James Bridle argues convincingly that the genre of bizarre YouTube videos which appeals to the toddler reptilian brain ( https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-in... ) is not created by hostile or evil actors but instead has evolved orgnically based on what stuff toddlers want to click on. Kids' click patterns reward more video themes like "Elsa tied up on train tracks kissing Spiderman", so the content industry crams more of that stuff into its new content.
The result, after a few iterations, would not have passed editorial controls at 1990s Nickelodeon (!), which would normally have halted the feedback loop, but with no one at the helm -- to "censor" or otherwise exert editorial control -- YouTube's kid-targeted videos are just a whole forest of weird.
Does YouTube want to allow their platform to become a laboratory for rapidly discovering local maxima in very young children's fantasy worlds? Do they have any choice? Should they step in and publish rules for what children's content is allowed? Should they hire some kind of human curator or editor to enforce those rules for child-focused videos? Should Web platforms act in loco parentis?
In this cases, in "the Peppa Pig scandal" style situation, the producers are machine-generating content that gets clicks and the consumers are children.
When the issue is the viral proliferation of "fake news" and hate speech, the content producers are people or state propaganda apparatuses, and the consumers & re-sharers are grown adults.
It seems like it's a different topic with maybe different guiding principles to decide how & whether to censor these different groups of consumers & producers.
This document is showing the hole in that position -- an outright attack (elsagate) aimed at children. A cursory inspection by the parent sees the child watching a harmless Peppa the Pig video, while in fact she's watching snuff.
This is a problem that Google has to address somehow (because that is what is demanded of them), while not censoring things aimed to adults. That's why the conclusion is a call for consistency and openness.
As a parent, I don't have time for this shit, so I did not ban such movies. I banned YouTube, all of it.
People put their trust way too much in free market competition. You know, if consumers were actually conscious of their choices and free market competition actually worked for pruning the weeds, we wouldn't have diabetes or obesity or pollution or global warming.
To be fair many of the Tex Avery and Tom and Jerry cartoons with which almost everyone grew up with were a lot more wild than that, thankfully they weren’t censored back when we were kids.
Did you watch them? Some of them are literally snuff, with tons of gore. The stuff of nightmares.
I don't have kids so I only watched what I could quickly find on a simple YT search, and I remember watching that spider man scene the OP mentions (hence why I commented) which I didn't find that scary (even though it was quite tasteless). The gore stuff (probably meaning blood showing and similar stuff) should probably be restricted, of that I agree.
Ultimately, interacting with software that has been machine learned for a metric that doesn't serve you or your kids' interests amounts to deliberately swallowing a parasite.
This is not a generic "think of the children" reasoning to ban things that adults enjoy -- Elsagate videos are targeted at children, they exploit various mechanisms to make children watch them (some children psychology, but mostly YouTube's recommendations algorithm.)
In consequence I doubt the intentions are as clear cut and restricted to these cases.
Children are easily distracted and are easy target for clickbait, that is true. They are also more affine to access information their parents want to restrict. I think that is true even for people here. And you did that too.
Alex Jones was not banned for targeting children, and "Think of the Children"-style arguments were not used in his case.
We're talking about elsagate here, right? "Peppa the Pig" snuff videos? They're aimed at toddlers. They game the algorithm because toddlers select videos from YouTube's suggested videos basically at random, so all someone who wants to monetize a video has to do is make sure to hit as many categories as possible. And they make it snuff, because.. Well, I'm not sure why but they do.
This isn't about teenagers or even pre-teens going behind their parents backs, this is about toddlers vegging out in front of YouTube on a tablet. Basically this generation's TV babysitter.
The best stance is not to take a side, but to make sure both sides are civil in the expression of their beliefs.
This should be top comment on all HN discussions involving content moderation, so people can read it before they respond and think about whether what they are advocating makes sense. People these days so effortlessly are able to make that huge leap from "I don't personally like this thing" to "This thing must be suppressed/illegal for everyone."
> Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.
BTW, I don't think being neutral in a conflict like censoring or not is the wrong stance, but it IS a stance with its own value judgements.
And somebody has to care enough to shut you up to go through the effort of taking you to court, and then they have to win.
Some kind of private sector prior restraint apparatus making automated censorship decisions with no due process... is not that.
When the penalty is censorship of future speech, it's still a prior restraint. And shadowbanning is obviously not compatible with any kind of due process or even an opportunity to know that you've been accused.
> Deciding what is "wrong" or "uncivil" or "out of bounds" is the value judgement, like deciding defamation is or threats are.
Which is why the traditional categories have been narrowly drawn and limited to things that are as apolitical and non-partisan as possible.
What if you say it and someone is seriously harmed or dies as a result?
The fact is that we have prior restraints for all kinds of things because we realize they are dangerous and have the potential to cause harm. I don’t see why speech should be different. Words can kill.
Frankly, that's the price of freedom, and it's the reason that fighting to maintain our freedoms is a never-ending battle.
Allowing the public to own and operate cars likely results in more deaths from crashes, but it also allows people to travel to and from arbitrary places on their own schedule.
Allowing people to own general purpose computing devices allows people to develop harmful software tools, to route around safeguards, to communicate clandestinely about illegal activities, and to design CAD files for 3D printed guns. Of course, it also brings us the ability to build software that works the way we want (or need) it to, to build successful businesses, to preserve ephemeral cultural history, to expose official corruption, and to organize political dissent through encrypted back-channels. You cannot have the benefits without the risks.
Allowing people to speak freely may result in someone feeling emotionally attacked, it may result in convincing someone that a false idea is true, or it may give people a flimsy excuse to engage in physical violence. But the benefits are innumerable. Unrestricted speech allows us to voice our concerns as citizens and participate in the political process without being silenced. It prevents the powerful from using concerns of "safety" to suppress dissenting opinions. It serves as a safety valve that helps potentially dangerous ideas rise into the sphere of public debate, where they can be taken apart (or even just "rounded off") before they result in something like genocide.
You can't stop speech, period. You can prevent it from happening publicly, on a temporary basis, but in the long term that kind of repression leads to violent revolutions.
