The Internet Is Not Always ‘Forever’

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A medium whose contents once were considered permanent has lately proven a useful tool for the rewriting of history.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he promise of the Internet was freedom — from censorship, from gatekeepers, from monopolies. Without choke points, early architects promised, the truth would not merely out; it would deposit itself into a permanent archive, which, over time, would serve as a boon to historians and hoarders alike. Hence the pithy claim that “the Internet,” unlike real life, “is forever.”

In many important ways, this promise has come to pass. And yet, because a number of the Internet’s core functions have been so aggressively centralized, it has also proven itself to be a remarkably efficient machine for the rewriting of history. Whether


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