Be Careful What You Wish For: Demanding Platforms Delete Disinformation May Make It Harder To Understand What Happened

from the watch-out dept

Here’s another one in the “be careful what you wish for” category. Over the last few years, under tons of pressure from politicians and many users, various internet platforms have gotten more and more aggressive in removing content and accounts that were credibly accused of spreading disinformation and propaganda. Most people cheered over this, and you can completely understand why. But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t create some consequences that might not all be good. J.A. Guerrero-Saade points out that all of this content removal can make things harder for researchers and investigators.

I’m reminded, somewhat, of all the demands in the past (and present) that these platforms need to take down “terrorist” content as quickly as possible. That ignores the fact that “terrorist” content can actually also be evidence of war crimes and atrocities that it might be useful for certain people to see. It also makes it that much more difficult for investigators — whether government actors or open source investigative reporters — to track down the perpetrators.

In response to this thread, Facebook’s former Chief Security Officer, Alex Stamos, warned that he didn’t think the research Facebook conducted over the past few years to find Russian disinfo spreaders would even be allowable under the GDPR:

This, as always, is the kind of thing we’ve been concerned about from the very beginning with the GDPR. There may be the best of intentions behind it, and “protecting privacy” always sounds good. But there are significant consequences to this, and demanding that private data be locked up, or that “bad” content be deleted as fast as possible, can have significant real world consequences that we might not like very much over the long haul.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Be Careful What You Wish For: Demanding Platforms Delete Disinformation May Make It Harder To Understand What Happened”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
28 Comments
P. Hallus says:

Over 2 years YOU deliberately misunderstand "Trump-Russia"!

You simply don’t read what’s easily available when doesn’t fit your bias.

Now, who cares if some misinformation goes missing? TRUTH is always the same all times all places. You need only look.

If actually interested in TRUTH you would read this:

The Greatest Constitutional Crisis Since the Civil War

For more than two years, the United States and the world have had two competing narratives: that an elected president of the United States was a Russian agent whom the Kremlin helped elect; and its rival narrative that senior officials of the Justice Department, FBI, CIA, and other national intelligence organizations had repeatedly lied under oath, misinformed federal officials, and meddled in partisan political matters illegally and unconstitutionally and had effectively tried to influence the outcome of a presidential election, and then undo its result by falsely propagating the first narrative. It is now obvious and indisputable that the second narrative is the correct one.

https://amgreatness.com/2019/02/21/the-greatest-constitutional-crisis-since-the-civil-war/

P. Hallus says:

Re: Re: Over 2 years YOU deliberately misunderstand "Trump-

Read the article. Heavy on assertions, light on anything to support those assertions.

And your evidence to support the "Trump-Russia collusion" is WHAT?

State the 3 key facts of what Trump did. C’mon, you are tacitly claiming that if the article is light, then the alternative of T-RC must be true. SO SHOW YOUR FACTS.

Brought out a bunch of gainsaying trolls is all. I hesitated to comment, because gainsaying, insults, and ad hom are all one will get here from the fanboys. They are NEVER going to admit that there’s ZERO to "Trump-Russia collusion" than the allegations. (And don’t say "but convictions!" because those are incidental, don’t prove the main premise.)

TFG says:

Re: Re: Re: Over 2 years YOU deliberately misunderstand "Tr

I have made zero statements in this thread regarding the Trump-Russia collusion, and have neither the desire nor the need to attempt to prove it exists.

The entirety of my point in this particular interaction is that the article linked has provided no evidence to support its assertions, and so is suspect.

You can spout off all you like, but unless you got some sweet, sweet ev-i-dence, I will not believe you, and I will not believe the no-facts-all-opinion article you are basing your nonsense off of.

Now, if someone were to actually provide some evidence that anything said was actually true, then we might have something to talk about. As it is – Have an excellent day, Mr. Winner. Enjoy your flag collection.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Over 2 years YOU deliberately misunderstand "Trump-Russia"!

You simply don’t read what’s easily available when doesn’t fit your bias.

Are you spying on me that you know what I do and don’t read?

Now, who cares if some misinformation goes missing?

Let’s say someone commits a murder. He has an accomplice, that accomplice doesn’t take part in the actual act of murder but he does leave false evidence behind and lies to the police about what happened, thereby spreading some misinformation and deflecting the investigation from a guilty person to an innocent one. That accomplice is guilty of assisting the murder and obstructing justice. Both are serious crimes.

Now let’s say that the evidence the accomplice left behind goes missing from the police evidence lockup. By accident or on purpose doesn’t matter, it just does. That evidence links the accomplice to the murder and proves that he tried to obstruct justice. Without that misinformation, it’s impossible to prove he is guilty in trying to cover up a murder.

Lots of people care if misinformation goes missing. The fact that it isn’t true does not make it irrelevant information.

TRUTH is always the same all times all places. You need only look.

Exactly. And having the misinformation on hand can help clarify and point the way to the truth.

If actually interested in TRUTH you would read this:

I read your snippet. It presents no evidence to back up its assertions. Where is the evidence? And why would I trust baseless claims from a website I’ve never heard of and spouts blatant lies in their headlines?

P. Hallus says:

Re: Re: Over 2 years YOU deliberately misunderstand "Trump-

"Gary", you are more clearly "Dark Helmet" astro-turfing every time you get excited. Your aggressive challenges and bombast are distinctive.

For the record: I’m not happy with Trump, but the alternative to Trump was a known globalist fiend. Looks as though Trump is surrounded by neocons and Zionists and empirists and will start a "humanitarian war" in Venezuala to steal its oil TOO, a HUGE criminal flaw, like bombing Syria, which you types NEVER bring up.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Over 2 years YOU deliberately misunderstand "Trump-Russia"!