That said, there must be some limits; I cannot run you over with my car or use my computer to hack the Pentagon, and I cannot threaten your life. But these limits must be explicit and narrowly constructed or they will be abused by the powerful. That means that there are necessarily "edge cases" that have to be decided by a fair and impartial process! This is unavoidable, because otherwise some people will continually step just over the line and then claim innocence. There is no way to "fix" this; it is always a messy process because of the enormous complexity involved in the world.
It's always tempting to trade freedom for safety, especially for victims who may not have suffered as much in a less free world. But we have to push back against that sentiment, or the future will not be worth living in.
How's that working out lately? I think ought to look at the way social media has already become a vector for genocide as in Myanmar. Here in the US we're currently allowing some kinds in immigration detention who have been separated from their parents to be permanently adopted by American families, which (by the very international standards we helped to establish) is a massive human rights violation.
One of the only ways the public (in the west) was able to find out about this was through the use of social tech. It just wasn't on anyone's radar before that. Once they are aware, people can bring pressure to bear to stop the genocide, which has been happening.
I also believe that the role of social media as a "cause" of genocide was overstated. That said, I do think that modern social media is flawed and won't last too much longer in its present form.
> Here in the US we're currently allowing some kinds in immigration detention who have been separated from their parents to be permanently adopted by American families, which (by the very international standards we helped to establish) is a massive human rights violation.
How is this related to the discussion?
I think a few conservatives were directly told to do just that due to the SCOTUS appointment furore --have there been significant calls to censor those opinions?
It's like everyone is for Censorship unless they are the targets of Censorship. And in this case they are not calling out their own lot very vehemently.
The recent heavy push for greater ideological censorship will end up driving centrists to places that cator to extreme content. This is one aspect of the problem which has led to further increased polarization in modern American politics.
Facebook, YouTube, and Reddit are too censorious and do not fill the role of a modern free speech platform which must exist. The biggest problem is gaining traction while a large portion of early adopters are extremists banned from other platforms.
My only hope is that the censors will piss so many people off that real free speech platforms like https://d.tube/ can reach critical mass.
And what opinions do you hold that would warrant this 'they' calling you fascist?
Hiring decisions should not be based on skin color.
Hiring decisions should not be based on gender.
The irony is that these were all celebrated by the left previously. Now they are seen as fascist if you aren't discriminating against white men.
Or the leigons of people who claim Trump or any one supporting him is a fascist. (I did prefer Rand Paul btw)
I also had people in /r/linux calling me a russian bot and a racist because I am against the new code of conduct.
[See if here]: https://yournewswire.com/senior-google-employee-wants-republ...
That said, though I don’t like Dick Cheney, when thd Katrina protester told him to eff off, he took it on the chin like a proper guy.
If anybody wants a good article to read on their commute: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/magazine/the-agency.html
This is a 2015 investigative report digging deeper into Russian bots. Attempting to find some answers.
It's not a "conservative" opinion per se, it happens with the left too, (as opposed to (neo)liberal), think Sanders crowd being called sexist/bros by the Clinton crowd etc. Basically if it's not a centrist opinion you're out. It's called the overton window.
"Oh I thought I was going to have to respond to you until I discovered you've posted somewhere I don't like."
followed up by a flood of down-votes accusations of being a bot and sometimes a ban when I was posting legit content and previously with a very positive score.
Happened to me twice last month. Once for bringing up the Code of Conduct on /r/linux.
edit: here's a perfect example that made it into print and halfway around the world while the flawed reasoning and debunking has yet to gain traction.
followed up by:
The difference is when you have a message that some of the actual human recipients actually want. Then it isn't spam, it's just information some people disagree with.
If you don't like what someone has to say, don't listen to them. But you have no right to tell someone else they can't.
Or do you think they should be censored because they are Russian?
Or because they are bots?
Or is a bot strictly an "AI" bot?
If so, then not marking bot speech as such is mere dishonesty.
Not to mention that, in the general case of speech, I do not have to disclose if I am being paid to express my viewpoint.
What makes a bot any different?
I don't believe there is any need to censor such "bots" because they don't exist. Instead they're the creation of:
• Bad, agenda driven journalism.
• Bad, agenda driven academics who are looking for topics to write papers about that might have social impact.
• A desire to de-humanise and silence people with conservative opinions.
Clear examples of these three are described in my essay here:
The third is also quite clearly seen in the recorded conversations with Twitter employees, one of whom said:
"Just go to a random [Trump] tweet, and just look at the followers. They'll all be like, guns, God, 'Merica, like, and with the American flags... like who says that? Who talks like that? It's for sure a bot."
Obviously this Twitter engineer knows full well they aren't bots. What he means is, we ban accounts we think are bots without worrying about it, so if I can create a confusion between "bots" and "conservative Trump supporters" then maybe they'll get kicked off Twitter more easily.
Being bots? Bots are programmed by humans. Humans have a right to free speech.
Being Russian? Russians are also humans. Humans have a right to free speech.
I agree with that. It would help if these companies stopped seeking "virality" and "eyeballs" or whatever metaphor you want to use of user engagement and "notoriety/reward".
Otherwise, this is exactly the same argument China's (or Russia's) censors would make. Absolutely not different in any way.
Every time democracy fails to shut down movements like the alt-right, things end badly for democracy itself. The most used throve is stuff like nazism and fascism, but history actually have a lot of better examples.
Because both Napoleon and Caesar effectively ended democracy with applause, unlike Hitler.
I think it’s extremely dangerous to treat anti-democratic forces as equal to democratic ones. I’m a conservative by the way, so it’s not like I’m not conserved about the liberal bias in the tech sector. But the debates we have these days, about forcing platforms to include outright anti-democratic values is crazy.
Sure, right now you'll think there is a clear criteria. But in 25, 50, or 100 years from now, people could have easily twisted it to mean whatever they disagree with.
Edit: quoting him to make this clear: I did not mean to offend by quoting Churchill. My apologies I will go and educate myself on his atrocities, racist views which I do not support.... It's a tweet embedded in the same article.
People's view of leaders change over time. In Australia Churchill was seen as an evil colonialist for his role in the Gallipoli debacle until he was rehabilitated during WW2.
