Thursday, March 20, 2008

Potential session proposal, v2: censorship, hate speech, and due process on social networks

My potential panel proposal on Facebook censorship and due process didn't generate any discussion here, but did get a couple of comments in social network sites: appreciation for the role play aspects, and a suggestion from Deborah that it would be interesting to look at other social networks as well. Indeed! So here's a different proposal, focusing on what resonated:

Different social networks have different policies and enforcement mechanisms, but similar issues come up: protests filed over harassment or hate speech, accounts being deactivated without notice. This role-playing session will illustrate several difficult cases, based on real-world examples. Participants will advocate on behalf of the parties -- the person accused of harassment, the victim -- and "judges" ruling on the claims.

To highlight the diversity of norms and processes, each case will be judged under the policies of multiple social networks, including commercial ones such LiveJournal, Facebook, Bebo, and World of Warcraft as well as non-profit ones. The list can be extended, and pre-conference online discussions -- and commentary during the sessions -- will allow us to get the input of the inhabitants of these different virtual worlds.
Thoughts about that?


Jon Garfunkel said...


Hi there, I have been talking to Frank as well on these ideas. This one sounds good.

Last year I drafted the Protocol for Online Abuse Reporting, this may be of interest for such a panel (though I also figure it would be best discussed at a BoF).


Kelly said...

Hi Jon,

I feel like the lessons learned in earlier incarnations of online social activity are not informing new technologies. What are the Master Rules of online behavior that keep the conversation moving forward? How are these technically/socially implemented in each environment?

Another idea for an interesting panel discussion is to provide an audience polling technique, possibly an analog device or even SMS.


jon said...


Thanks for the input -- and excellent suggestion on PONAR; having these well-defined cases is a great way of getting understanding of how the protocols work. I'll tweak the proposal to incorporate this perspective too.


jon said...


Totally agreed about the lessons not being learned -- by users and by system designers. I've been hanging out on discussion boards at places like Facebook and and am constantly thinking to myself "why didn't they read A group is its own worst enemy before building this?" I think of it more as patterns rather than master rules; and different technology choices (a feedback/karma system like slashdot; allowing multiple moderators for a group; etc.) make different patterns of behavior more or less likely.

One of the things it would be great to do if this session gets in is to collect some of these patterns (and how they apply in different environments) on the wiki.

Excellent suggestion on the audience polling; it could go well with any debate or panel. I'll submit it as an "activity" suggestion. During one of the US presidential debates, CNN [I think] was showing an instant readout of a focus group's reactions, and it was very revealing: for example, at one point when a candidate launched an attack their approval instantly plunged before recovering as they shifted more positively. Not of course that any CFP panelist would ever "go negative".

Thanks for the suggestions!