Once Again: Expecting Social Media Companies To Police 'Bad' Stuff Is A Bad Idea

from the it-doesn't-work-folks dept

It's not clear how many times we're going to need to repeat this, but when people call for internet platforms to wave magic wands and get rid of the "bad" people, they may not like how things actually turn out. As you may have heard, last month Twitter rewrote its guidelines, and promised that it would be using those updated guidelines to kick off more "bad" people. Twitter, as a private company can set up its service however it likes, but it was striking how many people were giddily awaiting yesterday when the new rules were set to take effect. There was talk of how Twitter was magically about to become fun and nice again. The reality was a little bit more mundane.

A few extremists, like the leaders of the nutty Britain First party in the UK were barred, but lots of others, including "famous" white nationalists were allowed to remain:

Prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer, for example, was not suspended. Nor was former grand wizard of the KKK David Duke — although Duke is reporting that some of his posts are hidden behind the “sensitive material” warning. Curiously enough, his “It’s Ok To Be White” message appears in the header image, but is censored in his timeline behind a sensitive material warning.

But, of course, the takedowns also shut down some accounts in a manner that some people felt was wrong. A key example: Egyptian journalist Wael Abbas, who has a long history of documenting human rights abuses.

Abbas is blogger-in-chief for the website Misr Digit@l, which posted about the suspension, saying it involved the deletion of “over 250,000 tweets. Dozens of thousands of pictures, videos and live streams from the middle of every crisis in Egypt with date stamp on them, reporting on people who got tortured, killed or missing. Live coverage of events as they happened in the street.”

This kind of takedown is not unprecedented. Indeed, we've written multiple times about YouTube taking down the accounts of people documenting war crimes and human rights abuses, because these platforms have difficulty determining the difference between promoting war crimes and documenting them.

What's really troubling about all of this, though, is that many are still focusing on why Twitter should be waving a magic wand to fix this problem, while at the same time criticizing the company for leaving up some accounts, while taking down others. It's easy to sit behind your laptop and insist it's "easy" to know which accounts are "good" and which accounts are "bad," but the truth is that it's almost impossible for a company to actually make such a determination without tons of false positives and false negatives. And that's because there is no objective measure of "good" or "bad" that they can go on, and the scale of the problem is completely unfathomable to most users.

Some think that that answer to all this is that the platforms need to "do better" about this, but it still seems like a situation where people are expecting too much of the platforms and not understanding the difficulty in making these kinds of determinations. Yes, Twitter can manage its platform any way it wants, but people should be cautious about demanding Twitter silence people (or, even worse, that it be legally required to do so), because you're not going to like many of the choices that it makes -- either in leaving up people you don't like, or taking down those you do.

Instead, we really need to be thinking about better overall systems to encourage good behavior online, without assuming that the only possible thing that can be done is to have the platforms act as speech police. They're not good at it, and no amount of yelling at them is going to make them good at it.


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 12:21pm

    Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    Common sense is so HARD for snowflakes! Quit making excuses for corporations!

    Any bartender / bouncer makes similar judgments every day, usually well.

    Of course, that's because bartenders / bouncers are generally honest, where I totally loath the globalist, corporatist, New World Order motives of Twitter / Google / Facebook -- and every other corporation.

    Corporatist you asserts that "Twitter can manage its platform any way it wants". -- OBVIOUSLY NOT TRUE! Neither in theory nor practice, as you just prior pointed out that politicians will be happy to prove.

    You want corporations to have absolute power to control all speech on "platforms", and to put that over you're using the notion that Twitter is incompetent so people shouldn't ask it to do what ANY and EVERY bar owner does.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    What sort of silliness are you preaching here?
    It is easy to complain about nebulous items but where's the beef?

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

  3. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Dec 2017 @ 12:32pm

    'I don't have to do it, therefore it's easy and you're just lazy.'

    Some think that that answer to all this is that the platforms need to "do better" about this, but it still seems like a situation where people are expecting too much of the platforms and not understanding the difficulty in making these kinds of determinations.

    So, 'nerd harder' then, just using different words.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    You have absolutely no idea of the scale difference between a bar where a few dozen people, or even a few hundred visit in one night and social platforms where thousands of accounts are created every minute.

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    Of course, that's because bartenders / bouncers are generally honest...

    ... sure, right.

    You want corporations to have absolute power to control all speech on "platforms", and to put that over you're using the notion that Twitter is incompetent so people shouldn't ask it to do what ANY and EVERY bar owner does.