Attacking the free press is one criteria.
Labeling everyone that disagrees with you the slightest as enemies, is another.
I mean, assuming this leak is real, then googles stance on censoring is extremely centrists, letting them appease both sides of the political spectrum. But that’s not what breitbart or the alt-right really wants, they want google to only appease their radical views.
Ironically, it’s a lot easier to get banned from alt-right forums than it is from YouTube. All you have to do, is disagree with whatever dogma they spin, because they aren’t even remotely interested in a democratic discourse.
Of course, looking at history, no one have ever really stopped movements like the alt-right early enough to save their democracy. So America is probably rather doomed.
> Labeling everyone that disagrees with you the slightest as enemies, is another.
You do realise that you're
- attacking the free press by asking for censorship?
- Sort of labelling other people that disagree with you (in this instance: disagree with democracy) as enemies (of democracy)?
That's of course very inconsistent.
But it also assumes that "the current form of democracy is the best we can ever have".
Democracy needs criticism, especially since what we have is a 19th century system that assumes information dispersal and real-time voting is practically is impossible.
Of course I come from a region of the world, where people like the alt-right won, and eventually started putting centrists in prison camps.
Further, does espousing an anti-democratic idea make someone alt-right? How sticky is the label? What if you did it 10 years ago? Especially with how much of our lives we record nowadays, an accusation like this becomes an easy-to-wield cudgel to shut down political opponents. This rapidly leads to a race of gotchas, where we look for anything that lets us cram someone into one of the "bad" labeled boxes(racist, sexist, alt-right).
Lastly, how effective is the censorship you are proscribing? Can you achieve total censorship within the scope of a democracy? Does it actually inhibit the spread of the ideas you loathe, or simply put them out of your sight? What about the radicalization you are causing by censoring these people? You haven't convinced them to stop, you've just muzzled them publicly, but they can still create private clubs and gatherings. What problem have we solved after implementing this censorship?
Because different platforms have different ranges of civility as well.
Who decides when a conspiracy becomes harmful? Should we ban flat-earthers from posting their views? After all, if everyone believed it, we would set science back countless centuries.
The way to combat false ideas is with truth; a culture that is always searching for the truth. That can only be facilitated by unhindered speech.
This is extremely naive. As the saying goes, a lie can go around the world before the truth can finish putting on its shoes.
edit: maybe rather than downvoting (which is a type of censorship) y’all should provide a response.
NSA surveillance was a conspiracy theory before Snowden, so I don’t think the “conspiracy theory” accusation warrants censorship.
Here's another saying for you: you can fool some people all the time, and all the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time. In other words, eventually the truth wins out.
I guess our sayings cancel out.
If combating false ideas with truth worked, then surely these problems shouldn't exist in America, the land of the free. In the arena of free speech, only the values with the most truth should thrive. Yet that's clearly not the case.
This is the paradox of tolerance. We can say that unhindered speech is the way of countering harmful speech, but then I ask you: What led to the rise of such harmful speech today?
Because that's how the process works. Liars lie and evidence proves them wrong. It doesn't make them disappear from existence, it just makes it so you can discover the truth.
Without free speech there are no fewer lies, all you do is suppress the truth. The Party's version is the only version even when it's fiction.
Is liars being about to lie worth a body count?
The body count of truth tellers not being able to tell the truth is dramatically higher.
Imagine the result if Richard Nixon had put climate scientists in the same box as you would put anti-vaxxers.
Hypothetical harms are generally less harmful than real ones.
I don't really buy "restricted speech is worth letting people die over".
> Sure, censorship can be harmful, but if the best argument your can put forward is a slippery slope, thats not particularly compelling.
What slippery slope? Censoring climate scientists is the first thing politicians in the pocket of oil companies would do with censorship powers.
> Hypothetical harms are generally less harmful than real ones.
The actual harms of censorship are widespread and well-documented. If you want to go straight for the serious examples, look at The Great Leap Forward, Stalin's purges or the holocaust. In each case there were not only direct large scale executions of political dissenters, the censorship allowed other atrocities to be kept quiet. Much of the scale and inhumanity of the holocaust wasn't discovered until the end of the war as a result of Nazi censorship, and keeping it quiet allowed it to continue for longer with less opposition both domestically and internationally. For example, the US could have entered the war earlier.
But it also goes all the way down to pedestrian squabbles where people disagree over matters of life and death at smaller scale (e.g. the safety of a building or a bridge). Censoring true facts has literally been fatal countless times.
Only one of our positions is hypothetical.
>What slippery slope? Censoring climate scientists is the first thing politicians in the pocket of oil companies would do with censorship powers.
Says you. You're running under the (faulty) assumption that such censorship would be unregulated. I also wouldn't support such a system, but thankfully that's not what I'd propose either.
Yes, the actual harms of unrestricted censorship are widespread and well documented. But most of the EU censors things that are free to say in the US (antisemitism, as an example), and yet somehow manage to rate higher on independent ratings of press freedom.
You're argument reduces to "unregulated power is bad". Yes. Agreed, completely. Unregulated power is bad.
>Much of the scale and inhumanity of the holocaust wasn't discovered until the end of the war as a result of Nazi censorship, and keeping it quiet allowed it to continue for longer with less opposition both domestically and internationally. For example, the US could have entered the war earlier.
This is some strong historical revisionism. No, the US just took a strong turn toward isolationism post WWI and the great depression. The atrocities of the holocaust were not some perfectly kept secret. I'd encourage you to read up on US foreign policy in the 30s, as well as general sentiment among the population . Among other things, antisemitism, worry about another economic downturn, and a strong isolationist ideal underlined by the opinion that "We shouldn't send American boys to die solving a European problem" were the main reasons the US didn't enter the war.
Even when they did, it wasn't out of a sense of civic duty to save the Jews, it was because "oh crap, Germany could actually threaten the US and the world".
Allied governments absolutely knew about the crimes the Nazis were committing, they just didn't care. The population didn't really care either.
Immediately jumping to "the Nazis and Stalin censored people, so censorship is bad" isn't an argument, its fearmongering, especially when the claimed impacts of censorship aren't really true.
