Parler's CEO Promises That When It Comes Back… It'll Moderate Content… With An Algorithm

from the are-you-guys-serious? dept

Parler, Parler, Parler, Parler. Back in June of last year when Parler was getting lots of attention for being the new kid on the social media scene with a weird (and legally nonsensical) claim that it would only moderate “based on the 1st Amendment and the FCC” we noted just how absolutely naive this was, and how the company would have to moderate and would also have to face the same kinds of impossible content moderation choices that every other website eventually faces. In fact, we noted that the company (in part due to its influx of users) was seemingly speedrunning the content moderation learning curve.

Lots of idealistic, but incredibly naive, website founders jump into the scene and insist that, in the name of free speech they won’t moderate anything. But every one of them quickly learns that’s impossible. Sometimes that’s because the law requires you to moderate certain content. More often, it’s because you recognize that without any moderation, your website becomes unusable. It fills up with garbage, spam, harassment, abuse and more. And when that happens, it becomes unusable by normal people, drives away many, many users, and certainly drives away any potential advertisers. And, finally, in such an unusable state it may drive away vendors — like your hosting company that doesn’t want to deal with you any more.

And, as we noted, Parler’s claims not to moderate were always a part of the big lie. The company absolutely moderated, and the CEO even bragged to a reporter about banning “leftist trolls.” The whole “we’re the free speech platform” was little more than a marketing ploy to attract trolls and assholes, with a side helping of “we don’t want to invest in content moderation” like every other site has to.

Of course, as the details have come out in the Amazon suit, the company did do some moderation. Just slowly and badly. Last week, the company admitted that it had taken down posts from wacky lawyer L. Lin Wood in which he called for VP Mike Pence to face “firing squads.”

Amazon showed, quite clearly, that it gave Parler time to set up a real content moderation program, but the company blew it off. But now, recognizing it has to do something, Parler continues to completely reinvent all the mistakes of every social media platform that has come before it. Parler’s CEO, John Matze, is now saying it will come back with “algorithmic” content moderation. This was in an interview done on Fox News, of course.

“We?re going to be doing things a bit differently. The platform will be free speech first, and we will abide by and we will be promoting free speech, but we will be taking more algorithmic approaches to content but doing it to respect people?s privacy, too. We want people to have privacy and free speech, so we don?t want to track people. We don?t want to use their history and things of that nature to predict possible violations, but we will be having algorithms look at all the content ? to try and predict whether it?s a terms-of-service violation so we can adjust quicker and the most egregious things can get taken down,” Matze said. “So calls for violence, incitements, things of that nature, can be taken down immediately.”

This is… mostly word salad. The moderation issue and the privacy question are separate. So is the free speech issue. Just because people have free speech rights, it doesn’t mean that Parler (or anyone) has to assist them.

Also, Matze is about to learn (as every other company has) that algorithms can help a bit, but really won’t be of much help in the long run. Companies with much more resources, including Google and Facebook, have thrown algorithmic approaches to content moderation at their various platforms, and they are far from perfect. Parler will be starting from a much weaker position, and will almost certainly find that the algorithm doesn’t actually replace a true trust and safety program like most companies have.

In that interview, Matze is also stupidly snarky about Amazon’s tool, claiming:

“We even offered to Amazon to have our engineers immediately use Amazon services ? Amazon Rekognition and other tools ? to find that content and get rid of it quickly and Amazon said, ?That?s not enough,? so apparently they don?t believe their own tools can be good enough to meet their own standards,” he said.

That’s incredibly misleading, and makes Matze look silly. Amazon Rekognition is a facial recognition system. What does that have to do with moderating harassment, death threats, and abuse off your site? Absolutely nothing.

Instead of filing terrible lawsuits and making snarky comments, it’s stunning that Parler doesn’t shut up, find an actual expert on trust and safety to hire, and learn from what every other company has done in the past. That’s not to say it needs to handle the moderation in the same way. More variation and different approaches are always worth testing out. The problem is that you should do that from a position of knowledge and experience, not ignorance. Parler has apparently chosen the other path.

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Koby (profile) says:

Freedom is Feared

Just because people have free speech rights, it doesn’t mean that Parler (or anyone) has to assist them.

But when people have free speech rights, they sure want to express it, and there’s a big market for it, and the current tech oligopoly truly fears it. The SJWs that currently work for the tech companies don’t want competition, and they don’t want to provide a free speech platform; they want to control everyone’s speech.

Theoretically having certain freedoms, but no means to express them is worthless.

Whitehat says:

Re: Re: Freedom is Feared

Interesting. You know what else was abhorrent to the majority? The freeing of black slaves,the Civil Rights Act,miscegenation,trannies in public, and gay marriage. Looks like those things were forced through anyway and the people who didn’t like them just had to put up with it.

