Internet Content Moderation Isn't Politically Biased, It's Just Impossible To Do Well At Scale

from the stop-this-dumb-narrative dept

The narrative making the political rounds recently is that the big social media platforms are somehow "biased against conservatives" and deliberately trying to silence them (meanwhile, there are some in the liberal camp who are complaining that sites like Twitter have not killed off certain accounts, arguing -- incorrectly -- that they're now overcompensating in trying to not kick off angry ideologues). This has been a stupid narrative from the beginning, but the refrain on it has only been getting louder and louder, especially as Donald Trump has gone off on one of his ill-informed rants claming that "Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people." Let's be clear: this is all nonsense.

The real issue -- as we've been trying to explain for quite some time now -- is that basic content moderation at scale is nearly impossible to do well. That doesn't mean sites can't do better, but the failures are not because of some institutional bias. Will Oremus, over at Slate, has a good article up detailing why this narrative is nonsense, and he points to the episode of Radiolab we recently wrote about, that digs deep on how Facebook moderation choices happen, where you quickly begin to get a sense of why it's impossible to do it well. I would add to that a recent piece from Motherboard, accurately titled The Impossible Job: Inside Facebook’s Struggle to Moderate Two Billion People.

These all highlight a few simple facts that lots of angry people (on all sides of political debates) are having trouble grasping.

  1. If you leave a platform completely unmoderated, it will fill up with junk, spam, trolling and the like, thereby decreasing its overall utility and pushing people away.
  2. If you do decide to moderate, you have a set of impossible choices. So much content requires understanding context, and context may be very different, even for the same content when viewed by different people.
  3. If you're going to moderate at scale, you're going to need a set of "rules" that thousands of generally low paid individuals will have to be able to put into practice, reviewing pieces of content for just a few seconds (a recent report said that Facebook reviewers were expect to review 5,000 pieces of content per day.
  4. It is impossible to make rules like that that can easily be applied to all content. A significant percentage of content falls into gray areas, where it then becomes a judgment call by people in a cubicle in the middle of reviewing 5,000 pieces of content.
  5. At that rate, many mistakes are made. It is collateral damage of moderation at scale.
  6. People caught in the crossfire of collateral damage will rightly make a big stink about it and the social media companies will look bad.
  7. Meanwhile, some of the reasonable moderation decisions will hit trolls hard (see point 1 above) and those trolls will then take to other platforms and make a huge stink about how unfair it all is, and the social media companies will look bad.
Put this all together and it is a no win situation. You can't leave the platform completely unmoderated. But any attempt at moderation at scale is going to have problems. The "scale" part of this is what's the most difficult for most people to grasp. As Kate Klonick (again, author of an incredible paper on content moderation that you should read as well as author of a guest post here on Techdirt) notes in the Motherboard piece:

“This is the difference between having 100 million people and a few billion people on your platform,” Kate Klonick... told Motherboard. “If you moderate posts 40 million times a day, the chance of one of those wrong decisions blowing up in your face is so much higher.”

Later in the piece, Klonick again makes an important point:

“The really easy answer is outrage, and that reaction is so useless,” Klonick said. “The other easy thing is to create an evil corporate narrative, and that is also not right. I’m not letting them off the hook, but these are mind-bending problems and I think sometimes they don’t get enough credit for how hard these problems are.”

This is why I've been advocating loudly for platforms to move the moderation decisions further out to the ends of the network, rather than doing it in a centralized fashion. Let end users create their own moderation system, or adapt ones put together by third parties. But, of course, even that has problems as well.

No matter what choices are made, there are significant tradeoffs. As the Motherboard article also highlights, what seems like a "simple" rule gets hellishly complex quickly when applied to other situations, and then you've suddenly increased the "error" rate and people get angry all over again and the whole mess gets blown out of proportion again.

“There's always a balance between: do we add this exception, this nuance, this regional trade-off, and maybe incur lower accuracy and more errors,” Guy Rosen, VP of product management at Facebook, said. "[Or] do we keep it simple, but maybe not quite as nuanced in some of the edge cases? Balance that's really hard to strike at the end of the day.”

As the Oremus piece notes, the "bias" of platforms when it comes to moderation is not "liberal" or "conservative," it's Capitalist. Having a platform overrun with spam and trolls is bad for business. Hiring enough people who can adequately review content within the correct context is somewhere between insanely cost prohibitive and impossible. So the platforms muddle by with imperfect review processes. Making moderation mistakes is also bad for business, and the platforms would love to minimize them, but "mistakes" are often in the eye of the beholder as well, again reinforcing that this is an impossible task. For everyone screaming about how Alex Jones should be kicked off platforms, there's a similar number of people screaming about how awful the platforms are that do kick him off. There is no "right" way to do this, and that's what every platform struggles with.

And, if you think that these platforms are unfairly silencing "conservatives" (which is the prevailing narrative right now), it's probably because you're not paying enough attention elsewhere. Black Lives Matter and other civil rights groups have complained about "racially biased" moderation in the opposite direction, saying that minority groups are regularly silenced on these platforms. Indeed, it's not hard to find a ton of reports about black activists having content removed from social media platforms. And for all the talk of Infowars being taken off these platforms, how many people noticed that the Facebook page of the Venezuelan socialist TV station Telesur was recently taken down as well.

Yes, it's fine to point out that these platforms (mainly Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) are really bad at moderating. But, unless you're willing to actually understand the scale at play, recognize how many mistakes are going to be made (and recognize how trolls are going to go nuts over correct decisions), you're playing into a false narrative to argue that any of these platforms are "targeting" anyone. It's not true.


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:55am

    Slate?

    You are really going to quote Slate to explain how the Left isn't silencing the Right? Holy Schnikies you are so biased, you don't even try any more.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:05am

      Re: Slate?

      Can you do more than a bogus appeal to authority and actually respond to any of the points raised? Or is that too much of a lift?

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

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        Bias Con Dios, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:25am

        Re: Re: Slate?

        Can you do more than a bogus appeal to authority and actually respond to any of the points raised? Or is that too much of a lift?

        Oh, brilliant, Masnick! Right off, start a sheer politically-based judgment to prove that you're not politically biased!

        That's a valid viewpoint, expressed within bounds of common law, and simply to impeach your source, valid tactic.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:27am

          Re: Re: Re: Slate?

          You have no idea what common law is.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:26pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Slate?

            Remember months ago when he swore, up and down, that he would stop using the term "common law" in protest of Techdirt?

            blue's really shit at promising anything. Which is why he likes corporations.

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        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:56am

        Re: Re: Slate?

        How about you "write" an article where you explain that we don't need Net Neutrality...ISPs aren't meaning to throttle and content-filter, it's just really hard providing internet at scale?

        You are a pathetic brown-shirt, marching lock-step with fascists.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:06am

          Providing access to the Internet and moderating speech on the Internet are two different things.

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            Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:21am

            Re:

            So you admit the left is trying to moderate speech on the internet.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:33am

              I said nothing about “the left”. Please do not put words in my mouth that did not first come from it.

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                Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:50am

                Re:

                Well, I am talking about the left moderating wrong-thought on the internet. I see you didn't deny it.

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:57am

                  On platforms belonging to this nebulous group of people you refer to as “the left”, they are allowed to “moderat[e] wrong-thought” all they want. The same principle applies to platforms belonging to “the right”. What is your point?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:43am

              Re: Re:

              That was so far afield it's nigh impossible to figure out how you connected the two.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 1:39pm

              Re: Re:

              No, companies and organizations are trying to moderate speech on the internet. Also note that moderate is not the same as censor.

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              • identicon
                Agammamon, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:47pm

                Re: Re: Re:

                Akshewally - moderate is the same thing as censor.

                *HOWEVER*, their house, their rules. Censor away Twitter, Facebook, etc.

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

      • icon
        Decadre (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:18am

        Re: Re: Slate?

        Mike, I'll respond and not even hide Anonymously

        I see the Slate article trying to argue away the controversy in two ways, both of which I don't think work.

        I'll start with how they close the article with a defense of free market capitalism, since that should appeal to the people on the right. Also, I was taught that you should close your debate/paper with your strongest argument.

        On the surface, this argument makes sense on paper. However as I argue many times with my righty friends who like to talk about the failures of socialism, Socialist Island is right next to Free Market Capitalism Island in the Utopian Hemisphere.

        Using Twitter as an example, you want to keep engagement strong. That is going to entail keeping your users happy, while getting more customers.Therefore we need to understand exactly who the users are, and then begin a balancing act to keep them happy while attracting more users.

        https://blog.hootsuite.com/twitter-demographics/

        https://www.statista.com/statistics/265647/sha re-of-us-internet-users-who-use-twitter-by-age-group/

        http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-me dia-use-in-2018/

        All of these things to me seem to indicate that any marketing person would want to target a younger, richer, college educated, urban person. People who tend to be...???

        The second point the article brings up is that the people who work for the social media companies at the start had/have seconds to decide if a content submission was afoul of regulations. As the companies and the technology evolved, AI is taking over.

        The problem as I see it is that the companies are located on the coasts (The right coast mostly), and the people who work are likely to have a certain political bias. I don't care what you say, but people's beliefs will always bias them. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-love-and-war/201508/3-ways-your-beliefs-can-shape-your-re ality

        What would everyone here expect the response to be if I walked into a Tennessee church with an album made by a bunch of Born Again Christians who enjoy the Grindcore Metal scene? It would be a hard sell, with most people not trusting that the band members have been saved, no? That there isn't a hidden message by Satan himself buried backwards in the album.

        As far as Slate goes, here is a Washington Post story about a PEW poll putting them quite far on one side of the spectrum.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/10/21/lets-rank-the-media-from-liberal- to-conservative-based-on-their-audiences/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e6fd354e0fff

        At the end of the day, myself and people I know who I believe are rather center orientated all think that the Socials (media companies) certainly are exhibiting a bias. Not a big bias, not an overwhelming one, but one nonetheless.

        But that's ok, because ultimately a true free market will emerge with people of one political opinion on Twitter (for example) and people on the other version.

        But that turns the Slate story entirely upside down then.

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    Bias Con Dios, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:02am

    EXACTLY. Who here had EVER heard of Telesur?

    > how many people noticed that the Facebook page of the Venezuelan socialist TV station Telesur was recently taken down as well.

    But not the way you intend: that was just a token on small but actually "clean" site on which to base a false "narrative" of: "See? We unfairly censor socialists too!" -- And what's been the result? PUBLICITY FOR TELESUR! So that was likely two goals at once: appearing to attack the "left" too, but in fact HELPING with publicity.

    ---
    This once I'm doing comments as occur, but in part also to let you kids make a noticeable amount of censoring, as usual. My *viewpoint is discriminated against here* no matter how done.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:07am

      If you could raise your points without your posts reading like the textual equivalent of an Alex Jones rant combined with a hatred for the very site you seem to use as your sole platform for speech, maybe you would not be flagged so often.

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    Bias Con Dios, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:06am

    EXACTLY what a politically biased corporatist would say:

    Isn't Politically Biased, It's Just Impossible To Do Well At Scale

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      Bias Con Dios, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:27am

      Re: EXACTLY what a politically biased corporatist would say:

      My first comment is now censored: seems can only be tolerated for about 20 minutes. Way to prove you have bias, Masnick. You're a caricature of a Nazi, but still a Nazi.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:47am

        Re: Re: EXACTLY what a politically biased corporatist would say:

        Mike isn't censoring anything here. Enough of the community (read: those who read and post here, like you) think you're an insane conspiracy theorist and don't care to read your drivel that they click that little red flag at the top of each post. It's still not censorship, it's moderation. The difference is that people can still click that little "Click here" link if they really want to be confused by your irrational, illogical public self-humiliation.

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      • identicon
        Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 2:08pm

        Re: Re: EXACTLY what a politically biased corporatist would say:

        So you know, I flagged your post. Feel free to blame me for "censoring" you - if, and only if, you admit that by blaming me, you are exonerating Mike.

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    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:07am

    It is not shadow banning conservatives it is shadow banning truth.

    The banning takes place on the West Coast where liberalism, AKA Socialism, AKA Communism is the rage by people who worship at the left wing alter.

    The basic belief of the people is that socialism is great and anything but socialism is bad and that the Democrat party represents socialism.

    The denial of truth comes about in that the Democratic party was founded on slavery, it stood for slavery up until the Civil War, it was the party of the Confederates, it was the party of South in opposition to the northern Republican reconstructions and that the KKK was the physical action organization of the Southern Democrats and in modern times it stands for socialism. Fascism, socialism, communism are different in upper class are all for the lower class based on the concept that I work with the benefits of my labor flowing to some bum who refuses to work.

    In simpler times this confiscation of one labor had names like serfdom and slavery. The lying, scamming, and banning come by the left wing comes about when there is any attempts to call socialism what it is. A form of slavery.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:28am

      Re:

      Go read a book.

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

    • identicon
      Chip, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:28am

      Re:

      Every Nation "Eats" the Paint CHIPS it Desrves!

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

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      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:29am

      Re:

      What expresses this shadow banning better than any words is that every comment that does not follow the left wing prescribe playbook has been flagged.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:36am

        Maybe they were flagged because—and this might be a shock to you—the commenter is a known long-time troll who never provides any actual insight or opening for discussion without adding insults for the sake of provocation.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:50am

          Re:

          ^^ this

          Counterpoint is healthy, even necessary to have a debate. Nonsensical rants and insults are not. Try to make your points as if you respect your opponents and your posts will be much better received, maybe not even flagged.

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

      • identicon
        Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 2:12pm

        Re: Re:

        Naturally, if we all agreed with you, it would indicate that you are right, but since we all disagree with you, that indicates that you are right. Confirmation bias 101.

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

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    Bias Con Dios, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:12am

    Your focus on "narrative" is EXACTLY a leftist tactic.

    You are simply NOT neutral starting from headline.

    This has been a stupid narrative from the beginning,

    Attempt to directly undermine the credibility of those whom I see you as politically opposed to, well supported by attacking Trump in the usual Trump Derangement Syndrome way: he's simply crazy and dangerous, right?

    but the refrain on it has only been getting louder and louder,

    Because it's become both more used and OBVIOUS.

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:56am

      Re: Your focus on "narrative" is EXACTLY a leftist tactic.

      "You are simply NOT neutral starting from headline"

      I hate to tell you, Mike was not neutral WAY before that. This isn't a neutral site. Nobody wants neutral except people that think neutral means whatever they think.

      This site features articles with commentary from a group of smart (well, mostly) people that have and like to share their opinions. If you are looking for a site to spit out neutral facts with no opinion, go elsewhere.

      If you would like to have a conversation about the topic and express your opinion (preferably backed with some reason and evidence), this is also a pretty good place to do it. In fact, if you search a bit, you will find Mike actually posting comments that include things like "good point" and "interesting" pretty often when he is presented with differing views and evidence.

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

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 5:57am

        Re: Re: Your focus on "narrative" is EXACTLY a leftist tactic.

        "This site features articles with commentary from a group of smart (well, mostly) people"

        I'm trying to figure out who was in your head when you wrote the "well, mostly" and laughing ;D

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:23am

      You are simply NOT neutral starting from headline.

      Alex Jones and Infowars are not neutral starting from the headline, and I have not seen you call for them to show any kind of neutrality in their “reporting”.

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

      • icon
        Padpaw (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:38pm

        Re:

        Alex jones is a loonatic, the best way to shut him down is to let him speak and discredit himself.

        Censoring him makes it look like he is right. Rather than engage in discourse with him they went and caused the streisand effect which always makes things worse.

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

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    Bias Con Dios, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:20am

    Headline states an absolute position: you are not convince-able.

    It's Just Impossible To Do Well At Scale

    Oh, bet I could make sheerly mechanical rules that are effective to some degree (by the way, this is simply what I complain of right here on a blog small enough for you to "moderate", but which you refuse to do because would affect only your fanboys).

    1) NO VULGARITY BY FILTERING KEYWORDS. Forcing euphemisms is FINE, can filter those if become common. That'd make for better environment besides "creativity".

    2) NO ONE-LINERS. Length requirement.

    3) NO SHEER AD HOM. (A bit less easy to do mechanically, but easily visible to a person.)

