October 21, 2020

XI’S GOTTA HAVE IT: Meet your (Chinese) Facebook censors.

China is one of the most censorious societies on Earth. So what better place for ­Facebook to recruit social media censors?

There are at least half a dozen “Chinese nationals who are working on censorship,” a former Facebook insider told me last week. “So at some point, they [Facebook bosses] thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to get them H-1B visas so they can do this work.’ ”

The insider shared an internal directory of the team that does much of this work. It’s called Hate-Speech Engineering (George Orwell, call your office), and most of its members are based at Facebook’s offices in Seattle. Many have Ph.D.s, and their work is extremely complex, involving machine learning — teaching “computers how to learn and act without being explicitly programmed,” as the techy website DeepAI.org puts it.

When it comes to censorship on social media, that means “teaching” the Facebook code so certain content ends up at the top of your newsfeed, a feat that earns the firm’s software wizards discretionary bonuses, per the ex-insider. It also means making sure other content “shows up dead-last.”

Like, say, a New York Post report on the Biden dynasty’s dealings with Chinese companies.

And this: Facebook Stings Babylon Bee:

During the Amy Coney Barrett hearings, The Babylon Bee, an Onion-like humor site for conservatives, published a story that starts like this:

WASHINGTON, D.C.—After two days of Amy Coney Barrett gracefully and stoically answering questions with perfect recall and no notes, suspicions grew on Capitol Hill that she might be a practitioner of the dark arts.

“Oh, she’s a witch alright, just look at her!” said Senator Hirono. “Just look at the way she’s dressed and how she’s so much prettier and smarter than us! She’s in league with Beelzebub himself, I just know it! We must burn her!”

Senator Hirono then pulled a live duck out of a massive burlap sack next to her and announced: “In addition to being a Senator, I am also quite wise in the ways of science. Everyone knows witches burn because they are made of wood. I think I read that somewhere. Wood floats, and so do ducks– so logically, if Amy Coney Barrett weighs as much as this duck I found in the reflection pool outside, she is a witch and must be burned.”

OK, it’s not that funny — but it is unmistakably a joke. It was not that funny because all of us have seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail eleventy-million times. Here’s the scene that the joke is lifted from:

There is a zero percent chance that Facebook’s censors don’t understand that this is a joke, and a zero percent chance that they really believe that repeating a gag from a universally beloved comedy film that’s nearly fifty years old incites violence.

What is it, then? It’s Facebook flexing its muscle to punish a comedy website that made fun of Democratic politicians.

Earlier: By Censoring The NY Post, Big Tech Is Begging For Big-Time Reform.

As Peggy Noonan wrote last year, “Overthrow the Prince of Facebook…Break them up. Break them in two, in three; regulate them. Declare them to be what they’ve so successfully become: once a pleasure, now a utility. It all depends on Congress, which has been too stupid to move in the past and is too stupid to move competently now. That’s what’s slowed those of us who want reform, knowing how badly they’d do it. Yet now I find myself thinking: I don’t care. Do it incompetently, but do something.”

Somebody should write a book about this stuff.

 

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