    ...except the claim isn't that Twitter et al are incompetent, it's that, even though they're competent, stuff still slips through. Further, your claim implies that bartenders/owners are competent and never make mistakes, which is provably false.

    Twitter is a lone bartender who runs a bar for 10,000 people, on 100 of whom speak the same language (the rest just point at the menu). The bar attempts to accept "every" id, some of which they've never seen before. Some people are insisting that they're of legal drinking age where they're from. Two people come up, claiming that each other should be removed from the premises for something that happened outside the bar. Oh, and another 500 people just walked in and ordered their first drinks.

    Good luck tending bar!

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    Didn’t I tell you to take your meds EVERY day?!?

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

  7. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:01pm

    ha ha...

    so "it's okay to be white" is racist
    while
    "its okay to be black" is not?

    yea... nothing hypocritical about that at all!

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    Your adolescent perspectives are adorable.

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

  9. icon
    Rapnel (profile), 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:10pm

    Re:

    I think your prism is cracked. When born white there is a significant degree of privilege that that pure luck draw comes with.

    So, if considering all of the things "It's okay to be black" actually, generally, carries quite a bit more weight than "It's okay to be white" where the latter, again, generally, seems like a very rare circumstance indeed. Unless you're just whistling for the dog, of course.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:11pm

    Re:

    Perhaps you lack an understanding of history?

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:15pm

    random thoughts

    To a large degree we could blame copyright law with its draconian penalties, because policies and mechanisms originally established to combat copyright infringement on user-content sites have slowly been expanded to cover more and more things that people might find objectable for whatever reason.

    An amusing bit of censorship was Youtube's recent ban on bump-fire rifle videos in response to the Las Vegas shooting. People were suddenly getting hit with takedowns and "strikes" against their accounts for instructional and product-review videos made and uploaded many years ago - videos already seen by millions that no one had ever objected to previously.

    Although the human censors at Twitter and many other platforms are undeniably left-wing/liberal/progressive in their sensibilities, much of the routine everyday censorship appears to be an automated process, which often results in users "gaming the system" by organizing flagging parties to take down content they don't appreciate. Whether we like it or not, it seems that this "tyranny of the majority" is the direction the internet is moving toward.

    Perhaps social media needs to be set up more like a rap album, with both a G-rated version and an uncensored version. I certainly wouldn't mind if Techdirt offered that option ... or at least cleaned up the page code to make it less cluttered for the people who on occasion seem to (involuntarily) spend more time viewing the page code than the HTML version in an effort to see the many hidden comments that triggered an avalanche of rebuttals. But that's not to complain about Techdirt, as this is just about the only small site I know of where moderators do not routinely delete whatever annoys them.

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

  12. icon
    An Onymous Coward (profile), 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    You're not a software engineer so you can be forgiven for not knowing what follows. But you cannot be forgiven for pushing an agenda based on false and incomplete information then abusing your opposition from that ultimately flawed platform. Read on and educate yourself:

    Twitter handles millions of tweets every day. Processing that amount of information is not something you can hire enough people to do in a manner that results in those tweets reaching their audience in anything less than several hours and at a cost that would cripple the company. No, this kind of thing must be automated.

    Computers do not think. They don't reason and they don't have any capacity to be "subjective". There is a lot of software out there now that seems somewhat "intelligent" and "reasoned" but it isn't. It's pure algorithm and even the best AI is still following a script of sorts. We have not developed the computer that can independently think like a human and accurately determine, in just a few milliseconds, which tweets should be published and which should not.

    Even humans would mess this up with alarming regularity. 140 characters is too little context to understand every message. Often you have to know that user's tweet history, the culture where they live and numerous other factors to determine with any degree of accuracy whether any given message should be posted.

    We are nowhere near the technological level required to emulate a flawed room full of human reviewers much less improve upon them.

    tl;dr You have no idea what you're talking about. Please go away and let the adults talk.

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

  13. icon
    An Onymous Coward (profile), 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Re:

    Not any more. Please recalibrate your understanding of racism.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:30pm

    Re: random thoughts

    >which often results in users "gaming the system" by organizing flagging parties to take down content they don't appreciate.

    Therefore imposing there sensibility on other people, which makes them the same as other extremists, which is an intolerance of differing viewpoints.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re:

    I don't get it. Outside of economic and legal factors, I don't see see any merit in demanding the living pay for the sins of the dead. Ethnic discrimination in reverse just breeds hatred without correcting the echoes of past injustices.