Some people have learned that no one gives a shit what they find abhorrent and some people have yet to learn that lesson but are going to very soon because no status quo stays the status quo forever and when the people who think they have a right to silence 80 million people find themselves out of power,there’s going to be a whole lot of abhorrent shit happening to them that no one is going to give a shit about. Laugh it up while you can,Chuckles.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: A right to silence 80 million people

Remember 80 million is how many voted against Trump. And it’s not like there are other coalitions that have been silenced for decades if not centuries.

The federal government has long had opportunities to take steps to better serve the public and has failed mostly because anyone who gets into power is short-sighted and refuses to yield any of their own power for the benefit of the public.

And when I complain we’re going to need violence to change that, this is why. Getting the right guy in office is impossible with the current system. These are irrecoverable faults.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Bigotry never matters.

I grew up in a Wonderbread suburban community in the seventies. In a school district of thousands of students, we had a few brown people. The rest were pasty-faced whites like me.

And the churches were at each others’ throats. The Episcopalians hated the Methodists who hated the Lutherans. Society still segregated by religion and class.

Oh, our 21st century Christian ministers pretend there’s a united front today, but they still hate less-radicalized faiths and the Catholics. But yeah, they publicly rather throw shade at New Atheists and secularists, now that they are organized movements.

(In the seventies, only academics and scientists really thought about and embraced naturalism. They weren’t much of a threat. Also all the television evangelists were still lechers coming out regularly with sex scandals.)

But the conservatives who act on their gut will always be dissatisfied with a society larger than a band of fifty. They’ll always be looking to reduce the Other Guys to an underclass. And, it seems, some of them will never get over the fact we live in a society of hundreds of millions, and there are great benefits to doing that which they enjoy.

But if you do insist on weeding out the weeklings, smashing their windows and kicking in their doors then you’ll find the next civilization which does learn how to get along will conquer yours, and make you their underclass.

…Or would if we weren’t expecting a blue ocean event in the mid 2030s.

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Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Freedom is Feared

Ever ask yourself why nobody takes you seriously? Read that post back to yourself out loud, that’s why. Serious people don’t toss around terms like SJW.

The big tech platforms don’t give a damn about who says what, they want to make money. If they host hate speech, they will make less money because advertisers and most of their userbase don’t want to be associated with it. They don’t care about the political leanings of anyone but their board members, Facebook has a Roger Stone associate who served in the Bush II admin overseeing their political content for ***ks sake, put in place and kept there against the will of the rest of their employees. He’s actively sabotaging attempts at neutrality, damaging outlets like Mother Jones while promoting the likes of Dan Bongino and Ben Shapiro and preventing any moves to stop them gaming the system, hell, the site even put The Daily Caller in place as a fact checker… But in spite of everything Facebook hass done to the detriment of society over the past decade, all the propagandists, fr right conspiracy theorists they’ve promoted, all the targeted adverts that enabled the election of people who are unfit for office all over the world, they’re just so goshdarn biased against the right because the right won’t be happy until legitimate journalism is de-listed entirely and the N-words can fly free.

The right only care about free speech when it benefits them, they’ve shown they will silence dissenting voices every time they think they can get away with it, and the screeching victimhood is just a way for them to achieve that so they can get laws changed to make it harder for platforms to ban them for their rampant abuses of the terms of service they agree to when they sign up… Funny how the people who are most silenced are the ones who get to go all over the media telling that to the world.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Freedom is Feared

Serious people don’t toss around terms like SJW.

You might suppose that after someone complains about speech controls, that you would be a little more self-aware and not attempt to engage in speech controls. But I guess not. The term "SJW" is probably now being considered for Facebook’s banned word list.

The big tech platforms don’t give a damn about who says what, they want to make money.

Evidently not AWS. They stood to lose nothing, yet voluntarily engaged in banning instead of making more $$$.

They don’t care about the political leanings of anyone but their board members, Facebook has a Roger Stone associate who served in the Bush II admin overseeing their political content for ***ks sake, put in place and kept there against the will of the rest of their employees.

The "rest of their employees" are the very definition of "SJW"s. Actually, it’s not all of the remainder employees, but the politically active ones will try to scream louder as to seem like they represent 100% of the group. But thanks for letting us know that the SJWs are still very much a thing.

