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Top Tech Firms Urged To Step Up Online Abuse Fightback (theguardian.com) 247

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Guardian: Top tech companies are talking to grassroots organisations across the globe to organise a fightback on their platforms against online abuse, hate speech, misogyny and stalking. Facebook, Twitter and Google are reaching out to women's groups, NGOs and communities in Africa, America, India, Europe and the Middle East as the scale of abuse online continues to increase. But their attempts to foster a "counter-speech" movement to challenge the violent misogyny, racism, threats, intimidation and abuse that flood social media platforms have prompted some of the communities they are trying to empower to question whether they are ducking their own responsibilities. Sarah Green, of the End Violence against Women coalition, said: "Any moves by social media companies to support, encourage and empower individuals and groups to resist and counter abuse is very welcome."
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Top Tech Firms Urged To Step Up Online Abuse Fightback

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2016 @11:31AM (#51884559)

    Azealia Banks gets to keep Twitter account after Wishing "Gang Rape" on Sarah Palin [inquisitr.com]

    Azealia Banks is known for saying exactly what she thinks, and a lot of times, she can be pretty offensive. Even if you aren’t a Sarah Palin fan, Banks’ Twitter war with the former Alaska governor got pretty ugly. Despite the rapper telling her Twitter followers and everyone else watching that Palin should be “gang raped,” among other awful things, Twitter decided that she had not broken any rules and her account would not be suspended.

    • by kick6 ( 1081615 )
      "Abuse" is defined as "speech I don't agree with." Therefore, any threats lobbed at Palin don't count.
    • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Monday April 11, 2016 @01:31PM (#51885639) Journal

      Lets face its, the entire movement is about guilt and revenge. Those who we normally think of as privileged who support it can claim whatever they like but the truth is they do so out of sense of guilt, largely the result of decades of brain washing in public schools. The marginalized groups who support it do so out of a sense they are entitled to some kind of revenge, and they should have that revenge even if the people who really dealt them and their ancestry the wrongs are long dead or rotting in an old folks home some place ( or should be in the case Bill Clinton ).

      Azealia Banks a black woman can say anything she wants under these new rules. She can even say the sort of thing that might be considered a personal threat an potentially expose "privileged group" to prosecution, without any fear or reprisal. Now ordinarily being woman would by Sara Palin some entitlement to protection under these new 'rules' but you she committed a mortal sin by espousing hatred for men, so has been excommunicated from the church of the victimized.

      • Azealia Banks a black woman can say anything she wants under these new rules.

        A lot of popular people, including Azealia Banks can say whatever they want not because of what they are but because they drive traffic to Twitter. Twitter is a business and that's all they really care about, never forget that.

  • If assholery is outlawed, only criminals will have assholes.
  • by HighOrbit ( 631451 ) on Monday April 11, 2016 @11:36AM (#51884607)
    come join the counter-speech against evil.

    Nice way to drive page-view revenue with a veneer of social responsibility. Now I can be socially responsible from the comfort of my own living-room, I just have to watch this banner ad first.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I would almost guess that from an ad revenue perspective, controversial posters are more valuable than uncontroversial posters.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by oakgrove ( 845019 )

        I would almost guess that from an ad revenue perspective, controversial posters are more valuable than uncontroversial posters.

        Yeah, except controversy is pretty much "the internet". Right now the good money is on pro-SJW initiatives and blog posts which are often times where the real controversy (read: pageviews/ad revenue) is. Just look at the post counts Slashdot and hacker news gets on a good SJW story. How much money did Anita Sarkeesian make on her kickstarter again? Hell, I'm thinking about doing some keyword research, finding a high PR expired domain and starting some kind of anti-bullying/hate speech/whatever blog myself.

  • There will always be people who are inclined to abuse others. Wouldn't it be better to keep that abuse sand-boxed in the virtual world rather than forcing abusers to act out in the physical world?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Keeping it "sandboxed" in the virtual world implies speech is not that important.

      If speech is not important, then why is it good to keep it free and why do people keep trying to clamp down on it? If it's unimportant, then why does anyone care?

      Free speech cannot be simultaneously so important that it must be protected depsite serious costs, yet so unimportant that it can be considered inconsequential.

    • I don't think that's a very compelling argument, for two reasons:

      1) The virtual and physical worlds are highly intertwined in the age of social "media."
      2) Verbal/emotional abuse still affects people, regardless of the medium.

      The real problem with these initiatives isn't that they're stomping out abuse, but that they are labeling things as abuse that aren't; namely things like insults made in passing, not being nice enough, etc. These things may be problems for people who wished to feel more welcome, or f

  • . . . . how does that effect the "Common Carrier"-type protections of the admittedly-hated Communications Decency Act ? As I recall, acting as a de-facto common carrier prevented liability for content.

    So, if providers start discriminating on content, do they not also lose the immunity from liability ?

