Author Topic: Facebook neutrality  (Read 1290 times)

Seriati

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Facebook neutrality
« on: April 11, 2018, 08:29:18 PM »
So I have to ask, particularly every one that has made an assertion about how we must have net neutrality to prevent throttling of content, do you feel the same way about FB’s deliberate throttling of Conservative content?  Should FB be allowed to pick and choose content to disfavor?

Fenring

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2018, 10:21:11 PM »
So I have to ask, particularly every one that has made an assertion about how we must have net neutrality to prevent throttling of content, do you feel the same way about FB’s deliberate throttling of Conservative content?  Should FB be allowed to pick and choose content to disfavor?

I think the general argument about the internet is that it should be treated somewhat akin to a utility and not have ISP's claim little fiefdoms over it. But as FB is clearly just a private enterprise I'm not sure how this would apply. Are you saying FB should be nationalized and turned into a public utility?

Seriati

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2018, 09:19:27 AM »
I'm not.  However, I was reading an opinion piece by Ted Cruz that pointed out that FB was relying on an immunity from prosecution for internet platforms related to the idea that they are not responsible for third party content posted on their boards.  Effectively premised on the idea that such a platform would not have the ability or desire to police such content and hence it would be the responsibility of the poster not the platform.  If, however, FB is monitoring, altering and promoting certain content as an intentional expression of it's own views, it's hard to see how it would not be responsible for such an act.

I'm also curious, given that FB has not expressly told conservatives that they are welcome to have accounts but that they will be politically suppressed in connection with their posts and reading activities how there wouldn't be some form of false advertisement liability. 

And while I understand the difference with an ISP, it's hard to see how such a suppression - unless clearly disclosed - is at all consistent with the moral position that would find net neutrality the 'crisis of the age.'

ScottF

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2018, 10:04:30 AM »
As a private company, FB should be able to throttle, discriminate and otherwise censor content however it pleases. What they can't do (or rather, lose all credibility in doing) is claim to be an open, neutral exchange that is clearly counter to reality.

Zuckerberg's comment that the company is “responsible for the content” on its platform, is problematic for them. It essentially defines them much less a traditional internet exchange (eg. reddit) and more like a newspaper or publishing company, with all the trappings of that distinction.

D.W.

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2018, 11:02:18 AM »
Quote
do you feel the same way about FB’s deliberate throttling of Conservative content?
Quote
given that FB has not expressly told conservatives that they are welcome to have accounts but that they will be politically suppressed in connection with their posts and reading activities how there wouldn't be some form of false advertisement liability. 
Umm, what did I miss?  Are you refering to paid adds?  User posts?  Both?

Was the 2nd day of testimony a lot more interesting than the 1st?  I've only heard a few snippets from that so far.

JoshuaD

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2018, 04:46:53 PM »
I don't think I'd want to create a law regulating that a company must be "neutral" (how could that ever be measured or enforced?) but I would like for there to be more laws regarding transparency of motivation in news media, and I would have those laws govern news filtering and presentation systems like Facebook.

I might want to create laws that prevent Facebook from creating such an addictive platform. We recognize that nicotine is problematic; we should recognize that these digital systems that are designed to exploit the psychology of its users to maximize use is also dangerous.

I would also look to create some laws regarding ownership of content and data, and the misuse of that by companies like facebook.

This would indirectly help in regard to the original question -- Facebook is the only game in town because it's addictive and it locks its users in (in addition to the natural inclination of social networks to resist fracturing) and that makes the issue of bias much more troubling than it otherwise should be.

« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 04:49:01 PM by JoshuaD »

D.W.

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2018, 05:04:18 PM »
Quote
We recognize that nicotine is problematic
Do you believe the tobacco industry is so heavily regulated (now) because we realized nicotine is problematic?  What of caffeine?  Alcohol? 

I don't think addiction matters a great deal to our society.  Continuing harm (or potential death) that is caused by something addictive?  That we try to stop.  Some of the time... and if the law makers see benefits in protecting those affected.  :( 

Fenring

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2018, 05:15:42 PM »
Quote
We recognize that nicotine is problematic
Do you believe the tobacco industry is so heavily regulated (now) because we realized nicotine is problematic?  What of caffeine?  Alcohol? 

