back to article Automatic for the People: Pandemic-fueled rush to robo-moderation will be disastrous – there must be oversight

The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Thursday warned that the consequences of the novel coronavirus pandemic – staff cuts, budget cuts, and lack of access to on-site content review systems, among others – have led tech companies to focus even more resources on barely functional moderation systems. Technology platforms have …

  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    grep is cheap

    > implementing these systems, inexpensive compared to salaried employees or underpaid contractors.

    Yup. grep -f blacklisted_words text_to_moderate

    what's not to like?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: grep is cheap

      What's not to like?

      What's not to like?

      Like what's not to!?

      What's not to like?!

      (A usual AI response)

      But yes, automation of a script of system is cheap and works well. AI on the other hand can get stuck in loops, make massive errors and cause lots of problems. There is a reason "AI" is doing in artistic and visual endeavours mainly, and in specific numerical search system, over functional, more complex problems.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      AI creating another Scunthorpe problem

      Only much, much bigger, and nobody to notice.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AI creating another Scunthorpe problem

        I've left a couple of Facebook discussion groups due to a sudden upsurge in legitimate posts being blocked by automated moderation. On the plus side, I'm spending far less time on Facebook.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AI creating another Scunthorpe problem

        I realy don't see the problem.

        Randy Lipshits

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: grep is cheap

      I like to do things such as poking fun by using the 'F' word *FEEL* in place of a DIFFERENT 'F' word, and it's obvious to everyone what I really mean. So nanny-bots won't pick up on 'FEEL'. I've also seen 'onion' jokingly bot-swapped for the word 'soy' in one particular forum.

      The obviousness is that bot-nanny-moderator-artificial-STUPIDITY ain't gonna work.

      DARN that CRUD, *FEEL*ing mentally challenged "Twitterers" !!!

      ^^^ example

      (and don't forget the spelling errors b0rking the filters)

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    The greatest danger

    The greatest danger of using AI moderation is the inevitable homogenising effect - creation of an artificial consensus of acceptable content based on the majority of content. Ultimately, any submission that deviates from that norm could be filtered out, leading our thinking into lock step.

    Furthermore, what that norm is will be entirely unpredictable in advance. A few automated trolls could easily drive it to extremes.

    1. zuckzuckgo

      Re: The greatest danger

      AI powered search:

      1) AI search engine learns which content is most favoured by web users and features that content.

      2) Web user favour the easily found content most featured by the AI search engine.

      3) Monetize

      4) Repeat.

      They are just giving the user what they want!

  3. SVV

    Don't fear the robots

    I f y o u p o s t l i k e t h i s t h e y c a n t s e e y o u

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Don't fear the robots

      I w o u l d n ' t b a n k o n i t .

    2. DJV Silver badge


      Why is your post empty?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: @SVV

        your ROT13 auto-translate is broken

    3. zuckzuckgo

      Re: Don't fear the robots

      I s e e l o t s o f h o l e s i n t h a t a r g u m e n t.

  4. Teiwaz


    To quote Kosh (as I'm posting on the Reg, let's refer to him as a Jedi)

    'The avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote.'

  5. robert lindsay

    man thats a deep callback

    everybody hurts

  6. Cincinnataroo

    There's some real potential.

    Link your comment generating bot to feedback from their censoring bot.

    Voila a nice adversarial network. Who knows where it could lead (other than to artificial-stupidity of a higher order, probably not human readable though).

    1. First Light

      Or it could be like the two bots negotiating against each other in a Facebook project, where the project had to be stopped because they came up with their own LANGUAGE and could no longer be understood by their human "overlords."

  7. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    pandemic's no excuse

    pandemic's no excuse for using badly implemented automatic moderation; moderation is one of the probably easiest things to do remotely.

    1. tfewster

      Re: pandemic's no excuse

      Staff cuts and increased posting volumes

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: pandemic's no excuse

        BBFC can review each youtube and tiktok video from home?

        Bring back the Lord Chancellors office to approve each tweet and Facebook post

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