Tough, swift leadership needed to police social media

Written By: - Date published: 1:45 am, April 10th, 2019 - 73 comments
Categories: australian politics, Dirty Politics, International, jacinda ardern, Media, Politics - Tags: , , , , ,

The government has been rightly lauded for swiftly acting to ban assault weapons after the Christchurch massacre, but is its failure to decisively call social media giants to order is as weak and unacceptable as was the failure to respond decisively to the Aramoana massacre back in 1990?

There were massive calls after Aramoana to sort out the madness of selling assault weapons but despite report after report recommending a ban, our politicians unacceptably succumbed to the gun lobby.

That frightful decision cost 51 people their lives and changed our social fabric.

Both Australia and the UK, each led by conservative, socially backward governments, are forging ahead with strict new laws regulating social media companies that will hold companies and, importantly, their executives, to account for such things as the livestreaming of killings.

Our government is procrastinating just as the National government did after Aramoana.

We have had some great leadership on this issue by Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards, who has, described those in charge of the major social platforms as ‘morally bankrupt pathological liars‘ who cannot be trusted.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has won much kudos for her overall leadership in the aftermath of Christchurch, has failed to lead in this instance.

She has called for the international community to work together.

“What we’re looking to is whether or not there’s a global appetite for us to move collectively,” she said. “But at this stage I’m in the process of seeing what other countries have done and what might be possible.”

Ardern acknowledged Aotearoa had a responsibility around social media restrictions after Christchurch. She said live streaming had been used in a way it had not been used before, but actually it was only the scale of the atrocity that was new. Gruesome beheadings by ISIS and the like showed us some time ago how the application could be abused.

The UK is proposed to establish an independent watchdog that would create a “code of practice” to regulate technology giants, such as Facebook, Google and Twitter. Regulator will have the power to fine companies for breaking rules and the ability to fine executives and block websites.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed ahead with plans to introduce jail terms and massive fines for social media providers that don’t act on removing violent material quickly enough.

Under Australia’s proposed laws, offences would be punishable by three years’ jail for executives of social media companies, or fines that could reach up to 10% of the platform’s global annual turnover.

Ardern is sceptical similar legislation will help and believes global action would be more effective. She said European laws that required companies to remove illegal content with 24 hours, or face fines of up to €50 million (NZ$84 million) would not have addressed the live streaming problem of Christchurch.

This response is similar to our passive response to the same global giants (and many others) avoiding paying their fair share of tax by using tax havens. While New Zealand has chosen to wait forever for the OECD to propose concerted action, countries like the UK are protecting themselves through unilateral action.

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg refuses to make changes to livestreaming because Facebook would lose a revenue stream. In would interfere with the “interactivity” of live streaming, he said. Such argument has as little validity as those of gun enthusiasts who claim there an inalienable right to carry what weapons they like.

As well as been criticised for not doing enough to police hate speech in Myanmar, Facebook’s platform has been at the centre of claims it was used by Russia to meddle in elections, included the 2016 US election that astonishingly bought the moronic Donald Trump to power.

The Privacy Commissioner says Facebook’s attempts to self-regulation fall far short. “That is not good enough,” according to Edwards said. Governments needed to “force the platforms to find a solution” to the problem of livestreaming which have seen slayings as suicides and rapes streamed.

Unless companies could demonstrate the safety of their services, they simply shouldn’t be allowed to use them, he said.

Australia’s new law, rammed through this month, makes it a crime for social media platforms not to quickly remove “abhorrent violent material“.

The crime would be punishable by three years in prison and a fine of $A10.5 million, or 10% of the platform’s annual turnover, whichever is larger.

The Digital Industry Group Inc — an association representing the digital industry in Australia including Facebook, Google and Twitter — said taking down abhorrent content was a “highly complex.”

Funny how Google, Facebook and the like can solve complex algorithms when they want to but find it too difficult when they don’t want to.

Ardern for once is out of step with most kiwis on this issue. An overwhelming majority of New Zealanders would back a crackdown on social media companies, according to a UMR Research poll of 1000 adults, commissioned by ActionStation Aotearoa.

Some 86% agreed that “the government should require social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to take more responsibility to prevent distribution of harmful content on their platforms.”

Action Station spokesman Leroy Beckett said it hopes to pivot attention from the regulation of guns to regulation of social platforms.

“We are hoping this showing of public support gives the government the confidence to move forward with new rules for social media companies that protect people online,” he said.

Such regulation of the internet will never be straightforward. Singapore’s draft legislation introduced this month plans to restrict false and misleading information, which would clearly have Trump where he belongs before lunch, but might be problematic in the socially restrictive island state. India is also planning broad new powers that could well curtail free speech, while the EU is debating a new terrorism content measure that some have warned is overly broad and will harm free expression.

Zuckerberg believes governments and not companies should be the definers of what is acceptable and in light of their failure to self regulate, he is certainly correct.