    4) COMMON LAW RULES. No nasty little Stephen T. Stones and Geigners given immunity for simple obvious vile abuse while "rules" are applied selectively to those with differing viewpoints.

    See? Simpler than you think to do some good, Google-boy.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:28am

      Re: Headline states an absolute position: you are not convince-able.

      If moderation were simple, we would be free of you.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:17am

      NO VULGARITY BY FILTERING KEYWORDS

      You would run afoul of the Scunthorpe Problem in a hurry. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to talk about socialism on a forum with a wordfilter for “cialis”.

      NO ONE-LINERS.

      Believe me when I say that a one-liner can be longer than just a handful of words, and that if pressed, someone could write a single sentence that would read like shit but still meet the minimum length requirements all while insulting your mother.

      NO SHEER AD HOM

      Nigh impossible to do mechanically, still difficult for humans.

      COMMON LAW RULES

      Define “common law” in clear and concise terms, then explain why “common law” should override the First Amendment and the Section 230 safe harbors just to make you happy.

      No nasty little Stephen T. Stones and Geigners given immunity for simple obvious vile abuse while "rules" are applied selectively to those with differing viewpoints.

      One, I don’t mind if my one-liner snipes at pissants like you and Hamilton are hidden. (Frankly, I deserve that much for those.) Two, your viewpoints are not the issue—your “fuck everyone here” tone and your “I’m the victim and I’m going to post that over and over and over” behavior are the issues. If you want your posts to stay unflagged, you have to hold yourself reponsible for that. Nobody but you can change who you are and how you post.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 12:25pm

        Re:

        ...someone could write a single sentence that would read like shit but still meet the minimum length requirements...

        In the Desert Storm campaign of 1991 there was a press conference where a reporter's question was so long and convoluted Gen. Tom Kelly's response was "I would like to diagram that sentence..."

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

      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 30 Aug 2018 @ 4:56am

        Re:

        You would run afoul of the Scunthorpe Problem in a hurry. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to talk about socialism on a forum with a wordfilter for “cialis”.

        Or, for those who think "socialism" is such a bad thing that preventing people from even talking about it is OK, the problem manifests just as badly with "specialist" - which can crop up in conversations about many different subjects.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:53am

      Re: Headline states an absolute position: you are not convince-able.

      Go write the software that can do this and get back to us. I don't expect to hear from you again.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:22am

    Political Bias

    As someone who works as a mod on a gaming website, I have to say that yes, political bias is a factor. If you try to automate it, that bias is baked into the automation. So sorry, Mike, political bias is a thing- ESPECIALLY in high volume environments.

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:28am

      Re: Political Bias

      Did you read past the headline? Hell, did you read past the comma in the headline?

      He's not saying that there's no forum anywhere on the Internet with politically-motivated moderation. He's saying that the reason for poor and inconsistent moderation on giant platforms like Facebook and Twitter isn't a specific political ideology, it's that...well, as the part after the comma says, "It's Just Impossible To Do Well At Scale."

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

    • identicon
      MathFox, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:31am

      Re: Political Bias

      Could you be clear about what you mean by "political bias"? Is that corporate dictated "Don't talk about competing games", desiring a particular shade of purple in the US blue-red political division or based on a division between US-supporting and US-criticising opinions.

      As non US-citizen (with some experience in website moderation) I have seen that it is possible to moderate with a minimal political bias; we had the rule "no partisan politics" for the website, which should be fine for a game website too.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:59am

        Re: Re: Political Bias

        He has a point.

        The article explains that moderation is often done by armies of low-paid people who may be required to review 5000 posts per day. Consider who the people are that make up those armies and what their likely political affiliation is. Do you really think there is no prevailing bias?

        I'm not saying the bias is good or bad, just that there must be one on average.

        Also consider that there are alternative social media platforms tailored to specific viewpoints. If you feel you are unwelcome on one, try another.

        Further, if the major social media platforms have a bias in management and yet are still the largest players in the market, maybe, just maybe, the majority of people (who use social media) share that bias thus helping those platforms to grow. Birds of a feather and all that. You can't expect to walk into a KKK meeting, try to support African American rights and expect to be well received. That's an extreme example but the analogy holds.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 1:30pm

          Re: Re: Re: Political Bias

          Consider who the people are that make up those armies and what their likely political affiliation is. Do you really think there is no prevailing bias?

          My guess is they are either not American, in which case they would be unlikely to care about US politics, or they are, like most Americans, not particularly interested in politics and possessed only of vague ideas of what they approve and disapprove of in the political sphere. There could be a prevailing bias, but I wouldn't call it a foregone conclusion, and though I'm fairly ignorant of the matter it doesn't sound like something that would be easy to measure.

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

      • identicon
        PRMan, 28 Aug 2018 @ 8:31am

        Re: Re: Political Bias

        "Could you be clear about what you mean by "political bias"?"

        Sure. It's simple. Let's take Mark Dice (who I'll choose specifically because he makes fun of CNN who is clearly influencing the platforms now).

        Virtually all of Mark Dice's videos are demonetized. Even though he is just exposing CNN's videos which are lies and poking fun at liberal thought. He really doesn't say much that is hateful or should violate any rules. And every Conservative voice that I watch has the same problem.

        The Young Turks, however, are constantly and blatantly violating YouTube's written rules. And all of their videos are still monetized. It doesn't matter what they say, how racist it is, how inciting of violence against a group or individual it is, it's still monetized.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 8:39am

          Re: Re: Re: Political Bias

          The difference wouldn't have something to do with including content from CNN, and the inability of Contentid to recognize fair use would it?

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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:35am

    Absolute Position

    The position that any moderation is unacceptable is an "absolute" viewpoint.

    "Impossible to do well" isn't an "absolute" position. That is just admitting that it is hard to do right, and impossible to please everyone.

    No one posting here about how wrong Mike is has submitted a single suggestion that will make content moderation easy. (And no moderation is no solution.)

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    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:43pm

      Re: Absolute Position

      When the options are burn it to the ground or selective clear cutting. Which option would you choose?

      Neither is healthy long term. Both will cause massive short term damage. Do you allow all speech, selectively picking and choosing at random the disgusting and hateful speech that you decide violates your principles. Or do you shut down all speech, since you cannot moderate evenly.

      I would think we would be able to pick out for ourselves what is hate speech and just ignore it, rather than rely on someone else to pick and choose what we are allowed to say.

      Or are people somehow incapable of ignoring hate speech and need a big brother to tell them what to think and believe in.

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      • icon
        Padpaw (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:46pm

        Re: Re: Absolute Position

        Sorry, if it wasn't clear.

        My solution is no moderation at all, let the communities moderate themselves. the upvote downvote system works rather well for burying unpleasant posts in commenting sections.

        When it comes to disgusting and hateful websites, again don't bother to try and shut them down unless they are breaking laws. It will not shut them down, it will only make what they are saying more credible to people.

        My question to you would be, why is no moderation not a solution?

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        • icon
          Thad (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 10:07am

          Re: Re: Re: Absolute Position

          My solution is no moderation at all, let the communities moderate themselves. the upvote downvote system works rather well for burying unpleasant posts in commenting sections.

          At small scale, maybe. (Frankly I don't think it works very well here, as trolls and people feeding them dominate a significant number of the conversations on this site.)

          At a large scale? Hahano. You think flags and downvotes work when someone's been targeted by a large group of angry people who have doxxed them and started sending rape and death threats? No. That requires moderator intervention and, in the case of true threats, legal intervention as well.

          Again, it's a question of scale; what works on a small site doesn't work on Facebook or Twitter. That's what the article is about; I'm not sure why people are having trouble with that distinction.

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  • identicon
    Christenson, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:48am

    Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

    When, as with Alex Jones, we can't even agree on facts...though I'm told that at least two people have gone to jail for acting on their belief in what Mr Jones says...

    Political Bias is inevitable.

    In fact, Bias is *necessary*...we just don't call it bias when we kill the spam and the trolls. We just don't call it Bias when Mike wrote recently that he wouldn't be covering a certain court case about DMCA responses again. We don't call it Bias when I've seen no word on Techdirt about John McCain, but it is... and it's necessary, Mr Masnick *has* to be able to keep his focus on what he feels is interesting and important. But it's a bias.

    Truth itself is a bias -- nothing stops Mr Jones from making up his fantasies out of whole cloth and ignoring evidence to the contrary.

    *****
    I think Mike is correct that moderating needs to be pushed out to the edge of the network. User-operated moderation seems to work pretty well here, and seemed to work pretty well for quite awhile at slashdot.

    Implementation is a major obstacle, however. Should we simply remove copyright from social media, so *anyone* can scrape and curate, say, twitter? Assuming your users become the first and second-line moderators, (IMO a good thing since good users have some skin in the game), how do you decide whether a given "this is spam" vote is coming from me, who you should respect unless it's autocorrect on my phone, or out of the blue, subject of poetry for his silliness? How do you keep the group making such decisions reasonably small?

    A really good solution here is going to need to allow for self-organization.

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:21am

      Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

      In fact, Bias is necessary...we just don't call it bias when we kill the spam and the trolls.

      I'll acknowledge that blocking trolls inherently requires a subjective value judgement, but I think that spam can generally be recognized objectively.

      I suppose you could argue that removing spam is a form of bias, if you believe that pulling weeds in a garden is a form of bias.

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      • identicon
        Christenson, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:50am

        Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

        Pulling weeds in the garden is most definitely a bias...towards whatever it was you wanted to grow there, presumably food or flowers.

        It's just that no one has a moral caniption fit about it, most of us agree you *should* do it.

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        • icon
          Thad (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 12:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

          "Things I can eat" versus "things I can't eat" is not bias; it's biology.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 1:31pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

            Many flowers grown in gardens are not edible, so I'm not sure biology entirely covers the answer.

            We find the flowers we like to plant, something that looks appealing to us.

            With food, you likely won't plant a crop you don't wish to eat. Meaning bias exist there as well.

            Though I must thank you for your argument, as it has brought me much thought.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 1:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

            Dividing your garden into things humans can eat or can't is a form of bias (toward humans and against, say, rabbits; also, against nature's "decision" of what should grow there). Doubly so if based your personal dietary compatibility.

            Being "biology" doesn't mean it can't also be bias. The digestive systems of living things all have their own biases.

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            • icon
              Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 2:12pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

              Bias in not limited to humans making political decisions, nor to humans deciding whether they like chocolate ice cream or pistachio ice cream. Nature itself has bias. Just think evolution, and whether you believe in evolution or not, things change, over time, whether we impact them or not. Whether we control them or not. Nature does it.

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              • identicon
                Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 2:35pm

                Meaninglessness

                You're starting to reach the point where the term 'bias' becomes meaningless because it applies to literally everyhing. Let's rein it in a bit, eh?

                1) There is no such thing as nature "intending" to grow specific plants.

                2) A garden is purpose-grown, and removing weeds and other plants that go against the purpose of the garden is not "bias." Prefering to grow, say, berries instead of vegetables, could be called a "bias," but why would you? That's a *preference;* the subtext of the word bias does not maintain in that conversation.

                3) Similarly, proper moderation is no more "bias" than is removing weeds from a garden; keeping a forum to its proper and purposeful context is what keeps it a *forum* instead of a pile of meaningless spam and garbage, just like weeding a garden keeps it a garden instead of a tangle of wild growth.

                4) The term "bias" has a specific *and deliberate* negative connotation that your comments do not account for, and your apparent definition of "bias"is indistinguishable from the term "preference." A bias indicates taking a side on somethig actively in debate and deliberately slanting things toward that side, not removing unrelated spam and trolling.

                So: Before this conversation can continue, I encourage you to A) define how you are using "bias" and B) acknowledge that if your definition of bias is different from those you are discussing the subject with, that you need to decide on a new definition you can all agree on before the discussion can continue.

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                • icon
                  Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 3:34pm

                  Re: Meaninglessness

                  1) There is no such thing as nature "intending" to grow specific plants.

                  To know whether 'nature' intended anything goes further into belief systems than I care to venture, but only because our discussion of what god you believe in vs the god I believe in would take over the conversation. Nature, intended? I don't know about that, but it certainly promoted some things and denigrated others. How that choice was made is not yet known, for absolute fact. The chemistry, yes, but the choice, no.

                  2) A garden is purpose-grown, and removing weeds and other plants that go against the purpose of the garden is not "bias." Prefering to grow, say, berries instead of vegetables, could be called a "bias," but why would you? That's a preference; the subtext of the word bias does not maintain in that conversation.

                  To prefer to grow something, in the Internet conversation sense, means that a particular 'bias' is inherent in the website. Some do, some don't. Some try to be neutral, others don't try so hard. If a website or a service tries to be neutral and fails at it, it is not bias. We could call it many names, but bias might not apply.

                  3) Similarly, proper moderation is no more "bias" than is removing weeds from a garden; keeping a forum to its proper and purposeful context is what keeps it a forum instead of a pile of meaningless spam and garbage, just like weeding a garden keeps it a garden instead of a tangle of wild growth.

                  Here we don't disagree. I never said otherwise.

                  4) The term "bias" has a specific and deliberate negative connotation that your comments do not account for, and your apparent definition of "bias"is indistinguishable from the term "preference." A bias indicates taking a side on somethig actively in debate and deliberately slanting things toward that side, not removing unrelated spam and trolling.

                  Definition of bias

                  1 a : an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : prejudice

                  b : an instance of such prejudice

                  c : bent, tendency

                  d (1) : deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates

                  (2) : systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others

                  (limited to the first definition as the others don't apply)

                  I am using definition 'c', whereas others may be using different definitions. Even when using the term 'bias' I am thinking more about 'discrimination or preference' (see below), which is why I chose definition 'c'.

                  Definition of discrimination

                  1 a : prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment racial discrimination

                  b : the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually

                  2 : the quality or power of finely distinguishing the film viewed by those with discrimination

                  3 a : the act of making or perceiving a difference : the act of discriminating a bloodhound's scent discrimination

                  b psychology : the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently

                  Definition of preference

                  1 a : the act of preferring : the state of being preferred

                  b : the power or opportunity of choosing

                  2 : one that is preferred

                  3 : the act, fact, or principle of giving advantages to some over others

                  4 : priority in the right to demand and receive satisfaction of an obligation

                  5 : orientation or sexual preference

                  In the end nature vs nurture might just be applicable. If one has an inherent 'bias' to use the definitions I did not, then it seems to be nurture, whereas if one does not impose 'bias' and 'bias' is perceived, then it might just be nature exposing its dark side. Some of nature is good, some bad. There are things that nature produces 'naturally' that are inherently poisonous. There are others that are are not. Then again, that might pertain to the species consuming.

                  If one reads Techdirt and presumes it has a liberal 'bias' then they should look into their perception system. If one reads Techdirt and presumes a conservative 'bias' then they should look into their perception system. If one reads Techdirt and does not impose 'bias' then it is likely that their perception system is working, as Techdirt tries not to impose any political 'bias', but looks at various things as to how they might be good or bad in relation to everybody, not just one or the other (meaning conservative or liberal or R or D or any other descriptor).

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                  • identicon
                    Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 6:54pm

                    Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                    "I am using definition 'c', whereas others may be using different definitions. Even when using the term 'bias' I am thinking more about 'discrimination or preference'"

                    Then you are proving my point; you are using a definition of 'biased' that others here are not, and you need to clarify that before making your arguments.

                    The article is about political bias, not about preference.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 5:40pm

                  Re: Meaninglessness

                  You're starting to reach the point where the term 'bias' becomes meaningless because it applies to literally everyhing.

                  Perhaps because almost everything has bias. That doesn't mean it's not a useful definiiton. Almost everything has color, and we still talk about it.

                  There is no such thing as nature "intending" to grow specific plants.

                  Hence the scare-quotes on "decision" 2 levels up; it's a metaphor. In reality, humans show bias when deciding how a garden should be managed. They might plant a garden to be ornamental, to attract hummingbirds, or to feed humans. They make their decision on "bias" or "preferences", terms which are largely equivalent in reference to human decisions.

