Managing the Seedy Neighborhoods of Social Data

Sean Gorman from Gives a Pecha Kucha Talk on Where Free Expression Collides with Harassment

@SeanGorman from Gives a Pecha Kucha Talk on Where Free Expression Collides with Harassment

What is Pecha Kucha, you might ask? Wikipedia has a great explanation here, but in a nutshell it is a presentation style where the speaker works through 20 slides and spends only 20 seconds on each. During an afternoon session at #BigBoulder 2015, Sean Gorman led the audience through his version of a Pecha Kucha talk that focused on the fine line between free speech and online harassment.

Sean opened his 6 minute, 40 second presentation (remember, 20 slides & 20 seconds each) by sharing that it is important to talk about the negative sides of social data as well… mainly harassment and how it butts up against freedom of expression. When free speech goes too far, it becomes harassment and #Gamergate was an example of this. Twitter really stepped up to crack down on trolls in a number of ways including allowing for sharable blacklists.

So how do you find these bad actors in a crowd? Machine learning is one way, but you can get false positives. As such, it is important to get humans in the loop for that extra level of judgement, especially when you are talking about  taking a serious action such as kicking someone off a platform. Twitter open-sourced Black Raven to help crowd source and mechanical turk these type of assessments.

So how do you keep them off of the platform once you identify them? Bad actors quickly pop back up and serial abusers set up new accounts to get back to their harassing behaviors. So how do you find the returning bad actors? Fuzzy matches to banned lists are one way, looking at their previous friends who they want to reconnect with is another and understanding the harassment graph is a third. You need to understand if harassment is interconnected, especially when it involves users ganging up on a victim. These instances need to be prioritized to the top to be addressed quickly.

Is there a role for harassment guidelines and best practices in the Big Boulder Code of Ethics? According to Sean: yes, there is.

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