But in spite of everything Facebook hass done to the detriment of society over the past decade, all the propagandists, fr right conspiracy theorists they’ve promoted, all the targeted adverts that enabled the election of people who are unfit for office all over the world, they’re just so goshdarn biased against the right because the right won’t be happy until legitimate journalism is de-listed entirely

That’s your opinion, and you’re certainly entitled to it. But your recourse against speech with which you disagree is to speak out and try to convince people otherwise. It isn’t to ban people for disagreement. It isn’t to fact check political opinions or satire websites. It isn’t to only allow reporting for people who you deem to be legitimate journalists. It sounds like you are afraid of anything close to a level playing field.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Freedom is Feared

But your recourse against speech with which you disagree is to speak out and try to convince people otherwise.

Ah, so that’s where your life went wrong. Your recourse against such speech is to not listen to it. Go somewhere else. The logical response to disagreeable speech is not to shout louder.

You will never convince people you are right just as the sane will never convince you how wrong you are. People believe what they believe and that’s that. End of story. Shouting back will never convince someone they’re wrong. It does feel good to occasionally point out how screwed up your world view is though even though I know you will never change.

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JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Freedom is Feared

"The term "SJW" is probably now being considered for Facebook’s banned word list."

At the very least it’s on the "used in weak arguments" list.

"Evidently not AWS. They stood to lose nothing, yet voluntarily engaged in banning instead of making more $$$."

Even if you dismiss the possibility that they were showing a little civic responsibility, they obviously decided that having Parler as a customer was more likely to lose them money than make it. You don’t keep that sort. Business 101.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh, Koby. Every post you make about free speech or Section 230 is a kick in the balls.

You might suppose that after someone complains about speech controls, that you would be a little more self-aware and not attempt to engage in speech controls.

You can say “SJW” all you want. But no one is obliged to take you seriously if you do. People letting you know you’re an asshole is not “speech control”. In the real world, people call that “consequences”.

The term "SJW" is probably now being considered for Facebook’s banned word list.

Let’s assume that statement is true. So what?

They stood to lose nothing

They stood to lose business if other customers decided they didn’t want to associate with Amazon over its hosting of Parler. Every decision means giving something up. Amazon decided its bottom line was more important than letting terrorists, fascists, and other such assholes use AWS servers in the name of freeze peach.

the politically active ones will try to scream louder as to seem like they represent 100% of the group

That makes me think of a bunch of people who went to Washington D.C. last week with the intent of screaming loud enough to make Congress think they were wholly representative of “the people”.

How did that end, again? ????

your recourse against speech with which you disagree is to speak out and try to convince people otherwise

People who run platforms for speech have several recourses against speech they don’t like/don’t want on their platform. One such recourse is “more speech”. Another is “shut them down, kick them out, and never let them back in”. That you might not like the second one doesn’t make it “wrong” for others to use it when they feel they must. Yes or no: Do you want Twitter to let White racist assholes keep slinging racial slurs at Black users because those slurs are legally protected speech?

It isn’t to ban people for disagreement.

“I like pineapple on pizza” is a point of disagreement. The Fourteen Words are a preface to fascist speech. Yes or no: Should Twitter allow people who espouse fascist beliefs to use the service if Twitter admins don’t want fascist assholes on Twitter?

It isn’t to fact check political opinions or satire websites.

You said “your recourse against speech with which you disagree is to speak out and try to convince people otherwise”. How is “more speech” now a bad thing?

It isn’t to only allow reporting for people who you deem to be legitimate journalists.

Alex Jones calling the Sandy Hook massacre “a false flag operation” isn’t “reporting”.

It sounds like you are afraid of anything close to a level playing field.

And you sound like you want special treatment for certain kinds of speech — as in, you want that speech forced onto platforms that don’t want to host it. Yes or no: Do you believe the government should have the legal right to compel any privately owned interactive web service into hosting legally protected speech that the owners/operators of said service don’t want to host?

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"“I like pineapple on pizza” is a point of disagreement. The Fourteen Words are a preface to fascist speech. Yes or no: Should Twitter allow people who espouse fascist beliefs to use the service if Twitter admins don’t want fascist assholes on Twitter?"

Not to mention – if AWS implemented a rule stating that no pizza place can host a website there if they offer a Hawaiian option, they’d presumably be free to do so. It would be a bizarre and quite silly rule, but I wouldn’t believe there’s be a legal reason why they couldn’t kick people off for violating their pizza clause.

Given that, why is it problematic to kick off literal insurrectionists?

"You said “your recourse against speech with which you disagree is to speak out and try to convince people otherwise”. How is “more speech” now a bad thing?"

Koby doesn’t deal with fully formed ideas, so they can change depending on what he’s whining about at that given moment.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You said “your recourse against speech with which you disagree is to speak out and try to convince people otherwise”. How is “more speech” now a bad thing?