                  The term "bias" has a specific and deliberate negative connotation that your comments do not account for, and your apparent definition of "bias"is indistinguishable from the term "preference."

                  The idea that "bias" is negative is a mistake people make for "discrimination" too, as has been pointed out. I don't read them with negative connotations. A statement that something is "not bias" rules out the negative and neutral versions of the term.

                  "Preference", to me, is a term that requires intent; nature has bias (tendencies, like gravitiy), whereas preference can only literally describe sentient beings.

                  Similarly, proper moderation is no more "bias" than is removing weeds from a garden

                  I find the idea of a certain moderation style being "proper" or not to be very much bias, in any reasonable definition, and I don't mean this as a minor semantic point. "Moderate" and "don't moderate" are not the only decisions; some forums have a strict policy to only remove spam and illegal content, while others may ruthlessly remove "off-topic" or "political" content. The exact form of moderation cannot help but reflect the biases of those making the decisions.

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                  • icon
                    Thad (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 5:58pm

                    Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                    The idea that "bias" is negative is a mistake people make for "discrimination" too, as has been pointed out.

                    It's not a mistake. Words have connotations and can mean different things in different contexts.

                    The purpose of language is effective communication.

                    When you say that all moderation represents bias, you're not facilitating effective communication. You're being a pedant, and not even a good one.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:01pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                      You're being a pedant

                      That's not my intent. People who claim the moderation acts against their group are often drawing unsupported conclusions, but that doesn't mean no conclusions can be drawn from moderation. Would you seriously think an anti-pornography moderation policy doesn't reflect the biases of society?

                      Words have connotations and can mean different things in different contexts. The purpose of language is effective communication.

                      That's the whole point. It's closely related to another point Mike makes all the time, that "objectivity" in media is a myth. If we think a reporter should be "neutral" or moderation should be "unbiased" we're deluding ourselves. We'll all agree they should be, and only later realize we've agreed on nothing at all.

                      Mike's point in this story is not that moderation is unbiased, but rather that there's no evidence of partisan political bias as some people are claiming.

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                      • identicon
                        Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:18pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                        So, first of all: you don't have to intend to be a pedant to be a pedant.

                        Also, your "point" is wildly off-topic and dragging the rest of the conversation with it. This whole discussion about how "everything has bias" is utterly meaningless because it's related to a definition of the term "bias" that has nothing to do with the points under discussion.

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                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:24pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                          The story under discussion is, at its core, a reaction to misunderstandings and misrepresentations of "bias". A productive discussion becomes difficult when people use different definitions of a key term without realizing it.

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                          • identicon
                            Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:36pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                            No, the story under discussion is, at its core, a reaction to misunderstandings and misrepresentations of 'what is possible in terms of moderation and curation of a social media platform with upwards of 300 million (Twitter) or 2 billion (Facebook) active users potentially posting multiple posts per day.'

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                  • identicon
                    Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 6:58pm

                    Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                    "I don't read them with negative connotations."

                    Others do - including the definitions you are referring to above. There is a reason that those definitions include variants that are explicitly negative, and that is because those variants are used in discussion.

                    Here, in case you missed them. For "bias": 1 a : an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : prejudice

                    b : an instance of such prejudice

                    For "discrimination": 1 a : prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment[;] racial discrimination

                    It genuinely baffles me that people are linking dictionary definitions to prove their points that don't prove their points. Linking dictionary definitions is already disingenuous when discussing colloquial language, but now we're just discarding the bits that don't back up our statements?

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                    • icon
                      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:20pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                      You question should be asked of the folks that wrote the dictionary. They provide the variety of definitions, because there is a variety. That you suggest that we should ignore one definition in favor of others tells us a lot about how you think about things. I picked one, not ignoring the others, but because that one means what I want to say, the others didn't. Just because I use that one does not make me wrong. Nor does it make you right.

                      BTW, you replied to the wrong post, at least you didn't reply to me, but talked to me anyway.

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                      • identicon
                        Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:26pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                        "That you suggest that we should ignore one definition in favor of others tells us a lot about how you think about things."

                        And with this, I officially declare you to be arguing in bad faith. I am not suggesting we ignore one definition because I dislike that definition, I am suggesting we ignore that definition because that definition is not what this discussion is about. Once again, the title of this article explicitly talks about political bias.

                        BTW, I replied to you, I dunno why you think I didn't.

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                        • icon
                          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:38pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                          I am arguing for what I mean, not what you think I should mean. That you don't like my, or our, use if the word bias, which can be used in a variety of ways, can mean different things in different contexts. That it is used one way on one post, or in the article, does not mean it cannot be used in another way in a different post or some other article. I use the word bias to mean some of the other definitions in different contexts. Not this time. Nature does not know of politics, and probably doesn't know about prejudice. Assumptions can be dangerous.

                          I followed the line to the left of your post up to the connecting post. Possibly by mistake, it appears you replied to the post under mine.

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                          • identicon
                            Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:44pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                            "That it is used one way on one post, or in the article, does not mean it cannot be used in another way in a different post or some other article. I use the word bias to mean some of the other definitions in different contexts."

                            The disingenuousness continues.

                            "I followed the line to the left of your post up to the connecting post. Possibly by mistake, it appears you replied to the post under mine."

                            Oh - I was, yes, presuming you are not that particular AC. Hence... y'know... why I quoted that post. My response to you is above that post, the one where I say that if you aren't using the definition of 'bias' related to the actual discussion at hand, you should let people know that before getting into your arguments.

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                            • icon
                              Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:51pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meaninglessness

                              Tell that to nature. Tell nature that he/she/it is being disingenuous. I am sure he/she/it will listen.

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                              • identicon
                                Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:55pm

                                Oh, come on.

                                Okay, two things.

                                1) *How is this in any way relevant to anything in the article.* I'm genuinely curious.

                                2) Indulging you for a moment: Where the *actual fuck* do you get the idea that nature is "biased"? Evolution is almost literally the *opposite* of biased; evolution is all about *throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.* Evolution has tried a billion ideas, a trillion permutations of each, just to see what will survive and what won't; if you really want to anthropomorphize evolution, I can't help but imagine it as the mad inventor in his lab saying "What if I attach a stinger to the underside of a beaver!? Eeheohohoho!"

                                I mean, *fuck,* look at the *platypus.* There is literally no bias in nature; it will try absolutely any idea.

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                                • icon
                                  Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 5:51am

                                  Re: Oh, come on.

                                  Go back and read the original comment to which you replied. Here, let me help you. Then read the one above it. Now you know why I made the comment.

                                  And I am done. It surely appears that you want this argument for the sake of argument.

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                                • icon
                                  The Wanderer (profile), 30 Aug 2018 @ 5:17am

                                  Re: Oh, come on.

                                  2) Indulging you for a moment: Where the actual fuck do you get the idea that nature is "biased"? Evolution is almost literally the opposite of biased; evolution is all about throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.

                                  I think the idea here is that a bias towards "what sticks" is still a bias, in that (probaby broadest) sense of the word.

                                  I'll agree that that broadest sense is not usually terribly useful in meaningful conversation, however. (There are occasions where it can be, so people trying to use it in that sense shouldn't be automatically shut down, but most of the ones I can think of border on abstract philosophy.)

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                                  • identicon
                                    Will B., 30 Aug 2018 @ 10:11pm

                                    Re: Re: Oh, come on.

                                    I really don't think that follows, though. Whether or not something survives isn't a 'bias' by *any* of the definitions provided above - it's not a prejudice, not a bent or slant, not a preference, not even an error introduced by favoring any sort of outcome. "What sticks" is a result, not a bias.

                                    Heck, random chance has a lot more to do with whether a particular genetic strain survives than any sort of bias does.

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                                    • icon
                                      PaulT (profile), 30 Aug 2018 @ 11:33pm

                                      Re: Re: Re: Oh, come on.

                                      I'd disagree with that. There's 2 main factors in evolution. One is the genetic mutations that create the changes. The second is natural selection.

                                      While the first can be and is usually random to a major degree, the second is absolutely biased. Selection of the fittest means that the beings most fit for the environment will be the ones who survive. The ones who develop the best tools to catch prey or evade predators will be the ones who thrive while, say, the prey who randomly evolves a flashing beacon to attract predators will not be selected over one who randomly develops better camouflage.

                                      So, yes, nature is absolutely biased. Just as in these cases, where the overtly racists will, for example, be selected for moderation over those who display views that may be just as abhorrent but do so in a far more subtle way. But, the bias is toward those who overtly display abhorrent views, not those who happen to be on the "right" vs those on the "left".

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                                      • identicon
                                        Will B., 31 Aug 2018 @ 2:52am

                                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Oh, come on.

                                        "Selection of the fittest means that the beings most fit for the environment will be the ones who survive. "

                                        The issue is that you're anthropomorphizing the idea of survival of the fittest. I will say it once again: results are not biased, methods are, and you are looking at results and claiming they're methods. The method is evolution; mutation and genetic drift create new models and proliferate them. The result is natural selection; the most successful new models proliferate the most. Natural selection is not "biased" any more than gravity, time, or lightspeed are "biased." They aren't biased, they just are.

                                        To take that and try to make it equivalent to an inherently-subjective, human-determined method of moderation is absurd. Even ignoring that - once again - you're taking the widest, most useless definition of the word "bias," it just does not apply to nature, because there is no motive force to be biased.

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                                        • identicon
                                          Will B., 31 Aug 2018 @ 2:55am

                                          Clarifying

                                          (I phrased that poorly. To clarify: methods are biased, and *produce biased results.* You can't have biased results arising from a non-biased method, that's not sensible. Methods are biased the adverb; results are biased the adjective.)

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                                          • icon
                                            PaulT (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 3:36am

                                            Re: Clarifying

                                            "You can't have biased results arising from a non-biased method"

                                            You're assuming that the scientific definition of bias is being applied. We're talking more about the subjective version - "the grass is greener" even though the reason the grass is greener is because it rains more on that side and thus getting the standard amount of greenness for the amount of moisture being obtained. To the person with less green grass, they think it's unfair, even though in reality it's perfectly fair for the conditions.

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                                        • icon
                                          PaulT (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 3:25am

                                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Oh, come on.

                                          "The result is natural selection; the most successful new models proliferate the most"

                                          So... the result is biased toward the most successful. Again, this is just the parallel being drawn - yes, it may appear that moderation tends toward the "left", but if all that's being done is the more extreme views being filtered, and there are more of views being voiced on the "right" then it appears biased even though it's only doing the same as natural selection does in nature.

                                          "Natural selection is not "biased" any more than gravity, time, or lightspeed are "biased""

                                          It depends on what you count as "bias", I suppose. Those 3 are all constants - but only under certain conditions. All 3 are wildly variable depending on the state of the things they are applied to. For example, the constant of gravity is only the constant we refer to at ground level on Earth. If someone were observing from a planet with less favourable conditions, they might complain that gravity were "biased" toward Earth, even though there's no real bias in the sense we apply to human decision making. Same with time (again constant only under standard Earth conditions) and light speed (only a constant in a vacuum).

                                          Ditto evolution - it's "biased" toward the conditions where it is being applied. If it were truly equal, we would not have different evolutionary paths in Australia compared to those in Europe, but as it's applied according to local conditions it's "biased" toward those who are the best fit for that environment.

                                          So, again, same with this type of moderation - if you're counting yourself as being on a "team" that more commonly exhibits objectionable behaviour, you might consider it biased against you, even though in fact it's being applied neutrally.

                                          You might disagree with the choice of the word "bias" to explain this, but it's clearly what the OP was referring to.

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                                          • identicon
                                            Will B., 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:40am

                                            For fuck's sake...

                                            Okay, I want to challenge you to define for me a situation where something is not biased. Seriously.

                                            Because from the definition you guys appear to be using, "biased" means "any situation that has results."

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                                            • icon
                                              PaulT (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:13pm

                                              Re: For fuck's sake...

                                              No, from the definition we're using, it's "when a rule is applied equally to things that are unequal, it may be incorrectly perceived that the rule itself is unequal".

                                              Again, we're talking about perception, not what is objectively happening.

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                                          • identicon
                                            Will B., 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:49am

                                            ...

                                            "For example, the constant of gravity is only the constant we refer to at ground level on Earth. If someone were observing from a planet with less favourable conditions, they might complain that gravity were "biased" toward Earth, even though there's no real bias in the sense we apply to human decision making."

                                            What the fuck does this even mean. I'm sorry, are you suggesting that the utility of a mathematical constant chosen by humans to measure gravity is the same as gravity itself being biased?

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                                            • icon
                                              PaulT (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:12pm

                                              Re: ...

                                              From the point of view of those people who are negatively affected by it compared to others, yes.

                                              I apologise if the simple concept of perception of bias where there is none is beyond you, but that's exactly what we're talking about here.

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                                              • identicon
                                                Will B., 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:42pm

                                                Re: Re: ...

                                                Whoa, hang on, hold up. When did you change what we were talking about? When did this become about the *perception* of bias rather than the *definition* of bias? I'm responding to the folks saying that natural selection is biased and quoting Merriam-Webster here.

                                                You yourself were saying that natural selection is "biased" toward its own results not three posts ago.

                                                And I quote, from you yourself: "So, yes, nature is absolutely biased"

                                                Seems like you're shifting the goalposts something fierce now; if not, please explain your line of thinking?

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                                                • identicon
                                                  Will B., 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:47pm

                                                  Ohhhh.

                                                  I think I get this now. So here's the thing: the point of the article is that perception of bias *isn't* proof of bias. So kind of the opposite of what you are saying here :p

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                                                  • icon
                                                    PaulT (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 7:15pm

                                                    Re: Ohhhh.

                                                    No, that's exactly what I'm saying here. I'm not sure why it's so hard for you to grasp.

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                                                    • identicon
                                                      Will B., 31 Aug 2018 @ 8:41pm

                                                      Re: Re: Ohhhh.

                                                      ...then I genuinely do not understand A) what your point is, or B) why you are disagreeing with me. Would you care to clarify? Feel free to use small words - it's very possible that I'm just an idiot.

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                                                      • icon
                                                        PaulT (profile), 1 Sep 2018 @ 9:48am

                                                        Re: Re: Re: Ohhhh.

                                                        The point is that even if applied equally, rules may appear to have bias to the observer, even if none actually exists. For example, moderation that's applied to all groups equally might appear to be biased if one group is breaking the rules more often, or natural selection will favour a certain type of creature when the same survival criteria is applied.

                                                        You have, however, vehemently disagreed with every attempt to explain this - especially opposing the use of the word "bias", even though it's been explained to you that people are talking about the perception of, not the definitive existence of, bias.

                                                        What is difficult to understand? It seems very simple to me - bias can often be seen perceived, even when the underlying mechanism is neutral.

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                                                        • identicon
                                                          Will B., 1 Sep 2018 @ 10:33am

                                                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Ohhhh.

                                                          What's difficult to understand is exactly what I said above. Once again, perception of bias is not proof of bias. Moderation that's applied to all groups equally is not bias, even if some people claim that it is.

                                                          Moreover, your argument here is not the same as other arguments I've been debating. You're basically just saying that nature looks biased - which is different from what you and others said before, which is that nature is biased.

                                                          I've never once disagreed that some people can think something is biased when it isn't.

                                                          In short, Paul, I don't think you're arguing against my actual argument, and I don't think I'm arguing against yours either XD

                                                          Also:

                                                          "natural selection will favour a certain type of creature when the same survival criteria is applied."

                                                          This is not an issue of perception at all, though, is it? Here you are saying people can perceive bias - and then asserting, once again, that nature is biased. Lemme go through my arguments on this again:

                                                          1) Nature does not favor anything. Some creatures are better at surviving, and thus propagating their genes, than others are, but that is not because of nature. This argument is like saying a foot race is "biased" toward the fastest runner; I think that's disingenuous because the purpose of a foot race is to determine the fastest runner, which means the result is not biased, it's just the result. Now, if for instance the claim was that a foot race was biased against one runner over others because, say, their path wasn't as long as other runners' (perhaps because they are on the inside of the running circle and the starting lines weren't staggered to account for it), that would be an actual bias. In turn, if someone were to claim, incorrectly, that the race was biased against their own track team because it was taking place at another school's track, despite there being no difference in the tracks between the two schools and no actual benefits to the other runners, we wouldn't say that the race was biased simply because someone is claiming that it is, we would say that person is wrong.