New regulations are needed so that we have a standardised approach across platforms and private companies aren’t making so many important decisions alone,” the company said in a statement.

The problem is that the internet is such a fast-changing behemoth that it is virtually impossible for any government to keep track of content. The British approach that calls for the creation of a mandatory “duty of care” standard “to make companies take responsibility for the safety of their users and to tackle harm caused by content or activity on their service,” seems sensible.

The likes of Facebook and Google have, with dire consequences, failed to self-regulate so society, through our governments should put the risk back onto them. Make them construct the checks and balances before they allow an application such as livestreaming that can be so abused as we had in Christchurch.

Voluntary actions from industry to tackle online harms have not been applied consistently or gone far enough,” said Jeremy Wright, Britain’s Digital Secretary, said. “Technology can be an incredible force for good and we want the sector to be part of the solution in protecting their users. However, those that fail to do this will face tough action.”

The previous government has rightly been criticised for not wanting to lead on climate change but how this government responds to Christchurch may well be defining for this government. It’s not the time to be a follower, it’s time to lead.

(Simon Louisson reported for The Wall Street Journal, AP Dow Jones Newswires, New Zealand Press Association and Reuters and has been a political and media adviser to the Green Party.)

73 comments on “Tough, swift leadership needed to police social media”

  1. Ad 1

    I wrote about the need to break up the internet giants in March last year.
    It’s seemingly impossible on a global-protocol wide scale.

    Break Up Social Media Itself

    But Australia has had a crack at it. It will be amazing if Australia and others take big steps to regulate social media – in part because of the massacre that occurred in New Zealand – but we don’t.

    It’s a far more pressing global and local issue of regulation than most of the bills on the current books.

    Ardern needs to press on with the goodwill that she has gained and turn it into more than gun laws.

  2. WeTheBleeple 2

    Absolutely.

    Ever notice how ‘free speech’ advocates have nothing new to say. We’ve heard it, read it, wore the t-shirt and now we’re paying for it.

    Gave them an inch. Times up.

    Facebook is holding on to all the initial streamers and distributors details. This is the terrorists fan club and network. This is the exact information security agencies should have been handed immediately. But Facebook protects terrorists to protect their bottom line.

    The more controversy, the more they profit.

    The US is morally bankrupt, their companies and political establishments are fetid cesspools of lobbying and backhanders. Facebook breeds terrorism and hate every second of every day. The US military does the same. They protect the worst people on the globe. They fancy themselves as untouchable under the wings of a tribbling tyrant.

    The currency of disinformation, fear and terror. Backed by US for US interests.

    May they all wind up in jail for a very long time.

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    If the design problem is rapid identification of on-screen violence, why not provide a crowd-sourced solution? It would be easy to implement a system that takes a source off-line as soon as a hundred people hit a delete button within a five-minute time-frame, say.

    That mass ringing of the alarm signal could be designed to automatically notify Facebook’s review panel, who could then take a look and put it back online if it was a hoax. Facebook users could be instructed that their account will auto-delete itself if they participate in such a hoax.

    • …why not provide a crowd-sourced solution?

      Because of the nature of the relevant crowd. Facebook reported that Anonymous Loser’s live stream was seen directly by several hundred people before it was killed, many of whom were his online associates. That crowd is not going to report his live stream to Facebook. Same with Islamist torture/beheading/other murders videos – the target market for the live stream isn’t likely to complain about it.

      • Dennis Frank 3.1.1

        Yes, but. Look at the time it took for others to go online reporting the livestream. I saw it happen onsite here real fast. So I expect the solution I’m proposing to operate on that basis. I bet it would get the violence off-line faster than any Facebook executive decision!!

        As for robot enforcement by Facebook: that requires an algorithm sufficiently well-designed to detect violence. Good luck with your reliance on that! Facebook is reluctant to say it’s impossible, for obvious reasons, and reluctance to say it’s doable, for obvious reasons. I predict this hiatus will persist quite a while…

        • Psycho Milt 3.1.1.1

          Facebook took the video down after an hour, based on whatever its existing monitoring processes are. By that time it had been seen by a few hundred fellow racists who were highly unlikely to report it. How would crowd-sourcing improve on that performance?

          • joe90 3.1.1.1.1

            The crowd knew the damn thing wouldn’t last long so they downloaded it quick-smart and shared a shit load of links to storage sites.

    • hoom 3.2

      It would be easy to implement a system that takes a source off-line as soon as a hundred people hit a delete button within a five-minute time-frame, say.

      This is incredibly stupid.
      You immediately create an internet where the only views you see are those of the groups with the biggest, best resourced armies of people going round putting 100 votes against anything and everything anti-their viewpoint.
      And those won’t be Left-liberal, Green, anti-war type view-points, those will be first to go.
      Already we have FB and other major media using Atlantic Council & other neo-cons to decide what is ‘fake news’.

      This whole blaming the service provider stuff is dangerous bullshit.
      Takedowns should be properly regulated, politically neutral, reasons publically notified & appealable.

