I’m sorry to hear DiDi’s experiences and totally understand why black activists need more than one account. It is oddly a world I, despite my equivalent activism, have hit in abundance on Quora, as I recently got banned using the same mechanisms DiDi has been subject to. I haven’t hit as much of in Facebook, but I expect I will do soon as I take the message into the Britain First’s and EDL Facebook pages.
Yet, the conclusion of the social experiment aren’t correct, since there is a third mechanism which hasn’t been taken into account. It’s a natural consequence of Bayesian statistics which applies in the case of all statistical sampling and whilst I appreciate that White Supremacists may even use my article as a counter to yours, the reality is they all, almost bar none, don’t understand how to tie their own shoelaces, let alone calculate the apriori and posterior probabilities and consequently, the probability of error in their (or your) conclusions. So I offer this as something to make the research more robust.
A Cluster of Trolls
With white supremacists, or any group who doesn’t like your message, whether in the various US or UK groups, the aim is to silence the voice of “dissent”, especially if it is a voice of colour, since it is often dehumanised first. That is the ultimate aim of digital identity destruction. For those of us who’ve make their livelihood in the digital sphere, standing up against racism, against wrongdoing, bigotry etc. carries with it additional risk. In my experience, out of the followers or perhaps worse, friends we have, only a tiny tiny proportion would actually retweet, repost and sometimes even read our stuff.
“Oh Ethar is helping some group or other. He’s always been like that, even as a kid. I just ignore it these days [since it’s part of the background noise now]” (1)
Yet, all white supremacists and oppressive forces will read our stuff. Indeed, I probably have more readers on the right than on the left. The more vocal and greater a following you have, the more you become a target. That’s the way probabilities work, especially nonlinear ones (after all, the more vocal and greater the following, the greater the increase in that interest at every stage) and we should get that, as that’s a natural consequence of such “celebrity”. It applies whether you’re Kim and Kanye, or even Trump. There is always a probability of having some level of donkey (the fact Trump’s donkey’s are the majority is somewhat related).
The problem doesn’t really come from that, it comes from the fact that those who can’t tie their shoelaces, who are all followers not leaders, downvote, report and sometimes harass their victims, as a mob. This empowers others close to the mob to do the same immediately. This creates a non-linear feedback cycle of downvote, report then share and torment. Kind of like feedback between a mic and speaker, it gets to the point of screeching in our ears, but so loud you can’t defend yourself from it by shouting back by yourself. This is where we need the platforms to act, but they’re impotent.
Furthermore, due to the ambivalence or indifference of our support, nobody will work to put it right for you. They’ll comfort you when it all goes to sh*t, but nobody will work in the moment to stop it. That’s the first problem. Deep down, I don’t think I can count on more than 2 or 3 of my FB friends or acquaintances to stop me being murdered in the street in front of them.
Hence, it’s a wave that hits your content and digital identity. In the case of Quora for me, I have had some good followings on pretty standard answers (https://www.quora.com/What-happens-over-time-if-each-year-I-fire-all-my-below-average-programmers-and-get-better-ones/answer/Ethar-Alali) but when it comes to hate, not enough people take them to task on it. Yet right wing haters will report your content like you wouldn’t believe! They will report and try every mechanism under the sun to censor you, whilst at the same time shouting “Free speech! You can’t deny my right to free speech! You can’t legislate away what I can and cannot say”. It’s hypocrisy, of course, but with the numbers involved, it happens on a colossal scale that is impossible to fight against.
Yet, the left continue to stay left and say “I defend their right to free speech, even if I don’t like what they have to say” (without understanding how it violates human rights) and the right stayed right “You can’t stop me from speaking! And I’ll f**k you up if I have to, using any means at my disposal, whether you know about it or not”. That was until last year’s empowerment, where the left went more left and the right swallowed the centre and started shouting. Hence, back to bracket (1).
You then get washed into the sea by the tsunami of hate and nobody on your side will truly work to support you or worse, the principle, against that hate. Indeed, I know at least two centrists who are actively contributing to that hate. Hate doesn’t give a sh*t where it gets its energy from. Centrist or not. It is what Leftists intuitively understand. Don’t give mutant cabbages the inch, because they’ll take a mile under the banner of “the end justifies the means”.
Quora & Facebook Reporting
The issue isn’t that Facebook and Quora are inherently racist by their action. It is both their inaction and lack of systemic awareness/visibility that creates a complicity in that racist action, which thus makes them unwitting censors and a vehicle for the right wing to thrive. This is coupled with an asymmetry in the way the racists and the defenders actually operate and it becomes toxic through this process.
Defenders being sentient, free agents with their own minds, most often do not operate as a team, and are almost always law-abiding (bar the extreme left) whilst the right aren’t intent on operating as a team, and their ignorance and inability to reason makes them followers of their upset gut. That being the common factor. So work as a team without the intent and are driven by visceral forces to collectively do the same thing (regularly breaching BNBR, posting hate content or equivalent) which becomes a further toxic combination.