    I understand unequal starting points in society as an echo of the socio-economic repercussions of bigotry from past generations. To that end I'm even willing to support a reparations program.

    But the modern day discourse goes beyond that. It often vilifies people for being born with an evil amount of melanin in their skin (or being born with the Wrong genitalia).

    This vilification may be cathartic for activists, but it ends up being a banner for extremists to rally against as well as being corrosive to public discourse in general.

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

  16. icon
    Rapnel (profile), 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I don't understand. Are you saying "black" should now be "any shade of brown"?

    Or are you saying that being born (looking) white no longer comes with the privilege one would might expect from a mostly a white-bred, white-led society?

    Or?...

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

  17. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:52pm

    Re:

    The former is a thinly-veiled rallying cry for White nationalists. The latter is Black people asserting their humanity. If you do not see the difference, that sounds like a personal problem.

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

  18. icon
    An Onymous Coward (profile), 20 Dec 2017 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm referring to the "privilege" portion of your argument. I've spent most of my life in a moderately mixed, liberal region and have not witnessed anything resembling "white privilege" since middle school. And there it was just kids being stupid, as kids will do.

    In fact, I've seen the hiring and promotion of less qualified minorities simply to tick a box. More than once. Those whites in power you speak of are falling over themselves to avoid any appearance of favoring other whites. The net result is the opposite of privilege.

    History is history, no debating that. And there is a long way to go before there is universal equality. But the reality right now, today, in any given situation does not resemble what it might have in the 60's.

    Maybe where I am is just that different from the rest of the country.

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 2:13pm

    The wording of this title needs to be changed.

    Asking social media companies to police "bad" stuff is a bad idea.

    On the other hand, expecting social media companies to continue "policing"/silencing whatever they define as wrongthink is just common sense, as they've been doing exactly that for years.

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

  20. identicon
    Thad, 20 Dec 2017 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Or maybe the plural of "anecdote" is not "data".

    Government positions are still disproportionately white. African-American and Latinos have less wealth and worse access to healthcare than whites.

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

  21. icon
    Rapnel (profile), 20 Dec 2017 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think I see. I understand the position but I think it is one mired in the failed (failing?) politics of acceptance, mere acceptance. At best a tentative acknowledgement. Enlightenment is a long, long way off. I think your position illustrates that perfectly but it's not like we're faced with a lack of other evidence either.

    It looks like you've effectively colored (can I do that here?) your opinion based solely on what you can see, perhaps even through the foggy lens of your own privilege. There is some oblique dismissal on your part. I will posit (almost with absolute certainty) that any white child exposed to this society is a child with a leg up. A tiny leg, perhaps, in certain situations, locations or conditions, but a solid little step up nonetheless.

    It's pretty easy and all too palatable to view the privilege of (vast) wealth, near and far, is it not? There is little in the way of subtlety there. The rich do not need to acknowledge the plight of the poor, do they? No, no they don't. Privilege, like power, is readily and easily abused and just as easily that abuse can simple be waved away, like a fly on your fruit pie.

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

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "I don't see see any merit in demanding the living pay for the sins of the dead. "

    Reparations? Where did that come from, I did not mention it.
    I was pointing out how history may explain to OP what OP was asking about.

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Re:

    I find it interesting how many do not see their white privilege and they get angry about it.

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

  24. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Dec 2017 @ 3:55pm

    Re:

    Maybe a better title would be 'Thinking that social media companies can police "Bad" stuff reasonably is even possible.'

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

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I find it interesting that this "white privilege" theory is so pervasive throughout present-day academia despite it's utter lack of any sort of (non-cherrypicked) empirical evidence to back it up. (facts, not feelings, please)

    It's also funny that the few "academics" who write about this phenomena always turn out to be idealogues from the political left who approach the topic with preconceived conclusions. That is, they don't seek proof of "white privilege", but accept it as an indisputable axiom that can only be proven in the positive (any other finding would hence mean that the research itself was flawed and should thus be ignored). It's a "science" that's as close to a religion as it can be.

    How does the "white privilege" theory answer the question of why the Appalachian Mountain region of the USA can be both the poorest region and the "whitest" region of the country at the very same time?