Because it’s too effective. It’s much harder to con people when they know you’re a liar and if lies are all someone has then someone flat out telling their audience ‘what they just said is a lie and here’s why’ is far more effective than trying to be ‘polite’ by not calling a liar a liar, making the former tactic a huge problem if you either are the liar in question or are on their side.

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Whitehat says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"“I like pineapple on pizza” is a point of disagreement. The Fourteen Words are a preface to fascist speech. Yes or no: Should Twitter allow people who espouse fascist beliefs to use the service if Twitter admins don’t want fascist assholes on Twitter?"

Interesting argument. However,I note that currently in the United States, a private homeowner selling or renting his home can’t decline to sell or rent his home to a "black asshole" or a "gay asshole" because they’re black or gay,and since we are constantly told that black or brown people can’t be racist it would seem that "fascist" is a racial slur for a White person,as all White people are to be assumed to be racists or fascists,so declining to serve a "fascist asshole" is in effect declining to serve a "White asshole",which as I’ve noted,is already illegal in the case of a "black asshole",a "gay asshole", a "hispanic asshole" or a "female asshole" by federal law.

"And you sound like you want special treatment for certain kinds of speech — as in, you want that speech forced onto platforms that don’t want to host it. Yes or no: Do you believe the government should have the legal right to compel any privately owned interactive web service into hosting legally protected speech that the owners/operators of said service don’t want to host?"

Lolololololol,special treatment. That’s precious. Hmmm,yes or no, do I believe the government should force web services into hosting legally protected speech they don’t want to host? How about….yes? They forced Christian private schools to teach Darwin’s Theory of Evolution,which I believe is correct,however they didn’t want to "host" that content. They force people to use the wrong pronouns for men in dresses,nobody wanted to "host" that content. They forced tens of thousands of White men to listen to so-called "white privilege" sermons from people who make hundreds of thousands a year telling people who make 20k a year how privileged they are. So..yeah. What I want is for the government to force,at gunpoint, the assholes who are given a free hand in the mainstream media to go on and on about how everyone with the same skin tone as me is an evil piece of shit from the day they’re born to host the replies of the people they are lecturing to their bullshit moral preening. Not because of the First Amendment but just because I think it would be funny for them to be in that position. How about that,retard?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"They forced Christian private schools to teach Darwin’s Theory of Evolution,which I believe is correct"

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but aren’t private schools free to do such things, the issues only apply to school that wish to continue to receive public funding while violating the separation of church and state? Private religious schools are free to sermonise as much as they want if Liberty University is anything to go by, it’s just that if you want to preach your religion you don’t get to be funded by other religions that make up the general population.

As for the rest of what you said, that sounds like the typical victim complex of bigots who don’t like the fact that their bigotry is being noticed, and they have to enter into their personal horror state of having to consider the viewpoints of others.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "Black people can't be racist"

That’s been an argument for some time, and it’s one I never got. Of course black people can be racist, but it doesn’t justify racism against them.

In the LGBT+ community bisexuals have been given short shrift for decades because of the political identity aspect. Prejudiced straights think they’re gay. Prejudiced gays think they’re traitors. But it’s entirely possible to simultaneously like the D and the V, and to love the people to whom they’re attached regardless of which they got.

There are assholes amongst all folk of all types. And we’re not asking that any group or identity be adored, just treated as the same mud apes as the rest of us. Women too.

Is it possible to not privilege anyone?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 "Black people can't be racist"

"Of course black people can be racist, but it doesn’t justify racism against them."

It’s ultimately a power dynamic. Every race can be prejudiced against any other, but historically that has different effects depending on who is being prejudiced against.

"Is it possible to not privilege anyone?"

Theoretically yes, but it doesn’t work when you let the reality of human nature inform your decisions. Subconsciously, we all have biases, which is why it’s better for communities or individuals to decide who they want to associate with, rather than force people who don’t wish to associate to be around each other.

Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That makes me think of a bunch of people who went to Washington D.C. last week with the intent of screaming loud enough to make Congress think they were wholly representative of “the people”.

How did that end, again?

If memory serves, it ended with a substantial portion of one party’s representatives agreeing that the crowd was sufficiently representative that they would vote to overturn the election. Unless I am imagining things, it ends with a couple of senators from one party actually encouraging the mob.

So, if I recall correctly, it seems that there were a few convenient idiots sacrificed, offered up for arrest and ignomy, in order to provide backing for a substantial portion of one party’s election-voiding views. In other words, it worked out better than should have been expected for the recent election losers.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "Better than expected for election losers"

I think that more indicates just how effective the Republican / MAGA stranglehold is on US politics. Our federal government has been ineffective for decades, and while the people don’t know how to fix that, they sure are angry about it.