Hey buddy. Thanks for making sure to comment on every fucking post and doing so in a way that is always wrong. It’s impressive, and I look forward to you continuing your streak.

Anyhoo. Nothing in this post has anything to do with "Trump Russia collusion" other than mentioning, in passing, the collection of evidence of Russian trolls using Facebook to sow discord during the election. And, of course, that part has already been confirmed. But it’s unrelated to "collusion" which was not mentioned and has nothing to do with this post.

So, uh, why even bring up collusion?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

might radicalize

Key words here. Very few people are radicalized by terrorist content who weren’t already going down that path anyway.

And this is the internet we’re talking about here. If someone wants to find radical terrorist content on the internet, that’s not hard to do. Removing it from one section of it isn’t going to magically prevent people from being radicalized online.

Adrian Lopez says:

Freedom of speech

Practical issues aside, there is something very disturbing about online platforms being bullied into regulating speech online. The bedrock principle of the First Amendment is that the government does not get to be the arbiter of legitimate expression, but that’s exactly what they’re asking service providers to do through grandstanding and threats of legislation.

I wish online platforms would put up more of a fight. "Russian interference" deserves a place right alongside "what about terrorists" in the pantheon of lame pretexts for online regulation.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s all in the definition, history is replete with examples of the government (or other powerful people or organisations ) calling a news fragment false or fake only in the fullness of time to find out there was truth there. Terrorism similarly suffers, during the 70’s and 80’s the Irish Republic Army (IRA) was a terrorist origination bombing mainland England according to the UK government, but to Americans (particularly those of Irish decent in New York) these were freedom fighters, fighting oppression.

It feels binary, we either have an open free society where we trust an educated population to make their own judgments on information in the public domain or we don’t. Personally I would like to see it all and make my own mind up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Do you mean (Tommy Robinson?)[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Robinson_(activist)] AKA, the guy who spoke to InfoWars? Because if so, I found him on the internet.

Do you mean (Thomas S. Robertson?)[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_S._Robertson] Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania? Because if so, I found him on the internet.

Of course, if someone has been erased from the internet, they would not be available via internet searches, and thus a simple name would be of no use to anyone who has never heard of them – thus it would behoove you to share the details.

Rog S. says:

Re: Re: webscrubbing /webwashing

Take a look at how quickly Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, etc, delete the profiles of mass shooters, incel car crashers, and butter knife weilding Muslim targets of community harrassment.

Case after case reveals that psycholigical operators online target, and mercilessly harass these guys, and then, when they go ballistic, the helpful corpirations hit select all, delete, frequently at the direct request of US, or British law enforcement, or Israel.

https://theintercept.com/2017/12/30/facebook-says-it-is-deleting-accounts-at-the-direction-of-the-u-s-and-israeli-governments/

Rog S. says:

The core problem is, the US and our allies, and NGOs are so deeply involved in disinformation and other abuse, that platforms are also tasked with hiding THAT as evidence if our own malfeasance.

This is most apparent in such as cases where mass shooters and incel guys Facebook /Twitter /Snapchat is webscrubbed to hide the involvement of our own agencies and our allies PsyOps.

Perhaps the best documented of these is the case of William Atchison, of NM, who was followed in online gaming forums, chat rooms, and other places by British intel, and who was also followed and contacted by local US agents /agencies after utilizing pure speech.

https://encyclopediadramatica.rs/William_Atchison

Atchison was targeted by “mysterious ” online people for quite awhile, and visited by the FBI; and a British MP actually and remarkably, and specifically targeted Atchisons speech.

Then, his web presence was carefully filtered before the media after his shooting event. Which seems like an awful lot of attention from “handlers ” for a stupid hillbilly kid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s a conspiracy! It’s a conspiracy! Quick! Everybody put your hands in the air and run around screaming like a raving lunatic while simultaneously ignoring facts and reality!

And while we’re at it, let’s blame everything on big tech! Why? Why not! We don’t understand how it works, so it’s kind of like magic, and we used to burn witches at the stake! Makes perfect sense! Burn the magical big tech companies!

Rog S. says:

Re: Re: Re:3 More than you've got

~it’s a conspiracy! It’s a conspiracy! Quick! Everybody put your hands in the air and run around screaming like a raving lunatic while simultaneously ignoring facts and reality!~

And this, stated by an anonymous coward flapping its chicken wings in the air.

Hey hasbara cockroach bro, you could have added your name to your post, without fear.

And to be clear: psychological profiling and psyops online, and the associated harrassment of targeted speakers offline by nin -US agents, intelligence agencies and Israelis isnt just a conspiracy, its a national shame.

Fearless Anonymous Coward with more sense, bravery says:

Re: Re: Re:4 More than you've got

you could have added your name to your post, without fear.

Ok.

Happy now?

psychological profiling and psyops online, and the associated harrassment of targeted speakers offline by nin -US agents, intelligence agencies and Israelis isnt just a conspiracy,

Note I never actually said this never took place. I’m well aware of the use of psychological profiling and "psyops" by ALL governments in the world, including the US. They have their uses in certain situations.

What I’m calling BS on is your asserted fact that every Tom, Dick, and Harry mass shooter was radicalized via these means and the government subsequently tried to cover it up by forcing social media companies to delete their accounts and dump the evidence. THAT is what I am saying is nothing more than mad conspiracy theory ravings. And since THAT was the thrust of your entire post, hence my mockery of said post.

So unless you’ve got some evidence to prove me wrong, suck it up buttercup!

Oh, and I can still spell better than you.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...