      Its one thing if a provider is refusing to put behind an access barrier or takedown clearly bad content but if as said below the CHCH stream was taken down by FB within an hour then I’d call that pretty impressively quick action.

      • Dennis Frank 3.2.1

        You obviously failed to read what I wrote. Abuse of the system results in loss of account, by design. Abusers eliminate themselves!

        • hoom 3.2.1.1

          And the well resourced will have the ability to create loads more.

          This happens already: not just Russia has spam/troll/influence accounts, at least NATO, US, UK, Israel, Saudi & probably most countries have them as well as loads of Corporates & ‘NGO’s/thinktanks.

          You don’t seriously think those guys are all using their real personal accounts do you?

          • Dennis Frank 3.2.1.1.1

            Now you’re talking about cyberwarfare by state orgs, not alt-right rabble. Different ball-game. But it does suggest that Facebook etc may have to eliminate the possibility of fake accounts by allowing only real verifiable people to participate in their system. Could be the writing is on the wall for anyone hiding behind an alias…

            • hoom 3.2.1.1.1.1

              And compulsary webcam pics when you post!
              Compulsary name-tags when we walk around in public…

            • WeTheBleeple 3.2.1.1.1.2

              The issue is allowing these companies everyone’s authentic information.

              Facebook’s business model is customer betrayal aka selling customer data. Verified data would be their Holy Grail.

      • reason 3.2.2

        I agree with a lot you say hoom ….. ” Already we have FB and other major media using Atlantic Council & other neo-cons to decide what is ‘fake news’.”

        I’d also like to add that hard Censorship did take place after Christchurch …… a video sharing site ‘, Bitchute’ was blocked by internet providers in NZ for about a week.

        I have anti war and peacful videos there … and I had to use the TOR browser to bypass the blocking / censorship.

        neither facebook or youtube were blocked ….. Bitchute would be youtubes biggest competitor / threat. …. and it’s been attacked by the big dogs before….. by paypal etc blacklisting them

  4. SPC 4

    Are we expecting too much of our political leaders?

    Our legislation will not change the global environment – physical or online.

    And neither the UK nor Oz is trying to end live streaming by blocking sites that allow this. They will only sanction those that do not remove objectionable material.

    We can join attempts to establish an accountability regime, just as we can do on taxation, but we cannot be world leading from our small market.

    • WeTheBleeple 4.1

      “but we cannot be world leading from our small market.”

      All it takes is a good example to lead.

  5. fustercluck 5

    “Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg refuses to make changes to livestreaming because Facebook would lose a revenue stream.”

    I am all for moves to prevent the live broadcast of atrocities, but misinformation makes real policy more difficult to implement.

    Livestreaming is not itself a revenue stream for Facebook. It is a feature but it does not create revenue on its own.

  6. Both Australia and the UK, each led by conservative, socially backward governments, are forging ahead with strict new laws regulating social media companies…

    Our government is procrastinating…

    That’s because our government isn’t conservative or socially backward, and recognises that “Something must be done! This is something, therefore it must be done!” isn’t a good basis for creating legislation.

    • higherstandard 6.1

      ‘That’s because our government isn’t conservative or socially backward, and recognises that “Something must be done! This is something, therefore it must be done!” isn’t a good basis for creating legislation.’

      😆 if only that were true.

  7. dv 7

    When FB was first introduced the time/motto was Do no harm.
    Than was dropped quietly latter.

    • mpledger 7.1

      Google was the one with that motto.

      FB was an ethical nightmare right from the get go.

      • SpaceMonkey 7.1.2

        It’s now an essential tool to help the spies in keeping track of people.

  8. marty mars 8

    “Funny how Google, Facebook and the like can solve complex algorithms when they want to but find it too difficult when they don’t want to.”

    Yes they must be forced to comply or pull the apps.

    No real difference from using ‘commons’ to make personal profit. Those companies make obscene profits from our collective consciousness, our ‘commons’ with minimal morals from those companies. Who suffers? – not them.

    • patricia bremner 8.1

      1000+ martymars

    • If only there were some way to avoid having a Facebook account! Some simple step one could take to avoid being made to contribute to the obscene profits, and to escape the alleged suffering! Oh, if only…

      • higherstandard 8.2.1

        What ? Delete my facebook account and stop twittering my instagrams, that’s crazy talk.

      • marty mars 8.2.2

        Yeah all or nothing ideas are so helpful.

        • SPC 8.2.2.1

          Comply or pull the apps – in our case they would pull the apps from being available here. Which is why we are dependent on global co-operation, governments with larger national markets have the leverage we do not.

        • Psycho Milt 8.2.2.2

          All or nothing ideas like “comply or pull the app,” for example?

          • marty mars 8.2.2.2.1

            Pretty basic really. They comply or disable the feature – easy. The argument ‘just turn it off’ is silly. Really all this stuff is pretty easy.

            Sorry you might be confused between ap and feature – my bad.

