Last week there was a terror attack in New Zealand. It was despicable.
We're not going to talk about that, but we are going to talk about how in the 24h that followed there was a concerted global effort to remove the videos, graphic and otherwise, that were posted by the attacker and others of what had happened. It's an amazing thing that we (societal we) could have accomplished this. A Facebook New Zealand official posted that, "Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities, we're [also] removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content." Thank you, genuinely, Facebook - nobody needs to see that.
It was friggin' hard job. In those 24h more than 1.5 million copies of the footage were uploaded and removed. 1.2 million of those were stopped right at the point of upload - that's how quick off the draw Facebook were.
Obviously, this is a problem of scope. Did you know Google blocked more than 2 billion (!) bad ads in 2018? Their policies for advertising say things like "you can only promote xyz to abc" and they found more than 2 billion of examples of people wanting to violate them. Now, that includes just misleading or exploitational ads, so it's not all drug peddlers and terrorists, but holy crap. Thank god for machine learning! How on earth do you do this at scale without it?
So ok, we can censor the Internet now (Yay!). Google actually launched an experimental Chrome extension last week that blocks toxic commentary generally. Abuse and bullying of the marginal is real, and this is probably an absolute godsend to them. But do we really want Google (or any browser) deciding what is and isn't allowed to be seen? I mean, in some cases of course and in others no way.
Talk about a tough issue - society has an obligation for sure but it makes me super queasy that we've delegated it to multinational corp. Maybe there is a role for government in this world after all. Who'd have thought?
Now, how do we make them as efficient as tech companies?
Yours in HAT,