Judge, Jury and Facebook?

Yesterday former police officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of third degree murder of George Floyd. The deliberation was quick, but many, especially in Minneapolis had been planning for months. Planning for any outcome. Apparently Facebook was planning too. The Los Angeles Times reports…

As lawyers for both sides offered their closing statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin on Monday, a thousand miles away, executives at Facebook were preparing for the verdict to drop. …

As precautions, Facebook said it would “remove Pages, groups, Events and Instagram accounts that violate our violence and incitement policy,” and would also “remove events organized in temporary, high-risk locations that contain calls to bring arms.” It also promised to take down content violating prohibitions on “hate speech, bullying and harassment, graphic violence, and violence and incitement,” as well as “limit the spread” of posts its system predicts are likely to later be removed for violations.

This led to people asking why they don’t patrol the platform all of the time…

“Hate is an ongoing problem on Facebook, and the fact that Facebook, in response to this incident, is saying that it can apply specific controls to emergency situations means that there is more that they can do to address hate, and that … for the most part, Facebook is choosing not to do so,” said Daniel Kelley, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology and Society.

“It’s really disheartening to imagine that there are controls that they can put in place around so-called ‘emergency situations’ that would increase the sensitivity of their tools, their products, around hate and harassment [generally].”

Facebook seems conflicted. Turns out content that skates around safety norms gets attention and clicks, which is beneficial to Facebook. And they don’t want to interfere with legitimate discussion. They also say they are trying to get ahead of outbreaks of violence. Also…

Another incentive for Facebook to handle the Chauvin verdict with extreme caution is to avoid feeding into the inevitable criticism of its impending decision about whether former President Trump will remain banned from the platform. Trump was kicked off earlier this year for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots; the case is now being decided by Facebook’s third-party oversight committee.

Facebook isn’t the only platform doing this. It highlights the importance of social media platforms and the broadband and skills to use them.

The George Floyd conviction was made possible with the video taken by Darnell Frazier and shared all over the world. Supporters have been mobilized by social media from day one, we got word of protests and rallies from social media. We watched rallies we couldn’t attend via social media, citizen journalism and organizations such as Unicorn Riot, who livestream events via social media. Standing outside of the courtroom yesterday, we heard the verdict, in small groups huddled over cell phones from video streaming from the courtroom.

Social media is here to stay in one form or another.

This entry was posted in MN, New Media, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s