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

  26. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Dec 2017 @ 5:43pm

    Stigma

    While it is not possible to go through life without others imposing their views upon you, it is possible to go through life without you imposing their views on others. It is becoming more apparent that it is not possible to go through life without other assuming that views they have are owned and imposed by you, whether you impose those views or not. Worse, it is assumed that one holds views, whether one does or not, because one has some attribute or other (male/female or white/black/red/yellow or political party A or political party B) etc..

    Being able to discriminate between...well let's define it first:

    Definition of discriminate

    discriminated; discriminating

    transitive verb

    1 a : to mark or perceive the distinguishing or peculiar features of

    Depth perception may be defined as the ability to appreciate or discriminate the third dimension … —H. G. Armstrong

    b : distinguish, differentiate discriminate hundreds of colors

    2 : to distinguish by discerning or exposing differences : to recognize or identify as separate and distinct discriminate right from wrong; especially : to distinguish from another like object discriminate the individual voices in the choir

    So, being able to determine whether one likes chocolate or vanilla is a form of discrimination. The problem comes up when discrimination is painted with the broadest possible brush and everyone is guilty of 'illegal' discrimination (think Civil Rights Act) even when no discrimination is actually intended or expressed. Your guilty because you are accused, not because you are guilty.

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

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 7:40pm

    Re: Re:

    God you regressive socialists and white supremacists (with a guilty conscience) should all take a tip from BLM and commit affirmative suicide:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC-Cqkq6zWc

    I don't normally agree with black supremacists on anything, but I can meet them halfway on this one....

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

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 7:48pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You people screaming about white privilege sound exactly like the national socialists complaining about the Jews during 1930s Germany.

    You people edging closer and closer to genocide which some college campuses are openly printing in their school news papers:

    https://www.westernjournal.com/college-newspaper-publishes-op-ed-endorsing-genocide/

    You regressive socialists are the fascists that you claim to be against.

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

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 8:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wow just going to Godwin the thread because someone patiently explained to you that “yes Virginia, there is racism.” And that last line might as well read “I’m not a closet nazi you’re the closet nazi!” In the petulant tone of a three year old. You little brown shi(r)ts would be more frightening if you all didn’t have the emotional and argumentative capacity of a toddler up past it’s bedtime.

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

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 8:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Projecting what you are on to others is not an argument.

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

  31. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 8:45pm

    Re:

    It's far from ever being common sense....

    And who gets to decide what wrongthink is?

    The Thought Police?

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

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 9:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So why did you do it?

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

  33. icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 20 Dec 2017 @ 10:16pm

    It's easy to drag out the KKK

    One of the things I learned over the years (and even before the internet) is that racists (on all sides) are generally pretty good at not quite saying enough to get themselves in trouble.

    The KKK, as an example uses that "It's okay to be White" thing to full effect. It's hard to actually argue the concept, as it's not really any different from "Black lives Matter" or "Black Olives matter" or whatever. It's a positive statement of self re-affirmation, and very specifically nothing more.

    What you (and others) read into the statement is the rest of the KKK doctrine, with good reason. That would be as much your bias as anything they particularly said.

    I have seen a few people banned or given "time outs" by Twitter recently. Going back and looking at the sorts of things they were posting, I can't say that I have found anything particularly wrong.

    Now, the Egyptian guy, I can see how this happens. His work is important, vital, but also can be a gore fest and filled with angry comments and unsupported accusations. It's part of a bigger issue of a frothy civil war. Twitter is in a no win position on this one.

    Nobody is asking social media to do more than any other form of media or distribution system. You want them to be able to ignore the content they help to distribute. At some point, that isn't going to work well.

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

  34. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 10:33pm

    Re: It's easy to drag out the KKK

    "The KKK, as an example uses that "It's okay to be White" thing to full effect."

    Uh, no that was started on 4chan to not only do some IRL trolling, but to prove that the media and other far left ideologues would lose their shit over it:

    http://archive.is/ZQeZ5

    "Look alive lads, new developments happening. Anti-Whites have found out the campaign is happening and are going to try and control the narrative by hanging "it's okay to be anarchist/gay/afrikang" posters the same day. They'll say its part of a diversity campaign, which will still backfire due them having an uncontrollable hatred of Whites but that's the plan as it is.
    Game-plan:
    Print out posters saying “It’s okay to be white” (Pic-Related)
    On Halloween (Oct. 31) and the morning after (Nov. 1) post the fliers EVERYWHERE possible (not just universities.) Car windshields, bulletins, telephone poles, malls, buildings, etc.
    Based on past media response to similar messaging, we expect the anti-white media to produce a shit-storm about these "racist, hateful, bigoted fliers"… with a completely innocuous message.
    The media response will rally new support for pro-white activism, as normies (especially whites) will be extremely turned off by the media reaction."

