So we’re going for private sector censorship now, are we?

Not hugely convinced:

High-tech companies should develop “spell-checkers” to censor Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) on social media, the head of Google, the world’s biggest internet search engine, has said.
Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, said new steps were needed to block the spread of gruesome videos and violent propaganda. Such measures were technically “within reach”.
Writing in the New York Times, he said the internet’s rapid growth had made it “too easy” for people to make contact with others in different parts of the world to spread violent ideas rather than using it to broaden horizons.
“We should build tools to help de-escalate tensions on social media — sort of like spell-checkers, but for hate and harassment,” Mr Schmidt wrote.
“We should target social accounts for terrorist groups like Islamic State, and remove videos before they spread, or help those countering terrorist messages to find their voice.
“Without this type of leadership from government, from citizens, from tech companies, the Internet could become a vehicle for further disaggregation of poorly built societies, and the empowerment of the wrong people, and the wrong voices.”

The problem, as always, is who gets to define who are the wrong people and the wrong voices? There’s very definitely people out there who would censor me for insisting that someone who has fathered 6 children on three different women is “male”. Just as 50 years ago there were people who would insist that someone calling themselves a woman because they’d had their nuts chopped off should be censored.

“Who?” is one of those very important questions…..

23 thoughts on “So we’re going for private sector censorship now, are we?”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Facebook and Twitter already have very PC censorship teams at work.

    They just don’t think that ISIL is as evil as objecting to abortion

  2. It’s important that Daesh atrocities receive the publicity denied to them by a subservient and cowardly MSM. People can compare reality with the fluffy RoP, NTDWI rhetoric of our supine Westminster Bubble and decide for themselves. Hilary Benn is by no means my favourite Polly, but he had the courage to call out Fundamentalist Islam for what it is.

  3. Who is Erik Schmidt trying to protect by blocking Isis violent propaganda? Not the Muslims because it’s all in their book which people like him are eager to protect from criticism. More likely he wants to preserve the “safe spaces” of the politically correct so that they can dream on.

  4. So it’s OK to drop bombs on Syria in the hope of inconveniencing ISIL, but not to engage in automated censorship of Facebook? Because the former will only kill Syrians we never would have met anyway, whereas the latter might one day inconvenience Worstall.

    Of course Facebook censors all sorts of stuff already. And I can assure you that its censorship is not at all PC in effect.

  5. SWJ,

    Without wanting to put words in Tim’s mouth, nobody cares what Facebook censors on its own accord. But having governments dictate what Facebook should censor is very different, and far more concerning than dropping bombs on Syria.

  6. If Facebook and Twitter don’t supply it, someone else will. It doesn’t take much effort to set up a domain and run up Drupal on a host somewhere. I think it’s even off-the-shelf on some hosts. 4chan is already a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Want the sort of jokes you really shouldn’t tell? Sickipedia. This shit, unlike Minitel or Prestel was designed to work like this – no central command and control.

    Plus, computers are just terrible at language and context. Humans are very good at spotting spam email. Machines kinda do a reasonable job, but it’s a crude technique based on bayesian analysis of words and scoring them based on prior words. They can’t contextualise a sentence, look at the author and decide if it’s satire or serious. If an anti-terrorist writer quotes the words of a terrorist, can it tell that apart from a terrorist?

  7. But having governments dictate what Facebook should censor is very different, and far more concerning than dropping bombs on Syria.

    But many governments do dictate what websites will censor. American websites tend to dance around citing the 1st Amendment and then get blocked by the more puritan regimes.

    I am concerned about the UK govt’s idiotic populist approach to censorship (but less than I am about its equally idiotic approach to internet surveillance) but this is a proposal from Google. Not from Cameron or May.

    So I am considerably less concerned about this than I am about the wisdom of dropping bombs on Syria.

  8. So I am considerably less concerned about this than I am about the wisdom of dropping bombs on Syria.

    I’m not for the reason that when we realise the stupidity of dropping bombs on Syria we will stop dropping bombs on Syria. But how many censorship initiatives have been reversed recently?

  9. nobody cares what Facebook censors on its own accord.

    I do. Private sector censorship is the same process as public sector censorship and just as indisidous.

    The answer to Tim’s rhetorical question is, of course “the good, right thinking people” who are always confident that they can make the right decision because they are good, right thinking people. The people who fifty years ago knew it was right to suppress homosexuality and now know that it is right to suppress objections to it. The ones who one hundred years ago knew it was right to export Christianity to other peoples by any means and who now lionise every religion except Christianity. The people who care not what you think, because they know what you ought to think.

    I’ve always taken the view that Google are a far scarier company than Microsoft ever dreamed of being. Microsoft just wanted my money. Google are progressives; they think they are social leaders. They also believe in Data Mining as the solution to every problem. Very scary.

  10. Both Goongle and CIABook need to be out of business. Not to mention social media. The ADHD Revolution.

    Difficult in a world of AFCs who want to be “friended”.

    One way might be to drip the “r” and have them fiended. Give some serial killers help in using sites both to track down victims. Even a small number of real victims could be compounded into a firestorm of fear. That would set both the bastards back on their electronic heels.

  11. “Difficult in a world of AFCs who want to be “friended”.”

    Does make me wonder.
    I’m peripherally involved, there days, in a business area which is, if not illegal, not something one might wish employers, friends, possibly journalists & certainly not wives to know one had had contact with. It’s certainly something where bought for cash PAYG SIM cards might be a wise investment. (Go on- guess.)
    It never ceases to surprise me the amount of people using freemail, such as g-mail, whatsapp, phones on contracts, home or work IP addresses…. Endless opportunities for context specific data trawling tied into user identification. Does no-one realise that GPS on the phone shares the places you visit with Google? Or that you can dig those you’ve lingered out of the phone memory, if you’ve a modicum of savvy?

    If Mr X’s AFC stands for abs***te f*****g c**ts, it doesn’t seem to be an unfair description. Although dangerously, lazily ignorant c**ts would be another..

  12. Bloke in Costa Rica

    bloke in spain: nail salons? It’s fucking nail salons, isn’t it? You’re the evil sex trafficker that’s got the Grauniad’s knickers in a twist. Come on, spill the beans.

  13. How about – Immigration services for nail bar workers though probably that is just a polite way of saying pimp

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    Philip Scott Thomas – “Facebook Declares BBC Article About French Political Polls ‘Unsafe’”

    Which is fair enough as I think all the BBC’s articles are unsafe. They are sending their staff off for reeducation if they are not sufficiently scared of climate change. So it figures.

    Meantime Blackberry is pulling out of Pakistan. They would not give the government unfettered access to their users’ e-mails. Good for them.

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