To make the internet of the future a safer and more enjoyable place, it is critical to get a clearly defined minimum standard of Safety by Design established internet-wide. That said, it is important to recognize that “Design for Scale” and “Design for Monetization” are the embedded norms.
Many websites and apps are built to reach live state as a first priority, and forget safety or fail to come back to it until their product is mired in a situation where making it safe is very hard. To that end, it’s important we develop guidelines for startups and SMEs to understand best practices for Safety by Design, and access resources to help them build that way.
The regulation stems from the concept of “Duty of Care”. This is an old concept that says if you are going to make a social space, such as a nightclub, you have a responsibility to ensure it is safe. Likewise, we need to learn from our past mistakes and build out shared standards of best practices so users don’t get hurt in our online social spaces.
We believe that there are four layers of protection every site should have:
Communities don’t just happen, we create them. In real life, if you add a swing set to a park, the community expectation is that it is a place for kids. As a society, we change our language and behaviour based on that environment. We still have free speech, but we regulate ourselves for the benefit of the kids. The adult equivalent of this scenario is a nightclub; the environment allows for a loosening of behavioural norms, but step out of line with house rules and the establishment’s bouncers deal with you. Likewise, step out of line while online, and there must be consequences.
2. Embedded filters that are situationally appropriate
Many don’t add automated filters because they are afraid of the slippery slope of inhibiting free speech. In so doing they fall down the other slippery slope – doing nothing — allowing harm to continue. For the most part, this is a solved problem. You can buy off-the-shelf solutions just like you can buy anti-virus technology that matches known signatures of things users say or share. These filters must be on every social platform, app, and web site.
3. Using User Reputation to make smarter decisions
Reward positive users. For those who keep harassing everyone else, take automated action. Two Hat are pioneers of a new technique where you can give all users maximum expression by only filtering the worst abusive content, and then increasing the filter level incrementally on those who harass others. Predictive Moderation based on user reputation is a must.
4. Let users report bad content
If someone has to report something then harm is already done. Everything that users can create needs to be able to be reported. When content is reported, record the moderator decisions (in a pseudonymized, minimized way) and train AI (like our Predictive Moderation) to scale out the easy decision-making and escalate critical issues. Engaging and empowering users to assist in identifying and escalating objectionable content is a must.
Why we must create a better internet
In 2019, the best human intentions paired with best technology platforms and companies in the world couldn’t stop a terrorist from live-streaming the murder of innocents. We still can’t understand why 1.5 million chose to share it.
What we can do is continue to build and connect datasets and train AI models to get better. We can also find new ways to work together to make the internet a better, safer, place.
We’ll know it’s working when exposure to bullying, hate, abuse, and exploitation no longer feels like the price of admission for being online.
To learn more about Two Hat’s vision for a better internet that’s Safe by Design, download our white paper By Design: 6 Tenets for a Safer Internet.