: And honestly, given the horrors of WWI and trench warfare, I can understand this attitude.
Then it's yours, because there are many documented cases of fatalities occurring as a result of the suppression of inconvenient facts.
> Says you.
Says the Union of Concerned Scientists.
> You're running under the (faulty) assumption that such censorship would be unregulated. I also wouldn't support such a system, but thankfully that's not what I'd propose either.
It's impossible to actually regulate censorship because for regulations to be sound they have to be vigorously debated, but the public can't, by definition, debate whether something should be censored if nobody can talk about it because it's being censored.
> Yes, the actual harms of unrestricted censorship are widespread and well documented. But most of the EU censors things that are free to say in the US (antisemitism, as an example), and yet somehow manage to rate higher on independent ratings of press freedom.
In-spite-of, not because-of. And the US scores poorly largely because of this new radicalized censorship where crazy people are now committing acts of violence against journalists that publish stories they disagree with, and because of all the abuse of power (arresting journalists on charges that won't stick as retaliation for undesired coverage/investigating). Succumbing to populist censorial sentiment or creating new opportunities for more of that abuse obviously wouldn't help matters.
> No, the US just took a strong turn toward isolationism post WWI and the great depression.
Those were the reasons they didn't enter the war when it just seemed to be a war. Knowing what was actually happening could have overcome that sooner, or at a minimum spurred people to do more to facilitate the escape of Jews from the affected countries.
> The atrocities of the holocaust were not some perfectly kept secret.
Their full scope was not publicly known until near the end. We recently learned that the government knew earlier:
But even that was the year after the US entered the war.
> Immediately jumping to "the Nazis and Stalin censored people, so censorship is bad" isn't an argument
"The Nazis and Stalin censored people and they were bad so censorship is bad" is not an argument because it applies equally to building roads or using radios.
"The Nazis and Stalin censored people and as a direct result of the censorship more people died" is a cautionary tale and a strong indictment of censorship.
To begin, the atrocities of the "Holocaust" as its commonly referred to, as the large scale extermination of the Jews, didn't really begin until after the US entered the war. Before then, knowledge of the the general plight of Jews in Germany and Europe were pretty much common knowledge. So your claim that broader knowledge of the Holocaust might have caused the US to enter the war earlier has a flaw: There was, at the time, not yet a Holocaust for people to be aware of.
As for everything else, I'm actually perplexed by portions of your argument, because you seem to be arguing that the government should not censor people, and that populist censorship via speech is bad. It seems pretty clear to me that if the US outlawed threatening journalists, it would lead to an improvement in press freedom, and from your comments, it sounds like you would agree with this, since its a form of "radicalized censorship". But I think you would also argue that such a law was itself censorship and unethical. This is especially true since you conflate censorship and suppression.
Censorship is but one form of suppression. I can suppress an idea without censoring it by generating so much nonsense that an observer can't readily discern between fact and fiction. You clearly have an objection to the suppression of facts, and I would agree that that's not a good thing.
But where I disagree with you is that censorship necessitates the suppression of facts. In fact I think often, well "aimed" censorship can improve discourse and prevent the suppression of ideas.
>It's impossible to actually regulate censorship because for regulations to be sound they have to be vigorously debated, but the public can't, by definition, debate whether something should be censored if nobody can talk about it because it's being censored.
I do also want to call this out specifically. We are, right now, albeit by proxy, vigorously debating the right to support Naziism. Yet, I don't see any reason for an observer to believe that either you or I ourselves supports Naziism. Censoring "support of Nazis" does not necessitate censoring "support of the right to express support of Nazis".
However, your answer would be to deplatform those who would post such ideas. Do you honestly think that would make it better? Did deplatforming Alex Jones help people? It just galvanized those who believed there was a conspiracy and made him all the more popular.
How about we take on the hard task of trying to actually reach those who we believe have false ideas. For example, how do people respond to flat-earthers? Constant ridicule and laughter. The reason they believe in these theories is a lot more complex and nuanced than merely that they are 'stupid'.
Also in your example of responding to flat-earthers what other alternative is there when they refuse to listen to reason? When you can't engage with them on any level?
Why is it my responsibility for example to be the one to engage with people who might view me as being a lesser human being due to my skin color or sexual preferences?
One of the Sandy Hook parents wrote how she is able to check her mail now without getting multiple threats in the mail every single day.
You point at anti-science conspiracy theories as a failing of free speech, and you're probably right, but what would you have us do otherwise? A world in which some central authority dictates that certain opinions are never allowed to be expressed, to me, seems like an absolutely horrible place to live, even if it meant that antivaxxers couldn't spread their crap anymore.
Furthermore, there is no such thing as a perfect political system. It's not enough to point at what free speech fails at, you also need to suggest what we should be doing instead, and how the failings of that system wouldn't be worse.
It's a pretty good comparison to democracy, in my mind. It's the worst system ever invented, except for all of the other ones we've tried.
I always ask this but do you believe that was a mistake? Do you think people have that specific right to exercise their freedom of speech?
Obviously there are degrees of harm to speech. We've already collectively determined this as a society. And to me, anti-vaxxers are a great example. We arrest anti-vaxxers if their children suffer due to child abuse. Do you believe that to be a mistake, that they don't have the right to exercise their own beliefs?
I think I'm unclear on what you're asking, but as an American who sees a great deal of value in that approach, and seeing the fruits of the opposite approach (my go-to example being the UK, where libel laws are significantly more open for abuse), then, yes, I do think people have that specific right - on the level of human rights, even.
Do you believe that to be a mistake, that they don't have the right to exercise their own beliefs?
That is a different question - speech and action are two different things.
It’s actually much worse, the restriction itself is highly racist; only blacks are allowed to use the “n-word”, while whites (and other races I presume) aren’t.
Ugh...yes, it is. Our people are just too stupid to find the dissenting opinions.
The problem I see isn't so much that people harbor conspiracies, but that they do so without interacting with the world at large. They do so in a bubble, and in a bubble, a conspiracy can be amplified. This is how extremism develops.
The core problem is that people aren't interacting with enough different types of people in order to moderate their own behavior.
