I know it when I see it

Episode notes

  • Centered around this article in the Guardian which I hadnt read yet.
  • Ben took issue with the idea that the algorithm was at fault here when it was really only showing in search results. It’s all an algorithm in the end but I agree with Ben its not as bad as they are making it out to be either.

I dont know it when i see it

This is a tricky one to write about because I really dont know where I fall in this debate. It’s an extremely important topic but any of the solutions I’ve read about sound potentially worse than doing nothing at all.

This article in the Guardian describes how you can search for Holocaust on facebook and pages about Holocaust denial come up. I tried this myself and didnt see any so maybe something changed after this article came out?

But the point isnt to play gotcha with objectionable content the point is to really decide what roles we all need to play in platforms like this. Clearly no reasonable person wants to see folks claiming the Holocaust is a hoax anywhere on the internet but what about issues that are more grey than that. Where do we draw the line and who is in charge of drawing it.

Do we want facebook having that power or should that be left to the government. Both options sound terrible to me. Is there a way to self police that content, it doesnt seem like there is. And this doesnt have to be just what’s allowed on facebook but it’s what’s promoted on facebook?

There are many ways content gets promoted on facebook but the biggest way is adding it to your news feed but search is also a big way content gets promoted. Anytime you search for something on facebook theres likely thousands of potential results but the order those results get returned and what’s on the first page can make the difference between millions of people seeing it and it being effectively invisible.

With that in mind theres aleast some part of this problem that has to be in Facebooks court to control. Even if governments ultimately control what is banned and what is allowed, facebook itself will always have the ultimate control over what people see. And thats even more important.