    And lose their shit they did:

    https://archive.is/pGH0i

    "Cambridge police received a tip from a resident about “a number of stickers” in the Common, and officers were sent to investigate, said Cambridge police spokesman Jeremy Warnick in an e-mail to the Globe."

    The very fact that a rather innocuous message warranted calling in the authorities and public works for the removal of those stickers (out of the hundreds of others that are all over the streets) goes to show just how much contempt and hatred the left has for the West and all whites in general, including themselves.

    From the looks of it,we're not far off from twitter banning people in the future for other innocuous messages like this one...

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

  35. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 11:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What did I project?

    Did you even read the news article?

    Here's a list of them to drive my point home:

    A day without Whites at Evergreen:

    http://www.teapartytribune.com/2017/06/01/racist-black-students-day-without-whites-backfir es-hidden-cam-caught-disgusting-thing/

    Whiteness Month at Portland:

    https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=7174

    White Racism course at Florida University:

    http://atlantablackstar.com/2017/11/28/white-racism-course-sparks-controversy-florida-uni versity/

    Affirmative Suicide at Harvard:

    http://eagnews.org/video-harvard-students-debate-whether-whites-should-kill-themselves-due-t o-privilege/

    And again: Your DNA is an Abomination at Texas State University:

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/campus-newspaper-editorial-your-white-dna-is-an-abomina tion/article/2641940

    The list goes on and on...

    So who's the real racist fascists again?

    By your lefts own redefinition of the word racism (institutional power+privilege=racism), these educational 'institutions' and those that are in 'power' are fostering an entire generation of racist students that are akin to those who grew up in Nazi Germany believing that ALL Jews are evil...In this case, it's all whites.

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

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2017 @ 11:44pm

    Re: Re: It's easy to drag out the KKK

    But don't forget that we now live in the age of the New Censorship, which strikes us down not for what we say, but for what we MIGHT be thinking when we say it.

    It's kind of like what could be called "vanity license plate syndrome." Let's say that you move to another state and you want to keep the same plate number as your old state. So you're willing to pay the extra fee for a custom plate, but then oddly, your request gets turned down for being some kind of banned word, despite being a completely random letter-number combination.

    That's because you have to understand how the DMV censors work ...

    If they can tie your request to some 2nd order derivative of some obscure internet acronym, transcribed into numbers/letters, spelled backwards and then read upside down, then it's banned and you can't have that on your license plate.

    FOIA requests routinely turn up enormous lists of rejected custom license plate requests, including many in which no amount of brainstorming can figure out what those banned alphanumeric combinations might possible be trying to say (even in the most comvoluted way imaginable) that's presumably so bad that it can't be seen in public.

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

  37. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 12:51am

    Re:

    "so "it's okay to be white" is racist
    while
    "its okay to be black" is not?"

    Pretty much.

    Human history, is full of people not only being told it's not OK to be black/brown/whatever, but have had their civilisations destroyed and their people enslaved because of it. In that time, white people have largely never had anything to worry about as a group.

    So, saying that it's OK to be black is an attempt to reverse the damage done in the preceding centuries, whereas "it's OK to be white" is nonsensical in any context other than being worried that minorities are gaining equal rights. It doesn't make sense except within racist mindsets where those with darker skin are inferior and you're afraid of them becoming a majority (presumably because they know how poorly they treat minorities when they are in charge).

    But, you're one of the regular AC morons here. Nuance, context and facts are secondary to a good old-fashioned whining session to you, aren't they?

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

  38. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 1:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "despite it's utter lack of any sort of (non-cherrypicked) empirical evidence to back it up."

    Well, apart from the many studies that show that it exists, of course.

    "How does the "white privilege" theory answer the question of why the Appalachian Mountain region of the USA can be both the poorest region and the "whitest" region of the country at the very same time?"

    Because you haven't bothered learning what the actual definition of the term is. White privilege doesn't mean that a white person will magically become richer than minorities, especially in rural areas where the locals prefer to tie themselves to dying industries such as coal. A person can certainly have a level of privilege and piss it all away, but that's not what the term refers to.

