Web 2.0 Expo – User-generated censorship

Annalee by etech

[More semi-live blogging]

Annalee Newitz – what happens when people game social networks. get on Digg by paying people. social media depends on user-generated material but how to rid oneself of cheats.

social media censorship – bottom up, not top down; collaborative; punitive (the cruelty of crowds); not within terms of service.
here it is users who are making decision.

people get together in groups to remove people from a site for reasons that do not have to do with terms of service. it is personal.

Censorship makes user-generated content less valuable; creates divisiveness; drives community away; it is unjust; fear of posting.

“let’s collaborate to destroy free expression!” Examples – Blogger – Flag blog. sends it to database. not granular or a lot of choices to explain why. if too many people flag it, it becomes unsearchable. no accountability for person doing the flagging.

[in this case, there is no transparency about censoring, which is really done by corporation. not by community. This is really a bad amalgam of bottom up mixed with top down. may not be the best way to do it.]

Flickr – can also flag items but not clear.it also allows people to declare before hand what content may be. it does not make it disappear just harder to get to. Again, transparency of decision why an account is flagged is not readily apparent. A bunch of people or even a competitor could flag an account and make it invisible. Then it requires a long process to fix.

[She is talking from the side of the user, but it would be nice to know more about why companies make their decisions on process or just how many flags need to be sent.]

YouTube has better granularity and takes down things quickly. She has talked with Google about this. But still no transparency.

Digg – can digg or to bury a story. bury is used in ways that some call censorship. Problem with Digg is that how stories moved up or down is not transparent so people use bury to game in a zero-sum game. It is way for people to game system to their own advantage. Does not make things disappear just hard to find. On INternet this can be deadly since we rely on filtering.

Wikipedia – does a reasonable job of providing transparency to flagging. makes it harder for people to expel. It allows community to decide.

Solutions – clear content guidelines. clear and fast routes of redress; easy use of filters to self-moderate.

[This was a very interesting talk. Most sites do not really examine why or how people can game the system to harm other’s visibility. Essentially, by making flagging anonymous and without accountability, they open their systems to being abused. But, sites that make censorship/hiding as open and accountable as they do with posters will have fewer problems.]

Technorati Tags:

Leave a Reply