        • gsays 8.2.2.3

          hi marty, by your comment, i take it as: FB must pull its socks up so we can keep using the service without feeling bad.

          this is an all our nothing issue.

          if, en masse, kiwis deleted their accounts, that may make FB change.

          it’s kinda like supermarkets:
          we are aware of how poorly they pay and treat their staff,
          their contracts with small suppliers can be very restrictive and harsh,
          one chain must move the beef to auckland to be processed then moved again to the outlets,
          they use road freight predominantly over rail….
          but we cant stop going there to buy stuff. directly condoning their behaviour.

          as a parallel, i have boycotted monsanto for two reasons: their desire to control the foodchain and the lies told about round-up, (the active ingredient crosses the placenta barrier and has been found in breast milk).
          this comes at a cost- blackberry goes crazy here, the goat and i can only do so much.

          this is not personal.
          i am dismayed that an organised response to FB’s obscene inaction didn’t emerge let alone a spontaneous boycott from individuals.

          unfortunately FB is us.

          • marty mars 8.2.2.3.1

            Yep I’m on the edge of leaving the book – bloody handy though. Prob should ditch my child slave labour phone too.

          • joe90 8.2.2.3.2

            unfortunately FB is us.

            Must be.

            Folk seem to have no qualms about handing over their personal data to the corporate owners of social media but the state can’t be trusted with their personal data.

            • maggieinnz 8.2.2.3.2.1

              We do it all the time Joe. It’s not just social media companies. Almost every app on your phone, our computers and their programs, the sites we visit all collect data. Even the stores we shop at IRL collect data every time we make purchases. IMO, none of them are trustworthy but it’s become almost impossible to avoid.

          • maggieinnz 8.2.2.3.3

            The Roundup debate perfectly illustrates the problems associated with trying to limit free speech on the basis of truthfulness. Whilst it may be true that glyphosate passes the placental barrier and is found in breast milk it in no way means that it presents a threat to health. And I’m not saying it doesn’t, simply that we have a tendency to jump to conclusions that aren’t proven which is why the topic of policing hate speech is so complex.
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5705608/

            • gsays 8.2.2.3.3.1

              Hi Maggie, I have enjoyed reading yr posts of late even though I am not necessarily in agreement with them, please keep it up.

              The problem with so many contentious issues, and one of my reservations at worshipping at the altar of science, is knowing who is paying for the results.
              After reading the article you linked to (slight headache and I feel tired), I realise that some folk argue from the heart and some from the head, therefore often arguing past each other.

              In the round up example, it was denied for years that either of those things was possible (breast milk, placenta).
              In fact the faith in the science of the product, lead folks to believe it was inert 15mins after application and that you could drink it without harm!

              As to the hate speech issue, ideally there is none but I would rather there was too much than too little.
              In the same way i would rather a person guilty of a crime remained free rather than an innocent person be incarcerated.

              • maggieinnz

                Thank you gsays. I totally hear you on the research issue which is why I linked that study. I am in two minds about most things and the few things I am 100% about I am highly suspect of because if I’m that keen to be 100% then I’m probably emotionally invested in the outcome.

                When it comes to research I am well aware of its weakness. I’d love to see research be government funded and all results made public knowledge regardless of the results. I think it’s wrong that companies can fund self-serving research then hide unhelpful or even damning results.
                I’m also wary of how results are manipulated into meaning something they don’t. I’ve seen a great deal of this from practitioners of woofuckery who use things like a picture of a nail rusting in a glass of coke saying “You’ll never want to drink coke again after seeing it dissolve a nail” or decrying synthetic insecticides for being toxic whilst ignoring the fact that one of the most toxic insecticides is organic.

                I actually think the ‘glyphosate is dangerous’ argument is more likely than it being harmless but to date there hasn’t been a lot of reliable studies done on humans in real world terms to determine the extent of harm, if any, so I’ll stay unsure on that one.

                I agree with you on the free speech issue. I really don’t like censorship and I also I think completely unfettered freedom of speech is dangerous. It’s a very complex issue and I’m glad I’m not in government having to decide how to deal with it right now.

                • gsays

                  Being a from the heart type, I don’t drink coke because I heard a story about the company going to India, opening a factory, providing some jobs, digging a well and denying lots of subsistence farmers their livelihood because there was no more water.

                  Could be urban myth but that was all I needed.

                  • maggieinnz

                    I think that’s an entirely rational response gsays. The heart shows the way and the head builds the road.

          • WeTheBleeple 8.2.2.3.4

            Been observing round up closely on proximate properties. Roundup causes erosion. Clear as day in every site with a slope. Plants die then the roots are collapsed the soil sinks in on itself losing structure. The soil is unprotected and when rain arrives it washes away creating miniature gullies which are the start of larger gullies…

            One neighbor is going to lose a brand new footpath due to spraying the edges. The water is undercutting the path only a year after installation, and a few sprays of roundup to keep it looking tidy.