    What it does mean is that, given roughly the same education, class status and other factors, a white person will generally have an easier ride. It's often more subtle than it was in the days of segregation, but it's there. For example, there's studies showing that if identical resumes are sent to companies, one with a "white" sounding name in the suburbs and the other a "black" sounding name in the projects, the white guy gets the interview far more often than the minority. Black people are more likely to get pulled over by cops when driving around normally... and so on.

    The term doesn't mean that white people have an easy ride all the time, just that on balance they have it a little easier than minority groups. It is, however, always interesting to see how desperate the "I'm not racist but..." crowd are to insist they don't have any benefits from being in the majority racial group.

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

  39. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 1:19am

    Re: Re: Re: It's easy to drag out the KKK

    "FOIA requests routinely turn up enormous lists of rejected custom license plate requests, including many in which no amount of brainstorming can figure out what those banned alphanumeric combinations might possible be trying to say (even in the most comvoluted way imaginable) that's presumably so bad that it can't be seen in public."

    Any examples? I'd be interested to pick apart a few of those, see if I can spot the logic.
    I'd also ask if the different DMVs have different rules - for example, are they being rejected because they're "offensive" or just because while one DMV allows the letter O and the number 0, another blanket blocks the use of the letter to avoid confusion?

    There are some unfathomable bureaucratic decisions, to be sure, but I find a lot of the time there is logic even if it's not obvious from the outside.

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

  40. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 1:21am

    Re: It's easy to drag out the KKK

    "it's not really any different from "Black lives Matter" or "Black Olives matter" or whatever"

    Sure, if you ignore history, context and the other pesky facts that are directly relevant.

    "What you (and others) read into the statement is the rest of the KKK doctrine, with good reason."

    Oh. So, you do understand the context. Why do you not see the difference, then?

    "Nobody is asking social media to do more than any other form of media or distribution system"

    Yes, they really are, you just choose to ignore the fundamental differences that make this an issue.

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

  41. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 2:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So who's the real racist fascists again?

    Nazis and White nationalists.

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

  42. icon
    DNY (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 3:20am

    Re: Re:

    The word "racist" is now Newspeak and means whatever it serves the interests of the left for it to mean at any given time. It can mean the same as in English -- a person who believes people should be treated differently according to their skin color or ethnicity, or who believes one race is superior to another -- or someone who advocates a policy the left opposes on the plea that it will harm racial or ethnic minorities (even when the policy if prima facia race-neutral and even if there are countervailing arguments, rejected by the left, that it might help racial or ethnic minorities), or even simply a white person (cf. the claim "all whites are racist" often heard in the halls of academe).

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

  43. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 4:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Just an observation, since I don't come across this sort of thing in real life at all (possibly something to do with actually not being racist). There's a lot of people online obsessing over what the word "racist" actually means and coming up with all sorts of excuses for how "the left" (another term whose definition changes constantly) are just being big old meanies calling them that, rather than reflect on what their behaviour might be that earned the label.

    I've seen plenty of people advocate actual racist policies, or participate in behaviour that's only explainable to sane minds by racism, whine endlessly about having the term correctly applied to them. It's as if they know that the word is bad, but can't comprehend why the term would correctly apply to them. The kind of person who uses the phrase "I'm not racist, but...", which is inevitably followed by something openly racist, but which they'll then deny was racist because they said the magic phrase first.

    Sure, some of the name calling might be unwarranted, but a lot of the time it's a case of the guy who just said something offensive being unable to comprehend how he looks to other people than an army of "leftists" calling people names without reason.

    "the claim "all whites are racist" often heard in the halls of academe"

    It's a long time since I've been in any college, but I'm going to guess this doesn't really happen, or is exaggerated beyond any recognisable reality by people who have either never stepped foot in such an institution, or are shocked that the casual racism they weren't aware of isn't as acceptable in a diverse setting as it was back in their more uniformly settled home town.

    I see a lot of stories about what supposedly goes on in these places, and they usually turn out to consist of some fringe group's silly stunt being reimagined as widespread policy, or some hick being shocked that they can't use homophobic slurs like they want to when they have gay people within earshot.

    Again, I'm sure there's a nugget of truth somewhere, but a lot of those stories tend to be right-wing nutters trying to pretend that their lack of education is a virtue and their woes are due to college educated liberals rather than their own actions, rather than actual events.

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

  44. identicon
    Pete Austin, 21 Dec 2017 @ 5:31am

    Re: Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    LOL. AC makes a simplistic libertarian counter-argument that triggers lots of engagement - and gets flagged and hidden for his/her trouble.