That's not a problem that needs to be "solved." It's not necessary to force everyone to think alike, or believe the same things. It's not necessary - or desirable - to try to force everyone to never think/believe mean things or unhappy thoughts.
It's similar to saying: how do you solve people that believe in ghosts or god or unicorns (particularly if you're an atheist and believe that's all bunk). Consider hardcore religious people that believe most people are going to burn in hell, and or they believe that most dead people are in hell. Now ask the same question: isn't that offensive to those people that are going to supposedly burn? Isn't it offensive to the memory of the dead? Solve what, that people are allowed to believe what they want to (including offensive things)? The censorship it would require to constrain all of it would be horrific, authoritarian to the nth degree.
The world didn't end because of all the 9/11 conspiracy theories. Thousands of people died in those attacks. Yet the conspiracy theorists proclaimed that a plane never hit the Pentagon, that there were no people on the plane that crashed in PA, that all the Jews stayed home that day, and so on. That doesn't need solving, people will never stop believing and saying crazy things, you can't force it to end.
As longer duration examples, JFK and the moon landing conspiracies persist five decades on, and will never cease to exist. If NASA couldn't solve that with 50 years of education and the extraordinary amount of evidence they've provided, what hope is there for the other items.
At what point do we no longer tolerate their opinions? For example, would you believe it's bad for someone to be censored on HN because they talked about how much they hated black coders? At a certain point we deemed as a society that those sort of views are considered bad. Do you think that was a mistake?
These people literally have fewer rights and we don't consider banning discussion about giving them more/taking more away.
>At what point do we no longer tolerate their opinions? For example, would you believe it's bad for someone to be censored on HN because they talked about how much they hated black coders?
False dichotomy. Nobody has suggested that free speech means that every community has to tolerate these opinions. It just means that people can't be persecuted by the government for expressing them. It's fine to ban racist comments on whatever site you run.
Also you're essentially advocating for the position that we should be allowed to discuss whether or not black people deserve less rights here.
Facebook, Twitter, etc. have block / unfriend options. It's extremely easy to avoid sites like Daily Stormer (or whatever the infamous white supremacist site is called?).
I intentionally don't hang out with racists, bigots, etc. It's the exact same manner of avoidance. You have to do it in real life, I don't see why the same premise wouldn't hold online. Don't spend time in such places, don't invest into such people on social media. You can't force racists to not be racist, you can choose not to associate with them.
> For example, would you believe it's bad for someone to be censored on HN because they talked about how much they hated black coders?
HN isn't a monpolist platform (such that it can heavily restrict information distribution across an entire nation or more), as is the case with Google and Facebook. HN strictly policing its own site in the manner it sees fit, doesn't qualify as censorship, in my opinion. When a monopoly platform does it, it is censorship (because the condition of it being a monopoly means there are limited or no alternatives).
> At a certain point we deemed as a society that those sort of views are considered bad. Do you think that was a mistake?
Not at all. There is widely a societal punishment for such terrible views: you become an outcast in many regards, particularly among the vast majority of people. That society deems such views terrible, does not simultaneously require they be banished / made illegal / censored from all publication (whether books or social media).
That cultural battle should in fact occur out in the open. There is no better platform for it than that. You can't nearly so well combat terrible ideas if they're not expressed.
When it comes to how a monopoly like Facebook should deal with it (in a context where one believes all people have a right to be able to use it): they should delete illegal posts (underage pornography as one example), and they should perhaps restrict blatantly offensive content to adult readers only (18+ in the US), and require an acknowledgement to view it. There are a few directions that Facebook could go with dealing with Alex Jones types for example, that doesn't involve a heavy handed censorship or ban. Limit the mass distribution of their content, as we might in a public square. We don't generally block people from having one to one, or one to few, offensive conversations in a public square, assuming it's discrete. We do generally stop them from mass distribution to all by shouting offensive things through a large audio setup or similar in public squares. It's an effective means of not denying someone access to public squares (eg banning them from Facebook), while still not turning a platform into an open amplification vehicle for terrible, abusive, offensive ideas.
What we're all really talking about here is: should people be censored from being able to offend other people. That central concept is what connects all of these varied speech discussions covering race, religion, sex, gender, political ideology, et al. Should offensiveness be banned? It can't be done, the result of trying to do it is entirely predictable ahead of time. We're seeing countries like Britain attempt it, it's a grotesque absurdity in result. Since what's offensive is inherently subjective and will always vary from one person to the next, it becomes a system of who has power to dictate from moment to moment what's offensive. It becomes a competition of an ever tightening restriction, as each power group adds items to the list (culminating in authoritarianism as freedom of speech essentially entirely disappears). The quest to banish offensiveness ('the right to not be offended'), is a fool's errand at best, and an authoritarian's dream at worst.
Your advice only works when you're not the target - when you just need to walk past and avert your eyes from what's being said to someone else.
Moderation, like many things, has to be taken in moderation.
Also, for example:
>In December 2016, Lucy Richards, a 57-year-old woman from Tampa, was charged with four counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce for sending death threats to Lenny Pozner, whose son Noah was the youngest of 20 children murdered
Imagine losing your child and then having to put up with people like that who are fueled by someone trying to get rich off low information people. We as a society can and should do better.
Few would question that a "reasonable person" whose child was killed in a mass murder would be harmed by harassment, abuse, and claims the event didn't happen.
I'm not normally any kind of bleeding heart, but stuff like this isn't difficult.
True, but not enough for me. Though, I do not have the solution.
A right to free speech is a recent, American-centric invention, rather than a natural cornerstone of democracy, a fact that often seems lost on Americans.
> Tech firms are performing a balancing act between two
> 100% commit to the American tradition that prioritises free speech for democracy, not civility
> 100% commit to the European tradition that favors dignity over liberty, and civility over freedom
It is a very American view that unrestricted freedom of speech is a requirement for a well-functioning democracy, and that any restriction of this beyond censoring direct calls to violence is evil.
Europe just had the "luck" that censorship didn't become very necessary. In some places it was used extensively and those places are no more today.
And lastly, stripping someones voice implicates directly stripping someones dignity.
