Twitter's anti-abuse algorithms unfairly target #BlackTwitter


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/07/twitters-anti-abuse-algorith.html


#2

Putting aside the failure to correctly police the tweet against Kenworthy, it seems that the algorithm isn’t picking specifically on black people - surely it would have been triggered in the same way if someone had tweeted “typical b***k lady” - the issue is that the expression is judging a whole category of people, isn’t that textbook racism?

The “why are you still breathing?” statement also seems like an unambiguous piece of harassment when taken out of context.

The automated system doesn’t seem to be faulty, just rather unsophisticated - an unthinking measure to try to minimize the amount of human resources needed to monitor and police the behemoth that twitter has become.

Although I’m not overflowing with sympathy for the “my whole world has been taken from me” sentiment, expecially as this is a free to use service, it could serve twitter to offer some form of mediation.

I just don’t see how logic can reach the conclusion that a white hegemony of twitter employees is behind the opression of the protagonist.
That isn’t to say that they aren’t, just that this isn’t good evidence to support her case.

I guess the moral to the story is that if the diatribe of the last ten years of your life is so very important to you, then perhaps you should find a way of backing up your witty repostes for posterity on a regular basis …


#3

My thoughts exactly. “Area racist salty her racism got her in trouble, expecting being racist to a white person didn’t count”


#4
  1. She shouldn’t be surprised that she got pulled up on the two tweets she cites; the first one is clearly racist and the second is, if not a death threat then certainly a death wish.

  2. It’s pretty damned suspect that her account was suspended entirely without any specific notice, especially if those are the only two tweets she had previously been warned about. That does merit further investigation.
    (To be clear, I mean “the decision to suspend her account is suspect” not “her story is suspect”)

  3. Saying twitter “stole” from her is really goddamn hyperbolic. They didn’t steal from her any more than google would be “stealing” from its users if they suddenly closed Google Drive and deleted everyone’s files. They ceased to provide hosting for her intellectual property, as per the T.O.S. she agreed to.


#5

There may be even worse examples of injustice in this cold world.


#6

I see no reason to be more sympathetic to black racists than I do to white racists. You don’t fight racism by using racism as she clearly was.


#7

Where in this situation do you see a black person being racist?

If it’s the reference to someone as a “typical white lady,” how is that “racist”?


#8

Are you honestly saying that if you heard someone describe another person they disapproved of as a “typical black person” you wouldn’t think the speaker was a giant racist?


#9

Talk about missing the forest for the trees.

How does an algorithm “miss” the usual, disgusting nazi posts yet zeros in on “How are you still breathing” with laser accuracy? My guess is because Twitter doesn’t want their user count cut by 25% overnight


#10

I am rather surprised that Twitter would actually cull an account operated by a human, given their generally low quality standards and dire MAU issues; but having someone describe having data deleted as a theft of intellectual property is making my brain hurt. Even in the darkest dreams of copyright maximalist scum and MPAA mouthpieces ‘intellectual property’ has never been stretched to include an SLA and document retention services.


#11

To be quite fair, according to her article (and I have no reason to doubt its accuracy in the facts) Twitter say in their TOS that the rights to any content posted on it remain with the user. As utterly banal as tweets generally are, I don’t see any problem with claiming that a person’s tweets do constitute intellectual property owned by them.

My problem is rather with her assertion that they “stole” said property from her, when in fact all they did was cease providing hosting for it. Her lack of backups is her own problem.


#12

This is an observation, not a statement of how I believe the world should work.

We know that the Nazis and racists, for the most part, have spent a long time and hundreds of fake accounts napping out exactly what the “rules” are and how they can get around them by not technically breaking them. They also outright break them with throwaway accounts. They game Twitter and Facebook to serve their purposes. Every time an account gets deleted, they grow smarter.

As opposed to people on the left who break the rules willy-nilly and expect the rightness of their philosophy to save them. And then they get mad when their accounts are destroyed.

It is possible to hate people and still learn from them. The Left needs to get smarter about social media.


#13

If someone said, for instance, "A typical black person has more trouble getting a bank loan than a typical white one, " I would say they’re saying something true, not something racist.

In the same manner, if a non-white person described someone disapprovingly as a typical white person because they did something that most or even many white people actually do, I wouldn’t describe that as racist. I’d again describe it as pointing out the truth.

Most POC have to interact with white people daily. The reverse isn’t true. As a result, most POC know more about actual typical white behavior than most white people know about the actual typical behavior of any particular non-white group.

And so, since the U.S. (for instance) is a country grounded in white supremacy that remains white supremacist in many, many ways, when white people disapprovingly describe any particular POC’s behavior as typical of their group, what they’re almost always spouting is stereotypes, not facts.


#14

So defamatory stereotypes are a bad thing unless they aren’t because group A knows more about group B than group B knows about group B and group B uses defamatory stereotypes about group A so its ok for group A to use defamatory stereotypes about group B but we can’t call out group A for that because group A’s defamatory stereotypes are based on fact and we know this because group A is forced to interact with group B.

Sound logic you have there


#15

In a a white supremacist society, group A does not equal group B.

Sad absence you have there


#16

But we aren’t talking about equality we are talking about defamatory stereotypes and no matter what group you belong to you should not be employing defamatory stereotypes to describe others.


#17

How is a learned, and true generalization about typical white behavior a defamatory stereotype? (Hint: it’s not)


#19

Because “typical white behavior” is as much as a myth as “typical black behavior” and represent the very definition of a stereotype.


#20

Because generalisations about behaviour are stereotypes, and negative ones are defamatory.

Also, you’re taking “true generalisation” as your starting premise; kindly provide actual proof of the “true” part.
Consider, the plural of “anecdote” is not “evidence”.

Edit: And also “the truth can’t be racist” is a favourite cry of right wing assholes pointing out the crime statistics involving black people.


#21

Let’s work with slight modifications of some items from Peggy McIntosh’s famous list of white privileges that she noticed from her own life:

White people typically avoid spending time with people whom they were trained to mistrust.

White people can typically go shopping alone most of the time, fairly well assured that they will not be followed or harassed by store employees or detectives. The typical white person will not intervene when witnessing unfair treatment of non-white people by store employees or detectives.

The typical white person can go into a book shop and count on the writing of her race being represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods that fit with her cultural traditions, and into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can deal with her hair. The typical white person is unaware of this racialized disparity, and if made aware, will do nothing to counteract it.

The typical white person does not need to educate her children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection. She will also not educate her children about this kind of need that other parents have.

The typical white person can be reasonably sure that if she asks to talk to “the person in charge,” she will be facing a person of her race. The typical white person will not even notice what a privilege this expectation is.

If a traffic cop pulls her over or if the IRS audits her tax return, she can feel she hasn’t been singled out because of her race. The fact that others are singled out in such ways because of their race is an injustice that does not stir the typical white person into attempted counter action.

If a white person declares there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, her race will lend her more credibility for either position in the eyes of the typical white person than a person of color will have.

Similarly, American mainstream culture gives white people little fear about ignoring the perspectives and insight of people of other races. As a result, the typical white person does so.

If her day, week, or year is going badly, the typical white person need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has racial overtones. As a result, the typical white person does not do so. She also won’t ask of each positive episode whether its positivity was enhanced by her racial status.

If she needs legal or medical help, she can feel sure that her race will not work against her. The fact that race does commonly work against people of color in such settings does not greatly bother the typical white person. Indeed, the typical white person isn’t even aware of that difference.