Facebook Algorithms Take Down WordPress Lawyer's Post About Idiocy Of Algorithmic Takedowns

from the that's-an-exclamation-point dept

We’ve had a lot of talk lately about the idiocy of automated content blocking, whether done by Facebook or by big movie studios like Warner Bros. issuing automated DMCA takedowns on its own site. Paul Sieminski*, the General Counsel for Automattic, was asked by Corporate Counsel magazine for his opinions on the WB takedowns (warning: possible registration or paywall). In it, Sieminski notes:

In the first six months of 2016, WordPress received 4,258 DMCA takedown notices, 9 percent of which were rejected as abusive, according to the company’s Transparency Report. And though those numbers are nowhere near the volume of, say, Google, the costs of those abuses are high, Sieminski says. “There’s really a big chilling effect on speech, especially controversial speech, because there’s a very handy tool to use to remove that type of reporting from the internet,” he says. “And as a company, we have to invest in the human resources ? to sift through the mountain of notices we get.”

There are some more interesting quotes in there as well. Having himself featured in Corporate Counsel Magazine seems like reason enough for a Facebook post, so Paul posted a link to the story on Facebook as well, with a little blurb noting how it was “fun” to be quoted, and how such automated takedowns “happen hundreds of times a day, but make the news only occasionally.”

Can you guess what happened next? Of course you can…

Facebook’s automated takedown algorithms decided that Paul’s brief post and link about how bad automated takedowns are… got taken down, because irony lives.

Facebook claims that posting about automated takedowns and how they’re problematic somehow violates its Community Standards. Obviously, this is a mistake (yet another one) by Facebook’s autotakedown system, but it really does help highlight the point of how problematic this kind of system can be, when perfectly legitimate speech is silenced, because a bot thinks it’s bad.

* Full disclosure: Automattic recently sponsored & hosted our event on copyright reform, and Paul was our main contact there for that event.

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Companies: automattic, facebook

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Comments on “Facebook Algorithms Take Down WordPress Lawyer's Post About Idiocy Of Algorithmic Takedowns”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Because they got government to agree that everyone is guilty until proven innocent and American Citizen tend to agree with that philosophy. Well… actually humanity tends to agree with that philosophy.

The idea of innocent until proven guilty is in reality, extremely difficult to maintain. There is a reason why the founding fathers said things like…

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

The natural flow of government is towards tyranny.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

That last one is in the Declaration of Independence… a Document that has essentially been declared an act of Terrorism under our new laws!

John85851 (profile) says:

But Facebook is a private site with its own rules

I’m confused. Why are people blaming the government or calling this tyranny?

The fact is that Facebook is a private site with its own rules of what it (or its bots) will allow to be posted. If we don’t like it, we should switch to another platform, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, or start something new. And if enough of us start to leave Facebook over these issues, maybe they’ll start changing their rules.

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