesy, but that’s not how the cancellation game works: It’s one strike and you’re out. Any earlier good will is irrelevant.

You cannot talk your way out of it. As Trump learned with Twitter, ‘Your money is no good here.’ That’s because the people who are in charge of the platforms have so much relative power and influence that it took the richest man in the world to turn the tables for a change. Do you have $40 billion lying around? That is the price tag to undo a cancellation or a de-platforming. Good luck with that.

Worse, the rules can change arbitrarily. But you don’t know the rules until, of course, you break one of them. This is especially true on social networks, in which rules can be applied ex post facto or retroactively. The social networks are designed so that warnings expire slowly or not at all, so it’s almost a mathematical certainty that all but the most cautious of users will eventually accrue enough warnings and be permanently banned. If someone wants you gone bad enough, they can make any adhoc justification for doing so.

Overall, cancel culture is rationality taken to its logical extreme, and assumes perfect information. You’re supposed to be rational enough to predict or know how people will respond, where the lines are drawn, what will be considered taboo a decade from now, etc.

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