On the subject of Social Media & Ethical Technology
How social media outsources content moderation, its toxic proclivities and the lack of ethical technology.
Mass communication has it’s own dangers and technology as a whole moves too fast to keep an eye on it. The ramifications of such inventions are rarely ever considered, even by their makers, and that itself is a form of irresponsibility.
These are powerful tools with misunderstood potentials. We know of the dangers and yet makers are not focusing on holistic and ethical designs, just profitable ones.
Part 1: Facebook
Facebook as been embroiled through various scandals ranging from foreign election interference to data leaks. The New York Times recently published an expose revealing 6 Key Takeaways
Facebook knew about Russian interference
The company feared Trump supporters
Facebook launched a multipronged attack and lobbying campaign
Cambridge Analytica raised the stakes
Some criticisms hurt more than others
Facebook still has friends
Amongst the reporting is Facebook’s relationship with the company “Defenders Public Affairs”, a Washington, DC-based public relations and opposition research firm which was found linking criticisms if Facebook to George Soros. One former employees also described Defenders as having it’s own “in-house fake news shop”. Facebook since terminated their work with this company citing that Facebook “never asked them to spread anything that is not true”.
After Zuckerberg said Facebook was responsible for removing anti-Rohingya propaganda in messenger during a Vox interview 6 organizations in Myanmar wrote an open letter in response, most notably saying that the Myanmar version of Facebook messenger lacked reporting features. More recently Facebook released a commissioned independent human rights impact assessment on the role of our services in Myanmar which reported that Facebook failed to be proactive and instead was an “enabling environment” for hate speech.
As Facebook is used more as a tool to spread misinformation and hate speech it turned towards inadequate algorithms and assymetrical rules for what counts as protected political speech versus hate speech. In another attempt maintain rlfreedomnof expression over alienating portions of their user base, we learned that between “female drivers, black children and white men”, according to Facebook only “white men” are protected by their guidelines since driver’s nor children are protected classes. If a sub class was represented it trumped any existing protected class.
In just the last year alone over 100 million people have been affected by data breaches in over multiple attacks. “In question after question, respondents ranked the company last in terms of leadership, ethics, trust, and image.”
Facebook is by far not the only social media company with duplicitous activity: From Facebook’s Shadow Profiles and MicroTargeting, or Amazon’s development of Facial Tracking for the U.S. Law Enforcement, including ICE to Google’s Project Dragonfly. “Do no evil” falls short when you do not have the pinnacle of ethical processes in place.
Facebook regulates advertisers algorithmicly resulting in many false positives while also letting almost anyone put down “paid by” as someone else’s name. Vice even made ads that were “paid for” by 100 different U.S. Senators. They weren’t.
Facebook gave “third-party fact checking” to 5 U.S. Companies.
Besides the fact that there’s 4 neutral publications and one conservative one (well the “fact check” wing of one) there’s no reason Facebook can’t hire their own investigators, develop their own “fact wing” and proactively regulate the extremes of their content.
But contraversiality drives interactions. It’s why there no more chronology in your feed. As long as a post keeps receiving interaction it’ll float to the top. Even when it’s wrong, even when people are trying to correct the article.
But if Facebook creates it’s own fact department there will he cries that Facebook is censoring free speech or that the social media is bias – stifling conservative thought online. You know, the “intellectual dark web”. So instead they only take down the worst offenders when they get bad press. And then not all of it.
Facebook made a commercial after the Cambridge Analytica scandal saying “something happened … [We] had to deal with spam, clickbait, fake news, and data misuse.”
No Facebook. Mass communication and social media happened. And you were in the driver’s seat. The world changed because of you. Accept your responsibility.