    If we ever needed an example of how deciding what to ban will lead to loads of mistakes, there's one right in these comments.

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

  45. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 6:02am

    Re: Re: Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    "AC makes a simplistic libertarian counter-argument that triggers lots of engagement"

    a.k.a. trolling

    "and gets flagged and hidden for his/her trouble."

    As per the action taken when a number of people report it according to guidelines for reporting such posts.

    "If we ever needed an example of how deciding what to ban will lead to loads of mistakes, there's one right in these comments."

    Not really. Oh, there's plenty of issues and bad ideas galore with this whole thing, but "troll gets post hidden because he's correctly reported for trolling" is not a great example of them.

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

  46. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2017 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm going to cautiously step into this a little bit.

    I think that potentially what the OP was talking about (and I could be wrong) is that there is a small but very vocal subset of people who take an extreme view and instead of merely pushing for greater equality, they heap hate on white people for simply being white and blame them for all racial issues, rational or not. Essentially they are saying "it's NOT ok to be white" and shame on you for being so.

    While we definitely have some work to do to eradicate white privilege, hating on them for something they were born into without a choice isn't the way to go about it. Thankfully I believe this is a minority opinion but like Nazi's and alt-righters, they can be extremely loud and obnoxious about it and sometimes the loud minority can appear to overshadow the quiet majority.

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

  47. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 8:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I think that potentially what the OP was talking about (and I could be wrong)"

    I think you are (although, of course), I could also be wrong. There is certainly a danger that a loud minority can cause problems for a majority, and of course there are people on all sides of the political spectrum as ignorant and dangerous as the alt-right.

    But, look at the language used. He's not talking about fringe minorities, he's talking about "the left". It's team sport politics, often used in this context by racists to avoid admitting they have racist tendencies. If it's just "the left" and those "liberal college elitists" calling them racists for no reason, they don't have to examine their own behaviour.

    Again, I could be wrong, but this is the usual context of such things. I rarely see anybody telling people that being white is something to be ashamed of, but I sure as hell see a certain type whining about it a lot.

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

  48. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2017 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Re-reading his following posts I agree, in this context you are probably correct.

    "I rarely see anybody telling people that being white is something to be ashamed of"

    I agree, I don't see this very often either, especially in my area. My point though is that it does happen some and it likely gets more attention because it is more inflammatory. I think that can color someone's view of an issue, even though it's not representative as a whole. Kind of how some Americans irrationally view all Muslims as terrorists because of the actions of an extremely select few.

    I think it can also be somewhat of a regional thing. Depending on region and cultural composition, this may be more prevalent in some regions vs others.

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

  49. identicon
    Thad, 21 Dec 2017 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    "Making a simplistic argument that triggers a lot of engagement" is called trolling, Pete. It's generally frowned upon.

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

  50. identicon
    Thad, 21 Dec 2017 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The best analogy I've ever seen is that white privilege is like a racial bonus in an RPG.

    Having the racial bonus doesn't mean that the game is going to be easy for you. It just means that it's going to be easier for you than it would be if you didn't have it. Somebody who otherwise had exactly the same stats and rolls, but no racial bonus, would have a more difficult time in the game than you.

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

  51. identicon
    Thad, 21 Dec 2017 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The word "racist" is now Newspeak and means whatever it serves the interests of the left for it to mean at any given time. It can mean the same as in English -- a person who believes people should be treated differently according to their skin color or ethnicity, or who believes one race is superior to another -- or someone who advocates a policy the left opposes on the plea that it will harm racial or ethnic minorities (even when the policy if prima facia race-neutral and even if there are countervailing arguments, rejected by the left, that it might help racial or ethnic minorities), or even simply a white person (cf. the claim "all whites are racist" often heard in the halls of academe).

    Racial and ethnic minorities tend to vote Democratic.

    Are you suggesting that white people know what's in minorities' best interests better than minorities do?

    Because that sounds kinda racist.

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

  52. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2017 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I also find it interesting that many who get mad about the term "white privilege" also do not understand what it means to the majority of the public. They are off in their little wonderland where everything is copacetic and no one is being abused. Meanwhile, back at the ranch .......

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

  53. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2017 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re:

    You may be missing my point.

    Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of people have happily handed companies like Google and Facebook the ability to decide what wrongthink is. It's common sense to expect those companies to take advantage of this "gift" they've been given.

