[NetBehaviour] Free speech

Ruth Catlow ruthcatlow at gmail.com
Sun Jan 10 19:15:36 CET 2021


In addition to the obvious dangers of building global communication systems
for the profit of platform owners, (whatever good design is - it must
prioritise delivering profit to shareholders) the problem seems to be that
networked algorithms have emergent properties.

I saw Tristan Harris, ex Google Designer and now heading up the anti-google
"designer for humanity" race (yes I have reservations), showing research
about how social media algorithms, will always push people to look next at
the more extreme version of the thing they just saw...which results for
example in directing depressed teenagers from legitimate mental health
support communities to suicide cults.

I am quite relieved that  Twitter's terms of service mean that Donald Trump
can be silenced. But it doesn't say much for the state of American
democracy that their political institutions are unable to deal with such
obvious danger.


On Fri, Jan 8, 2021 at 8:09 PM Edward Picot via NetBehaviour <
netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:

> I'm genuinely conflicted about it.
> It occurs to me to wonder how the algorithms work - if I look at a video
> about conspiracy theories on YouTube, for example, am I then presented with
> a lot more videos about conspiracy theories next time I visit? I think the
> answer to this is probably yes, because I looked at a video of Trump doing
> his YMCA dance (which apparently he does quite frequently at the end of his
> rallies), thinking about re-using it for satirical purposes, and now every
> time I go to YouTube it wants me to look at more videos of Trump dancing.
> I think the algorithms are one of the most insidious and damaging aspects
> of Web 2 - instead of genuinely exploring the web and coming across new
> things, which I seem to remember we used to do in the early 2000s, we now
> find ourselves in a commercialised feedback-loop which presents us over and
> over again with amplified (and monetized) versions of whatever beliefs and
> ideas and interests we had in the first place. Perhaps there's some mileage
> in legislating against the algorithms.
> Edward
> On 08/01/2021 19:16, Alan Sondheim via NetBehaviour wrote:
> I think some safeguards need to be put into place; if you look at the
> propaganda-machine-work in Nazi Germany, it can do terrible harm. But in
> the U.S. under Reagen, the fairness doctrine was scrapped, which meant
> local news outlets of all sorts could be grabbed up by opinionated
> multi-nationals, and you get people like Rush Linbaugh spreading hatred
> unchallenged in rural areas - probably the biggest swatch of territory in
> the country. That's where "these people" get their news, unchallenged. It's
> far-right-wing money. I also think hate speech might be covered more
> directly - one of the tshirts at the riot said in abbreviated form - 6
> million is not enough. What do you do with that?
> Best, Alan (mind you I've been censored on YouTube and elsewhere myself, I
> think unfairly, so you might make a counter-argument that it's all in the
> eye/ear of the beholder. It's an aporia.)
> On Fri, Jan 8, 2021 at 2:07 PM Edward Picot via NetBehaviour <
> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:
>> What do people think - have we reached the point at which social media
>> companies should be prosecuted for allowing hate-speech, incitements to
>> violence, demonstrable untruths and conspiracy theories to be uploaded
>> onto their sites?
>> Should they be regarded as publishers, and therefore legally responsible
>> for their content?
>> I'm genuinely torn, but I think maybe we've now reached that point. I'd
>> be very interested to hear what others think.
>> Edward
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>> NetBehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org
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