When you report something to Quora and FB, algorithms order it by number of report, but moderators manually look at the content. It simply counts the number of reports to decide what to look at first. Whilst they claim the number of reports isn’t an indication of whether it gets banned or not (which is technically correct) the number of reports is the mechanism by which it gets shown in the first place. No votes, means no show, means no problem, means nothing to moderate and adjudicate.
The closer to zero reports a post receives the less likely they are to see it to make an adjudication. This means minorities are at a natural numerical disadvantage. Plus, if the content doesn’t leave the right wing groups, you’ll never pick it up, or if you do by accident (someone you know comments and it happens to appear in your feed) you’re walking into a room already full of 100,000 right-wing people and attempting to post a counter, which can be perfectly reasonable, gets reported by 10,000 folk a second. Straight to the top of FB’s alert mechanism and the moderators shut you down quickly.
Our Minority Problems=Facebook’s Small Numbers & How Fake News Wins
In any country, if 10% of the population are minorities and say, another 10% would act to report hate against minorities, that’s 20% of the population against an 80%,where 50 of those percentage-points would share racist content, unwittingly or not. That is 20% v 50% so the right wing win every, single time.
Enter fake news. People in general, do not know the difference between the intent of these two posts:
One is from a UK right-wing racist group, the other is obviously, not. The intent behind the sharing of these images is very very different.
With British Freedom, sharing or liking that content makes more of it appear on the newsfeed of the liker/sharer. Subjecting them to more right wing material and an attempt to indoctrinate. Yet, the right wing post appeared on a friend’s feed (and thus, into mine). It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve hinted at that friend, they share viscerally, without thinking to do the research, which doesn’t need much. One click and a scroll:
The ability to conduct adequate research in the general population is low. Plus, some of the information is quite subtle. It doesn’t quite require a CSI style investigation, but sometimes it’s necessary to separate fact from fiction.
The top left image in particular, shows a tweet about the Manchester bombing. The city I am in, my city. It claims ISIS told everyone about the bombing 4 hours before it happened and that moderate “muslimes” (sic) celebrated. Yet, they showed an ISIS account and crucially, they failed to see that the date on the tweet is 5/22/17, which in twitter is displayed on the client (desktop, tablet, mobile etc.) so uses the client’s time not the server time.
Why is that important? Because in the UK, dates are shown day/month/year, not month/day/year. So this was an american viewer of the tweet. America is 5–9 hours behind the UK. This tweet was read (and screen-grabbed) 50 minutes after the bombing. Yet, the above site “British Freedom”, uses that fake news to propagate hate and instil a sense of emergency. Thus entering the visceral sphere. i.e. “people have to do something now”. It’s colossal incompetence coupled with engineering, but the outcome is the same. People share their content.
Sadly, the same is true of Quora, which does use report counts as part of their determination upon review. Reports are a kind of negative popularity contest. Indeed, even Quora up-voted answers are really a popularity contest too. Hence, the situation is pretty straightforward.
- Left-wing/centrist article appears which questions or attacks the right. Not shared as much, since left doesn’t do that “visceral reflex” thing (that’s a good thing but systemically contributes to dysfunction).
- Right-wing mob report the posts as a wave, each increments the total report/downvote count (sometimes it is shared underground, by screenshot/copy+paste to gather more followers)
- It is flagged on Quora/FB for review, who see dozens or hundreds of downvotes/reports and review the content
- Quora/FB moderators take action against the “offending” post and ban accordingly, leaving the entire space free to be taken over by the right and hate.
Contrast this with the right-wing post flag.
- Right-wing article appears
- Some centrists comment, other left-wing folk also comment, but all act individually and there are way less of them.
- Any reports appear lower down than the right wing reports (not enough reports to appear at the top) so doesn’t get seen to as quickly.
- Right wing content spreads like wildfire through right leaning mob and often centrist groups into the public domain. Giving the visibility to right wing content that far exceeds any left wing content you can produce in retort.
- FB/Quora don’t take action on the content for never having seen it in the first place.
As a cohort, this means FB and Quora are acting on content they are seeing from right winger speculative reports, but not acting on reports of hate. This is naturally going to happen anyway, as the nature of reporting racism is that the numbers are from minority victims. Minorities mean minor numbers. Neither Quora nor FB adjust for the prevalence of black people in a regional population before ordering reports, which is a huge f**k-off data hole!
The answer to that is to report like there’s no tomorrow! Don’t think about it, take our visceral, left wing response and report it. Plus, don’t feel guilty for it. Free speech does not trump human rights, ever, on anything, even in statute! Hate is a breach of human rights because it breaches safety and security and targets groups on a number of fronts! Here is the UN Declaration on human right, which is also similarly conferred in the US constitution, and why free speech doesn’t trump it.
Q: “Free speech is my human right. You cannot legislate what i can and cannot say”
A: Walk with me. Let’s got into more detail and see where man gets confused. It’s a rule of legal precedence.
So to be honest, I have no issue obliterating right-wing hate speech. Indeed, it is in statute! If the platforms are not going to take on that responsibility to fairly represent minority experiences, and contribute to an environment that continues to allow the violation of such statute, it falls upon ourselves to do it, before all our digital lives are “forgotten”.