I don't think addiction matters a great deal to our society.  Continuing harm (or potential death) that is caused by something addictive?  That we try to stop.  Some of the time... and if the law makers see benefits in protecting those affected.  :(

To outlaw 'addictive' products would be in the same category as removing incentive to hook customers...which in turn would mean eliminating advertising as we know it. I'm all for that, by the way. However it's the FB users that create the addictive content, not the devs. I'm not entirely certain, regarding trending memes whether the "social network gurus" that are experts in making things go viral literally work for FB or are private users that are pushing their product, using FB as a platform. Not that this should impact the legal ramifications of the platform itself either way, but I'd be curious to know. If it's private users then your culprit isn't FB at all but rather modern marketing methods.

scifibum

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2018, 05:35:38 PM »
I'm not sure what we're talking about here.  There was a controversy during the 2016 campaign about the "Trending" section on FB - some anonymous ex-employee claimed that it was routine to exclude conservative viewpoints from that section, but FB already responded pretty convincingly.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/facebook-trending-stories-algorithm-carefully-shaped-by-editors/

Cruz was grilling Zuckerberg about the idea that some right-leaning pages get shut down and Zuckerberg denied that the company attempts to suppress right leaning political voices. 

My own feed is completely full of right wing stuff unless I take steps to screen it out.

What are we talking about here?

JoshuaD

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2018, 05:56:05 PM »
However it's the FB users that create the addictive content, not the devs.

It is my understanding Facebook uses very clever techniques -- such as tracking how far you typically scroll, and putting desirable content just past that point -- to increase your addiction and usage.

DonaldD

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2018, 06:14:52 PM »
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What are we talking about here?
if it's on the internet, it must be true.

Or maybe more accurately, if something was shared with me once on a social network, and it fits my preexisting biases, I will believe it is true for the foreseeable future, if not forever.

TheDrake

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2018, 06:44:47 PM »
I frankly don't understand why Facebook takes a beating for trying to increase customer engagement. Nobody gets angry at Netflix because they make it so easy to binge watch video content. What are they supposed to do, drive people away?

Nor do I understand the row about trending algorithms, censure of sites, or other Facebook editorializing. You're getting your news from Facebook based on how many other people are sharing it? I reject any complaints you have.

Quote
It is my understanding Facebook uses very clever techniques -- such as tracking how far you typically scroll, and putting desirable content just past that point -- to increase your addiction and usage.

Yes, and just like the nefarious newspapers that put the second half of a front page article on page 9 where they can have more advertisements. Damn their eyes! Drat!

DonaldD

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2018, 09:10:09 PM »
I expect Cruz and Seriati were triggered by this situation: http://money.cnn.com/2018/04/15/media/diamond-silk-facebook-fox-news/index.html

Seriati

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2018, 01:20:57 PM »
That was certainly in the news cycle DonaldD, though I was reacting to Cruz's opinion piece more than that.  Honestly, I did not get too worked up about the Diamond and Silk thing (had no idea who they even were till the story broke) until I read Zuckerberg's transcript and saw that he referenced the "unsafe for the community" concept for suppression and banning content and that mirrored the email they had received.  Being a conservative or having an unpopular view point doesn't fit in with what I think of by "unsafe to the community." 

I find the CNN article you linked is a bit too much of a friendly "insider" story for my taste.  It's clear, for instance ,that they have access to FB corporate email and client information, they have exact time stamps and parties for emails from FB to Diamond and Silk, which again is an interesting and self serving breach of privacy.  I also find the idea that we should trust the follow up e-mail explaining that they were 'incorrectly labeled unsafe' as incredibly naive.  I mean, it's big "duh" moment that after it became literally a federal case with questions in a committee hearing that they would back down.  That does nothing to make me think they won't continue to apply an unfair standard when people are not looking.  In fact, it makes me think that they believe we really are stupid enough to believe that answer.

scifibum

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2018, 01:41:13 PM »
Facebook has no incentive to do this. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that they do this. Why do you believe they do this?