            Buyer beware.

            • Psycho Milt 8.2.2.3.4.1

              That’s a consequence of removing vegetation, not of using glyohosate to do it. A hippie who removed the plants by hand or used organic pesticides to do it would achieve precisely the same effect. You can see the same thing on every steep hillside in NZ that’s had its trees removed because dumbasses thought it might make marginal pasture.

              • WeTheBleeple

                Not true.

                Don’t know why you need a hippie in your example. I’m a scientist. Have watched closely as Glyphosate sites become dead then eroded zones.

                I have decades experience in various ag capacities.

                Remove trees and grasses remain. Trim edges and cover remains. Use glyphosate and soil structure collapses (soil sinks in on itself) BEFORE the rain begins to remove the dirt.

                You don’t even have to till to lose your topsoil with glyphosate. Just buy more ferts to make up for it (and you’ll need more ‘cides too).

                Remove trees above 15 degree slope anywhere is indeed a dumbass move.

                Glyphosate any slope is a dumbass move.

            • gsays 8.2.2.3.4.2

              Ironically it is through soil health and structure that reinforced my cynicism around glyphosate.

      • maggieinnz 8.2.3

        That really doesn’t solve anything Milt.
        “and to escape the alleged suffering! Oh, if only…”
        ^^ That’s the equivalent of saying if we don’t like drunk driving we should just stay off the roads.

        • Psycho Milt 8.2.3.1

          Demonstrating causality of harm to others from drunk driving is somewhat easier than demonstrating causality of harm to others from not punishing Facebook for taking an hour to remove a terror-attack livestream.

          • maggieinnz 8.2.3.1.1

            That’s a false comparison. To be a valid argument you’d have to compare the failure to punish drunk driving with the failure to punish unfettered hate speech – which doesn’t address the fact that you suggest avoidance as a solution. Avoidance of social media doesn’t safeguard people from becoming victims of hate crimes.

            • Psycho Milt 8.2.3.1.1.1

              Perhaps I wasn’t explicit enough.

              Your comments assume a causal relationship between social media and hate crimes. There’s no obvious basis for that assumption, let alone proof of it. Therefore drunk driving is a false analogy, because the causal relationship between drunk driving and harm to others is very clear.

              • maggieinnz

                haha well played, Milt. That’s a stunning logical response. I’m well impressed.

                Whilst I agree that the drunk driving analogy doesn’t fit for a causal argument between antagonist and harm it does fit as a rebuttal to your suggestion of avoidance. Regardless of the merits of my logical reasoning the point still stands.

                There’s plenty of correlative data that links social media and behaviour trends and I’m not suggesting social media causes hate crimes or hate speech but it does facilitate it’s distribution and it does influence social attitudes. In this way, avoiding social media will not protect a person from suffering the potential harm of hate crimes by others influenced by social media.

                https://promarket.org/social-media-associated-real-world-violence-study-us-presidents-tweets/
                https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/facebook-violence-germany/569608/

                And this article suggests a causal link:
                “A pattern emerging from their work led them to conclude Facebook posts were causing the additional violence: when people in places that usually see more anti-refugee attacks have limited access to the platform, because of internet outages or service disruptions, the violence sharply decreases. “I’m quite confident our evidence indicates a causal link,” says Mr Schwarz.”
                https://www.ft.com/content/a3d4b800-9bf3-11e8-88de-49c908b1f264

                Colmar Brunton offer their services to businesses as leaders in social media research and say this:

                “The success of many government policies and priorities rests on attaining positive behaviour change. Through listening first-hand to New Zealanders, and drawing on disciplines such as social psychology and behavioural economics, Colmar Brunton’s Social Research Agency works with public sector clients to develop a deep understanding of human behaviour and how to change it.

                We provide behavioural understanding to shape the development of communications and social marketing programmes as well as evaluating the progress and success of these.

                We’ve been involved in helping government influence an array of behaviours from reducing child abuse, enrolling in KiwiSaver, and injury prevention to preparing for a disaster, taking up digital TV, and lowering the use of antibiotics.”
                https://www.colmarbrunton.co.nz/social-research/changing-behaviour-through-communications-and-social-marketing/

                I don’t think you can seriously say that the social media problem can be resolved by avoiding it, Milt.

                • Social scientists are always “quite confident our evidence indicates a causal link,” regardless of the agenda they’re promoting, which is the biggest problem in the social sciences. Before we had social media, people blamed porn, computer games or music for violence, equally without any evidential basis.

                  The bottom line is that there’s no compelling evidence that social media “causes” hate crime, therefore no basis for action to protect people from hate crimes against them “caused” by social media. My comment to Marty Mars re avoiding putting your data on Facebook was in response to his lamenting Facebook’s monetising of that data, not a suggestion that it would protect people from hate crimes. Clearly it can’t do that, because hate crime is unrelated to social media.