Cesnrship was used extensivle by every European nation during WW1 and WW2, France convicted journalists of treason during wWW1 and Britain was very restrictive as well during WW2. Both places still exist.
Again, no one is stripping me of my voice in Europe. With the notable exception of redicals within their respective bubbles, there freedom of speech is treated as a direct threat. The existence of these bubbles and the hate speech coming from them has to be freedom speech on the other hand. But hey, extremist always want it both ways. Logic thinking isn't theirs strength, self dilusion is much more comfortable, isn't it?
You can pick and choose freedoms that you value or don't, and say Europe has more freedom. I can go the other way. Here is one: In much of Europe, you have nothing resembling the protection that Americans have under the 2nd amendment.
You have "free election" of approved parties. The other ones are subject to arrest for their political expression. Right now in the UK, Britain First is facing trial for what would be protected political speech in the USA. LePen got charged in France, also for what would be protected political speech in the USA. Geert Wilders, a member of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands, was likewise put on trial.
If you have a parliament that chooses a prime minister, then you have an electoral college. The members happen to be the same as those of congress; that is what a parliament is. It's actually worse, because you don't have a solid understanding of who they might choose.
In your last paragraph you admit that you don't really have free speech, but you don't care because your own views happen to be in favor with the current government. It's all fine to censor people you dislike, and to label them as radicals speaking hate speech. You're in a rather privileged position there, quite lucky to not be under a government that labels YOU in that way.
In the end, we agree that we don't agree. And for the sake of the discussion it is better than we stop now and don't go towards the 2nd.
My comment was in reply to a comment that equated a parliament electing a chancellor / prime minister with an electoral college. Despite all the downsides of not electing the head of government directly they still are different things.
parliament == electoral_college + congress
Specifically for Germany and the USA:
Bundestag == electoral_college + house_of_representatives
Bundesrat == senate
So you effectively do have a congress and an electoral college. In your system, they are merged and thus have the same members.
There are six typical roles:
1. lower legislative body
2. upper legislative body
3. electoral college
4. supreme court
5. head of state
You have the 1==3 and 5==6 mergers. The USA has only the 5==6 merger. The UK has the 1==3 merger and prior to 2009 had the 2==4 merger.
All the Bundesrat has in common with thr Senate is being a second chamber. It is not elected directly as a body. Instead the prime ministers of ech state are making it up. So it is voted for indirectly during state elections. Votes in the Bundesrat are than based population, more or less (if someone knows the details that'll be cool). coalition governments different to the one on the federal level usually abstain (e.g. parties A and B govern federal, C and D being the opposition while parties B and D govern a certain state that state will note vote on certain issues).
In a democracy, these details do actually matter a lot. Otherwise you won't be able to ditinguish democracies on paper from real ones.
Not that a game like Manhunt is actually my taste, Borderlands is more my cup of cake, but since I checked I have question: Is it true that, despite being available in the US, it is really hard to actually get? With Wal-Mart not wanting to sell it for a time and Sony as well as Nintendo having had an issue with the un-cut version of it?
Please excuse me that I don't try to voice state-threatening opinions which aren't mine just for fun. But maybe you have experience with that?
And with good reason, e.g. mob rule. (As an American I hope this remains so.)
> bought out by lobbyists
On all sides. Goldman Sachs has their man in Washington, as does Planned Parenthood.
> only have two parties
America has multiple parties, but two are the most ascendant. And the reason for this is more complicated than the US Constitution, e.g. writing state laws that a party must have so many members to qualify for automatic enrollment on a ballot.
> the spectrum of politics is very narrow
Americans aware of European politics view Europe much the same way, that is, even the 'far right' of Europe more or less equals the 'center left to center right' of the United States.
> less open discussion
In a sense this is true. American media companies, for example, are dominated by non-Conservatives (the 'center right to far right' of the US) and so they choose their subjects, guests, talking points, etc., from amongst those they favor, i.e. non-Conservative sources. There is much more open discussion on the Internet but, as this post shows, even Big Tech is in favor of shutting down certain (non-Progressive) viewpoints they disagree with.
I might be misinterpreting you here but it sounds as if you're saying that all is well and good since all lobby organisations are represented in Washington. The problem to me with this idea would be that not all of the people are represented by all of the lobby organisations. Which makes the system not even a mob rule, but simply a plutocracy.
I would say that striving to be 'all is well and good' is a never-ending chore. (As in never will end.)
> since all lobby organizations are represented in Washington.
Not all, but many. There are also many lobbying firms local to states and cities.
Can we do with less lobbying? Sure. But we'll only ever be able to go so far given that organized petitions are guaranteed by the First Amendment '... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.' This can take the form of a single person, a parade of protestors, a lobbying firm, or what have you. Which also means a single person with deep pockets (e.g. actor Kevin Costner) can have more sway than a lobbying outfit (e.g. a law firm representing the Lakota Sioux of the Black Hills.)
> not all of the people are represented by all of the lobby organizations.
I would go even further and say not all of the people are represented by those who actually vote or those who actually occupy office. Undocumented migrants, children, the mentally challenged, jailed felons, those who don't vote whatsoever—all are supposedly represented by Congress and the President, but who really gave Congress and the President the right to represent those who didn't vote for them? (Joking here—many in the US feel that Trump does NOT represent them, despite him being President. Not joking here—but are they right?)
It's close. Given the lobbying arms of Planned Parenthood, the Teamsters, the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Audubon Society, and many, many (, many) others, that is, the lobbying arms of well-monied groups, we see that organized groups can act as wealthy individuals. So it's a mix of plutocracy and monied non-profits.
Good video, and it captures the big-picture problem with American political lobbying. I wish them luck with the solution they've offered—currently, marijuana laws are undergoing the same course that women's suffrage did, so it works as long as people are driven to finish what they started. (Which is not necessarily a good thing—US Prohibition also was a state matter before finally being made an Amendment, the 18th, the one that came right before giving women the right to vote. Check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_state .)
