Editorial Excitement: Will Facebook and Google Struggle with Social Responsibility

December 6, 2017

I noted three interesting news items. Both cast high profile companies as arbiters of social responsibility. The first item is “Facebook Is Banning Women for Calling Men Scum.” The main idea is that those who use the phrase “men are scum” can be banned from Facebook. Seems simple. Phrase identification, phrase look up, phrase on list triggers banning. Some people who have been banned for 30 days object. Interesting.

The second item is “Here’s What YouTube Is Doing to Stop Its Child Exploitation Problem.” The headline makes clear that there is a problem. The Alphabet Google YouTube fix is— wait for it — to use humans to identify socially irresponsible videos. The main point for me is that Alphabet Google’s algorithms cannot do the job. I thought that Google’s artificial intelligence system can develop artificial intelligent systems better than the one that Google created itself. Guess humans still have a role and maybe AI is not exactly able to handle what seems like socially responsible functions.

The third item is “How Trolls Locked My Twitter Account for 10 Days.” Main idea? Twitter’s socially responsible mechanism for making Twitter a better digital place can be exploited.

Net net: These three firms seem to be struggling with the notion of editorial controls, implementing them in an effective manner, and making algorithms work in a socially responsible manner.

Interesting. Traditional publishers have been performing this function for hundreds of years. There are plenty of journalists and publishers looking for work. My hunch is that the Silicon Valley set may prefer to go their own way. Who can learn from traditional publishing procedures? Maybe a smart self learning algorithm?

Well, maybe not yet at least. Jeff Bezos owns a newspaper and presumably has a leg up when it comes to addressing “fake” information.

Stephen E Arnold, December 6, 2017


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