Incentives

Restorative justice and social media moderation; Save Internet Freedom; Why the #StopHateforProfit campaign is gaining traction; and much more.


This is civic tech: Over in the UK, Joe Mitchell, longtime co-coordinator of Democracy Club, has gotten a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust to map out what is, or isn’t, working in the democracy sector there and he’s sharing his intriguing research plan.
 
Speaking of intriguing research, Niloufar Salehi, assistant professor at Berkeley’s School of Information, has just been awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation grant to study a restorative justice approach to social media moderation.
 
A bipartisan group of senators have banded together to try to stop a power-grab at the Voice of America that is threatening the integrity of its Open Technology Fund, which has supported the development of encrypted communications tools like Tor, Tails and Signal for years. For more info, go to Save Internet Freedom.
 
MIT is taking its giant 80 Million Tiny Images machine learning training dataset offline after being alerted by researchers that it was riddled with offensive terminology and could be used by AI systems to describe people with racist and misogynistic language, Katyanna Quach reports for The Register.
 
Attend: Next Thursday July 9 at noon EDT Mutale Nkonde and Charlton McIlwain will be speaking together at an event co-hosted by All Tech is Human and TheBridge on “Building Anti-Racist Technology and Culture.”
 
Attend: The annual RightsCon conference, AccessNow’s signature event bringing together thousands of human rights organizers and tech activists, is going virtual this year (July 27-31) and registration is free.
 
Apply: The School of Data Science at the University of Virginia is looking to bring on a data activist in residence.
 
Apply: Brave New Films is looking to hire a screenings coordinator.
 
Life in Facebookia: Nick Clegg, the company’s VP of global affairs, says that it “does not profit from hate. Billions of people use Facebook and Instagram because they have good experiences — they don’t want to see hateful content, our advertisers don’t want to see it, and we don’t want to see it. There is no incentive for us to do anything but remove it.” Our friend Dave Karpf of George Washington University points out: “It’s technically true, Facebook doesn’t profit from hate. Hate is a monetary rounding error in Facebook’s balance sheets. Facebook *avoids regulatory scrutiny* from hate. Facebook turns a blind eye to hate so Trump will turn a blind eye to Facebook.”
 
This is exactly right. For many years, Facebook equivocated about allowing white supremacy and white nationalism on its platform, claiming to ban white supremacist content while explicitly allowing posts praising race segregation. In training materials revealed by Motherboard’s Joseph Cox, phrases like “I am a proud white nationalist” were given as examples of statements to greenlight—only the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville in 2017 got the company to change its mind. But cracking down on such speech means offending more Republicans than Democrats, including the biggest Republican of all.
 
New York Times tech editorial writer Charlie Warzel argues that “Facebook can’t be reformed. After all, he writes, “The architecture of the social network — its algorithmic mandate of engagement over all else, the advantage it gives to divisive and emotionally manipulative content — will always produce more objectionable content at a dizzying scale.” So it’s time to change our demands, he says, in ways analogous to the movement to defund police and dismantle the carceral state. Agreed!
 
Meanwhile, the #StopHateForProfit campaign keeps gaining traction, with more advertisers overseas joining in, and now nearly one-third of its advertisers considering joining in, Alex Hern reports for the Guardian.
 
Deep thoughts: Working parents facing the “reopening” of the economy and the start of the fall school year are on the verge of an explosion, warns food blogger Deb Perelman in this New York Times oped.
 
Our friend Jerry Michalski has launched Open Global Mind, a collaborative effort aimed at helping us stop “drowning in the info-flood,” improve collective memory, and strengthen our ability to govern together, well.

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