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rayiner 467 days ago | link | parent

Facebook needs to get involved in policing this sort of thing. They're not a neutral medium here--they make a lot of money selling 13-18 year old eyeballs to advertisers, and given the unique nature of the demographic (below the age of majority) I think they bear a certain responsibility in how these kids abuse their service.


yid 467 days ago | link

There is a lot of stuff going on at Facebook to deal with this sort of thing [1]. They definitely don't have a passive approach to bullying, but you have to realize that the scale of use makes it a difficult problem to approach.

[1] https://www.facebook.com/safety

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dfxm12 466 days ago | link

In the news piece, the journalist flags a photo twice as inappropriate. Both times, Facebook responded that the photo was within guidelines.

This is a photo that was drawing hundreds of likes and "shaming" comments.

Looking at the link you provide, the journalist took the Facebook suggested course of action, and Facebook actively failed to stop the abuse.

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wmf 466 days ago | link

Is this case the rule or the exception? How would we know?

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mitchty 467 days ago | link

What exactly should facebook police? Morality? Ethics? What if some group of friends always ragged on each other and got tripped up in this policing?

I don't necessarily agree that Facebook should be the responsible party. That really should fall under society and parents/children. A company isn't going to be able to enforce politeness or dissuade bullies from bullying. This is another aspect of the human condition. And if it is one we as a society of humans want to change, we need to do that. Facebook isn't the responsible party here in my humble opinion.

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potatolicious 467 days ago | link

> "What exactly should facebook police? Morality? Ethics?"

You're suggesting a slippery slope where there is none. The authenticity of bullying is easy to verify because there is at least one party able to testify to its undesiredness. We're not talking about policing morality, we're talking about behavior that, in the vast majority of cases, is quite unambiguous.

> "That really should fall under society and parents/children"

There's a false dichotomy here. While we can expect and hope that people are self-policing of their children and peers, there is room for additional governance. Why can't we have both? After all, if you ran a convenience store and noticed that bullies were beating up kids outside and using their lunch money to buy goods at your business, why wouldn't it fall upon you, where it occurs, to stop the behavior?

Nobody says Facebook has to become the grand authority on cyberbullying, but it is within their capability - and IMO there is at least a slight tinge of moral responsibility - to put a substantial dent in the problem.

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pavel_lishin 467 days ago | link

> The authenticity of bullying is easy to verify because there is at least one party able to testify to its undesiredness.

And that one party ought to be able to unilaterally force me to take down content?

I understand that this is ok if I'm making a facebook page mocking a 13 year old girl, but what if I'm making a site that parodies a company, or a CEO, or a politician, or Justin Bieber?

This slope is indeed slippery as all fuck.

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rayiner 467 days ago | link

It's not a slippery slope, because there is a categorical distinction between people below and above the age of majority.

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jeltz 466 days ago | link

A better distinction is if the person is a public figure or not. This is also what the current law in most countries cares about in defamation cases

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pavel_lishin 467 days ago | link

So no parodies of Justin Bieber, gotcha.

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potatolicious 466 days ago | link

Despite his fame, Bieber is a minor who probably suffers from many of the same problems we all did at his age. If he is being bullied to the point where he is compelled to challenge it on Facebook, I have no problem curbing it.

I do not believe our basic treatment of children should change just because they're famous. Fame is, after all, not a cure for bullying.

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pavel_lishin 466 days ago | link

How do you make the legal distinction between bullying and parodies?

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JoachimSchipper 466 days ago | link

Facebook is not a free speech area - it blocks all kind of adult stuff as well as comments judged "irrelevant".

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mitchty 467 days ago | link

Sorry if that came off as slippery slopish, not the intention exactly.

My worry with holding Facebook responsible or culpable for the actions of its users in this specific regard is that we're creating and or granting a degree of control over interation to Facebook. I don't understand why now, with Facebook, we decide this needs action. The same stuff went on before computers, all Facebook is doing is making this visible to a wider population.

I'm not trying to say Facebook should do nothing. By all means they should just as that convenience store owner report the matter to the proper authorities. Our justice systems are a much better way to punish offenders than a for profit corporation. They may not be perfect but I do not trust Facebook or any corporation to deal with this in a decent way.

The underlying problem here however is society and its views on sex for women. That and how men act and treat women in general. Both of those should be at the top of our list to fix and equalize.

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potatolicious 466 days ago | link

> "By all means they should just as that convenience store owner report the matter to the proper authorities."

Who are the proper authorities? The legal/justice system is not meant to be a first-line against all disputes and problems. There's a reason that if your neighbor puts up an offensive sign on his lawn, you try to resolve it yourself before involving the city.

> "They may not be perfect but I do not trust Facebook or any corporation to deal with this in a decent way."

As someone who grew up under (probably not as bad as most others) bullying: hogwash. Facebook is a valid party to deal with this behavior.

Who would deal with this? The police don't give a shit. School administrators have had decades of teen suicides and school shootings to deal with it, but all they have done is further marginalize the bullied, giving them less recourse than they ever had before.

The default "proper authorities" have abdicated their responsibility and proven more than amply that they are either too incompetent or too apathetic to do anything about it. Sadly, the onus does fall upon private parties, and Facebook is one of them.

I for one resist the notion that we should bureaucratize very basic (and very old) human behavior. Just as the shop owner would just go outside and break up the bullies, so should Facebook break up this behavior, referring to the police only in exceptional cases.

