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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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 20 Sep 2016 @ 6:52am

    Again, this is why the DMCA takedown system (calling it a "safe harbor" is an Orwellian abuse of our language) needs to be done away with. Nothing should be forcibly taken down until it has been demonstrated in a court of law that it's illegal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2016 @ 8:45am

      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!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2016 @ 8:49am

        Re: Re:

        The natural flow of government is towards tyranny

        Shhhh, don't tell the regressives that or they will quit voting for Dems.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2016 @ 11:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The natural flow of society is toward tyranny.

          If you remove government you get anarchy, which leads to tyranny by the back filling of the void by warlords and megalomaniac "leaders".

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2016 @ 11:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            So the answer is just enough government? I like that answer far better than what the left has to offer.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2016 @ 4:27pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I think most people want "just enough government"; everything else is just a difference of opinion about what that actually means.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    AricTheRed (profile), 20 Sep 2016 @ 8:45am

    Automatic take downs = Fight Club

    the 1st rule of Automatic Takedowns?

    Never Talk about AUTOMATIC TAKEDOWNS!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 20 Sep 2016 @ 10:07am

    Blizzard entertainment does something similar where exposing their mistakes when it comes to talking about bans and censorship gets you banned and censored on their websites

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ben Lien, 20 Sep 2016 @ 11:40am

    ...our robot overlords

    To me, this is just a signal from our robot overlords that they are listening and don't appreciate us talking badly about them. We really could be more respectful toward them...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mat (profile), 20 Sep 2016 @ 12:14pm

    huh

    ... If I wanted to make sure my audience never heard about the issue I'd write my removal program to remove mentions about it... So program working as planned?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 20 Sep 2016 @ 12:54pm

    We need decentralized networks where the only one that can take down anything is the original creator of the post. Actually we need that in about every single system that accepts user generated content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2016 @ 1:10pm

    If Facebook had a gun.

    It's not my fault I shot that person in the head. I was holding an *automatic* pistol. All I did was hold it to their head and pull the trigger. The gun did the rest, so don't blame me!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2016 @ 6:15pm

      Re: If Facebook had a gun.

      And except for that one murder you are an "otherwise law-abiding citizen" naturally. They should give you a pass

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2016 @ 2:14pm

    "Facebook claims that posting about automated takedowns and how they're problematic somehow violates its Community Standards."

    Facebook is claiming? Or is it the automated takedown bots claiming the violation? Maybe the robots are just looking out for their jobs?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rob, 20 Sep 2016 @ 4:41pm

    Mistake?

    Obviously, this is a mistake

    You sure about that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    curmudgeoninchief, 21 Sep 2016 @ 6:51pm

    Kind of "Meta", wasn't it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 2:26pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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