Sunday, November 05, 2017

Big questions for Big Tech

I've been participating in a discussion on a friend's Facebook page in the last few days. He's frustrated about the content he sees on Facebook, is blaming it on the algorithms and as a result wants to quit Facebook save for keeping a profile live so that he can be messaged by friends and family.

Fair enough, you might say. I know more than a few people who 'don't do Facebook'. I respect their reasons although it makes including them in a conversation tricky when they're not there. It's like trying to have a conversation with your mates in the pub and one of them is not with you.

I pointed out that one of the reasons I use Facebook is that I'm able, to a certain degree at least, to customise what I do and don't see. I do tell Facebook about the adverts I do and don't like. I turn people and pages off and on as I see fit. I've turned off nearly all mainstream news sites - the constant barrage of war, pestilence and famine is overwhelming when there's very little I can do about it and it was just making me feel depressed.

But there is a bigger discussion point and that's how Facebook polices the content shared on its service, especially in light of the allegation of Russian manipulation of voters in the US election - specifically by manipulating Facebook and the distribution of fake news content there.

I know fake news goes on. I do check my sources more often than not. I rarely take things as read when a friend posts a headline. Equally, I try to understand the bias, left or right, of TV and print media too. That takes time and effort. And most of the time, most of the people can't be bothered to do that or don't know that they could or should be doing that.

But coming back to the Russian fake news manipulation thing... that is actually a very big deal. It raises questions of ethics, what should and shouldn't be allowed to be published and how it's policed. This video from Professor Galloway is definitely worth a couple of minutes of your time.



h/t George Nimeh of Nimeh & Partners.

See also this article from the FT 'Ukraine says it warned Facebook of Russia fake news in 2015'.

Day 5/30 NaBloPoMo 2017