    I'm not really sure where the line is on this, so ask the question here on Slashdot. . .

    • This was my first thought as well.

      This may invite massive lawsuits on any cooperating company that isn't 100.0000% effective is policing badthought. Which will, of course, include allowing all goodthought to pass unmolested.

      So, going along with this idea may very well do nothing but enrich lawyers....

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Common carrier doesn't protect those companies unless they act when notified of behaviour that is criminal or legally actionable. So they can ignore it until it's pointed out to them, at which point they have to act.

      That's not really the issue here though. These companies want to shut down harassment, because it's bad for business. Places like Reddit suffered because of the bad reputation they got. Same with YouTube, years ago when I dealt with the public (ugh) I used to hear the same line from parents all

      • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )

        And what happens if the speech is legal, but offensive ? That's the issue. But, somehow, people seem to believe that there's a right to Not Be Offended. . .

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          My house, my rules and if you show up doing or even saying something offensive, I can decide to kick you out.
          My business, mostly my rules and if I post a list of things I don't allow, such as swearing, well I can kick you out.
          Here we're talking about private businesses (not common carriers, who can still have rules like no explosives on the railroad or only so much voltage on the phone line), who while more limited then a private residence, are still within their rights to kick you out for many types of off

  • Why no misandry? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie@[ ]mail.com ['hot' in gap]> on Monday April 11, 2016 @11:52AM (#51884725) Homepage

    All I see is talk about misogyny, but misandry is no more acceptable and should be talked about as well. Personally, I despise people who engage in either stuff I certainly do not approve of certain kinds of girls/women disguising their misandry as "feminism."

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The English language is somewhat lacking in this area. Other languages, such as Japanese, have the concept of complete and incomplete lists. Essentially, when listing things there are two different words for "and", one implying you listed everything and the other that there can be more items you didn't mention.

      In this case, for the sake of brevity only the most common issues were listed. They are damned if the do, damned if they don't. List some items and people will both complain that something was missed

  • Citation Needed (Score:4, Informative)

    by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Monday April 11, 2016 @11:56AM (#51884759)

    the scale of abuse online continues to increase

    I didn't see any evidence for this statement. I suppose it is reasonable to assume that if the Internet gains one million users, some small percentage of them will be jerks. But TFA also says:

    She said the evidence from the meetings was that social media was overwhelmingly positive for the women and girls

    • Subtext (Score:3, Insightful)

      the scale of abuse online continues to increase

      I didn't see any evidence for this statement. I suppose it is reasonable to assume that if the Internet gains one million users, some small percentage of them will be jerks. But TFA also says:

      Read the subtext.

      It says: "People don't think this is important, so we'll frame it as "growing". Maybe this will get them to do something."

  • Facebook, Twitter and Google are all applications in which you arent the consumer, but the product. Poultry farms routinely de-beak their chickens in order to prevent them from harming other birds or their handlers. Pig farms will remove the teeth of aggressive hogs to ensure the productive health of their herd. cattle farms will often segregate and destroy downed or overaggressive bovine.
    Facebook and Twitter will remove shitposts and cull aggressive users to ensure their cattle remain copacetic and th
    • Facebook, Twitter and Google are all applications in which you arent the consumer, but the product. Poultry farms routinely de-beak their chickens in order to prevent them from harming other birds or their handlers. Pig farms will remove the teeth of aggressive hogs to ensure the productive health of their herd. cattle farms will often segregate and destroy downed or overaggressive bovine.
      Facebook and Twitter will remove shitposts and cull aggressive users to ensure their cattle remain copacetic and the product --you-- performs to the liking of their consumers.

      I don't personally give a shit about Facebook and Twitter since I don't use those platforms for anything but I do use Google and I make a lot of money from Google these days.

      The way I see it is this, Google spends a lot of time de-indexing shit websites. Duplicate content, link farms, spam, so on and so forth. What they typically don't get rid of is original editorial content because that is the stuff that is the most valuable to their users. It stands to reason that a place like Stormfront is chock full of

  • Shorter Summary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rlp ( 11898 ) on Monday April 11, 2016 @12:00PM (#51884805)

    Wrongthink is doublepus ungood, must be banned.

    • Private companies like facebook or twitter are not required to pay for your microphone that's not what freedom of speech is about. If the government bans you from speaking that is bad. If Facebook pulls your page thats their editorial discretion(also part of the first amendment) then you can move over to reddit or myspace or whatever.

      • Private companies like facebook or twitter are not required to pay for your microphone that's not what freedom of speech is about. If the government bans you from speaking that is bad. If Facebook pulls your page thats their editorial discretion(also part of the first amendment) then you can move over to reddit or myspace or whatever.

        Yeah the only problem for facebook is when they end up policing content to the point that people just give up, say fuck it and en masse go somewhere else. Facebook knows this which is why they are taking a very careful approach to this whole thing. We'll see how it goes. Same for Twitter and Google and whever else.