                  • maggieinnz

                    A causal link isn’t the same thing as saying A causes B, it simply means there’s a significant influence. Denying the influence of social media on hate crime is equivalent to denying the influence of advertising on consumer behaviour.

                    • “Causal link” is exactly the same thing as saying A causes B. It means that the link between the two is that one causes the other. One “influencing” the other is a much lower level of linkage, seriously lower.

                      In the case of social media and hate crime, spending lots of time having one’s prejudices reinforced by like-minded bigots can’t “cause” a person to go out and murder others, but it will surely influence them and not for the better. A person wanting to avoid the risk of that would be well advised to avoid social media, rather than continue participating while bleating that the government should do something about it.

                    • WeTheBleeple

                      There’s also the phenomenon of users being herded into ever more disparate groups. In the real world we voice our opinions and one would hope get feedback if we’re way off beam.

                      On Facebook if you say something crazy some other loon is going to agree. And if someone says you’re nuts you can block them. For black and white thinkers eventually only yes men would surround your delusions. Groups become more secluded and exclusive and, in some cases, highly anti-social.

                      Social media is a headquarters for hate and terror groups it filters and propagates many forms of them, and shelters them from law.

                  • maggieinnz

                    ““Causal link” is exactly the same thing as saying A causes B. It means that the link between the two is that one causes the other.”

                    You’re right. I was wrong to suggest it was anything less.

                    “A person wanting to avoid the risk of that would be well advised to avoid social media, rather than continue participating while bleating that the government should do something about it.”

                    Yes. I fully believe that a failure to self moderate is a key contributing factor. The problem, as I see it, is that people typically don’t self moderate and the consequences of that are often felt by others. Social media has to be held accountable at some level for deliberately manipulating consumer behaviour for profit. It goes beyond the types of influence that we see in advertising by using our biology against us. When people and companies fail to act responsibly then the government is obliged to step in.

                    WeTheBleeple makes good points about social media echo chambers that reinforce our beliefs and a lack of immediate social reaction for feedback and behaviour modification. I think these influences make it unreasonable for people to easily differentiate truth from fiction. As much as I believe in self responsibility I also know that a large portion of the information we assimilate is done so subconsciously.

    • maggieinnz 8.3

      I totally agree with you Marty.

      The question then becomes How do we force them to comply? Can you imagine what would happen if Google maps was banned because it didn’t remove hate speech from its search engine? How do we define hate speech in terms that effectively weed out the problem without it becoming a case of speech ‘bottom trawling’?

  9. Booker 9

    This is a bit harsh. Obviously the government are disgusted at the livestream and are well aware of needing to change the system. The Australian law has been described as law in paper only and unworkable in the real world. Passing something like that isn’t going to help and I’m glad the government hasn’t.

  10. cleangreen 10

    I feel that the internet is too open now.

    It is being abused and free to bully anyone now.

    So standards of ‘respect’ need to be given to all parties now.

    As the hate has been ramping up since the 2017 years, and is now reaching a disturbing pitch to me that I wonder if this is affecting all the youth that are attempting suicide now.

  11. Infused 11

    These post are stupid. The tech companies dont care about the nz govt. Were 5m people. We barely register.

    The internet should be open and free. There are so many gore sites out there that have been going for decades. Dont like it? Dont use it.

    • maggieinnz 11.1

      It’s not that simple and your “Dont like it? Dont use it.” solution is so flawed. If someone never uses social media will that stop them being a victim of hate crime? No.

  12. Sabine 12

    so how are you going to ‘police’ the people that use social media.

    Cause that is what you are talking about.

    A bit more surveillance, confiscation of computers, of phones?

    Seriously, what and how and how much will you charge people for in times of prison years and money?

    Fact is that one third of hte world population hates everyone not like them, another third is hated and does not count, and one third cant’ be fucked standing up for those hated and against those that would do evil things, cause why bother, its not my business and such.

    Fact is, social media is what people make it. Mine is full of puppies, kittens, cake, vegetable growing and friends.

    Lastly, if a government not too your liking is elected would you be one of those ‘policed’ and how would you protect yourself from government overreach?

    • maggieinnz 12.1

      Excellent comment Sabine. I agree with most of what you say with the exception of this “Fact is, social media is what people make it. Mine is full of puppies, kittens, cake, vegetable growing and friends.”

      Social media isn’t completely user controlled. Yes, you can block and hide things on facebook to a certain extent but the wider your circle of contacts the less control you have over what shows up in your feed. Add to this that not all platforms function the same way. Youtube is quite different than Facebook and has been proven to direct people’s attention toward fringe ideologies.
      https://datasociety.net/output/alternative-influence/
      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/10/opinion/sunday/youtube-politics-radical.html
      https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/feb/02/how-youtubes-algorithm-distorts-truth
      https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/sep/18/report-youtubes-alternative-influence-network-breeds-rightwing-radicalisation

      • Sabine 12.1.1

        good grief.

        you.don’t.have.to.be.on.social.media.at.all.

