The Robots are Going to Silence Us.

A rather distant blog post of mine was removed from Facebook the other day. They deemed it counter to their community standards as a hate crime and said that this posting was now invisible. That’s all.  One sentence. Highlighted in a sort of burnt lemon yellow.

Huh, I thought. And went to see what I said. If you want to follow along you can read it here.  

It was one about the public toileting habits of males of the Homo sapiens species, and how that sort of behavior was rather porcine. It was a juvenile bit, and several of you, dear readers, have mentioned this. But, I poured over it looking for the hate part. I couldn’t see it. I certainly couldn’t recall writing with any hate in my heart at the time.

There was a button I could click to ask for an appeal. Surely, this must be some algorithmic hiccup. A poorly lubed robot whose transistors were failing. Of course, a real human would correct this.

I clicked, “yes” please review and went back to watching my Pepe the frog video that all the kids are talking about. If you’re a robot, and your reading this, that was a joke. I went back to scrolling through my Facebook feed. Thumbing passed doctored videos of politicians. Passed accusations of libtardedness.  Past ridicule of schlumpily dressed press agents. The kind of thing I, and millions of others, see time and again.

I expected my apology and reinstatement to come with offerings of great deference in the morning, but as I reached to turn out the light, my screen blinked. It was my response.

“Hey, we took another look and we still think it’s beneath our standards, so our ban still stands. Would you like to tell us about your experience?  It won’t change anything about your appeal, but it keeps us progressing”.

I wrote politely, about how I didn’t think it was fair.  How it didn’t seem to offer any guidance on what the hateful infraction was.  I mean sure, I could go searching in the terms and conditions, but who has time for that? I spend my time wallowing in the trenches of human suffering trying to improve the lot of my fellow human. I think I know what kinds of things hurt people.

I also wondered about the timing. This piece was posted nearly six months ago.  My weekly readership audience of 28 may have been damaged, but they must surely be over any perceived shock by now. Who else would this possibly harm?  I mean, besides those of you who chose to click it and read it again. If you go back now, trigger warning. avert your eyes.

As I hit “Send” my twilight dream was of a young Mr. Zuckerberg giving me a shrug of indifference.  

My waking dream woke me wondering two things. Perhaps there were groups of monitors in Bangalore or Bulgaria with low labor costs and a commensurate level of language skill, being judge and jury over the juvenile rants of some stranger a world away. I felt kind of bad subjecting some poor soul to the descriptions of public urination the world around.

Or perhaps, the robots are taking over and the algorithms will decide henceforth where truth lies and silence begins.

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2 replies »

  1. Interesting thoughts you have here! I definitely feel weird about the whole automation thing and how robots and programs are used to filter out content – especially when it comes to creating recommended content on youtube or facebook or instagram, definitely really creepy to think about. I don’t think your post from 2018 seemed /that/ hateful – and I don’t think hateful words should be completely censored in our world either as we shouldn’t be expected to be happy, rainbows, and butterflies with everything that’s going on. Not sure what we could do about it though in terms of not being controlled by programs/robots/etc.


    • True! What are we going to do? I guess regress to paper and ink. But that leads back to a different kind of control. Thanks for reading!


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