                                                          "What is difficult to understand? It seems very simple to me - bias can often be seen perceived, even when the underlying mechanism is neutral."

                                                          I do not disagree with this, and never have. My claims have been limited to precisely these two:

                                                          1) The definition of "bias" that people in this thread are using is overly broad to be applied to the arguments in the article they're responding to, and possibly to be applied to any debate at all;

                                                          and 2) Nature is not "inherently biased" simply because some creatures thrive and some die out.

                                                          I really hope I've made myself clear; I don't think we're actually disagreeing.

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                                                          • identicon
                                                            Will B., 1 Sep 2018 @ 10:34am

                                                            Haha

                                                            Ignore that stray 1) under the nature bit, I think I intended to break that section up more and then forgot to actually do so.

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                                                          • icon
                                                            PaulT (profile), 2 Sep 2018 @ 6:52am

                                                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ohhhh.

                                                            "Once again, perception of bias is not proof of bias."

                                                            Nobody apart from you said it was. You've just been arguing the toss with people pointing out that it can still be perceived even when it's not there.

                                                            "Nature does not favor anything. Some creatures are better at surviving, and thus propagating their genes"

                                                            ...therefore, from a certain point of view, it appears biased toward those creatures.

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                                                            • identicon
                                                              Will B., 2 Sep 2018 @ 8:35am

                                                              ....Paul.

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                                                            • identicon
                                                              Will B., 2 Sep 2018 @ 8:37am

                                                              ...Paul.

                                                              (stupid enter button)

                                                              " Definition of bias

                                                              1 a : an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : prejudice b : an instance of such prejudice c : bent, tendency d (1) : deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates (2) : systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others

                                                              (limited to the first definition as the others don't apply)

                                                              I am using definition 'c', whereas others may be using different definitions. Even when using the term 'bias' I am thinking more about 'discrimination or preference' (see below), which is why I chose definition 'c'."

                                                              "The idea that "bias" is negative is a mistake people make for "discrimination" too, as has been pointed out. I don't read them with negative connotations. A statement that something is "not bias" rules out the negative and neutral versions of the term."

                                                              "The story under discussion is, at its core, a reaction to misunderstandings and misrepresentations of "bias"."

                                                              "I think the idea here is that a bias towards "what sticks" is still a bias, in that (probaby broadest) sense of the word."

                                                              "The thing is, in that broadest sense of the word, "bias" does not imply any of prejudice, preference, or error; it just means a greater tendency in one direction than in others."

                                                              Nobody but you was talking about the perception of bias.

                                                              I'm sorry, you're just wrong here. Go back and re-read the thread.

                                                              I will reiterate: I am not disagreeing that people can perceive something to be biased when it isn't. You are genuinely arguing past me, and past everyone else in this thread.

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                                                              • icon
                                                                PaulT (profile), 3 Sep 2018 @ 12:46am

                                                                Re: ...Paul.

                                                                "I am using definition 'c', whereas others may be using different definitions"

                                                                That doesn't make you right, it just means that you're knowing choosing to ignore the actual arguments being made by people in favour of something you can quickly mock or dismiss.

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                                                            • identicon
                                                              Will B., 2 Sep 2018 @ 9:09am

                                                              Aaaanyways...

                                                              We're getting to the point where the indentation makes paragraphs unreadable, so.

                                                              I *concede* your point that bias can be perceived where none exists - and, in fact, contend once again that that's what the article above was pointing out in the first place.

                                                              If you would like to consider to my *actual arguments,* I will be happy to reply; if, however, you are going to continue to argue a point I didn't disagree with while calling me an idiot for not disagreeing with it, I am gonna move on. Cheers ^.^

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                                                                PaulT (profile), 3 Sep 2018 @ 12:44am

                                                                Re: Aaaanyways...

                                                                "If you would like to consider to my *actual arguments,*"

                                                                What was your argument, again? All I was replying to was someone arguing about whether nature has a perceived bias, and doing so in a way that made it clear he didn't understand the point being made by the person he was trying to mock.

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                                                                • identicon
                                                                  Will B., 3 Sep 2018 @ 5:50am

                                                                  Re: Re: Aaaanyways...

                                                                  I'm sorry, who is mocking whom, again? I've put forth actual arguments; you're the one who keeps going on about how I'm "too slow" to "get it" and calling me an idiot.

                                                                  "That doesn't make you right, it just means that you're knowing choosing to ignore the actual arguments being made by people in favour of something you can quickly mock or dismiss."

                                                                  And who is ignoring actual arguments, here? I just quoted the actual arguments made by the people I was responding to, up and including *quoting the Merriam-Webster Dictionary* to try to prove their definition of 'bias.'

                                                                  Ooooonce again:

                                                                  1) The definition of "bias" that people in this thread are using is overly broad to be applied to the arguments in the article they're responding to, and possibly to be applied to any debate at all;

                                                                  and 2) Nature is not "inherently biased" simply because some creatures thrive and some die out.

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                                                                    PaulT (profile), 3 Sep 2018 @ 6:06am

                                                                    Re: Re: Re: Aaaanyways...

                                                                    "I've put forth actual arguments"

                                                                    You really haven't, at least not in the posts I've been responding to. What I see a bunch of half-assed pedantry, and someone taking things very personally when it's pointed out to him that he appears to be misunderstanding the words other people are using.

                                                                    "The definition of "bias" that people in this thread are using is overly broad "

                                                                    According to whom? You even freely admitted that you've cherry picked a definition of the word and ignoring the alternative definitions that other people are using. Your entire argument seems to be "I know there are other definitions, but because you're choosing a different one to the one I want to use, I will pretend you're saying something else to what you are clearly saying".

                                                                    "Nature is not "inherently biased" "

                                                                    ...but may still appear to be biased to some observers. Hence the entire point of the posts you've been arguing about.

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                                                                    • identicon
                                                                      Will B., 3 Sep 2018 @ 7:29am

                                                                      Sigh.

                                                                      Once again: my point is not that the definition of bias they are using is one I don't like, it's that the definition they are using is not relevant to the article they are applying to.

                                                                      Look, we can go around in circles all day about this, but I'm getting kinda tired about doing so. If you want to be convinced that I'm just being offended and pedantic, you feel free.

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                                                                        PaulT (profile), 3 Sep 2018 @ 7:43am

                                                                        Re: Sigh.

                                                                        "f you want to be convinced that I'm just being offended and pedantic, you feel free"

                                                                        I only have your words to go on, and that is absolutely what the words you've chosen have indicated. *Especially* since you already admitted that you only object to the word used and not the actual positions and ideas being discussed.

                                                                        What else would you call endless arguing about the specific chosen definition of a word if not pedantry? Once the argument is reduced to arguing over the words used rather than the ideas they are meant to be expressing, you've lost it.

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                                    • icon
                                      The Wanderer (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 4:44am

                                      Re: Re: Re: Oh, come on.

                                      The thing is, in that broadest sense of the word, "bias" does not imply any of prejudice, preference, or error; it just means a greater tendency in one direction than in others.

                                      (I will grant that "political bias" does tend to imply those sorts of thing, but IIRC in this subthread we're already discussing the senses and contexts in which the word can apply to nature et cetera, so we're already out of the more limited scope of that more specific term.)


                                      Consider flipping a coin. Almost by definition, a fair, unbiased coin has 50/50 odds of coming up either heads or tails.

                                      If you flip a coin a thousand times, and it comes up heads 650 times, that coin is clearly biased towards heads (in a sense related to that from definition d(1) given in a quote above) - or, to put it another way, the "tails" side of the coin is heavier. There's no prejudice, et cetera, involved in that; it's all physics. But it still falls within that broadest sense of the word "bias".


                                      Now consider that in the context of evolution. We don't have a handy predefined baseline like that 50/50 probability, so we need to come up with one. (By necessity, not having done the research on the subject, this is going to involve me making up numbers for the sake of the argument; because of that, I'm going to choose numbers suitable to let us ignore any statistical-error objections.)

                                      Say you take a million genetic strains completely at random, and implement them (however that would be done) in the real world, and only 10% survive; you can treat that as a baseline probability that a given genetic strain is viable for survival in the world. (In practice, given the complexity of genetic code and the likelihood of producing a viable sequence by purely random selection of genetic bases, 10% is probably way too high.)

                                      Then take a million genetic strains which have been produced by the evolutionary process, and implement them in the real world, and observe that (say) 60% of them survive. This demonstrates that the output of the evolutionary process is significantly more likely to survive than is the case with the baseline - or, to put it in other words, that the evolutionary process contains a bias (in that probably-broadest sense) towards things which survive.


                                      That sense of the word is so broad that it is probably not terribly useful in a lot of contexts, but it is still valid.

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                                      • identicon
                                        Will B., 31 Aug 2018 @ 10:44am

                                        Heads and Tails

                                        "If you flip a coin a thousand times, and it comes up heads 650 times, that coin is clearly biased towards heads (in a sense related to that from definition d(1) given in a quote above) - or, to put it another way, the "tails" side of the coin is heavier. There's no prejudice, et cetera, involved in that; it's all physics. But it still falls within that broadest sense of the word "bias"."

                                        This is actually almost *literally* the Gambler's Fallacy. If you flip a coin 1,000 times and it comes up heads 650 times, that is *in no way an indication of bias toward landing on heads,* it's just *luck.* Unless you can then *prove* that the coin actually is weighted and that's why heads was coming up more often, all you've done is taken a random result and decided that reality is "biased" toward that result.

                                        This whole debate is *utterly bizarre* to me. Is mathematics *biased* toward correct answers? Is the Sahara *biased* against rainfall? This definition of "biased" to mean "anything that has results" is absolutely disingenuous; of course everything is biased when you *define biased as everything.*

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                                        • identicon
                                          Will B., 31 Aug 2018 @ 11:49am

                                          Re: Heads and Tails

                                          Y'know, in retrospect, that is not a fair portrayal of your assertion, I'm sorry. Lemme try again.

                                          A coin which is weighted to land on tails more than heads could be considered a "biased" coin, yes. However, a coin which is not weighted landing on tails more than heads does not in any way mean that coin is "biased" toward landing on tails.

                                          This is my complaint about the idea that evolution is "biased;" the coin isn't weighted. People saying that there's a bias toward things that survive is, to me, like saying a coin, when flipped, is biased to land; it's going to land, due to the reality of gravity and what a coin is, but that is not a bias, it's just what a coin does when flipped. (Excusing, of course, situations where there is no gravity :p)

                                          People keep viewing natural selection as a mechanism, a motive force, a method. It isn't; natural selection is an observation of how the world works. It isn't "biased" toward things that survive; it is the fact that things survive. The mechanism by which things evolve is mutation and genetic drift, which are generally pretty incredibly random; natural selection is the observation that beneficial mutations propagate and negative mutations don't, due to the nature of life and survival. To call this a "bias" seems incredibly disingenious to me; it's like saying circles are biased toward their radius being one half their diameter, or once again, that the Sahara is biased against rainfall. It's not a bias, it's reality.

                                          This is why I keep saying that this definiton of "bias" people are using looks like saying "any situation that has a result." Perhaps it'd be better to say "any situation that has a result that is not 100% random."

                                          My contention is - and has been through this whole thread - that this definition of "biased" is meaningless for the discussion of this article, and possibly meaningless for any discussion at all. Like it or not, the word "bias" carries wih it an implication, and is used in nearly all cases, to mean some form of prejudged conclusion influencing results; hence why saying a scientific study was biased is a big, potentially study-ruining claim. The definition people are working with here suggests that if a study comes to a particular conclusion, it was inherently biased toward that conclusion - or, perhaps, that reality itself is "biased" toward that conclusion? Both statements seem absurd on their faces; that's simply not what people mean by biased, and in relation to the original post here, claiming anything non-random is in some way "biased" and extrapolating it to mean political bias specifically is inevitable in relation to the article is incredibly disingenuous.

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                                        • icon
                                          PaulT (profile), 31 Aug 2018 @ 1:14pm

                                          Re: Heads and Tails

                                          "This whole debate is *utterly bizarre* to me"

                                          Because you're actually missing the entire point that others are discussing.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 12:04pm

      Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

      I think Mike is correct that moderating needs to be pushed out to the edge of the network. User-operated moderation seems to work pretty well here, and seemed to work pretty well for quite awhile at slashdot.

      I was going to argue against your first sentence until I read the second. That's an excellent example of community self-moderation. Slashdot was a vile, nasty cesspit of smart but self-important assholes making groupthink-driven attacks on anyone who dared disagree. But that moderation did a good job of filtering out the trash (as it does here) even if it resulted in an echo chamber (as it often also does here).

      Maybe the voting system used by Stack Overflow is a better example. Maybe not since SO is largely a Q&A forum where the material isn't divisive like politics and religion.

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

      • identicon
        Christenson, 27 Aug 2018 @ 2:18pm

        Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

        Along with Techdirt, I hope we are exploring things that might work a bit better.

        You, since you obviously took the time, voluntarily, to read my post, have a leg up on many other possible moderators for it since you care at least enough to read it. I'm not sure what to do about the self-important, though -- I have no idea if my reputation with Techdirt modifies my flag vote or not, maybe it should.

        And, one issue with Techdirt moderation: Who is gonna read a huge number of similar, if not directly flaggable comments, such as those developing on this post?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 2:31pm

          Re: Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

          Who is gonna read a huge number of similar, if not directly flaggable comments, such as those developing on this post?

          Me. It's good entertainment.

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

          • icon
            Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 2:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

            On the issue of bias, or discrimination, or taste, your's is weird. Perhaps self flagellation would be a more productive method of torturing (erm entertaining) yourself.

            For the rest of us, wading through the crap espoused by the most flagged person on this page, we would prefer wading through a biologically sound pool of different, yet not toxic discussion. Opposing us is not the issue, how the opposition is presented is.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 3:09pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

              Um, sorry? I didn't think I had expressed any views on bias or discrimination.

              The fact that I occasionally enjoy reading a bunch of nonsense posts (especially so I can understand the context of the replies) for a good laugh may be a bit odd but I didn't think it was worthy of insults and derision.

              Sorry to have offended.

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              • icon
                Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 3:48pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

                My apologies if you took that offensively, it was not intended as offensive, but maybe incredulous.

                On the other hand, anything that encourages the shit posters to post is not a good thing for the rest of us. Let them disagree. Let them post those disagreements in a conversational tone. Let them be coherent. Let them not insult everyone who is not them. They often, or even regularly, do not.

                One method to preserving cordial conversation is to not 'feed the trolls'. Your expression of finding them 'entertaining' is a form of feeding, even if surreptitiously.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 12:59pm

      Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

      Should we simply remove copyright from social media, so anyone can scrape and curate, say, twitter?

      By that do you mean remove the copyright from the site's code, so that people could copy and modify it to create similar platforms that would be easy to switch to and/or might be able to work with the 'base' one?

      If so, it's an interesting idea, though it might be a hard sell to the companies impacted, and would raise the question of 'at what point should a company be required to hand over the code they use so that others can make use of it?'

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      • identicon
        Christenson, 27 Aug 2018 @ 2:24pm

        Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

        I'm more about removing copyright from the user-generated content from the site where it's posted. I'm not sure what code is behind Techdirt or Facebook, and, for scraping, I don't need that...just what it presents to the world.

        Remember, the idea is to let people *transform* the site, so I can respond to Alex Jones with an "Alex Jones on snopes" type site, and lots of people can join me if I'm actually good at it.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 3:51pm

          Re: Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

          I'm more about removing copyright from the user-generated content from the site where it's posted

          You do realize that the poster retains the copyright in what they post, and agree to grant a non-exclusive license, as per the terms of service, to the site so that the site can safely display the content. That is why someone can post the same content on multiple sites.

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    • identicon
      Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:15pm

      Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

      "Political Bias is inevitable.

      In fact, Bias is *necessary*..."

      So... can you put a real argument to your assertion that political bias is inevitable, presumably in relation to the article's subject about moderating large internet platforms? Because you've managed to slip by without an argument by swapping topics there; you've equated political bias with editorial discretion and subjects being outside of Techdirt's purview.