        IT is a choice.

        You take the choice to be on or not.

        You take care of house keeping.

        Youtube is no different then Facebook, Twitter, Gap, Reddit etc.

        People post stuff they like, dislike and other people either like or dislike.

        How about people just grow up and stop asking for a tidy universe that never existed in the first place.

        • maggieinnz 12.1.1.1

          Sabine, this isn’t about people avoiding offensive material. Someone can avoid social media completely and still be the victim of hate crimes.

          You argued with me that using dehumanising language is dangerous and inappropriate. How can you claim to have a problem with my language over this social media yet say that people ought to just ignore problematic content on social media?

          • Sabine 12.1.1.1.1

            you called people that you have a distaste for Cockroaches. I pointed to examples in the past where people that called other humans cockroaches tended to start killing these other people in large numbers and that calling them cockroaches was used to dehumanize them. Firstly. Secondly, you pointed out that you would continue to do so cause apparently you could not find better vocabulary. Go censor that for a start.

            But just in case, the world is a dangerous place. Humans are dangerous – often to themselves by way of taking stupid risks – adrenaline junkies, fast drivers/riders etc, and then you have humans that are dangerous to others.

            Now what would you do? A few things, you can actively avoid these types of people. You can actively work against these people. You can out these people to the police if you fear that they are a danger to others or society at large. But you will never, ever prevent murder and mayhem.

            As for your use of language, i just think its a bit hypocritical to write a screed about humanity, dignity and respect for people locked up in prison, and then in the same screed go about and dehumanize the same people, and the word that you could have used instead ‘prisoners’ apparently did not convey your distaste. Again, as i said, to each their own, and for what its worth you are in good company as Donald Trump calls Mexicans animals, and some other NZ writer women just called Pacific Islanders leeches. See how quickly that goes? Maybe that ought to be censored.

            And i would point out that in all that hand wringing and cool make up names for the Christchurch shooter we have yet to discuss the media, tv, radio and all those highly paid stenographers that have hyped against Islam and Muslims and that warned us for years now that we would have a terrorist attack coming from them, and then it was a nice next door type well to do white boy from OZ with legal guns who killed. Cause that is what everyone is so upset about. It was not a Muslim that murdered. It was a white boy. A normal looking white boy with money, education and decent family.

            Go censor that before you tell people what they can and can not see.
            I don’t need you for that. Thanks very much, but no thanks.

            Social media is what people make it. And if i find something distasteful i can report it, block it, or comment on it if i so choose. And that is all the censoring i need.

            bye now.

            • maggieinnz 12.1.1.1.1.1

              Do you feel better for getting all that off your chest?

              “you called people that you have a distaste for Cockroaches.”
              No. I called Phillip Smith, child rapist, a cockroach.

              “Secondly, you pointed out that you would continue to do so cause apparently you could not find better vocabulary. ”

              No. I said I stood by my use of the word given the context. I also agreed that it was dehumanising and questioned whether it was appropriate of me to use the term publicly.

              ” But you will never, ever prevent murder and mayhem.”
              I agree.

              “we have yet to discuss the media, tv, radio and all those highly paid stenographers that have hyped against Islam and Muslims and that warned us for years now that we would have a terrorist attack coming from them, and then it was a nice next door type well to do white boy from OZ with legal guns who killed.”

              Sometimes I wonder if you even read what you write.

              Why even bother discussing media, tv, radio and their “hype”etc if you’re so against censorship? Free speech means they, and you, get to say whatever bullshit you feel like spewing whenever you like. Don’t like it? Don’t read it – at least that’s the advice you’re dishing out today. Tomorrow will probably be different.

              • reason

                Sabine may dish out more cold prickly posts than warm fuzzy ones …. probably because they are tired and exasperated of having to say the same things throughout the years.

                In my recollection Sabine s values and posts have remained consistent …. Its the james, alwyns, puckish etc who post contradicting views…. depending on ‘what side’ they are commenting / trolling on.

                Anyway Maggieinnz, I think you posting at Sabine ” – at least that’s the advice you’re dishing out today. Tomorrow will probably be different. “.. is both wrong ….. and misdirected.

                The Censoring I experienced in the week after Christchurch showed me how easily ‘more censorship’ is abused…. when bitchute was blocked

                https://www.bitchute.com/video/mwMlEqOUEFwh/?fbclid=IwAR2eKCx3n_pHGVot8ipF4CqobqBkPFUhmbZH4mZ4UNYnoZ4InZy7Cw5V9bM

                • maggieinnz

                  I’m not bothered by her approach, in fact I appreciate it. I’m blunt as fuck and have no taste for spun sugar rhetoric.

                  You’re welcome to your opinion but I found her comments regarding censorship contradictory. One comment on here has her saying yes we should censor war images then she above says censorship is wrong.

  13. A 13

    We need people to express themselves via social media so we know who to weed out. Easiest vetting tool ever.