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

  54. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2017 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Which institutions are openly indoctrinating our youth into believing in these racist ideals?


    I'm pretty certain it's far worse on the left these days amongst regressive socialists using identity politics to incite racial division in our schools all across the nation as clearly pointed out in the above.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwN23AbBxSw

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

  55. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2017 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No one has given them anything. It's their right as a company to decide what they want to allow on their platform or not. If you created a social media platform tomorrow you could decide to block or remove whatever content you want, you could have a social media platform where no one would ever be allowed to say that unicorns aren't real.

    It's their private property, they can do what they want with it as long as it isn't illegal. Free speech and the first amendment only come in when it's the government who comes in and tells you no you can't say that.

    What is unfortunate is that hundreds of millions of people have taken the stance of pressuring companies into policing and deciding what content should be allowed or not. Sadly they fail to realize they are only hurting themselves in the process because they open the door to their speech being suppressed too. Every kind of speech is offensive to someone or some group. Even if it's something dumb like 'I like chicken'. PETA would have a conniption.

    There is no way to keep all online speech unoffensive to all people. However, it's more important that people be allowed to speak freely than speech on the internet being unoffensive.

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

  56. icon
    JMT (profile), 21 Dec 2017 @ 11:51pm

    Re: Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    "Common sense is so HARD for snowflakes!"

    Ooh, look at you using a buzzword you think is edgy and insulting! So witty and clever! It's like you think we give a shit about it...

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

  57. icon
    PaulT (profile), 22 Dec 2017 @ 1:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "My point though is that it does happen some and it likely gets more attention because it is more inflammatory."

    Perhaps it does. But, it's fundamentally dishonest to then pretend that this is representative of a huge group of people rather than some trolling or attention seeking from a small group of individuals, etc. That's the part I was arguing with. I'll join him in criticising the individuals saying such things if asked, but his reaction is to then denigrate me and everyone who's not on his political team as a result of their words.

    "Kind of how some Americans irrationally view all Muslims as terrorists because of the actions of an extremely select few."

    Indeed. Sikhs too, from what I read occasionally, because some of those people are too ignorant to understand the differences.

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

  58. icon
    PaulT (profile), 22 Dec 2017 @ 1:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Racial and ethnic minorities tend to vote Democratic."

    For very good historical reasons, it must be noted.

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

  59. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2017 @ 7:14pm

    Re: Re: It's easy to drag out the KKK

    "Sure, if you ignore history, context and the other pesky facts that are directly relevant."

    So you know that 1.6 million whites where kidnapped and enslaved during the same period of time that black slaves were being shipped to the Americas and that only 14% (200 thousand) went to north american while 30 percent of those slaves were owned by blacks right? And to this day, Africa and the Middle East are the BIGGEST perpetratures of modern day slavery with over 200 million living under it to this day while day while the WEST ended it nearly 200 years ago...

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

  60. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Dec 2017 @ 1:16am

    Re: Re: Re: It's easy to drag out the KKK

    So, the rights and daily challenges of non-whites in America don't matter because you can point to something elsewhere that you think is worse? Got it. You run to the bottom of the barrel.

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

  61. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2017 @ 8:31am

    Expecting "bad" people to police "bad" stuff is always bad.

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

  62. icon
    Bergman (profile), 24 Dec 2017 @ 5:16am

    Re: Re: Expecting BAD corporations to police bad people IS foolish, true...

    It's easier and less complicated for police to achieve a 100% success rate at investigating and solving crimes than it is for Twitter to flawlessly vet tweets for 'bad' content.

    Twitter has less than 12 years of experience in their attempts at doing that, in contrast to the police having more than TWO HUNDRED years of experience in their field.

    So if it's so easy for Twitter to do, why are the police unable to solve every crime, or train their people to know every law?

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

  63. icon
    DNY (profile), 4 Jan 2018 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No. I'm suggesting, for instance, that shouting down school choice as "racist" on the plea that it would deprive minority-serving public schools of resources, when ordinary African Americans support the policy in public opinion surveys because it would give them the chance (at least) of sending their kids to better schools -- the countervailing argument -- is an abuse of language which serves the interests of expansion of government (objectively the main goal of the left) and public service unions (who donate to the left), but not the interests of racial minorities, and is akin to "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength".

    I'm suggesting it's an abuse of language, irrespective of the race of the speaker, though if the speaker claiming school choice is "racist" is a white liberal, I think your point applies (see above).

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


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