> "The underlying problem here however is society and its views on sex for women."

I don't think this is it. Children, both male and female, are bullied harshly for a myriad of reasons, sex being only a large one of many. The core issue is bullying, not bullying re: sex.

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rayiner 467 days ago | link

I think as a general rule, it lies with users of the service to take responsibility for ethical behavior. However, by social consensus, teenagers are incapable of taking full responsibility for their actions. I think an exception exists, thus, when a service provider intentionally avails itself of servicing a demographic that is incapable of assuming all the responsibilities that might be expected of normal adults.

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MattGrommes 466 days ago | link

Facebook is a platform. It doesn't have to neccesarily police things, it can open up tools to allow parents to police their kids. What about a way of marking/removing pictures somebody else tags of you? Something that allows parents to help with this stuff spreading maliciously.

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DanBC 466 days ago | link

> What exactly should facebook police? Morality? Ethics?

Facebook have banned images of breastfeeding mothers. Facebook have shown they are happy to police their morality and ethics. Asking them to have some kind of anti-bullying clause, and report button, (which, I think, they have) isn't too much.

You're right the the responsibility is not Facebook's. But they could do a bit more to help.

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betterunix 466 days ago | link

"Facebook needs to get involved in policing this sort of thing"

I am guessing you were an angel when you were in school. Well, I was not an angel, so I can tell you what effect Facebook policing this would have: it would move somewhere else, where it will not be policed. Even if every website on the Internet were policing this, there are enough hackers and geeks at every high school that you would see teenagers setting up their own bulletin boards, email systems, etc. -- and don't think for a moment that a geeky kid would turn down the popularity points they would gain by running such a thing. If you took the Internet and the cell phones away, then teenagers would pass thumb drives around.

Basically, you would need to erase computers entirely to prevent this from happening. Good luck with that one.

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rayiner 466 days ago | link

I was an angel in school, but I'm not naive. Sure Facebook cracking down on this sort of thing won't eliminate it entirely. But the whole point of shaming someone on Facebook versus passing it around in a locker room is the visibility. But it's that same visibility that also makes it a convenient point of policing. Policing might push that stuff off Facebook, but those alternate venues are going to reach fewer eyeballs (causing less reputation harm), and be more ephemeral.

Moreover, I'd argue that Facebook has a responsibility, as a company that makes a ton of money off these teenagers, that they don't when those teenagers share the same pictures via sneakernet.

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betterunix 466 days ago | link

There are plenty of high-visibility websites on the Internet; it would not take long for the students to find one that is equally visible and not policed. Kids manage to smoke pot in school, they manage to cheat on exams, they manage to leave before they are supposed to -- they will find somewhere that is not policed on the Internet, or else they will set up such a thing for themselves. I would not be surprised if some high school students used steganography to share explicit photos without the moderators catching them (consider the way teenagers use proxy servers and Tor to evade school firewalls).

"Moreover, I'd argue that Facebook has a responsibility, as a company that makes a ton of money off these teenagers, that they don't when those teenagers share the same pictures via sneakernet."

Slippery slope: ISPs also make money off teenagers, possibly even more than Facebook (cell services certainly make more than Facebook -- teenagers basically demand SMS and 3G/4G from their parents these days, which has turned enormous profits for the telecom industry). Do you think it is acceptable for ISPs to be policing this sort of thing too? Facebook is a communications service; they should not be in the business of filtering the communications of their users, any more than Comcast or T-Mobile.

Really, there is a bigger picture here. Yes, bullying is a problem, but if the communications systems that teenagers use were to be filtered as a matter of course, that would just train teenagers to believe that they live in a world where communications are always being watched. Is that really what we want the next generation to grow up thinking? Do we really want the next generation of leaders to believe that one of the things people in authority are supposed do is to monitor the communications of those they govern? Do we want to create adults who shrug at the warrantless wiretapping program?

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rayiner 466 days ago | link

> There are plenty of high-visibility websites on the Internet; it would not take long for the students to find one that is equally visible and not policed. Kids manage to smoke pot in school, they manage to cheat on exams, they manage to leave before they are supposed to -- they will find somewhere that is not policed on the Internet, or else they will set up such a thing for themselves. I would not be surprised if some high school students used steganography to share explicit photos without the moderators catching them (consider the way teenagers use proxy servers and Tor to evade school firewalls).

If your rush to reductionism makes you fail to perceive the difference between Tor and Facebook, I'm not sure what I can do to help you. There are lots of ways to share pictures, and lots of high profile websites, but only a tiny handful, and possibly just one, where you can easily reach everyone in town with a single post.

> Slippery slope: ISPs also make money off teenagers, possibly even more than Facebook (cell services certainly make more than Facebook -- teenagers basically demand SMS and 3G/4G from their parents these days, which has turned enormous profits for the telecom industry). Do you think it is acceptable for ISPs to be policing this sort of thing too? Facebook is a communications service; they should not be in the business of filtering the communications of their users, any more than Comcast or T-Mobile.

I strongly disagree. Comcast and T-mobile are dumb pipes. Facebook is a social networking company that takes advantage of teenage social networks to serve advertisements specifically to teenagers. Comcast sells bandwidth to anyone with the money to pay. Facebook profiles and targets and intentionally sells 13-18 year old eyeballs to advertisers.

> Do we really want the next generation of leaders to believe that one of the things people in authority are supposed do is to monitor the communications of those they govern?

Facebook already monitors your communications. What we're debating here is what how they use the information.

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