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

      • identicon
        Christenson, 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:51pm

        Re: Re: Inevitable Bias -- A modest proposal

        You may recall Techdirt's words that content is advertising and advertising is content. Likewise, editorial discretion and moderation are flip sides of the same coin. Only a very few out of the vast universe of the possible things are written about on *any* platform; and no one can read even all the things that are written.

        In the very view that the world isn't black and white, in which things are complicated, not simple, is a bias. It's been said that "always reporting on both sides with equal credibility" leads to the loudmouths winning.

        Inevitably, when discussing the US, actors identify as democrat or republican, and it would destroy Techdirt's emphasis if it had to balance the political shade it throws across the two parties. I'm quite sure it doesn't, so that means there's a political bias. The commentariat also has its partisans, and they aren't equally distributed, so there's more bias.

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        • identicon
          Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:02pm

          Sorry, can we focus in on this?

          "...it would destroy Techdirt's emphasis if it had to balance the political shade it throws across the two parties. I'm quite sure it doesn't..."

          So, here's the fundamental issue with this statement: you're assuming that both political parties have given Techdirt equal reason to throw shade at them. In the event that one party is being stupider re: technological issues, "balancing the political shade" would actually be politically biased.

          Techdirt has never been hesitant to attack both parties, and anyone else, doing stupid things re: technological issues.

          So, once again: can you put a real argument to your assertion that political bias is inevitable? Because that seems like one whopper of a claim to try to substantiate.

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          • identicon
            Christenson, 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:14pm

            Re: Sorry, can we focus in on this?

            OK, quick:
            Roughly what proportion of shade do the democrats have the democrats given TD a reason to throw compared to the republicans?
            What proportion has TD in fact thrown?

            Now, what are those screams of bias I hear from both parties??? Why are they screaming??

            I do have one interesting number on that, but it's qualitative: Republican presidential administrations seem to gather hugely more indictments and convictions than democratic ones, since at least the time of Nixon.

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            • identicon
              Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:18pm

              Sigh.

              How many articles has TD written being critical of Obama?

              How many times during the 2016 presidential election did TD lament both sides favoring the TPP and encryption backdoors?

              "I do have one interesting number on that, but it's qualitative: Republican presidential administrations seem to gather hugely more indictments and convictions than democratic ones, since at least the time of Nixon."

              It's very possible that this is due to political bias. It's also possible that this is due to more criminal activity among Republican administrations. If it is due to there being more criminal activities in Republican presidential campaigns, I'm sure we'd agree that an equal number of indictments and convictions between the parties would itself be a sign of political bias, yes?

              I mean... maybe indictments and convictions in Republican party campaigns isn't the most partisanly-balanced subject considering the current administration. As a thought.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:18am

    When the presidents lawyer says truth isn't truth I am supposed to believe that one political party is silencing the other political party .. all this while I am still hearing all the same silly ass political bullshit as always.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:37am

    If THE BORG took over humanity, we wouldn't have this issue of moderating social media.

    ~fin

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  • identicon
    John Cressman, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:47am

    Wrong... Try again!

    Actually you are correct about hard to do on a large scale, you're just COMPLETELY wrong about it not being political motivated.

    It is. And it's pretty evident to anyone who isn't completely left leaning.

    It's simple... most people working at the large social media either are liberal or toe the liberal company line. When you have that sort of bias, the results will ALWAYS be skewed because that's how human nature works.

    Algorithms are just as skewed because they are programmed by humans and the old saying, Garbage In, Garbage Out applies.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:53am

      If Stormfront were to boot someone from that platform for expressing anti-White supremacist sentiment, is that action “politically biased” or is it just “moderators exercising good judgment”?

      “The right” should not get a pass for being “politically biased” on their own platforms. Their platforms may not be as popular or well-known, but their biases in moderation are no different than biases on so-called “left-leaning” platforms.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 12:00pm

        Re:

        You seem to make straw-man comparisons every time you comment.

        Stormfront makes no attempt at hiding what they are. Why would someone who isn't a white-supremecist think they wouldn't get banned from there?

        Twitter and Facebook pretend to be neutral. That shadowban people, and then deny it.

        First the fascists at Twitter, Facebook, and Techdirt said they don't censor. When they are caught lying, they say it's difficult to stop it. Give me a break.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 12:09pm

          Re: Re:

          Can you explain the difference between "banning" someone and "shadowbanning" them? It seems to me they're exactly the same thing but the latter sounds better to you in your anti-left narrative.

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

          • identicon
            Anon, 27 Aug 2018 @ 1:50pm

            Re: Re: Re:

            Shadowbanning and banning are two completely different things. The history of shadowbanning goes back to the early BBs, where moderators would not ban spamming accounts, but just hide them and their posts from other users. This way the spammers wouldn't realize they were 'banned' and continue to spam with that account instead of creating a new one. The concept lurked in the shadows for a while until social media sites started deprioritizing accounts (FB, YT, Twitter, probably more), which meant their posts were less likely to turn up in your feed/wall, this was meant to be an AI showing you what it thought you might be interested in and skipping e.g. that post by that facebook friend you haven't interacted with in years. However, many people have reported that they no longer see posts by accounts they do regularly interact with as well. I think a clear distinction should be made between the form of shadowbanning that Reddit employs (which follows the original form) and the deprioritization employed by other services. As for whether bias plays a role: I believe it does, all major tech companies lean left, and most don't hide it, they just claim their views won't affect the platform. I don't trust them one iota. The solution is decentralized social platforms. No central power with a bias, power to the people! I recommend Retroshare.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 3:10pm

              all major tech companies lean left

              [citation needed]

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              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 12:43am

                Re:

                "[citation needed]"

                "reality has a well-known liberal bias" - Stephen Colbert

                There's a reason why attempts to make deliberately right-wing alternatives to major internet platforms have been laughable failures.

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:07am

                  There's a reason why attempts to make deliberately right-wing alternatives to major internet platforms have been laughable failures.

                  They were/are run by assholes whose first and possibly only priority was/is to let people be gigantic assholes without facing consequences?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 6:24pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              See there right at the end. That’s where that post took a hard right turn and went off the rails into a ditch.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 12:20pm

          The top comment in this particular thread implied that services like Twitter, Facebook, etc. have a distinct political bias. I used that implication to directly question that commenter on whether a platform with an distinct-yet-opposite political bias is equally as awful for displaying that bias, whether said bias is alleged or outright stated by the platform. If “the left” must catch shit for moderating platforms according to “political bias”, “the right” should catch just as much shit for doing the exact same thing. Whether the bias is implicit or explicit should not matter.

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    • identicon
      Michael, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:59am

      Re: Wrong... Try again!

      "It's simple... most people working at the large social media either are liberal or toe the liberal company line"

      If that is the case, I think it would be best if the non-liberals (you know, those people that often cry that the government should stay out of the affairs of people and businesses) should start up their own social media companies, compete, and argue their point on their own platform.

      Unless you don't think they are up to that particular task.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 12:39pm

      Re: Wrong... Try again!

      most people working at the large social media either are liberal or toe the liberal company line.

      A very large percentage of people doing content moderation at large social media companies are... actually Catholic, conservative Filipinos. You do know that, right? Last week I watched an excellent documentary called "The Cleaners" all about this. They're not people expressing "liberal" values by any stretch of the imagination. They are doing a job and given rules.

      The idea that any of them are moderating things because they somehow support "leftist" values is nonsense.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 1:40pm

      Re: Wrong... Try again!

      That last part ceretainly applies to your post.

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

  • identicon
    Historian, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:53am

    Ass backwards

    We need to stop talking about post-moderation. That is not the solution. In this age of rapid distribution of things online, expecting platform users to report abuses after they see them isn't going to work. The cat will be out of the bag and potential harm done... and shared widely.

    We need to instead put tools in place to stop things before they are posted.

    "Your post may be seen as a personal attack, do you still want to submit?" If they still wish to post, it then goes to a mod queue.

    "Your post contains profanity, which is not allowed in our community. Please edit your post and re-submit."

    Change user behavior before we have to deal with things out in the wild.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:54am

      We need to instead put tools in place to stop things before they are posted.

      If that could be done without grinding to a halt the usability of an entire service, it would have been done by now.

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      • icon
        Gary (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 12:40pm

        Re: Pre-filtering

        Filtering posts before they are seen is the holy grail - of censorship. China, the MPAA and RIAA (as well as our very own John Smith) all demand it. It would be an inherent change in the way the interwebs work.
        People who are asking for upload filtering either don't understand that, or just want the world to go back to pre-internet centralization.
        Running everything thru a mod queue may work on small groups but it doesn't scale up, Historian.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 12:33pm

      Re: Ass backwards

      > Change user behavior...

      Assimilate to THE BORG

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 1:42pm

      Re: Ass backwards

      You do realise that Minority Report was fiction, right?

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

    • icon
      cattress (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 2:20am

      Re: Ass backwards

      While I appreciate your goal in preventing potential harm, this sounds a little like thought policing.

      People are always going to say hurtful, rude, ignorant, inappropriate things. Even if you can cocoon yourself from upsetting remarks online, unless you are a hermit, you are going to encounter them in the wild.

      Why not take these unfortunate experiences and use them for some good? Build up your own tolerance for the intolerant, so that you can better control how you react and feel. So that you can still find the humanity in a bigot and respond with love and truth. Or so that you can resist feeding a troll that thrives on provoking a reaction.

      I'm not saying words can't/don't hurt, they do. But words can also heal, and spontaneous kindness is running around in the wild too.

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    • icon
      nasch (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 1:50pm

      Re: Ass backwards

      Your post may be seen as a personal attack

      That would be extremely difficult at best to automate.

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Smith, 27 Aug 2018 @ 1:16pm

    it's definitely politically motivated censorship, as any conservative who is vocal on these platforms will note.

    This dates back to when AOL allowed its female users to stereotype men all they wanted, but would iterally disconnect users through TOS (no a minor problem back then as there was no comparable platform) for merely "offending women." The result of that was that male-centric dating e wound up on its only home, on USENET, and that led to the mainstreaming of anti-feminism and the alt-right.

    When feminists came onto USENET to argue with the anti-feminists, they'd wind up getting mad, leaving, and would always try to get iSPs to apply their TOS to USENET, which most wouldn't do, particularly Altopia.As alast resort, they flooded USENET with spam and defamation, offering up their own "moderated websites" as the solution. That led to several disasters that most won't even discuss now.

    AOL had more censorship power in the late `1990s than any platform has today. Vimeo has very liberal speech policies, as does YouTube,, because Google doesn't want tofeed its competition. Then of course nothing is stopping a website from building its own audience. It's not so much that the right cannot get its message out, but they can't get its message out so easily on Twitter and Facebook (or sometimes YouTube).

    As it did to AOL, censorship ultimately destroys the sits which practice it, because the conservations lose relevance. The marketplace of ieas really does work.

    Two whistleblowing incidents on USENET were almost shut down by "moderated" fora run by those with an interest in silencing dissent In one case, the public did wake up and see what was going on, and in the other, it didn't until a decade later when it realized it had been conned.

    Private companies are free to censor people, but they lose credibility when they truncate discussions on behalf of the audience, who is more than capable of thinking for itself.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 2:11pm

      Re:

      Dude, you really need to read your internet history better, and take off those "view everything as a political conspiracy" glasses.

      any conservative who is vocal on these platforms will note

      Uh, I know quite a few. The only ones I know of who have been silenced are the disgusting jerks who call for violence, murder, racial segregation, and the sexual denigration of both males and females. If that's who you're worried about protecting then you can bugger off because I couldn't care less.

      I grew up thinking the left was out to get me and the right was our only hope of survival. (No seriously, I was taught, and believed, the left had a master plan to destroy America and make it a socialist nation) Then I eventually figured out that neither side had it right and people were simply trying to do the best they can with what they know. Not everything is politically motivated.

      on behalf of the audience, who is more than capable of thinking for itself

      Tell this to the millions of people who follow and believe every word that comes out of Alex Jones' mouth, including our current sitting president.

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      • identicon
        John Smith, 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:36pm

        Re: Re:

        ...because living through history isn't as reliable as reading about it.

        "Disgusting jerk" is a subjective term that only proves my point. Censorship based on subjectivity is flawed, and in this case definitely political.

        The abused woman who says "men aer violent" will not be censored. The conservative who replies with "women like violent men" will be.

        It isn't about whether YOU agree with either statement, merely that censorship based on either is po9litically motivated.

        Perhaps one day they'll ban as "subversive" anyone who preaches socialism, while leaving untouched anyone who says that "good Americans believe in hard work, not entitlements."

        Regulating speech on a massive scale for political reasons is dangerous. What happens when a whistleblower wants toexpose corruption on the internet itself, or with the4 platform? They can be branded a "troublemaker" and banned.

        Fortunately, the4 internet was designed to survive a nuclear war, which made it decentralized and impossible to truly censor. even the platforms which do censor do so reactively. If getting the message out is all one cares about, a new account will be able to do so for at least sevral hours before the hammer is lowered.

        Banning "disgusting jerks" runs afoul of the Founding Fathers' intent that it is the speech we find abhorrent which needs the greatet protection. Remember 2 Live Crwe's convition for obscenity?

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:21pm

          Censorship based on subjectivity is flawed

          Then all censorship is flawed, because all censorship is based on the subjective whims of the censor. Even censorship that censors claim is “objective” still works from the subjective and arbitrary standards of the censor(s). The MPAA, for example, allows a PG-13 film to use the word fuck exactly once. That is an arbitrary standard based on subjective views of vulgarity held by members of the ratings board—and a standard that, at any time, can be changed or overlooked by the board at its discretion.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:58pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes that was the government trying to prevent speech not a private platform like Facebook, you fucking dolt.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 12:56am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Censorship based on subjectivity is flawed"

          Name the censorship that isn't subjective.

          "What happens when a whistleblower wants toexpose corruption on the internet itself"

          They can do so on any sympathetic platform without redress from the government, hopefully. They can't force Facebook to post it just because it's the one they want to use.

          "Banning "disgusting jerks" runs afoul of the Founding Fathers' intent"

          So does forcing people to associate with those they wish to disassociate themselves from.

          "Fortunately, the4 internet was designed to survive a nuclear war, which made it decentralized and impossible to truly censor. even the platforms which do censor do so reactively."

          Then why are you people bitching so incessantly? Just use the parts of the internet that are routing around the censorship, since you admit you're free to do so.

          "Remember 2 Live Crwe's convition for obscenity?"

          I remember enough to know that it was a problem because it was the government doing it. Only idiots were talking about freedom of speech when record stations decided they wouldn't play them.

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          • identicon
            John Smith, 28 Aug 2018 @ 5:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Internet whistleblowing can be de-indexed and shadowbanned into oblivion, much like any other message which suffers that fate now.

            I acknowledge the right to censor content while calling it flawed. It can be legal and still wrong, or still not a viable business model. I noted that AOL lost its dominance due to censorship, just as Facebook and Twitter will inevitably lose theirs.

            The Two Live Crew case involved more than government censorship. A better example might have been "Sun City" by the Artists Against Apartheid, a song which included Bruce Springsteen at the height of his popularity, which nonetheless got very little airplay or exposure on MTV, all private networks, and whose message was not heard by many.

            The proper response to censorship is not to trust advertising on any site which practices it because one is not getting the full story about the advertisers (by definition).

            My primary argument isn't that censorship should be illegal, merely thatengaging in it is corporate suicide, as it was for AOL, and as it almost was for Twitter. The internet detects censorship as damage and routs around it.

            Without censorship, many users will attempt to silence someone by force, crossing the lines into harassment, defamation, and physical threats, as often occurred on USENEAT and which still occurs on other platforms. It's irrational, or seems that way, but one has to wonder what is really at stake if one is willing to risk prison or being sued into financial ruin just to win an internet argument. The idea that it's just "fun" is belied by these risks that are being taken by speakers. Most won't risk their survival unless something much bigger is at stake.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 6:27pm

      Re:

      You shoulda stayed at AOL gramps.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 1:17pm

    BAN THEM ALL

    Ban all politics..