  • So far i'm not convinced that anti-abuse laws have not done more harm than good. How many people have had their homes and marriages busted up by false accusations or a very temporary situation? One example was just on a crime show. A good looking young woman drank too much and refused to leave a casino with her boyfriend. When he tried to take her back to the hotel in his words 'She dug her spiked heals into the carpet and would not leave. Casino security stepped in and escorted him out the door. Th
    • not convinced that anti-abuse laws have not... Too many negatives!

    • by narcc ( 412956 )

      Cool story, bro. Just one problem: it had absolutely nothing to do with "anti-abuse laws".

  • I've corrected the final sentence:
    "Any [money] by social media companies to support, encourage and empower individuals and groups to resist and counter abuse is very welcome."
  • Part of the problem with this is that an arrangement where some corporation is the middleman, censor and thought police for all communication is a system we don't want for other reasons. I've had the conversation many times with organizations that think they need to use Facebook groups to communicate with their members because that's what people expect. Then, of course, some fraction of the people object to using Facebook and don't agree with their terms of service. In particular, the provisions that you
    • Re:Standards? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Monday April 11, 2016 @12:34PM (#51885145)

      Part of the problem with this is that an arrangement where some corporation is the middleman, censor and thought police for all communication is a system we don't want for other reasons.

      It's not "some" corporation, it's thousands of corporations, and if you don't like them, you can add another one that censors your way at next to no cost.

      I've had the conversation many times with organizations that think they need to use Facebook groups to communicate with their members because that's what people expect. Then, of course, some fraction of the people object to using Facebook and don't agree with their terms of service.

      Yes, welcome to the real world, where different people actually make different choices.

  • by eepok ( 545733 ) on Monday April 11, 2016 @12:31PM (#51885119) Homepage
    There is no "stopping" abuse of any kind. Any time you try to fully eliminate bad things, innocent or nearly innocent people get caught up in the zero-tolerance policies and everyone loses. The offenders get caught, (Yay!), but when there are no more offenders, the harmful offense gets re-defined to create more offenders.

    The prohibition of alcohol came from a good place. Homes and lives were ruined because of absolutely rampant alcoholism. But when the fight for absolute abolition took to banning every single alcoholic beverage, an illicit trade formed and with it came a different kind of harm.

    Zero tolerance policies as they pertain to gang violence in schools was amazingly effective... until all the horrible things were appropriately reduced. After that, the books were thrown at minor offenders (https://goo.gl/4DQdKR).

    The strong prosecution of hate crimes is a good thing. But what happens when a younger generation who has never actually experienced hate crimes (such as being physically assaulted for being a particular religion or race) seeks to re-define what is considered hate? Or racism. Or sexism? What happens when they lower the bar so that a previously welcoming phrase like "America is a melting pot" is redefined as offensive, potentially hateful, speech? We see that today when "microaggressions" are now 'a concern' and how the offended (not *harmed*) are asserting some sort of power for their being offended.

    When you seek to "stop" any harm outright and completely, you inevitably come to the point where the harm is so rare, infrequent, or of immeasurably small effect that the ongoing effort begins to victimize people instead of protect them.

    But what do you do instead? Actual harm is happening-- how do you stop that harm? The answer is simple, but not easy: hard work. When someone does something harmful, find that person and punish that person. Yes, that's a lot of work, but the punishment is targeted and the restrictions on non-harmful actions are non-existent. Target genuinely harmful actions with strong enforcement and leave the rest to personal control (facilitating visible blocking & ignoring with the option to report) and community moderation (like Slashdot). The aim should always be to reduce harm, but never to eliminate offense.

    Lastly, as it is common with the current wave of activism, I will assume that someone will say, "But no one should have to see written abuse online to the point where someone then has to hit an ignore/block button!" to which I respond, "Yes, they should. For the same of protecting the free exchange of ideas (good, bad, and infuriating) and for the protection of people against prejudicial reactions. Without the risk for online abuse, there would be no disagreement and discussion online could only be the repetition of a single idea over and over again."
  • Talking about corruption schemes, oppression and slavery those companies commit is also harassing the company, so obviously those have to be removed.

  • by liquid_schwartz ( 530085 ) on Monday April 11, 2016 @01:41PM (#51885719)
    I know that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics however when the truth is no defense and cannot be stated then we have really gone way too far down a bad road. Remember that freedom of speech is still being free after controversial speech.
  • by butchersong ( 1222796 ) on Monday April 11, 2016 @01:42PM (#51885729)
    I'm sure everyone agrees that abuse or stalking is a problem but the biggest concern for me on social media is the tendency to get very offended by a one-off comment someone makes then proceed to ruin their lives. These spontaneous mobs fueled by righteous indignation are much scarrier to me than spam from some bully.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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