It is similarly a very American view that unrestricted freedom of speech is a requirement for a well-functioning internet (well, not completely "unrestricted", but we're not here to argue nuance). Avoiding the obvious debate on which is better, the problem of choice exists in a global medium. Lest it become balkanized, you will have to choose an approach both as a company and as a set of laws. Wrt laws, restrictions are added much more often than they are removed so we should probably err on the side of fewer/limited-scope restrictions. I think most would prefer the greatest common factor of freedoms vs the lowest common denominator of restrictions.
In Europe you are free, unless you cause other people harm. If you cause other people harm, it must be decided, whether that was justified (self-defense) or not (criminal offense).
I would say, that in the US the term "freedom" is more liberally used to make a "criminal-offense" look like "self-defense", though I am a bit cynical now.
Dignity means also, that you can speak your mind freely.
Obviously it didn't make the middle east and northern africa a bastion of democracy like western viewers may have hoped, but no doubt that many people tried to make their countries a better place through democratic revolution. Just because they didn't succeed 100%, doesn't mean that the revolution was a mistake.
It’s not that things weren’t awful then just people didn’t know what was going on or how things would turn out, so we were all upbeat about the internet.
Still, that moment has passed so people aren’t positive about our connectedness in the same way cause it doesn’t seem to be causing any progressive/democratic changes.
In all seriousness, it's quite abhorrent how foreign policy interventions by progressive leaders are shoved down the memory hole while we are always wide awake when a conservative does something.
If you're being serious you should really review the last couple decades. In what world does the intervention of Clinton and Obama equal the Bushes? Even Clinton's Iraq endeavor was downplayed by the GOP at the time as a distraction from Lewinsky.
But the real reason Libya isn't in the public's forethought is simple fact we didn't invade and rebuild the country. Its not hard to figure out why its not treated the same as Bush's wars.
At least on some level if your concerned about the results of regime change by western powers.
> But the real reason Libya isn't in the public's forethought is simple fact we didn't invade and rebuild the country. Its not hard to figure out why its not treated the same as Bush's wars.
No, we just let them build it then we came in and destroyed it and left it militias to fight over the rubble. Why did we do that again? Because as far as i remember libya was not posing a threat to the US.
Compared to afghanistan which you could at least argue there is some kind of threat of terrorists like ISIS setting up a state that had declared war on western countries.
Cost, length, and American death toll are the obvious reasons you seem to completely ignore.
“Under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act,
tech firms have legal immunity from the majority of the
content posted on their platforms (unlike ‘traditional’ media publications). This protection has empowered YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit to create spaces for free speech without the fear of legal action or its financial consequence.”
Censoring content is suspiciously like editorializing content, and steps social media a lot closer than they want to being publishers and not platforms.
Proceeding with censorship seems to carry the risk of losing immunity under Section 230.
Nope. The whole point of Section 230 is platforms can make and enforce rules, and still have a safe harbor. Otherwise, they all would have lost their safe harbor decades ago.
By being a platform you can basically have it both ways, compete with journalism without being journalism. And once that is causing issues you say freedom of speech and you are of the hook.
Maybe in the begining that was even true. Now, not so much anymore I guess.
Editing =|= Censorship, important to understand.
You can sue Google for damages if someone uploads a copyrighted movie to youtube.
You can sue Google for libel or slander if someone posts disparaging statements about an individual to Blogspot or Youtube
Since Google has a lot of money and the people who publish this content may not have too much money, Google would become the target for many lawsuits
A whole lot of platforms could do with the conclusion.
Be consistent, be responsive and be transparent.
Who wouldn't love Google to be more transparent?
Yes, millions of refugees is obviously not the consequence at all.
But it's fair to value the act of getting freedom from oppressive regimes as a good in itself independent of the power vacuum it creates. And it's fair to assess a movement based on its priors of a possible positive outcome, rather than the purely retrospectively once they haven't come to pass.
The side completely, 100% opposed to any restrictions on speech (including "policing tone" as outlined in this presentation) will see this as corporate meddling in people's expression.
The side that supports speech regulation will see this as a structured plan to curb the kind of speech that's considered "harmful" or whatnot.
This presentation doesn't contain anything outside the current ideological dichotomy, no original or unorthodox thoughts or ideas.
Probably not the spin that Breitbart was hoping for.
Weighting results toward “authoritative voices”, delisting results which could damage their advertising revenue, or as they claimed in the infamous all-hands meeting, bending the curve of political discourse in the country to suit their personal world view.
Given the power inherent in Google’s near-monopoly on search, I’m personally a lot more critical of potential political or editorial influences over Google’s methods for listing, ranking, and delisting content.
> Probably not the spin that Breitbart was hoping for.
Most of the policy it advocates is basically being consistent and open about how Google is handling issues, and how censorship is being applied.
The title is click-baity, but that's not so bad.
A company has the absolute right to prohibit any content on their platform that they so choose. There's freedom not to use Google services.
Calls to regulate independent companies are purely ludicrous. If Facebook said tomorrow that any positive mention of, say, Paul Graham, would result in immediate account deletion, that'd be their choice. Very valid criticism from the perspective of a user would be warranted, but that's where it should end.
Using Google services is now required by many public schools in the US. That's where all the homework is posted, for example. Now in the US there's freedom to not attend public school, of course, so technically you have the right to not use Google services. But in practice the vast majority of people would not be able to exercise that right in this case.
Similarly, a number of schools are starting to do communications with parents purely through Facebook. And I expect this trend will keep getting worse before it gets better.
> Calls to regulate independent companies are purely ludicrous.
If they're really independent companies, yes. If they're government-sponsored monopolies, on the other hand, the calculus is quite different. And we're quite close to that line, if not over it.
You could argue that the right solution is for governments to not enshrine these companies in these monopoly positions. That would be lovely, obviously. Too bad the companies are spending all this money to get into those positions (see Google Classroom).
Google Classroom is a fair point (schools also use Google Docs and the like as well), but I don't believe it holds water.
Governments would be well within their rights not to award contracts to, or use the services of, companies they felt were not respecting the values of free speech. The difference between this and active regulation are that one is voluntary for the company (must obey this term for eligibility for extra reward) and one is mandatory (must obey this term or be punished by the law).
I don't have much to say about communicating to parents through Facebook, other than that they should still offer optional email communication.