    Otherwise, Have the SIDES PROVE COMMENTS..PROVE, not show 1000 opinions that agree..

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  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 1:49pm

    Note: the closest thing to hard "evidence" that big-platform moderation is politically motivated is a fabricated-to-be-intentionally-deceptive cut-and-paste-phrases-out-of-context video.

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    • identicon
      Christenson, 27 Aug 2018 @ 2:09pm

      Re:

      Umm, Mr Toom,
      There's very little doubt that the recent bans on Alex Jones were motivated by anything other than political pressure. Those congressional grillings weren't pleasant!

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    • identicon
      John Smith, 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:30pm

      Re:

      So when people threaten to kill me online (credibly), and their account isn't banned, but I get "moderated" for presenting a conservative viewpoint (say, for example, that affirmative action is racist), that's not a political bias?

      Whatever it is, it's still a failure in moderation. The Onion even saw it relevant to do an article on how the new Twitter policy made it okay to harass people if they were conservatives.

      Speaking of which, I've seen Twitter do nothing when users admit to violating the CFAA by pretending to be other users to sniff out the accounts connected to their recovery e-mail and telephone numbers.

      Usually a sharp drop in the stock price (inevitable with censorship) wakes up the investors as it did here. Twitter was $55 a share when the alarms started sounding, and dropped to 13.xx. AOL lost 95 percent of its value due to censorship and letting the internet catch up when it had all the same featuers ten years earlier, but took a proprietary approach.

      We still have had nothing that compares to AOL's censorship power in the late 1990s. What we have now is not even close. Individual sites may censor people, but the internet as a whole has more freedom of expression than ever before. This really is a nonissue.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 2:45pm

    TL;DR version: excuses, excuses, excuses

    The problem of moderation at scale isn't hard: it's been studied for decades and is well-understood. Many techniques for handling abusers/trolls exist and when used CORRECTLY (which they are quite often not) they work beautifully in all but a handful of edge cases. (Those require individual attention. But not more than once.)

    That's not the problem. The problem is two-fold:

    1. The people who built today's "social media" operations are young, inexperienced, ignorant, and arrogant. They're in love with their own cleverness and they failed to anticipate that their platforms WOULD, inevitably, be attacked by trolls and abusers even though those of us who've been around for a while told them in no uncertain terms. Instead of learning from our bitter experience they derided us as graybeards and out of touch and obsolete and blah blah blah. And now what's happened is exactly what we said would happen, and it's exacerbated by fundamental design errors made when these "social media" operations were at the whiteboard stage.

    2. Those same people are holding seminars and earnestly wringing their hands and reciting the "...but nobody could have foreseen" mantra and trying one half-assed measure after another in a parade of incompetence. (Thus the alternating claims of conservative bias and liberal bias. It's neither. They're just idiots.) They are doing every possible gyration they can come up with to present the appearance of doing something useful and to avoid having to admit the one thing they really, REALLY want to never admit: they can't fix it. It's too late. They'd have to tear it down and (mostly) start over, and they will never do that because that would mean shutting down the cash cow.

    I'd like to think that maybe next time they (or their successors) will listen, but that's probably too optimistic. The voices of experience and caution are often drowned out by the roar of venture capital.

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

    • identicon
      Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 3:32pm

      To be fair...

      "The problem of moderation at scale isn't hard: it's been studied for decades and is well-understood. Many techniques for handling abusers/trolls exist and when used CORRECTLY (which they are quite often not) they work beautifully in all but a handful of edge cases. (Those require individual attention. But not more than once.)"

      Normally I say this facetiously, not really expecting a response, but this time I very much mean it: can you offer citations? I feel like reading up on this subject would be fascinating, and I wanna see whether these practices could be designed to scale up to the size of Twitter or Facebook; my knee-jerk reaction to the suggestion is that it would just result in the exact issues we've been discussing the whole time, but I would love to be proven wrong.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 3:44pm

      Re: The problem of moderation at scale isn't hard

      > The problem of moderation at scale isn't hard: it's been studied for decades and is well-understood.

      If it's so widely known then you should have no problem citing some sources?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 3:54pm

      Re: TL;DR version: excuses, excuses, excuses

      Everything is easy when you can claim it can be done, but do not have to actually do it.

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 4:13pm

      Re: TL;DR version: excuses, excuses, excuses

      While there's merit to your point that Facebook and Twitter could have done a better job if they'd listened to early criticisms, I'm not really aware of any prior platform that had anything like the subscriber base that Facebook and Twitter do.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 6:50pm

    It will all work out

    There is a single dynamic that will straighten out all the divergent opinions about bias and censoring on this web site. Money. As the liberal left chants, censors, burns, condemns, attacks and “moderates” the ideas presented by conservatives, just take a look at who is taking up the argument, and the quality of their opinions.

    On the one hand, you have the crowd with the black face masks saying things like “We’d do him (Trump) like Ghadafi” and their equivalent featured above, and on the other you have the well spoken, expressive, tempered and rational commentators censored above. One side is featured, the other is censored. Just read the censored comments and judge for yourself.

    In real life (not the Internet) it is the commentators with money that are well spoken, expressive, tempered and rational. They have the cognitive skills required to obtain and retain and deploy money in tempered and rational ways. The black face masked guys live in their parents basement and spend their time forming pathetic little groups of secretive “Insiders” to combine their minuscule intellects into “groupthink”, as practiced here.

    It is those without money advocating socialism, because they have no other means to obtain it. It is those without money that play word games about censorship and bias, trying to make the abolition of American values somehow virtuous. It is those without successful business models (like Masnick) who find these tiny niches of market opportunity and hang on with their fingernails, the way Techdirt does. How old is Techdirt? How much has it grown? Very little money here, as Masnick as stated again and again.

    In the end, it will all work out. All the nonsense here that censors the well spoken and promotes the idiots with the aim of acquiring undeserved wealth will evaporate into nothing. All the arguments about why this is reasonable and justified by employing nonsensical arguments will be whisked into the dust bin of history. With any luck, well spoken and articulate scholars like Shiva will move the process along without delay.

    It will all work out. It already is. Witness Trump.

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

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 6:58pm

      Re: It will all work out

      "...on the other you have the well spoken, expressive, tempered and rational commentators censored above..."

      You got off to a good start, but that line is where your comment lost all credibility...at least for me, and I bet a lot of others. In fact, I didn't even read the rest. You showed your colors, and they ain't neutral. If those comments were in fact well spoken, expressive, tempered and rational, they would not have been flagged by significantly more than one person, which hides them, not censors them.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 3:44am

        Re: Re: It will all work out

        Wow, I didn't think people really thought that kind of moderation did anything but benefit the people who show up first to flag. (Being general with the use of "people" because they can be ANYBODY for any reason.)

        It just frustrates me that sometimes comments with nothing truly objectionable get flagged in right/left polarized discussions here on TD. Yeah, you can see them still, but will people do the extra work of that click? Probably not, even I don't for every single one when the comment load is huge.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:27pm

      it is the commentators with money that are well spoken, expressive, tempered and rational

      Counterpoint: Donald Trump.

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

    • identicon
      John Smith, 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:45pm

      Re: It will all work out

      It wasn't the poor who begged for bailouts in 2009.

      If you're against "socialism" you'd rather let the poor starve and die, correct? That include YOU if you become no longer useful to the state as a worker and/or a spender.

      If you say "well of course we should help those in need," consider the relative cost of providing someone a basic existence with the cost of rescuing them, AND the cost of paying all the bureaucrats required to enable that rescue.

      IF someone is homeless, would you rather they land on the doorstep of a hospital at a cost of thousands of dollars a night, or would it be cheaper to ensure that they have housing in the first place? New York State went "socialist" in 1938, claiming it's the duty of the government to help the poor.

      It's not that you aren't correct. I agree with you. Too bad your side didn't live by its own rules in 2009. Everyone in this country has benefitted from those bailouts, beecuse no one is targeting their housing, money, food or jobs under the true "law of the jungle" you seem to want (until you grow old and weak or get sick), but under which most conservatives wouldn't last an hour.

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      • identicon
        Christenson, 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:04pm

        Re: Re: It will all work out

        Guys: We all live together.

        Consider for a moment the 1918 influenza epidemic that killed millions in the US. When it first showed up, when there was a chance to contain it, it was a "poor people's problem". No action was taken.

        Then everyone caught it...and now we have a very strong CDC response to things like SARS (sudden acute respiratory syndrome).

        Tell me, is the response there socialist or capitalist??? Or is that frame of reference just a jingo??

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: It will all work out

          To me, socialism is well expressed by the idea of a guaranteed minimum income, as promoted by Zuckerberg and some small communities in California. No need to work at all, the government will support you and you can remain totally unproductive by any objective standard pretty much forever.

          Capitalism in the extreme falls short of a societal norm that anyone that I know supports. A military to protect the country flies in the face of capitalism (as do many public services), but is a requirement for a free society to remain free. There are many gray areas, but some things are black and white.

          If you want to live in a rich country, people have to work. Black and white. There is no getting around that. How do you motivate people to work? Force them at gunpoint, like the Soviets? Or motivate them with dreams of wealth and prosperity and opportunity. Personally, and from a historical basis, giving people the opportunity for wealth and prosperity has the best track record. The socialist idea that wealth already exists and you should just spread it around is lunacy.

          No one (to my knowledge) is advocating capitalism in the absolutist sense. But advocating for “free money” without differentiating between the productive and unproductive is just stupid and self defeating.

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:42pm

            How do you motivate people to work?

            You make sure a person’s basic needs—food, shelther, clothing, electricity, and possibly transportation—are met via UBI. Anything they get paid from working, then, is money they can invest or spend however they wish. Tell someone they can save up some money for some grand luxury (i.e., a vacation trip) without having to worry about paying the bills every month, and they will likely choose to work so they can put money toward just that. UBI would also theoretically free people up to find a career they want instead of a job they need; “following the dream” becomes a little easier when someone can do so without worrying about when they can pay for their next meal.

            The socialist idea that wealth already exists and you should just spread it around is lunacy.

            And yet, several people in this world have a net worth of more than a billion dollars—more money than they will ever spend in their lifetimes without donating huge sums to charity/going all Brewster’s Millions with it. Wealth does exist in this world—and the wealthy do not need that much money to survive, let alone thrive.

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            • identicon
              Will B., 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:45pm

              Don't forget:

              Increasing automation is actually removing a lot of need for low-level gruntwork through a bevy of different industries, and UBI would allow that process to speed up (by removing the issue of "robots taking jobs from humans"), which would in turn lead to most openings being in fields and careers where people want to work - creative, medical, engineering, et cetera. Live to work rather than work to live.

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          • identicon
            John Smith, 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:57pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It will all work out

            Citizenship is free to those born here. No one earned it.

            If every citizen "owns" this country, they own a share of its wealth. If employers and investors don't play fair, and they don't, then the meritocracy capitalists want doesn't exist, and it boils down to begging people for survival.

            The Nordic countries are socialist and they thrive. They are also capitalist when it comes to luxury, but not to survival.

            If you don't want suicide to be legal, and you don't want to let the poor starve and die, the power-trip of hoping someone will beg you for survial (conditioned upon winning your favor) is extremely expensive to society, since you'll step in to rescue them rather than prevent the need for the rescue in the first place.

            In 2009, the rich had a chance to live by their own words, and whined like babies for a bailout. Without that bailout, everyone's job would have been threatened, sincve the boss's unemployed relatives would have replaced those who were hired.

            Capitalismi is not some holy grail once it stops serving us. The rich need the masses to be content in order to enjoy the benefits of being rich. we could even have a single-payer healthcare system with "road pricing" where people pay for quicker access to the system. We have that now to some extent as community health centers are free to all, but it takes so long in the waiting room that anyoe with money or a job cannot afford the time investment, while those who are truly poor have that time to "invest" or waste.

            Btw, not all welfare bums are unemployed. Many have jobs they do not deserve, overpaid salaries, and are rewarded again with bloated retirement benfits. Why should we have pensions if retirees are "unproductive." What they did thirty years ago is not relevant to our future. We could balance the budget tomorrow if we replaced all private pensions and Social Security with a universal basic income for the elderly.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 11:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It will all work out

              John, your arguments are a little hard for me to follow.

              I don’t think citizens own the country in the way you infer. In think the own the right to be governed by it’s laws, and not other laws of other countries.

              About the bailouts and the corrupt capitalists that were never brought to justice by the Obama administraiton, I tend to agree it appeared unjust and wrong.

              Capitalism is not a holy grail, but it seems the best among difficult alternatives. It attempts to balance the greater good with the individual good, in that those who wish to can achieve much, and those who don’t can survive will (fairly) little effort. Not no effort, but little. Removing the incentive to work at all with UBI seems likely to result in catastrophe, not nirvana.

              Yes, many people abuse the welfare system, I’m with you on that.

              I would still stand by my argument that if you want to live in a rich country, people have to work. And the truth is, work is usually not fun, it is difficult and requires sacrifice. So, for the betterment of society, people have to sacrifice. How do we compensate them and motivate them to sacrifice for the greater good? It boils down to the question of money. How do you get other people to give you money? You serve them. The better you serve other people, the more money you can acquire, assuming the macro level rules are fair.

              Personally, I think the Chinese have hit on something with their proclamation “to be rich is glorious”, which has fueled incredible economic progress there. They left out things about individual freedoms, and their government looks brutal and immoral from my view, but the more they get their people to actually work, the more formidable a foe they will become.

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            • icon
              cattress (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 3:20am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It will all work out

              Welfare "bums"? Bums? Do you know who the majority of welfare recipients are, children. Then the elderly. Then the mothers/daughters who provide care for their children and parents.

              And by what measure do you hold that these employed welfare bums are undeserving of a job? And what divine knowledge do you have that these welfare bums with jobs they don't deserve, are also overpaid?

              Um, because yeah, I'm on welfare (Medicaid only), and have held a few crappy part-time retail jobs since I lost my last full-time job. I have worked for more years in my life than not, and I'm now a stay at home mom. Bum my ass.

              Private pensions do little damage to your pocketbook, especially considering its paid from a private companies investments. Now public pensions, that's a whole other ball of wax. While that screwed up system needs reform to say the least, I don't believe it's ok not to live up to a contract.

              Capitalism isn't the problem, it's the cronyism that manipulates the markets, picking winners and losers, distorting outcomes. And the unabashed drive to control what everyone else does through the might of the government. There oughta be a law, because won't someone think of the children!?! Uber is unfair to Taxis and the mismanaged run-down subways. You need a license to shampoo hair and arrange flowers! Got a permit for that lemonade stand?
              UBI won't work in the US because people on both the left and right won't give up their control over how the poor spend their money. You can't use SNAP to buy toilet paper, toothpaste, or deodorant, which I'm sure we all can agree are not frivolous items. Your newborn will be tested for illegal drugs at birth if you are on medicaid and there's nothing you can do about it, because poverty is some how synonymous with moral failing and a lack of intelligence. We are poor because we can't manage money, not because there simply isn't enough to manage. Funny, because I actually know how to write a proper budget and stick to it unlike the government.....

              Anyway, watch the welfare bum accusations. You have no idea what we have contributed, will contribute, or lean politically or economically.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 3:24am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It will all work out

                You could make money writing, you have a strong and articulate voice.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 7:51am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It will all work out

                We do not hire on merit, nor do we invest on merit. Captialism fails because of this. When capitalism fails, socialism steps in, as it did in 2009.

                If self-reliance is so important, discrimination and hiring for reasons other than merit (e.g., cronyism) are un-American and should be criminalized. You can't tell someone tow ork as you're tossing their resume in the trash because you don't like their skin color or because the big boss wants to f**k anothr job applicant.

                Putting power and money in the hands of the wrong people breeds sociopathy, which in turn elected Trump, who is exactly what we've worshipped for the past generation.

                If you don't want the poor to starve and die, it costs more to rescue them than to prevent the need for rescue, yet conservatives think only one move ahead. They don't care if millions of dollars are wasted on preventable rescues as long as a few of those dollars don't make their way into the pockets of groups they don't like. An economic system based on this is unsustainable, and in fact collapsed in 2008.

