“What we have here is a factory farm for human beings, that has been publicly humiliated for how it treats its livestock, running internal audits to avoid future PR disaster.” – yours truly in The Guardian on Facebook’s “creation of an ‘Investigative Operations Team’ (IOT), to try and spot major abuses of its platform before they happen.”

@aral I'm in a different livestock pen - more interested in how faulty or biased algorithms, particularly in the reporting procedure, can have wide-ranging effects beyond social media - but equally alarmed by the coming explosion.
(I'm in South Africa. I used a vulgarity on Twitter against a US troll, was reported, and it culminated in a third-party's bank account in Europe being falsely flagged as suspicious and possibly involved in fraud.)

@OutOnTheMoors @aral the lack of critical thinking and fact-checking on the identitarian left can be every bit as disturbingly lacking as that on the ultra-conservative right, and corporate social media has become a public stoning machine for both (particularly the birdsite). So many examples have been collected now:

@strypey @aral Assigning blame is difficult.
Just in the past day or so, a guy on Twitter stole a tweet and responded to his victim's call out with a vile, crude and threatening DM. She tweeted a screenshot of it and many women - myself included - attacked him for it. He responded by claiming victimhood, accusing me and others of harassment and stalking.
Technically, we did troll him. But that's only half of the story.

@strypey @aral
The problem is on that platform moderation is done via algorithm and unless certain words are used - and even if they are - no action is taken. I have received incredibly abusive comments, even explicit rape and death threats, and been told they don't violate the rules.
In that culture, people behave differently. Tell me how you'd like me to die and I'll turn into quite a vicious bitch.
Blaming identity politics for trolling misses the point.

@strypey @aral I know you weren't saying one group or the other was more guilty of abuse. I'm arguing that there's no point looking at it only in terms of political affiliation. Anyone will troll under certain circumstances.
In the example I gave, the guy targets women via private DM. He's betting they will be too embarrassed to want others to read his humiliating comments. He was dragged to expose his methods - but he claimed it was public harassment.

@OutOnTheMoors @aral
> I'm arguing that there's no point looking at it only in terms of political affiliation. Anyone will troll under certain circumstances.

I totally agree, and this is exactly what I was saying too. If "the medium is the message", what does the behaviour on Twitter say about the medium? More interesting to me, how could we redesign online pubs to elicit more respectful and pleasant behaviour?

@strypey @aral I think the fediverse has made some progress on encouraging a more respectful culture. That's partly through structure, partly because many people are here to escape the unpleasantness.
Twitter's always encouraged edginess. The English-speaking part of the birdcage is also very US-centric, which currently means a highly stressed community where too many users think "free speech" is a licence to be abusive.

@OutOnTheMoors @aral the #fediverse has two major advantages over the birdcage, the first is being able to learn from its successes and failures and make good design decisions that are only obvious in hindsight (eg building in 'mute' and 'block' early on). The second is entirely structural, being able to block comments from entire herds of trolls using instance blocks, without having to prevent them from speaking on the platform at all (account suspensions etc).

@OutOnTheMoors @aral I remember a web comic (can't find it now) about the early days of birdcage culture being like a friendly local bar where everybody knows your name. Then it got discovered by celebrities, advertisers, "influencers", and trolls, and the overall culture went downhill, almost overnight. The people running the platform never expected that, or the amount of VC money that was thrown at them, and have been fighting fires ever since as a consequence.

@OutOnTheMoors @aral The #fediverse has already been discovered, and the meth-smoking biker types (going with the public bar metaphor) have been hanging out here for a while, after getting kicked out of the birdcage a couple of years back. But because of the decentralized nature of the platform, the #fediverse is more like one of those multi-bar complexes, where each person can find the purple-hair-indie-band bar, or the geek-craft-beer-bar, and avoid the biker bar if they want to.

@OutOnTheMoors @aral @strypey
That change roughly coincided with when native RTs became a thing, didn't it?

I still think the fefiverse should throttle boosts in some way to try to keep the signal:noise ratio sweet.

@artsyhonker @OutOnTheMoors @aral I don't know much more about the history than I learned from that comic (and a conference talk given by @rabble), but I suspect native @mentions also played a role. It's hard to hassle people (either for activist or trolling purposes) if you can't make your comment appear in their notification feed

@OutOnTheMoors @aral @strypey Moderation by algorithm is always inadequate, and it doesn't matter how smart the algorithms are because they don't have the situatedness of actually being human.

@bob @aral @strypey It can go beyond moderation into the Kafka-esque.
If you tweet "I want to die", the algorithm picks it up and tells you to get help. It ensures you can't get help from your Twitter friends by locking - or even permanently suspending - your account.

@bob @OutOnTheMoors @aral algorithms are "simple maximizers", to quote Joe Edelman. They lack an understanding of *context*, and given that's a hard thing to explain to some humans. I'm not sure it's possible to automate

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Aral’s Mastodon

This is my personal Mastodon.