“Facebook [isn’t] utopian or distopian. It’s just massively influential”
November 22, 2022 12:38 PM   Subscribe

In 2017, as #MeToo raged, the fact that you couldn’t say “Men Are Scum” on Facebook went viral.
In 2018, Monika Bickert and her team sat in the “Oh, Semantics” meeting room (a coincience, surely) to re-evaluate this policy.
Simon Van Zuylen-Wood got to sit in and wrote about the experience for Vanity Fair in 2019: “‘Men Are Scum’: Inside Facebook’s War On Hate Speech”
(Hat tip to the most recent episode of Evelyn Douek’s Moderated Content Podcast, featuring Alex Stamos.)
posted by Going To Maine (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Saying "Men are scum" is hate speech? Women regularly shoot up rooms of men?

I know it is a generalization and not true for everyone, but that is the flip side of "me too."
posted by olykate at 1:30 PM on November 22


As the article gets into, the root of the policy is that you can’t say “(a group of people) (some kind of equivalence) (some inhuman or disgusting object)”

Contortions and variations then continue, because content moderation is hard.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:46 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


(To my mind this article is fascinating because everyone is up in arms about Twitter moderation changes and also fleeting to Mastodon -again- which will have all these problems all over again but more so because each server has less money.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:47 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Some mastodon instances will have this problem, and most of the rest of the fediverse will ban those instances into irrelevance just like we did to gab. Mastodon isn’t a company, it’s software anyone can run for their own small community. (ok, technically the original dev has a company but the software is freely available to everyone to use and alter for their own community needs so the fediverse is in no way dependent on that company.) And people keep talking about mastodon, but there’s also pixelfed for instagram-like interaction, peertube for videos, mobilizon for events, and tumblr is talking about implementing activity pub so .. it’s a big decentralized ecosystem all networked together. Part of it can become diseased, but the rest just walls off the diseased part and keeps on trucking.
posted by antinomia at 3:28 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Need to sit down and read the links but, for a while I was a member of a secret Hillary group on FB and there was a period when this kind of "men are trash" FB hate speech moderation was a significant problem for the group. Admins would get banned (and come back under other accounts to work out their banning) and there was some concern that automoderation would find people saying it inside the group without any reports and the group would get banned.

I got a strike against my FB account for saying that we Americans were being stupid about masking and Canadians were right to be wary of us coming into the country. This was in the spring of 2020 but it was on a Canadian friend's wall and I think someone reported me.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 4:13 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]


Some mastodon instances will have this problem, and most of the rest of the fediverse will ban those instances into irrelevance just like we did to gab

This is an interesting phrasing because it seems to suggest that bad content is going to be isolated in small, nasty places, and that the clever concept of federation will solve everything. But that seems a bit glib.

First, people are going to glom onto instances, and they are going to get bigger and bigger. To go to the podcast, Alex Stamos points out a problem: mastodon.social has a million users (not sure how many active), which makes it a very big community, but it has extremely minimal tooling available for moderating: little AI flagging, just one big queue, etc. You can have a lot of gross things and misinterpreted things in a big community, which can cause all sorts of moderation problems. These big, general instances are going to persist and you will need a new norm other than just turning off the whole tap.

Second, the “just defederate” solution has its own whole pile of issues. Is your instance going to defederate from mastodon.social because of its resent kerfuffle? You absolutely can, but it's an odd vibe given that it’s the core, and if you’re not the owner you don’t get a say. Meanwhile, people I follow have been discovering that their particular small instances have their own weird vibes: concerned that posting pro-Ukraine content will get them kicked, discovering that they have defederated from some other instance for unknown reasons so now they can't read other peoples’ content, etc. Apparently, some instances are defederating from journa.host because they don’t want reporters reading their entirely public, not at all secured tweets, so that doesn’t do much. And it’s one thing to start a massive campaign to get a a Gab or KiwiFarms booted from the internet, it’s another to defederate from it and just pretend that the bad folks will stay isolated.

(FWIW, I think the cure is instances w/ no external connections at all except for what you subscribe to, limited to like five local friends who aren’t going to get miffed at your choices / agree to moderate yourselves and not step on your toes. But that has its own bag of irritants, I’m sure.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:43 PM on November 22 [7 favorites]


the root of the policy is that you can’t say “(a group of people) (some kind of equivalence) (some inhuman or disgusting object)”

A friend of mine got a one-day suspension because he posted on my wall, as a joke, "Canadians are the worst!" (I am Canadian, he was ribbing me, I "liked" the comment and replied something about treating my hurt feelings with free healthcare, any human could have known at a glance that this was friends joking around.)
posted by joannemerriam at 6:38 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


Ugh
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:41 AM on November 23


If you post "Men are trash" on Facebook you'll get an automatic suspension, but if you post "♂=🗑️" it's fine.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:48 AM on November 23 [4 favorites]


Mastodon instances that get big enough will have to comply with a whole host of laws that discord server mods (for instance) or Facebook group owners don't have to deal with, because unlike those other two the mastodon admins will own the servers ...

Denise at dreamwidth did a post about the various laws you have to worry about as the owner of a mastodon instance:

https://denise.dreamwidth.org/91757.html
posted by subdee at 8:20 AM on November 23 [3 favorites]


What about S.C.U.M.? Is that accepted?
posted by bendy at 4:50 PM on November 23


I got a strike against my FB account for saying that we Americans were being stupid about masking

It took me three 30-day bans to remember that there's one nationality you can't call stupid on Facebook. The first, no joke, was a Nukees quote, the one about the average IQ of humans being lower than raccoons, only that our standard deviation is higher. Only instead of humans, I said Americans.

Once you're on the radar as a "problem", Facebook will ban you at the drop of a hat. I got a 30-day ban for quoting Galaxy Quest ("Whoever wrote this episode should be shot!") because "shot" is a violent word. This on a post specifically about Galaxy Quest, and I wasn't the only commenter to quote that quote - others were fine.

I have a friend on FB, moreover, whose comments are hidden whenever the word "men" is used *at all*. Not in a negative sense. Just the word. She can't refer to the entire gender.
posted by Michael Roberts at 7:55 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]


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