                All the bailouts did was ensure that the cancer of corruption will continue unchecked unti the system crashes again. The problem runs deeper than that. Think of the first few homo sapiens who lived on a planet run by Neanderthals. The Neanderthals never evolved, except for a few who became homo sapiens, literally broke away from the dead-end species, formed their own society of like minds, under their own laws (while respecting the code of the Neanderthals), and bred them out of existence simply because their way was more sustainable.

                What we're seeing now is an evolutionary split. Look for those with the evolved DNA to formt heir own country,, state, or other political subdivision, perhaps we already have with Norway, Denmark, etc. While we shoot each other up, steal each other's money, and waste time on unproductive pursuis, a breakaway society of nonviolent, compassionate individuals will breed unchecked because they aren't destroying themselves. The remainder will continue to breed, much as apes do now, but while they will share the same planet, they will live in a different world.

                How will this be achieved? Legislatively. Someday there will be a place where simple assault results in life imprisonment, as will stealing (thus eliminating the need for police), verbal aggression will result in sterilization, and behavior we tolerate as a "fact of life" now will leave the gene pool by force, because those who engage in it will be locked up. How do you think murder became illegal?

                It boils down to which behavior is genetically sustainable and which is not. Social Darwinism is not genetically sustainable, while socialism is. The price of the unsustainable behavior is murder, violence, and national bankruptcy. At some point the smart are going to get sick o carrying the water for the stupid and literally exterminate them, nonviolently.

                Right now the genetic split is primarily between those who can think in the abstract and those who cannot. Aong those who can think in the abstract, the split is between socialists and capitaliss. The socialists will inevitably prevail (natural selection) because they aren't selfish, violent, or stupid.

                This is a genetic reality few unevolved "slugs" will ever want to admit. No one likes being told they are stupid and inferior, even if they are.

                Attacking me personally won't help. This is simple reality to those whose DNA allows them to see it.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It will all work out

              Did they ever find Reagan's welfare queen?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:46am

        Re: Re: It will all work out

        Maybe if said homeless person had been paid a living wage rather than the government set minimum wage, they would not be homeless today?

        Is it efficient to subsidize business via welfare, food stamps, health care, etc? If business were to charge what it takes to make their product while paying their workers what it takes to house and feed then maybe these people would not need the government assistance. But this is counter the desire of some to control everyone with the heel of their shoe.

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        • identicon
          Christenson, 28 Aug 2018 @ 8:32am

          Re: Re: Re: It will all work out

          If you want to be informed about this, you need to read up on Cass, WV and Pullman, Illinois.

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        • icon
          cattress (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 10:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: It will all work out

          A living wage is an incredibly relative number. There's no way to come up with a fair and appropriate rate that fits every person, and quite frankly, I think it's a horrible idea to have to disclose all of the personal information to anyone else, government or private business, to come up with such a number. I also think laws used to calculate such a rate would end up giving power to an employer or government to say that no you can't have another child, no you can't move out to your own place away from your spouse or roommate because they cannot afford to pay you the adjusted living wage. (Don't think so, see China's one child rule!)

          Did you know that the minimum wage was introduced as a way to prevent women, young people, people of color, the disabled, from getting jobs? The less desirable people would take jobs for less pay than the white able-bodied adult males (with the proverbial family to take care of), which allowed these people the opportunity to earn something instead of nothing, to get their foot in the door and demonstrate their value or learn a new skill, eventually earning higher wages and having some sense of control over their own lives and destiny. But patriarchs didn't want women working and gaining financial independence. Progressives (yes progressives, which Hitler was impressed by, look it up!) wanted to cleanse these less desirable, which was easiest to do if they didn't have financial independence.So a wage floor was enacted, so that businesses would hire the worker with the lowest risk of failing to meet the return of investment. If you don't think this applies today, because today's progressives have good intentions, consider: Would you pay an inexperienced 15 yr old $15/hour, and train them, only have them available to fill partial shifts because of labor laws, when you have a bunch of candidates without restrictions and some experience? How about if you could pay them $8 or 9$ an hour, does it seem worth training them over an experienced worker you can't afford to pay that much more, and thus is more likely to leave to moment a better opportunity comes up? Shouldn't you the employer be the one to decide? Shouldn't the 15 year old have the choice to take a job for $8 and gain some experience if they want? Now under which situation are people more readily able to decide for themselves what is in their best interest?
          Welfare was created to prevent financial independence and control certain people, particularly those the white patriarch felt lacked the morality and intelligence adequately care for themselves. (hmmmm, see my post above about how my baby was tested for drugs when she was born because I am on Medicaid, or how SNAP and TANF benefits have strict spending rules, or how someone has to certify the apartment you want to rent because you couldn't determine for yourself if it meets your needs in order to get housing voucher.)

          I don't think we should abolish welfare- I'm on Medicaid- but we could knock down a lot of barriers to self-sufficiency (employment licensing, and rules against home based businesses) and that raise costs of living (like zoning laws that prevent enough housing to be built because a bunch of NIMBY don't want apartment buildings that don't match look of the rest of buildings, or might cast a shadow on an already shady playground, or tiny houses because they are too tiny, or trailers because they are trailers and a group is a trailer park) and unnecessary regulations on childcare that require expensive education which the cost is passed onto parents. We need medical/mental health providers which means shaking the AMA's hold that artificially limits how many doctors get educated trained and licensed (which should end wage stagnation that directly correlates with AMA limits put in place when MEdicaid and Medicare were enacted to keep doctor pay high, as employer health insurance costs have eaten up wages) end policing for profit/debtors prisons, and the war on drugs that rips young black males from their families and destabilizes their communities. If we could end all of these unnecessary, arbitrary, unfair, destructive controls, and allowed for more freedom for self determination and to make mistakes or decisions others disagree with we would probably see less dependence on government assistance. "Minimum and living wages are just more controls, one-size fits-all non-solutions that demonize success.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 12:02am

      Re: It will all work out

      Shiva still lost bro.

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

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    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:04pm

    Interesting - you are expressing the extent to which your mind is closed. That is, you are unwilling to even read the opinions that diverge from yours. Applied over time, won’t this result in stupidity, as you refuse to even be exposed to ideas other than your own?

    The central theme of your comment is that you allow your bias to rule your world, and are unwilling or unable to accept any new ideas. You thinking is complete and you are unwilling to acknowledge even the possibility of educating yourself.

    Oh, wait, you’re an “Insider”, now I understand. You’re all like this, right?

    That was kind of my point. Thanks for making it for me.

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    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:24pm

      Re:

      Beside the point that you can't find the reply button for the correct post, you iterate why you should not be listened to. Well done. Have another flag.

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        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:32pm

        Re: Re:

        Well, at least your closed-mindedness is consistent and open. Seriously, though, are you really happy just to consider your own opinion and no others? Do you stop reading everything as soon as you read one phrase you disagree with?

        Did you learn this technique in school? Is it because you cannot formulate counter-arguments, so your only alternative is to self-censor content that you don’t agree with?

        Sorry about forgetting to click correctly, happens a lot, actually. Being able to edit comments would be a boon.

        I wonder about what life is like for you. You have an opinion, you keep it forever, and refuse to even be exposed to countering opinions. Why is that? Is learning painful for you? Are you afraid of an education? Do you see yourself as “God”, all knowing and already comprehending the entire universe of possibilities?

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        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:47pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I listen, just not to you and the poster you characterized as being "well spoken, expressive, tempered and rational" when he/she isn't any of those things.

          You speak well. Try acting rational, try acting tempered, try being expressive. We will listen. But associating yourself with a well known troll, won't help you.

          Tell us what you think, why you think it, and support it with facts (and citations where appropriate) and you will be heard. You won't be flagged for being honest, but you will for being an ass, as your "well spoken, expressive, tempered and rational" poster friend often (or always) is.

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            Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I may disagree with you, but I do so with actual points that I raise and questions that I ask. Do I call you a troll? IMHO, you disqualify yourself as even attempting to be rational when you use that term. The term “troll” might just as well be “evil” and your argument might just as well be religious.

            You recall reading about the dark ages, yes? Orthodoxy was paramount, and heretics were burned. Society was self-limited and times were truly dark. Have you considered that your position advocates returning to a position akin to a religious orthodoxy, when countering views or either ignored, shunned or attacked? Don’t you think Techdirt is rather dark from that perspective, refusing to even allow the display of countering opinions?

            Your other point appears to be guilt by association, harkening back to the Soviet mentality of collective punishment. Why go there at all? Consider ideas on their merits, not on the merits of the writer.

            Trolls, censorship and guilt by association are not marks of a free society or an enlightened perspective. Is freedom of speech worth defending? Of course it is, here and other places. Are naming people “trolls”, censoring their comments, and impugning the character of those they associate with legitimate? What do you think?

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:23pm

              Still using that same tired rhetorical trick, Hamilton?

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                Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:31pm

                Re:

                Do you know what I like about you, Stephen? You are resilient, persistent, consistent and (perhaps even) well meaning. I leave open the possibility that you are sincere and expressing views that you actually hold. I usually don’t agree with your views, but damn, you sure can express them, repeatedly and seemingly without end. You are adept at taking someone’s comments, formatting them, dissecting them and providing counter arguments. You have a lot to say and you often express yourself well. Not always, of course, sometimes you digress into rather ineffective (and disgusting) attacks, but by and large, your comments are thoughtful and from a certain perspective, well reasoned. I apologize for those times I impugned your character. Your continued responsiveness makes it clear that my attacks were, on the whole, unwarranted and unwise.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:36pm

                  Re: Re:

                  I apologize for those times I impugned your character. Your continued responsiveness makes it clear that my attacks were, on the whole, unwarranted and unwise.

                  Congratulations - by your own definitions, you now owe Stephen money for your "brutal abuse"!

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                    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:38pm

                    Re: Re: Re:

                    Unwarranted and unwise is not the same as inaccurate.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:25pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      And brutal abuse is still brutal.

                      Maybe you should get a judge to define it. Oh, that's right... your last attempt to get a judge to define who invented email didn't go over so well, now did it?

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                        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:50pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        I said I was sorry for being brutal. I don’t recall anyone else doing so.

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                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:51am

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

                          And you said in the militarized SWAT team thread that in this country you apologize with money.

                          So hand it over.

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                  • icon
                    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:38pm

                    I will keep my settlement offer low; I only need about three-fiddy.

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            • identicon
              Christenson, 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:29pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So far, I see only troll here, whining away about "censorship" when it's only the community finding incoherence and flagging things as not interesting and a general waste of time.

              If you'd like to change minds, you will need to
              1) adopt a name (see, for example, Alexander Hamilton calling himself Publius when writing the federalist papers)
              and
              2) Engage us with a well-written, on-topic argument that is based as much as possible on objective fact and as little as possible on the personalities.
              and
              3) Admit not only your own facts, but also the opposition's.

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                Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 8:37pm

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

                Characterizing someone’s speech as “whining” is a weak argument. Speaking on behalf of other people is disingenuous, kind of like the 17 intelligence agencies or the 10,000 climate change professors. Asking me to admit others facts is just strange, facts don’t need to be admitted, opinions are admitted.

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                Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:25pm

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

                And I hope you remember, for the rest of your life, that you learned about Publius from me.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 12:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Goddamn I love it when you’re off you meds, and projecting at full speed ahead like a runaway train.

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    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 7:29pm

    out_of_the_blue/Bias Con Dios just hates it when due process is enforced.

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  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:33pm

    The conservative websites let those that disagree with them speak, they don't ban them because it is easier to let them discredit themselves.

    While the liberal sites seem to enjoy banning anyone who disagrees with their views. Hence why It seems like there is a bias.

    1 side allows their political enemies to argue against them and the other just bans them from speaking. This causes the effect to make it look like this problem is more widespread than it actually is.

    I suspect it is a small group in charge doing this across multiple platforms.

    I do not mean every platform when I say this, but there is a growing number of commenting sites that are shutting down heir comments systems or banning people for disagreeing views.

    I find it highly unlikely that it is all just a coincidence that conservatives are having their voices silenced just because these platforms are bad at moderating equally and fairly.


    Especially when those self same platforms have openly stated their hate and dislike of conservatives simply for having an opposing political view. Is it still just a coincidence when the person in charge says they see nothing wrong with violent hate groups on their site calling for violence against conservatives, but the moment someone says something negative about said group they are banned or disciplined for having an opposing view.

    Moderating equally is hard if not impossible, but it doesn't help when those in charge of moderation openly state they are biased against people they disagree with politically.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 9:42pm

      Re:

      In a more perfect world, people would listen to each other more, and silence each other less. We could all learn more by listening than by silencing.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:04pm

      I find it highly unlikely that it is all just a coincidence that conservatives are having their voices silenced just because these platforms are bad at moderating equally and fairly.

      Unless and until you can prove otherwise, the so-called “mass silencing” of self-proclaimed “conservative voices” is a coincidence.

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        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:48pm

        Re:

        That seems like a weak argument, Stephen, since the simple counter-argument is that unless you can prove it IS a coincidence, then it is NOT.

        Weak. Not up to your usual standards.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:50am

      Re:

      "The conservative websites let those that disagree with them speak,"

      Like Fox News shutting down all comments on their McCain videos.

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 10:10am

      Re:

      The conservative websites let those that disagree with them speak, they don't ban them because it is easier to let them discredit themselves.

      Bull.

      Fucking.

      Shit.

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

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 27 Aug 2018 @ 10:45pm

    Internet Content Moderation Isn't Politically Biased, It's Just Impossible To Do Well At Scale

    Let's be clear: this is all nonsense.

    where it then becomes a judgment call by people in a cubicle in the middle of reviewing 5,000 pieces of content.

    This is weak sauce. Its entirely possible that content moderation policies are slanted to prefer one ideology over another and that they're applied shittily at scale.

    You make a declaration that its nonsense - and then list the mechanisms that allow political slants in moderation to creep in (even if officially unintended). The guys doing the moderation have their own biases, the guys hiring them have their own biases, the guys overseeing all this have their own biases and its entirely possible - even likely - that those biases stack up in a way that support them.

    The best thing is that instead of people pretending that a genuinely viewpoint neutral platform could ever exist (or demanding that every platform cater to their own specific viewpoint) is to declare your own biases and stop trying to shut down platforms that cater to competing philosophies 'because those people are *just wrong!'

    If the alt-right idiots and incels had a place they could vent and stew in their own juices then they wouldn't be standing on the fence pissing into the SJW's pools. 'Good fences make for good neighbors' works online as well as in neighborhoods.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:03am

      If the alt-right idiots and incels had a place they could vent and stew in their own juices then they wouldn't be standing on the fence pissing into the SJW's pools.

      They already have such places. They just know that those places will be largely ignored by the populace at large, which means their messages—such as they are—will not be heard.

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 10:12am

      Re:

      If the alt-right idiots and incels had a place they could vent and stew in their own juices then they wouldn't be standing on the fence pissing into the SJW's pools.

      Ah yes, it's well-established that online trolls don't go to places where they're not welcome.

      Like how you never see anybody in the Techdirt comments who irrationally hates Techdirt.

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

      • identicon
        Christenson, 28 Aug 2018 @ 10:35am

        Re: Re: Can I see a conspiracy here?

        Thad:
        It seems to me that all the noise that keeps showing up on the posts about content moderation indicates that we are on to something important. Maybe, just maybe, good moderation will take away the outsized voices of the anti-intellectuals -- possibly because that will let us have a more humane and smarter world. Maybe it is because the US has *a lot* more power if it is more united.

        What we seem to know is:
        ** Moderation is necessary, and necessarily biased in various ways.
        ** Paid moderation does not work well "at scale", it needs to be at least crowd-sourced somehow. Techdirt and Slashdot provide examples; preserving the "still, small voice" is a concern in any such system.
        ** Banning speakers and websites is a bad idea; the trolls are too easy to confuse with the still, small voices, and many in power would like to suppress the still, small voices.
        ** Concentration of power in any given platform can be addressed in the long term by allowing others to "scrape" the platform. (Note that TD reported Craigslist went to court and stopped that, but Google really got going when they figured out a better way to do it with the "page rank algorithm").