    However, visual images need control over and any picture of someone involved in an accident, murder etc etc needs to be a criminal offense. Government should protect vulnerable people.

    • KJT 13.1

      So. Wiki leaks footage of a gunship shooting civilians, would never have seen the light of day.

      Is that really the sort of result we want?

      • Sabine 13.1.1

        yes.

        the girl running from the napalm bombing in Vietnam would never be printed cause

        a. nudity
        b. child nudity
        c. open wounds
        d. distraught children
        e. war victims aka collateral damage

        heck, if it were for some all of the footage / images from the death camps of Europe under german occupation would be deleted for exactly the same reason.

  14. Stuart Munro. 14

    As with any free speech regulation the rules need to be strong, but applied with discretion. One place to start would be to make hate speech participants accessories if they communicated with and incited the perpetrator of a violent act. The reasoning being that problematic hate speech is that which causes problems, not merely offense.

  15. maggieinnz 15

    Simon, what you’ve demonstrated here in your article is a perfect example of ‘Trojan rhetoric’ and it is this same type of rhetoric that makes policing hate speech so insanely complex.
    You said this of our government:
    “but is its failure to decisively call social media giants to order is[sic] as weak and unacceptable as was the failure to respond decisively to the Aramoana massacre back in 1990?”
    and
    “has failed to lead in this instance.”

    The first statement contains an opinion posed as a question, which is highly manipulative. It suggests that Labour’s failure is weak and unacceptable whilst pairing it with an emotionally charged event that’s completely irrelevant to the social media problem.

    The second statement, whilst factually true, provides no context, is vague in that it offers no example of what leading would look like in this instance, and assumes that leading is inherently good; and it isn’t.

    One of the many problems with social media and hate speech regulation is that we can only really police overt statements but as you’ve proven, you can say something that is factually true whilst insinuating something else. So to, hate speech can be presented as a factually true statement that contributes to and is intended to be hate speech. How do you police language that has both a definitive meaning and a connotative meaning without then preventing legitimate discussions on hot topics such as ethnicity, religion and gender?

    As an example, just the other day I had a discussion with a poster on here where it was posited that women have lower IQ’s than men; the inference being that women are intellectually inferior to men. These sorts of statements are incredibly loaded and fail to point out that the recorded differences in IQ are based on bias testing and that the differences are so minute as to be irrelevant. This same example, but with race being used instead of gender has been used as hate speech because the intention is to promote the supremacy of one ethnicity, gender, religion etc over another.

    Your article attacks the government for it’s perceived passivity yet fails to weigh up the very real complexities or even acknowledge that the problem is complex:
    “Funny how Google, Facebook and the like can solve complex algorithms when they want to but find it too difficult when they don’t want to.”

    Social media is a profit driven business that uses attention to derive an income. The reason that social media giants have failed to do anything meaningful is because it will kill their business. The truth is that hate sells, sex sells, controversy sells and whilst our society continues to support a profit driven culture that won’t change.

    It’s true that these companies have used algorithms to deliberately manipulated content feeds. Whilst the general public thinks algorithms are designed to serve up the most relevant content according to our tastes the truth is they are designed to promote watch-time, to keep you on their site in order to garner the maximum revenue.

    And it’s not just the big companies doing it. On an individual level, youtubers and social media commentators are crafting their narrative according to what gets attention because the platforms reward them financially for it. Our very own Mark Richardson is a great example with his polarising comments which he admits are designed to get attention.

    “No, I don’t regret it because personally I don’t think I’ve said anything that’s been harmful to anyone,” he says.

    “Plus, what I say isn’t going to change the law. I’m just some old white guy sounding off. You know, wanting people to hear. We’re in a gig where our job is to be heard and we’re all trying to do that a different way.”
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv-radio/105739647/family-pays-price-for-mark-richardsons-baby-spat-with-jacinda-ardern?rm=a

    Youtube can choose to take away an offensive Youtubers ability to monetise their channel but it’s worth noting that it keeps the money for itself.

    As yet, not government has come up with a way to effectively control social media without seriously impinging on freedom of speech and whilst I don’t believe in or support unfettered freedom of speech I do believe any restriction must be minimal and well reasoned or we’ll end up handing over our right to question authority. Singapore’s Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act effectively gives any Minister the power to decide what is fact and to demand corrections or removals of statements that he deems to be against the public interest.
    Section 7.1 states that “A person must not do any act in or outside Singapore in order to communicate in Singapore a statement knowing or having reason to believe that—(a) it is a false statement of fact; and (b) the communication of the statement in Singapore is likely to… (vi) diminish public confidence in… the exercise of any power by… a part of the Government, an Organ of State or a statutory board.”

    And, at what point do we take responsibility for our own actions? It’s too easy to point to the government and social media giants and demand they do something without first looking at ourselves. We were so busy gorging on facebook, youtube and twitter feeds having aborted critical thought as dissension’s bastard, that we failed to notice a molehill become the mountain we now stand in the shadow of.

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