The Inconsistent Work of Web Filters: Mapping Information Access in Alabama Public Schools and Libraries

Chris Peterson, Shannon M. Oltmann, Emily J.M. Knox


Recent popular and academic discussions regarding the Internet have raised the question of whether and how networked intermediaries have a (dis)integrating social effects. In this study, we use public records of configurations of Internet filters in Alabama public schools and libraries to show how different institutions implement nominally consistent content standards inconsistently. We argue that these varying implementations are both significant and troubling for two reasons: first, they overreach the stated goals of the legislation with which they in principle comply; second, they may contribute to a broader epistemic breakdown by fragmenting the kind of information made available through and across public institutions.


Internet filtering, filter bubble, censorship, critical infrastructure studies, algorithms, categories, CIPA, libraries, schools, Leigh Star

Full Text: