Nah, There No Progressive Social Media Platform Bias!

The British political commentary magazine “The Spectator” has published a nearly1400 word explanation for why the cover above was rejected for a Facebook advertisement (an “advert” in Brit-talk) as not complying with the platform’s policies, while these covers…

…were deemed acceptable.

As far as I can figure out from the rambling, sprawling account (this is why I seldom read “The Speculator”), the culprit is not necessarily biased human beings, but rather biased “bots” that review content and that don’t “get” satire. Then there’s the problem that Facebook has no transparent process to challenge arbitrary censorship. Hence the conclusion,

Facebook is now the no.1 source of UK news after the broadcasters, its bots deciding which news posts are promoted and which ones are concealed. Whoever programmes the bots wields more power than any of the great media barons: Hearst, Beaverbrook or Murdoch. I’m not saying that Facebook is politically biased, just that bots are getting more energetic which makes life harder for satire and against-the-grain arguments (from left or right). This is something I now encounter daily: a Kafkaesque process of rejection, lack of explanation and algorithm editing which has far more influence over what we read than is generally acknowledged. 

Facebook, like most social media giants, does not feel the need to respond to people asking why their content has been targeted. There is no hotline to call, no account manager to complain to….Facebook’s processes are opaque, and are designed to be. Its censorship bots work on criteria that no one is ever allowed to know. When Facebook gets busted, it cites a technical flaw….

The bottom line is that Facebook is a California-based company which censors British content without being answerable to any UK authority…. This is the dilemma. The ‘public space’ now, is digital: the private property of a handful of tech giants that created it. They are beholden to no one. So they can strike down a sitting president because they feel like it…There is no regulation of this and no transparency, no obligation to notify publishers whose articles are targeted, leaving us to guess how we offended the bots.

The moral of this story is not that Facebook is censoring anti-Biden material. This shows how all publishers are now fighting blind in a world of bot-censors whose remit we can only guess at. These firms live in fear of publishing fake news, or misinformation – so their bots let rip, take down a lot of accurate and fair comment, and they don’t much care who gets gunned down in the crossfire.

That’s only 325 words. I’ll cut it down further:

It’s not “bots.” It’s the people who program the bots and accept their mindless, pre-biased verdicts.

That’s just 16 words.

Now I’ll do it in five.

Facebook is censoring anti-Biden material.

8 thoughts on “Nah, There No Progressive Social Media Platform Bias!

  1. Not sure about the UK version The Spectator, but I often read The Spectator World website, which is the American version. I usually find it interesting and insightful. Every once in awhile they do have some doozy opinion. Perhaps they had to go in such a roundabout fashion, because you know how the British can sometimes be, overly polite and try not to offend sensibilities. Rough around the edges Americans will cut to the chase!

  2. For decades everything from taco sauce to the free press have had “like us on Facebook/follow us on Twitter/Visit us on platform zulu”, free advertisements to the now social media giants driving their audiences away from their own control.

    They did this to themselves.

    They can also fix it themselves by turning their backs on the giants. Make these iterations of social media go the way of Vine, Digg, Friendster, and MySpace.

  3. … That’s only 325 words. I’ll cut it down further: It’s not “bots.” It’s the people who program the bots and accept their mindless, pre-biased verdicts…

    Do you recall Einstein’s advice that people should make things as simple as possible but no simpler? You just went a bit too far in simplifying.

    These things are not programmed by people at all. They use A.I. systems that are trained on various data, data which is of no single origin. People got out of the loop earlier; that was the culpable error, an error of omission.

    • AI is only plausible deniability. It doesn’t override the garbage in, garbage out rule of computing.
      The “AI” algorithm is fed a large body of inputs and desired results as training to make decisions. As the training proceeds the robot gets better at making the correct decision with new but similar future inputs.
      An AI blame is at root cause either not enough training or more likely the wrong training.

    • All useful perspective, and thanks BUT: “It’s not our fault but the fault of AI whose biases we deliberately and knowingly put in charge of censorship without our adequate or ethical oversight to prevent abuse of power!” isn’t persuasive. If there is content bias on Facebook, it’s the humans who are ultimately to blame.

      • … BUT: “It’s not our fault but the fault of AI whose biases we deliberately and knowingly put in charge of censorship without our adequate or ethical oversight to prevent abuse of power!” isn’t persuasive. If there is content bias on Facebook, it’s the humans who are ultimately to blame.

        You appear to have stopped reading a little too soon, and ended up reading a straw man into it that isn’t there. You appear to have missed my last sentence, along with its significance:-

        … People got out of the loop earlier; that was the culpable error, an error of omission.

        So, we are agreed: it was and is down to people. I was trying to refine the nature of the failing, though. You were taking it as faulty programming, an error of commission, whereas it is a faulty something else.

        This more or less covers WallPhone’s observations, too. Again, he is perfectly correct, but he is tending in a direction that could end in “furious agreement”. And again, all that falls under what my last sentence was meant to leave readers as food for thought. Clearly, I was unclear there, what with two readers missing what I was getting at.

  4. My very first reaction when I view that caricature was, “why do they have a caricature of King Charles in front of the American flag then I put two and two together.

    Jack wrote, “Facebook is censoring anti-Biden material.”

    I have absolutely no doubt that that is actively and intentionally happening.

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