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

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 11:31am

          Re: Re: Re: Can I see a conspiracy here?

          It seems to me that all the noise that keeps showing up on the posts about content moderation indicates that we are on to something important. Maybe, just maybe, good moderation will take away the outsized voices of the anti-intellectuals -- possibly because that will let us have a more humane and smarter world. Maybe it is because the US has a lot more power if it is more united.

          Nah. I think it's far simpler than that. Trolls -- whether they be out_of_the_blue, Alex Jones, or Donald Trump -- get off on portraying themselves as victims. They rant and rave about how they're being repressed by some kind of evil cabal (often accompanied by dog-whistles about just who they're referring to when they talk about evil cabals) in order to make themselves out to be virtuous truth-tellers who people in power want to silence.

          In the case of guys like Jones and Trump, this persecution complex pays off: Jones gets viewers and customers; Trump gets cheers at his rallies, donations, and votes. I don't know what the fuck Blue gets out of his constant gibbering, but I'm going to assume it's sexual gratification.

          What we seem to know is: ** Moderation is necessary, and necessarily biased in various ways.

          Let's say that we agree that most moderation is necessarily biased, and leave it at that.

          ** Paid moderation does not work well "at scale", it needs to be at least crowd-sourced somehow. Techdirt and Slashdot provide examples; preserving the "still, small voice" is a concern in any such system.

          Techdirt is big and Slashdot is bigger; they both provide examples of community moderation at their respective scales. They still operate at a much smaller scale than Twitter or Facebook. "Community moderation is important" is a good takeaway, but it's not a complete picture.

          There are types of online abuse that mere downvotes and flags are insufficient to handle. Jezebel had a problem some years back where trolls started flooding the comments with violent images. Community moderation didn't work; eventually, the problem spread to every site in what was then the Gawker family.

          There are other types of abusive content that require administrative intervention, not just community flagging. I mentioned doxxing and true threats upthread. Hiding those behind a "this comment has been flagged by the community" notification is insufficient.

          ** Banning speakers and websites is a bad idea; the trolls are too easy to confuse with the still, small voices, and many in power would like to suppress the still, small voices.

          I think that really depends on the speaker, the website, and the forum they're being banned from.

          I think if you don't ban users who engage in coordinated harassment campaigns, then your community is going to become a very unpleasant place and people won't want to stick around.

          The trouble is in consistently defining what constitutes harassment (not to mention coordination and campaigns); that, as you say, will necessarily require a judgement call that is affected by individual biases.

          ** Concentration of power in any given platform can be addressed in the long term by allowing others to "scrape" the platform. (Note that TD reported Craigslist went to court and stopped that, but Google really got going when they figured out a better way to do it with the "page rank algorithm").

          Maybe. It's hard to say.

          Even a site that, hypothetically, scraped every single tweet on Twitter would be subject to Twitter's administrative decisions. It would be able to keep up old tweets after Twitter removed them, but if somebody gets banned, they won't be tweeting anymore.

          I think a loose federation of smaller platforms, like Mastodon, is more robust than simple scraping. But it's got the chicken-egg problem that most people aren't using it because most people aren't using it. It's very hard to get people to switch off what they're already using, especially if it's where all their friends are.

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

          • identicon
            Christenson, 28 Aug 2018 @ 9:23pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Can I see a conspiracy here?

            Well said. I'm looking for more pieces of a solution, and trying ideas on for size.

            Coordinated harrassment and true threats do indeed require more than just crowdsourcing by the community volunteers. See #gamergate. I'm curious as to the proportion of "simple" trolls versus the more dangerous ones. I would hope that community moderation would be able to reduce the scale of the problem to where the dangerous trolls were manageable.

            In general, I think loose federations are better than single platforms...so I'm wondering if it might be possible to have loose federations of moderators. Something like, if I give you a "like", then your moderation (flags, etc) counts for more somethow in relation to me. Gonna have to game that out somehow; it's starting to look like academic peer review!

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

            • icon
              Thad (profile), 29 Aug 2018 @ 10:25am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can I see a conspiracy here?

              I'm curious as to the proportion of "simple" trolls versus the more dangerous ones.

              I think sometimes the former can become the latter.

              "Don't feed the trolls" is the conventional wisdom, and it often works. Often, when people stop responding to trolls, they get bored and go away.

              But sometimes, when people stop responding to trolls, the trolls escalate, until it's impossible to ignore them anymore. The violent images on Jezebel are one example of this.

              I think reinforcement plays a big part in it too. The thing about the Internet is, you can believe any damn thing at all and find a sizable, vocal group of people who believe the same thing. Behavior that might have resulted in a "hey man, cut that out" from a real-life peer group might instead result in encouragement from your online peer group.

              (Which isn't, of course, to say that there aren't plenty of groupings of awful people who believe awful things and encourage awful behavior in meatspace. But the Internet certainly seems to have helped to revive some social movements that had previously fallen out of favor.)

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

              • identicon
                Christenson, 29 Aug 2018 @ 2:43pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can I see a conspiracy here?

                What??!!! The world is more complicated than simply dividing the trolls into simple versus dangerous, and sometimes the one is turned into the other??? (as in #gamergate?)

                lol, thanks! We really need to get a statistical handle on the trolls!

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

                • icon
                  Thad (profile), 29 Aug 2018 @ 4:09pm

                  Re: tl;dr

                  Depending on the size of the community, statistical analysis could be pretty simple.

                  If I wanted to really go all-out on the script I use to block trolls, for example, I think crawling Techdirt and putting every flagged comment through a Bayesian filter would probably create a very accurate predictor for troll posts, in much the same way that Bayesian filters have become standard for spam-blocking. Techdirt's got a relatively small base of commenters, and the handful of frequently-flagged posters have some very clear verbal tics that would be easy to detect through statistical analysis of their previous flagged posts. (I'm not planning on doing that, mind; I think the script I've got works pretty well as-is. But it would be an interesting project.)

                  But more communities with more complexity require more advanced tools than Bayesian analysis, and machine learning is still in its early days. Human behavior is a very tricky thing to analyze, and of course gathering, interpreting, and implementing data is subject to human biases.

                  And there are some things I don't see AI ever being good at: picking up context and nuance. How can you tell if a remark is abuse or an inside joke? Or someone reporting abuse? People can't even do that; machines don't have much of a chance.

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

                  • identicon
                    Christenson, 29 Aug 2018 @ 5:18pm

                    Re: Re: tl;dr

                    Seems you've omitted Poe's law ... sometimes that /s tag is required to distinguish sarcasm from extreme positions!

                    Hey Mike, can we get estimates or SWAGs(Sophisticated Wild-Ass Guesses) as to the size of TD's commmentariat and trolletariat?

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

                    • icon
                      Thad (profile), 30 Aug 2018 @ 9:59am

                      Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

                      No, I got the sarcasm, I just thought it was an interesting jumping-off point for broader analysis.

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

                      • identicon
                        Christenson, 30 Aug 2018 @ 3:32pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

                        I meant that AI would have lots of trouble with Poe's law, just like people do. I liked the broader analysis.

                        I pointed Techdirt to some stuff on Facebook's moderation efforts. They have 7500 people doing moderation; I think it was like 40 million posts reported for moderation per week and a billion or so posts per week.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 2:38am

    The inevitable slide of social networks and their “moderation”

    What has been so interesting to see about social networks, even this particular network, is the voice they have given the previously voiceless. Writers that would never be published anywhere if publication cost money are published here regularly. They are sensational in the sense that they cause sensation, they have voices that have never been heard before, especially repeatedly. In a society based on money they are worthless, but here in this forum, they have worth (though mostly to each other).

    Even very weak arguments and articles based on “very weak sauce” can find acclaim and comment here. A whole community can gather and celebrate the new area of “free” publication. When combined with appropriate “moderation” (censorship), arguments that would have never seen the light of day bask in the sunlight of (censored) acceptance here.

    This phenomenon, while interesting from a sociological point of view, is beginning to decline in public interest. The same is true on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. One the sensationalism passes and the public has a chance to consider the essence of the arguments, people soon find other more interesting pastimes.

    Not the whole public, of course. Those few previously uncelebrated voices still gather to admire each other, since no one else will. What were once isolated and ridiculed voices gather together to form societies that may well perpetuate themselves into the next millinium, a cultural phenomenon heretofore unknown, and impossible without the whole “free” publication business.

    Thanks for the memories, Techdirt. Enjoy each other and celebrate your uniqueness. The rest of us will go experience the real world with the money we are making. Did you see the stock market yesterday after Trump stunning negotiation of YET ANOTHER victory for the US with a new trade deal? Canada will soon follow, and then China. No doubt that will receive scant little attention here, which is fine. Be happy with each other. The rest of us are certainly happy to celebrate Trump, the USA, and the winning that is taking place all around us.

    No need to celebrate with us, we won’t miss your ridiculous voices or stupid arguments. And if we ever do, it’s always “free” to come back and publicly ridicule you some more.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:58am

      Re: The inevitable slide of social networks and their “moderation”

      Noam Chomsky is still not going to be on the jury.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:09am

    Thank you for your moderation Techdirt - you are totally right

    For me, moderation and hiding comments on Techdirt is a major blessing. When I read stuf that is different from what I read before, it upsets me. It is clearly not censoring, like some people say. Those people are just stupid liars. I like to have one view, my life is more calm and my thoughts are more clear. I know what’s right and I know what’s wrong, and Techdirt is right every time. I have never read anything here that is even controversial, there is only unvarnished truth laid out and explained clearly. Those who say otherwise should be silenced, and thank you again for saving me the trouble of ignoring those who see it differently. I contribute regularly to Techdirt, and I’m happy to do it. Maybe it’s not a lot of money, but I can see it’s well spent. I think MIke Masnick should run for president, I would vote for him. He’s unique, good looking, and understands people like me. Go for it Mike, we’re all behind you. You are a jewel and a scholar and have the best site anywhere, right about everything every time. It’s like you can read my mind.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:10am

      Nice try, Hamilton.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:22am

        Re:

        And besides that, Mike is right that if you didn’t moderate, the whole world would fill with spam from trolls and those with the wrong ideas altogether. It would overflow with junk from people that just don’t know how to think the right way. Of course people criticize him for what he does, they just don’t know how to appreciate how right he is every time and it makes them crazy. If you’re going to moderate at scale, even Techdirt scale, censoring is right and proper and I’m happy to see it so I don’t have to read stuff that is obviously wrong. If Mike thinks it’s wrong, then it’s wrong, for sure. It’s impossible to make rules that everyone will like, so I think it’s better to keep the rules secret, that’s especially important. Nasty trolls should be silenced, secretly, behind the scenes and Mike is great at that, him and his Insiders. Keep silencing those trolls, Mike, trolls are nasty and bad and no one would listen to them ever. They’re evil.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    NoTORious CommenTOR, 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:35am

    HA, HA! Another example of YOU DOING what say shouldn't be done!

    **You've run how many of these about how mega-corporations must agonize over not suppressing speech, allow generously for edge cases, and THEN CENSOR ANY DISAGREEMENT HERE?

    Truly Masnickal.


    By the way, if anyone new here, I have to use to TOR to comment at all: my home IPA was blocked. That's how "free speech" Techdirt actually is. You're free to agree, is all.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:44am

      Re: HA, HA! Another example of YOU DOING what say shouldn't be done!

      Well, the only possible explanation is that you just have the wrong ideas. This web site is for the right ideas, not the wrong ideas. If you had the right ideas, you wouldn’t be censored. And it’s not censoring - it’s moderation, and it’s not bias, and it’s not political, it’s fair and ethical and reasonable and right, and you are wrong to talk about it. If you stopped talking about it, then you wouldn’t be silenced.

      You seem to forget that corporations can do anything they want, and you can’t do anything you want, because you’re not a corporation. And if you are a corporation, well, you’re not the Techdirt corporation, so you’re still wrong.

      Just admit you are wrong, say it out loud, say you’re sorry for being wrong, you won’t be wrong again, and everything will be fine for you here. Otherwise we won’t listen to you, nya, nya, nya, we’ll put our fingers in our ears and sing so loud that what you say won’t matter.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 7:26am

        the only possible explanation is that you just have the wrong ideas

        Or, as many people have explained before, people like you and Blue (Da Ba Dee) up there just like to be sanctimonious assholes about others disagreeing with you. You play the victim card and whine about “censorship” but you never take responsibility for your actions and attitudes, which are the real reason your posts get flagged.

        Act better and you will be treated better. Or keep being the bad-faith assholes we know both of you to be, see where that gets you.

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

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 7:34am

          Re:

          That’s right, act better, you are the example of that, Stephen T. Stone. Everyone who gets censored here should just review Stephen T. Stone’s comments in his profile to understand how to be treated better. He has the right attitudes, a fantastic command of vocabulary, and criticisms that just can’t be argued with. Act like Stephen, that’s what I always say. You are bad-faith assholes if you don’t, not like Stephen, he is an upstanding member here and always knows how to respond in a fair, balanced and reasonable way. You would have to be fucking rubber dolls and shitting in your bed and rubbing shit over your whole body and in your hair if you don’t understand Stephen T. Stone. He is worth emulating, trust me on this. He has, to the best of my knowledge, NEVER been censored.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 7:38am

            Re: Re:

            Have you finished your homework yet?

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

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 7:38am

            Are you a petulant teenage brat, or are you just brain damaged?

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

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 7:51am

              Re:

              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Dec 2017 @ 11:05am ... But you're too busy breathing the smell of your own shit to care, what with your head ...
              “These are only being done in H265 because Amazon have shit the bed, and it's a choice between a turd sandwich ... Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Apr 2018 @ 4:47p
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Aug 2018 @ 10:55pm ..... Have me arrested and sue me for flagging your shit
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Aug 2018 @ 11:26am .... it's actually their moral responsibility to shit on as many rights as they can get away with.
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Aug 2018 @ 9:55am ... (other than, you know, Twitter doing a shit job of it)
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Aug 2018 @ 2:58pm. The larger issue ..... That shit is fucking scary, and we should all acknowledge and discuss it.
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 7 Feb 2018 @ 7:13am ..... Is your advice so shitty that you refuse to take it yourself?
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 May 2018 @ 3:02pm ... of fact, you sure as shit failed to do your research before you declared your opinion as the word of God.
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 7:13pm .... I think it was a self-demo of how shit doesn't fit narratives or something.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 8:03am

                Re: Re:

                Now that is some serious case of obsession. Good on you, Hamilton!

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

                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 8:05am

                  Re: Re: Re:

                  We all have our hobbies.

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 7:38pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    You know what would be a good hobby? Actually having a case.

                    Because as things stand the judge is going to call off Shiva's appeal. Noam Chomsky is not going to be one of the jurors.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:51am

      Re:

      Thanks for admitting that you use a tool which you say only pirates use. So thanks, also, for admitting that you're a pirate.

      Now submit yourself to statutory damages.

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

  • identicon
    DNY, 28 Aug 2018 @ 6:55am

    Actually, bias might not be that easy to recognize

    The difficulty is that if there is bias involved, it is harder to recognized than might otherwise be the case, because it is not bias on behalf of an extreme position, but bias on behalf of the normative political view in Silicon Valley, which is decidely center-left. That being the case there will be content deleted as beyond-the-pale both to the left of that normative view (e.g. posted by Black Lives Matter and affiliated movements) and to the right (not just the lunatic conspiracy-monger Alex Jones, but the temporary deletion of Prager U.), with a bit more being deleted from the right end of the political spectrum -- as an extreme example I strongly suspect on many social media platforms posts advocating mass executions and expropriation of property on the model of Stalin's and Mao's policies are much more likely to survive (for longer at least) than posts advocating mass deportation of people of color.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2018 @ 7:22am

      I strongly suspect on many social media platforms posts advocating mass executions and expropriation of property […] are much more likely to survive (for longer at least) than posts advocating mass deportation of people of color

      If you are the President of the United States, on the other hand, they will both last seemingly for as long as the platform exists.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Cowherd, 28 Aug 2018 @ 10:57am

    There is a point at which moderating badly is worse than not moderating at all. Facebook et al, have crossed that line.

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


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