I agree that the optimal solution would be for local governments to not rely on Google like this. What's not clear to me is what the best course of action is in the world in which they _are_.
I think having "no propaganda aimed at elementary school students" regulation may be the only way to solve the coordination problem here, but of course that has the obvious flaw of it being hard to agree on a definition of "propaganda"...
Also note that fascism is about political control of all the things. It doesn't mean than the government runs all the things, but controls all the things. With Google in bed with a single party, and exercising its power on behalf of that party, we're in a very dangerous situation.
Where does the line between "hate speech" and legitimate criticism get drawn? Criticism is often crude. Humor is often crude. Sometimes humor, even crude humor, cuts to the core of an issue better than any intellectual discussion or essay could possibly yield. The U.S. itself has a long tradition of pointed, sarcastic political cartoons, as an example.
We need not reach back too far in memory to find an example of grey area between "hate speech" and "free speech": The Dutch cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and his infamous Muhammad bomb cartoon.
I think Google and other social media giants will find themselves in an impossible situation, if they haven't already. To be a good censor is to declare the "rightness" and "wrongness" of content in a consistent manner. However, in order to do so, you have to stake a position.
However, these companies sprawl too far and too wide to stake a position without alienating huge swaths of the population. And without making it all too easy for factions to believe that their side is being discriminated against.
Why, if I might ask?
"Google" has entered the common lexicon as a generic term for "search the internet for something". The amount of power they wield, ignoring all other power aside from the ability to rank the search results of most internet users, is massive and I think this cannot be overstated or minimized.
This is a non-fallacious version of the slippery slope. Just because you're okay with the "do the right thing" nee "don't be evil" Google of today does not mean you'll be okay with the Google of tomorrow having that power. Consider very carefully whether you want any one particular company to have that power, and what the remedies are if Google ever does go full evil.
On a side note, it absolutely reeks of double standards on many of the commenters here to castigate Google for their Chinese censorship while giving them a pass for what is described herein. Censorship is only bad when done at the behest of a state? I don't understand this sentiment.
I want no third party deciding for me what is "hate speech" and deciding I shouldn't be able to see it as a result. With a special emphasis on the second part of that phrase.
As an example, it is rather unfortunate that American obscenity standard is enforced against the world at large.
Restricting access to information generally is until a good reason is given. That could be the protection of personal information for example. But without justification I would heavily disagree with that statement.
But to be serious, something like "We take these positions and stand behind these values and we're proud of it" would seem better than claim they are a neutral platform and they welcome all points of view and let users create and share whatever content.
This didn't even have to be a leaked document. They should have posted it in their "about" section right on the front page. If anyone doesn't like it they can go and make their own Google and share content there instead.
There was the leaked company meeting video after the 2016 elections with people crying and saying "we lost" and then users are supposed to believe those executives will turn around, wipe their tears, walk back to their desks and be unbiased when it comes to moderating news, search results, Youtube videos, charities they sponsor, etc? That's probably unrealistic... So why not drop the pretense and come out and be proud of what they support. Nobody will be surprised and many will welcome it including most of their employees.
* "2.6 million tweets contained anti-Semitic speech during the US presidential election" - how many conversations there where, in real word, about the same topic and contained anti-Semitic speech?
* "26% of American users are victims of internet trolling" - how many are victims of trolling in real word? Or in schools?
* "40% of internet users have been harassed online" - how many persons have been harassed at work places? Bars?
* Governments under cyber attack? How many of them are targets of espionage? Or have many companies are targets of espionage?
I'm not saying that these are not bad things, nor that those shouldn't be addressed - I'm just wondering if these things are as bad as they might seem to be, when compared to "the real world".
In other words, the way we talk online is not normal. Even outside of the free speech debate, it's worth noting that.
Moreover online people can take the time to write something good (not saying they usually do of course), whereas in-person debates usually suffer from being shallow, filled with interruptions, half baked ideas, people getting artificially upset to try and 'win' and so on.
I'd actually like to see far more experimentation and research in online commenting and discussion forums. There's really been very little movement in this space since CmdrTaco retired.
I'm a huge fan of the work you did on Slashdot and Slashcode back in the day. It's still by far the best thought out moderation system I've seen.
I'd love to see a modern respin of Slashcode that reused and enhanced the moderation ideas. Unfortunately my spare time project slots are all consumed already :(
This is quite philosophical comparison, but I think its on the point.
If nobody reads a tweet, did it really happen? If nobody hears me hurl racist abuse at my lawnmower, did it really happen?
This is mainly the reason why the last "real world" was in quotes. When you take statistics of something, you usually want to compare them to something. For me, a natural comparison for internet statistics is some physical places like offices, public streets, schools, bars. "a real world" - I'm not saying that the internet is not part of it.
Instead of thinking so linearly along these two dimensions, I would suggest using a wider lens. Instead of striving for some of both in a common platform, we should strive for some of both concurrently. I was encouraged by the example of Twitter unverifying accounts, but not banning them, but even that suffers from the single platform effect since unverification is objectively harmful.
Those with qualms concerning unfavorable content should ask themselves whether the concern is that it's promoted/visible by default or that it exists at all. The latter is too hard line of a stand to be seen as anything but censorship and should only be applied in the most extreme cases. But the former is something we can tackle. Simply default to safe and let the user opt in to increasing levels of unsafe. You'll always have the problem of being the arbiter of what resides at which levels (granted you can ask content creators to self-categorize with threats of violation for clear miscategorization) but at least it's better than outright banning/deleting. Just make sure that whatever level the user has set, content that is visible is all treated equally under the algorithms (i.e. no demotion). I personally would turn favorability filters off and encourage others to do the same, but at least defaults exist and levels of moderation can be chosen.
Finally, to shift the rant a bit, I just want to say I welcome self-imposed solutions over legal requirements. I am encouraged to know that, while it's hard to compete with a behemoth (why would you try), you can still legally publish your own content sans filter on your own site or a site with similar views towards your own. We might prefer all the popular sites respect our views on what is allowed, but since that's obviously impossible in a global medium due to cultural subjectivity, don't attempt codify it legally.
We need a new internet