‘Facebook can’t be trusted’

New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner John Edwards (@jce_pc), was interviewed this morning on NPR by Rachel Martin. Edwards criticized Facebook after last month’s attacks on two mosques in Christchurch were live-streamed on Facebook.

It was a refreshing interview with a politician who doesn’t have all the answers, and knows it’s not his job to come up with them. He is also not beholden to big tech financing, as a New Zealand politician. Equally Edwards was clear where the blame and responsibility lay. The whole interview is well worth listening to, but Edwards rightly pointed out

we have a platform that has displayed shocking lack of responsibility and accountability for the tools that it has enabled

He [Zuckerberg] kinda conflated that [bad actors], with the live streaming of the atrocity in New Zealand, but that person didn’t go to any lengths, there were no systems. If you are going to offer a service that is capable of such deep and profound harm, then it is incumbent on you to ensure it is safe.

In the USA you have product liability, if a manufacturer makes something, a product, which causes harm, they are liable for that. It’s time we started to look to the social media companies for that.

… the lack of responsibility the company has taken. They should be acting now. If they can’t assure us that the streaming service is safe, then it should be taken down.

I was quite disappointed when I heard Mr Zuckerberg equate the atrocities in Christchurch with childrens birthday parties. He said if you put a delay in the system it might have prevented the uploading that video, but that would have broken the experience of people who use it for childrens parties.

I don’t understand the mathematics there, how many childrens parties, Mr Zuckerberg, equals one murder, one live streamed suicide, one sexual assault live streamed? It’s really incumbent on the platform to take responsibility to make the product safe. Until they ca, to take it down.

Bravo sir, bravo. In many aspects of life we have too easily succumbed to technology allowing us to do things which are not necessary, it’s there just because it can be. Facebook isn’t alone in this, and it’s time that we take a step back.

Remember when conference calls had live moderators? When you couldn’t speak until the lines were open? That wasn’t there just so the speaking presenter/executive could just say “next slide please”, it was there to stop unwanted and unruly interruptions. No one is saying one to one video communication should be outlawed, but live streaming needs to be moderated and regulated.

If the live streaming platforms won’t do that, can’t make it profitable, then so be it, ban it.

You can’t broadcast naked bums, boobs and dicks on American broadcast TV, at any time of the day. Yet, we allow facebook, youtube, twitter and other live streaming platforms to broadcast anything to anyone, anytime. This isn’t a free speech issue, I’d prefer grown-up movies to be broadcast unedited on TV, like streaming services. At least in the UK they have the 9pm ‘watershed‘.

It’s hard to see how anything will change here, until we have more politicians like Mr. Edwards.

The Austin media lynch mob

aka The Interwebs attack

I’ve been online in one form or another since 1978. I had an “output only”┬áblog at ibm.com back in 1996. The one thing that has most visibly changed over that time is the attack dog that is the facebook thread, the blog comment storm, the faux outrage of people who have no real stake, no real interest, but for whom it makes them feel important by having an opinion, and better still when they can be outraged.

Picture from http://pixgood.com/media-release-icon.html
Picture from http://pixgood.com/media-release-icon.html

“Don’t read the comments!” has been the mantra for years but lately, it has been the mainstream that have become the lynch mob. Just this week here in Austin there has been a major pile-in from the mainstream local media over the name of a local PR company. Turns out the PR company chose a name with what at first appeared a hip name, that turned out to be a major historic, racial slur, refence.

I’m not going to provide links, or any other detail, it doesn’t matter what the company name was, or what the reference was to. I admit, as did a bunch of my friends, I had no idea either.

Yes, having been told, the company should have changed their name and all the steps that came with it. Eventually after the Interwebs piled in, they did change their name. Apparently, they slipped up again though, and fessed up to the new name before they secured all the relevant social media “properties” and a pretty unfunny paraody account appeared almost immediately on twitter. And then in piled the local media with commentary from people who were, for the most part working for media companies whose output, is staid at best. Sigh. You could sense they’d smelt blood and the company was theirs to web shame, to twitbomb, and did they ever.

Ever wonder how the outraged get incited? Ever wonder how these stories start, and how they get the inertia and ““go viral”? A new podcast, Startup has the scoop, on one of their own mistakes, what happened, how it came about, and how it was resolved.