And it doesn’t help that most of us are in a state of survival insecurity. Without a plan, killing off the oddballs and marginalized is the first place our brain goes.

Rats in a flour silo will eat and multiply until the food runs out. Then they turn on each other. The survivors eat the dead. And all the while we can’t expect the people to do their civic diligence when they’re hangry and exhausted all the time.

All the GOP has to do is obstruct until the next election cycle, and they’ll be back in power. And the next purge program will likely include dissenters.

Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Freedom is Feared

Hate speech and hosting the organising I a terrorist attack are bad bad for a company’s public image, AWS had more to gain by dumping Parler than keeping them, simple as that.

The right absolutely do not give a crap about free speech, whenever we’ve seen the right ruse to power, the free press is the first thing they crack down on until propaganda outlets are all that stand, and let’s be honest here, those are all you’re interested in defending. Trump attacked the media from the get go, his supporters attacked those they knew were journalists during the insurrection, while Infowars, The Blaze and others were left alone to take photos and video at the heart of the assault on democracy.

You don’t give a crap about fairness, appealing to a sense of fairness is a technique for getting and keeping foot in the door to you. You won’t say a thing when it’s voices on the left being assaulted, getting death threats because figures on the right instigated it, you don’t care about freedom of the press, all you care about is the right keeping their radicalization tools, keeping their access to a wider audience and having the right to say the n word and yelling fire in crowded theatres without fear of there being consequences.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Freedom is Feared

"AWS had more to gain by dumping Parler than keeping them, simple as that"

It’s also worth stressing that according to the statements issued by Amazon, they had been telling Parler to clean up their act for months as they were in violation of their T&Cs. The attack on the Capitol just forced their hand into actually enforcing them.

As with Trumps’ Twitter account, right-wingers are crying about persecution, but in reality all this represents is them having been given special treatment for months or years, and the removal of service is really just direct consequences of their own actions.

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Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Freedom is Feared

It’s also interesting how Koby and his ilk on the faux free speech squad on the right aren’t irate about the right wing donors who’ve pulled their funding now the site is a liability. It’s almost as though they’re opportunists whose priority is to use everything as a means to force the internet right, even though amoral libertarians run all their favourite targets already.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Freedom is Feared

Yes, the whining about "big tech" refusing to let them use their private property is notably absent in the fact of Wal Mart and various other organisations retracting their funding for insurrectionist Republicans.

Whether that’s because they are applying different standards or because their echo chambers haven’t issued the talking points yet remains to be seen.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Freedom is Feared

They found that Parler let them talk to people with the same viewpoints, and where the fun in that when all the people they want to harass are on other social media sites. Restoring Parler is not a again for them, while forcing their way onto Facebook and Twitter would be.

Anonymous Coward says:

They need to hire real tech experts, , they were using a free version of certain data software, this resulted in all the posts, image,s ,video, s being copied complete with location data .97 per cent of the data on parler was downloaded by hacktivists before amazon shut down the servers.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/12/parler-data-downloaded/
i don,t think theres any program that can just delete all harmful content ,
without the help of human moderators .
its well known that china is collecting ALL data on facebook, and linkedin for future possible surveillance .
the average 18 year old facebook, instagram user could in 10 years time be a security contractor,
be working in the cia or microsoft or in the military .
people don,t understand any post or image you post on a forum is public or could be made public in the future .
parler was so badly run that posts or data that users thought was deleted
was still on the servers waiting to be downloaded by anyone that wanted it.

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Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Funny how 1984 is always a threat when the right have to suffer the consequences of not playing by the rules they agree to when they sign up to a service, not when the right are cancelling people for objecting to war, police brutality, showing even the slightest hint of supporting socialism, for wanting to reduce the absurdly bloated military budget, for taxing the rich, for treating muslims as people…

Anonymous Coward says:

Say that in court

… "algorithmic" content moderation. This was in an interview done on Fox News…

According to @QuinnyPig, this was part of Parler’s argument in court today.

And now a livetweet thread of a legal conference in the case of C21-31-BJR, Parler LLC v. @awscloud
.
 . . .

They’re now saying an "algorithm" can solve their moderation problems.

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Claude Bahlz says:

Parlerization

"The problem is that you should do that from a position of knowledge and experience, not ignorance. Parler has apparently chosen the other path."

Parler IS a web-site based solely upon ignorance. Without ignorance, it would have nothing BUT spam, abuse and troll talk as posts.
Without ignorance, all of its regular posters would be aware of reality and facts and stop being assholes, as well as stop posting on Parler.

Parler did not choose the other path.
Parler is the other path.

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