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Freedom of speech vs A.I, where does this end?

July 1, 2020 9 comments

I must admit I am a bit upset while writing this, but I think I speak for quite a few in what I am about to say. Namely, that the Facebook police must come to an end. It has gone too far, and it’s now infringing on not just American laws, but also violating international laws regarding freedom of expression.

The great proxy

Here’s the problem with platforms like Facebook. First of all they are company based, which means they have the right to include or exclude whomever they like. It is a free platform after all, and nobody is forcing you to sign up for a Facebook account.

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Last time I checked, that is Fascism, plain and simple

At the same time they have grown to such a size that they have become a significant social influence. Not having a Facebook account (or Twitter for that matter) in 2020 would be more out of place than the opposite. Facebook has become, despite its status as an independent financially driven organization, the global forum where people share their thoughts, ideas and aspects of their lives.

In other words, Facebook as an organization is free to meddle and influence the politics of the entire planet – without being held accountable. Neither to politicians or laws – or it’s users. Facebook can in other words – do exactly as they please, yet be held accountable to nobody.

Facebook was instrumental in manipulating the British election, and was likewise used as a weapon in the American election. That alone should say something about the power wielded by the platform. Yet somehow they wiggled their way out of it.

Users rights

As a user your rights are simply non-existent. You are completely at the mercy of an A.I (artificial intelligence) that will process whatever you say or post; and should the A.I determine that you have violated the end-user-agreement, it becomes your judge, jury and executioner.

This is simply unacceptable. There are millions (literally) of subtle nuances between languages around the world, and implementing an A.I to determine if a post is suitable or unsuitable is outright impossible.

You would have to master every language on earth, as well as have complete insight into the culture, current events etc. to make a fair ruling.

Speaking out against child abuse

In my example there was a rather nasty case of child molestation in the local news some 3 weeks ago, involving a group of religious extremists. At which my post simply stated

“I am sick and tired of religious extremists. Why does a house have to proverbially be on fire before governments put the flames out? This has to stop. Enough.”

Some 3 weeks later (today) while I was going over posts that had been reported in one of the many programming groups I manage (sigh, the irony), a banner suddenly comes out of nowhere, informing me that I have been sentenced to 7 days in Facebook jail for “hate speech”.

Hate speech? My jaw dropped. Wait, what! In what universe is wanting to protect children from predators deemed as hate? I just sat there biting my lip as I read the verdict of the artificial judge, because the idea of “hate speech” is a very serious accusation. People that post hate, in the true sense of the phrase, would (in my view) be something along the lines of neo-nazis, holocaust deniers, racists, homophobes or right-wing nationalists.

As a person who has voted to the left consistently for 30 years, who want children protected and religion kept personal; one that has six years of comparative religious studies behind him — I somehow find it very difficult to fit any of the criteria above.

I mean, im half Spanish, my best bud is a black gay man, I think WW2 and the atrocities should be compulsory in education, globally, so that we never forget what the nazis did, or the terrible price the world had to pay to secure liberty. I think the war on drugs is a lost cause, and if Michelle Obama ran for president, I would seriously consider immigrating to the US –just so I could vote for her.

So .. Not really a “hate-speech” kinda guy.

You don’t get a say

The biggest challenge in cases like this, is that there are no human beings involved. The second problem is that, under Norwegian law, criticism of religious organizations is allowed (if based on sober facts, otherwise it falls under slander). Now obviously I don’t run around confronting religions (I mean, who does), but what we are talking about here is public news, caught and dealt with by the police; a case where the predators thankfully got caught. As a parent, no – human being, I have nothing but disgust for such crimes, as I imagine all sane individuals have.

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Speaking out against crimes in a lawful manner is a right. It is also a mechanism to make sure that nobody harbours resentment that, ultimately, leads to aggression. Censorship in 2020 is a dangerous mistake. One that can only end one way I fear.

And this is the problem with “corporate rulings” based on artificial intelligence. To be honest I doubt Facebook have an actual A.I involved at all. Based on this ruling, it is painfully obvious that they operate with basic keyword filtering (apparently 3 weeks behind schedule). If you cherry pick the words “sick”, “religious”, “fire” and “enough” and used some rudimentary value system for each word -perhaps in an attempt to establish the nature of a sentence, the outcome would be that the phrase is a negative one. But if you read it in its original Norwegian, where linguistic subtleties makes the intent evident – it is a man speaking out against abuse. Which is the opposite of hate.

But what really piss me off is that, as a user you have no way to complain. There is no human being you can talk with to provide a context. No message field you can use to write a short message. Nothing. The same case that I commented on was reported by all major Norwegian newspapers; It involves a crime in every civilized country on earth — yet critique of said crime somehow falls under “hate speech” according to “Facebook law”?

Amiga Disrupt

Well. I guess I’ll be over at the Amiga Disrupt Facebook clone this week. And I am going to spend that time contemplating if Facebook is really worth the effort. Most of my friends are on alternative forums too, so it’s not like I would miss out on much. I might even be tempted to write a mobile client for the AD website to make it more accessible.

You either respect free speech, or you don’t.

One thing is having fucking nazis running around the place spreading hate, another thing is when someone expresses their disgust for the recurring phenomenon that is abuse in authoritative religious settings. Whats next? Companies buying protection online? Sounds insane right, but that’s the next step. Mark my words.

One of the distinct differences between a free society and a fascist society is namely that: the right to express yourself peacefully. Another signature of fascism is their ability to wiggle their way through legal loopholes to avoid accountability.

If we setup a value system ourselves and apply it to some of these social-media companies, I think we all know what the verdict will be.

Food for thought!