I’ve got some interesting reading here today, particularly the bit about Reddit and what that might mean about moderating Internet content. The article it’s linked to is a .pdf of the study results, so it’s not spectacularly interesting reading, but to boil things down, it sounds like banning hateful communities and entities off your site actually works for reducing hate speech, harassment, and hateful content.
That probably sounds obvious to a lot of you, but it’s been in some dispute in Internet circles due to the “splash effect” you get when you ban a community. For example, when Reddit banned r/fatpeoplehate and other subreddits, the redditors who had used that subreddit were outraged and spent the next several days invading other subreddits and spilling all kinds of hate and trash all over the site. This (and similar incidents on other sites) has led folks to think that banning a community just leads to its garbage spilling everywhere, whereas giving them a spot to live keeps them sort of walled off from everyone else.
The study indicates that’s not the case.
5 Things to Read Today (9/13/17)
Washington Post: How 9/11 triggered democracy’s decline
“But over the past 16 years, war has imperiled rather than advanced American ideals by becoming about dominance rather than freedom. Our military actions, from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria, have reflected increased investments in firepower, accompanied by diminished attention to political change, economic development and institution-building — the essential prerequisites for democratic freedoms. Fear of terrorism has justified excessive and habitual suspension of good governance, ultimately creating a more fertile seedbed for terrorists.”
Georgia Institute of Technology: You Can’t Stay Here: The Efficacy of Reddit’s 2015 Ban Examined Through Hate Speech (.pdf)
“In 2015, Reddit closed several subreddits—foremost among them r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown—due to violations of Reddit’s anti-harassment policy. However, the effectiveness of banning as a moderation approach remains unclear: banning might diminish hateful behavior, or it may relocate such behavior to different parts of the site. We study the ban of r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown in terms of its effect on both participating users and affected subreddits. Working from over 100M Reddit posts and comments, we generate hate speech lexicons to examine variations in hate speech usage via causal inference methods. We find that the ban worked for Reddit. More accounts than expected discontinued using the site; those that stayed drastically decreased their hate speech usage – by at least 80%. Though many subreddits saw an influx of r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown ‘migrants,’ those subreddits saw no significant changes in hate speech usage. In other words, other subreddits did not inherit the problem. We conclude by reflecting on the apparent success of the ban, discussing implications for online moderation, Reddit and internet communities more broadly.”
TechCrunch: Facebook is testing a feature for mentorships between users
“Earlier this year, Facebook signalled a plan to move into LinkedIn’s territory with the launch of job advertising. Now it appears to be taking another step to help develop the professional you. TechCrunch has learned that Facebook is testing a way to use its social network to link up users who are looking for mentorships, either as mentors or mentees.”
The Atlantic: Will Donald Trump Destroy the Presidency?
“Trump, in short, is wielding a Soprano touch on American institutions. ‘I’m fucking King Midas in reverse here,’ Tony Soprano once told his therapist. ‘Everything I touch turns to shit.'”
The Conversation: Want to fix America’s health care? First, focus on food
“So far, policymakers have tried to reduce costs by tinkering with how care is delivered. But focusing on care delivery to save money is like trying to reduce the costs of house fires by focusing on firefighters and fire stations.”