Social media platforms have recently been under fire for failing to curb bullying, abuse, racism, sexism, pornography, extreme beliefs, and trolling generally. Whilst we may all love the Billy Goats Gruff, online it’s no laughing matter. Something must be done. Someone must do something…the trouble is, what, who and how?
It’s a difficult area to police, because too much content is generated for this to be done manually, and social media platforms do not exist in a vacuum. Like the T.A.R.D.I.S., social media platforms seem bigger on the inside. So, the platforms rely on algorithms to identify word-strings common in these cases, and tag them for review, or pull the content. On occasion, accounts are suspended or deleted, but on the whole, the problem is just getting worse and worse. Daily, we see, either first-hand, or in news articles, examples of this in action.
The trouble is, an algorithm cannot understand broader context or tone of voice, so is not able to distinguish between banter among friends, and abuse of a stranger because of…well, you name it – the list of ‘reasons’ for abuse seems to get longer by the day. This in itself is a problem, because it’s difficult to keep up with slang, coded language and shifts in what is, and is not, acceptable language or comments. As a result, many cases are missed. I am not going to give examples, because that would probably result in this article being deleted, and my account suspended (or worse)…
In addition, a significant number of false positives are generated, and accounts get suspended or deleted when they should not. Sometimes, it proves time-consuming or impossible to reverse a clearly mistaken decision…so, posting to social media can be a bit of a gamble, especially if you hold a non-mainstream view on something, or are clumsy at humour…dad’s beware, the punishment (intended) may not fit the (non)crime.
However, LinkedIn does not check itself. How do I know this? Well, some background first: LinkedIn produces its own short-form web links.
So yesterday, I saw this condensed link: https://lnkd.in/fuckPPk
I didn’t notice the vulgarity until I had shared the post, and it’s now too late. It’s out there…and who will police the police?