Oct 30, 2018

What social media can do to stop hate

Screenshot from ChangeTheTerms.org

Although hate continues to flourish on social media, experts say the situation is not hopeless. Among the recommendations are allowing broader reporting of hate speech, offering a similar reporting system across different social networks, and putting content moderation on par with finding bugs in code.

What they're saying: "It’s common for a bounty to be paid for reporting code issues to a company — companies should do the same with content moderation," Newhouse School of Public Communications professor Jennifer Grygiel tells Axios. "The public, researchers, experts etc. should be paid for reporting content that violates Twitter’s community guidelines."

Driving the news: After finding a number of years-old anti-Semitic posts on Twitter, Grygiel spent the weekend reporting them to Twitter.

"I logged on to Twitter to monitor hate speech after the word “jews” trended on Twitter — I was concerned that Twitter was not prepared to address this issue. I was expecting new threats to come in — I was not expecting to find violent threats that were years old. Twitter touts AI and machine learning, yet they have not found the most basic of violent threats and hate speech that have been on the platform for years."

A report last week offered some additional recommendations for how internet companies should change their terms of service to deal with hate speech.

  • The recommendations, made by a coalition of civil rights groups, offered model terms of service that also include mechanisms for transparency, training, and enforcement as well as a right to appeal any punitive measures taken.
  • Specifically, the coalition recommends sites prohibit “hateful activity,” which it defines as “activities that incite or engage in violence, intimidation, harassment, threats, or defamation targeting an individual or group based on their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.”

Our thought bubble: Tightening the standards is one piece of the puzzle. But just as important is the fact that social media companies need to develop the capacity to actually enforce such policies.

  • Though Twitter is often criticized for failing to enforce its terms of service, it isn't alone. A New York Times piece yesterday noted how Instagram, too, is allowing hate-filled hashtags to spread.

The bottom line: Tech companies show an incredible ability to adapt their algorithms to boost engagement and profits. They need to devote similar energy to creating algorithms that minimize hate and harassment — for their sake and for society's.

  • And if any companies need more help, they might want to look to Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson. Lawson wrote a powerful essay on what it means to be a leader in the current moment.
  • He wrote, "Even though we should cherish tolerance, we must reject and shun those ideas that violate our most basic principles."
  • Rather than throw up his hands, Lawson makes the case that it's all the more important for business leaders to stand up for American values at a time when they are under siege. The whole post is a must-read.

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Making sense of the UN's climate conference coronavirus delay

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The scuttling of November's pivotal UN climate conference is the starkest sign yet of how coronavirus is throwing a wrench into efforts to combat global warming. But like the wider relationship between the coronavirus and climate initiatives, the ramifications are ... complicated.

Driving the news: UN officials announced Wednesday that the annual summit to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, is postponed until some unknown time next year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 952,171 — Total deaths: 48,320 — Total recoveries: 202,541Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 216,722 — Total deaths: 5,137 — Total recoveries: 8,672Map.
  3. Stimulus updates: Social Security recipients won't need to file a tax return to receive their checks.
  4. Jobs update: 6.6 million people filed for unemployment last week, a staggering number that eclipses the record set on March 26.
  5. Health updates: The Trump administration won't reopen enrollment for ACA marketplaces this year.
  6. National updates: The Grand Canyon closed after a resident tested positive for coronavirus.
  7. World update: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu re-entered self-quarantine after his health minister tested positive for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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The weirdest NBA draft ever

Table: Axios Visuals

The 2020 NBA draft was already shaping up to be the weirdest draft in years, and now that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the sports world, it could be the weirdest draft ever.

Why it matters: While most drafts have a clear hierarchy by the time April rolls around, this draft does not. There's no reliable No. 1 pick, almost every top-10 prospect has a glaring weakness and the global sports hiatus has shrouded the whole class in mystery.

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