Censorship by any other name

Welcome to the Orwellian world of centralized social media

“The power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies”.

This was a warning recently expressed by ‘billionaire philanthropist’ George Soros at the World Economic Forum in Davos, who concluded that, established social media platforms represent “obstacles to innovation”.

Putting aside any hidden agenda Mr Soros was surreptitiously promoting, such comments highlight once again how social media apps have become pivotal players in the Age of Influence.

Or put another way, as the ‘war on our minds’ escalates, it helps to know who the major combatants are.

Take Twitter. Earlier this year it was finally revealed what most us long suspected: the company is actively involved in censoring material. This comes in the form of ‘shadow banning’ which is “a way of blocking users from a social media platform without notifying them”, according to James O’Keefe of Project Veritas.

What this basically means is that a user’s tweets are still visible to their followers, but mysteriously disappear from search results (or anywhere else on Twitter). To make this happen, Twitter employs ‘content review agents’ who are tasked with assessing posts deemed harmful, offensive, or contrary to Twitter policy — and to ban it if found guilty.

The net result of all this being that tweets promoting pro-conservative viewpoints are down-ranked, while liberal viewpoints are given the green light.

And the situation is only expected to get worse.

Encouraging a ‘certain way of talking’

According to O’Keefe, “Twitter is run by an advanced set of algorithms (which) block, mute, and prioritize everything on the platform and are growing smarter by the day”.

This is evidenced by a software engineer at Twitter who recently let slip that the company is working on a secret project to introduce machine learning into the equation: i.e. algorithms with the intelligence to self-learn. Technology with the power to rate every single

conversation as either ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, with the end goal of banning a ‘certain way of talking’.

What he fails to say of course is who gets to set the rules for what’s good or bad. Right or wrong. On point or off the reservation. The answer of course is that it’s a small group of individuals: the ‘brains trust’ at Twitter determined to promote their own preferences, their own social and political leanings, to the wider world.

Granted, content that’s extremist/illegal in nature should be banned. But even here such decisions are never black and white: reality is mostly grey in color (what you consider rude, I may find funny etc.). Yet increasingly we’re having such choices made for us by a distant, unknown, and centralized ‘custodian of the truth’.

Worrying times indeed.

To again quote O’Keefe: “although Twitter presents itself as politically neutral, its culture behind closed doors is one of blatant censorship, systematic bias, and political targeting”.

It truly is censorship by any other name (and that’s without commenting on the editorial policies of the other established social media players).

One step away from the thought police

One topic that’s bound to find its way to the desk of a ‘content review agent’ is anything to do with the blockchain, bitcoin, and ICOs. Facebook has already started the process for banning their promotion, and the others will undoubtedly follow suit.

Why this is happening brings us to the heart of the censorship question. It all comes down to power. To influence. To money. Blockchain technologies promise too much in the way of transparency and openness — not qualities you’d associate with hidden agendas.

What does this all mean for social media? Well, this is where Howdoo enters the picture. As a platform it’s truly disruptive in that it give users greater control back over their personal data; to call out ‘fake news’, to be better able to detect censorship, and to call on the community as a whole to name and shame the culprits.

It’s also designed to reset the commercial landscape, with users able to shape their environment and the advertising they receive (if any) — with the expectation of a reward for their efforts. Hence why Howdoo comes complete with a cryptotoken that acts as the mechanism for enabling value to flow across the network. And with value comes a different kind of influence — and more ‘bottom-up’ influence driven by the people and not some distant centralized ‘board’.

Capabilities that are only going to grow in importance as the war hots-up.

By | 2018-02-15T20:04:39+00:00 February 15th, 2018|Uncategorised|0 Comments

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