Seriati

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2018, 02:19:03 PM »
Because it's virtually impossible to be sure, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/is-facebook-censoring-conservative-news/ if they do or they don't.  There's anecdotal confirmation and denial, which feeds everyone's bias to believe as they wish.  And, I've watched for decades as people on the left denied media bias that was clearly evident, even when it was statistically demonstrable.

The idea that the application of judgment does not interpose bias is nonsensical.  If the group that is making a the judgments is not ideologically diverse, then the end results of its judgements over time is going to be biased.  Media generally, and Silicon valley generally have a particular and heavy lack of ideological diversification, ergo, it seems likely that bias will result. 

Seriati

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2018, 02:27:03 PM »
Here's another one, for all I know it'll turn out to be a non-story, but I find hard to reconcile the idea that Facebook is not suppressing conservatives with a story like this http://www.heraldpalladium.com/news/local/nesbitt-cries-foul-over-facebook/article_087bf518-d070-5f49-8680-16bd2d3b7269.html.

TheDrake

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2018, 02:31:57 PM »
I'd be more curious about the actual traffic than I would be about the emails and communication or lack thereof - especially after it became a story. The CNN 'source' of CrowdTangle (owned by Facebook) doesn't cut it for me. Hardaway and Richardson claim traffic declined to their page. But as far as I know, there isn't reputable vetted data on that. If the traffic didn't decline, then the note could be just about anything - including a relatively low level Facebook staffer who took exception to the pair.

And of course there is no true neutrality. Pictures of naked people are violently suppressed. ISIS can't have a recruiting page. If Milo gets his page shut down, that's just a more gray area of suppression. That there is no line, obviously that's ridiculous. Where the debate happens is over community standards. Facebook is the moderator of a vast message board, and they are obviously going to decide who gets banned or nerfed. We, as the collective users of that service, may continue to be part of that community or not - as we've seen, it is entirely possible for people to delete their accounts and move on.

TheDrake

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2018, 02:45:32 PM »
If I had to guess about Nesbitt, I'd speculate that all of the things in his message were commonly associated with much harsher statements (think Breitbart comment streams). An improperly trained AI could have popped erroneously.

If you search "facebook won't let me boost" you'll find more articles than you can count. Of course when this descends on a conservative it will be taken as a Sign that the liberal media establishment is out to get them.

Note that most of these reports are about Facebook not letting them place an ad, not getting content deleted or banned. Under those circumstances, I'd say Facebook can pick and choose who will place an ad, much like how TV, radio, and all other media choose who can have space based on content.

Seriati

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2018, 03:36:19 PM »
TheDrake, I agree on the risk of bias, everyone is going to see the anecdotes as confirmation of whatever they already wanted to believe, particularly in an environment where the hard data is suppressed, or worse (from a cynic's point of view) only leaked where it helps the person that controls it (which is why I discount heavily FB supporting claims that seem to use inside info).

On your last point, that was something I alluded to at the top.  FB's legal protection - the idea that they have no liability for user content - is really premised on the idea that they are NOT picking and choosing for a view point, that they are reactive and not proactive, and that ultimately they "can't" prevent certain content from appearing.  I think we may be seeing the end of that regime if this keeps heading the way it appears to be going, hard to claim you can't control content that's illegal when you're actively demonstrating you can control it when you want to, for political reasons.   

TheDrake

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Re: Facebook neutrality
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2018, 04:06:18 PM »
Two different standards. Having precise enough control to always police out content would be different from mostly or occasionally policing out content in an imperfect way. Youtube has plenty of filters for copyrighted content, but they are still not liable for letting some slip through - just to take it down when they are notified. Of course, making NO attempt to curtail copyrighted materials would certainly land you in some hot water, original Napster style.

It would be interesting to perform a controlled study with a spectrum of accounts from Antifa to Alt-Right. Of course, if you are already assuming that Facebook is out to get you for your views, what's to stop them from doctoring your metrics to show that you're getting plenty of hits that are not real? Or from taking your boost money without ever increasing your exposure?