Four Must-Haves for the Internet of the Future

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:

Clear terms of use

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 behavior 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 behavioral 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.

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.

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.

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

Witnessing the Dawn of the Internet’s Duty of Care

As I write this, we are a little more than two months removed from the terrorist attacks in Christchurch. Among many things, Christchurch will be remembered as the incident that galvanized world view, and more importantly global action, around online safety.

In the last two months, there has been a seismic shift in how we look at internet safety and how content is shared. Governments in London, Sydney, Washington, DC, Paris and Ottawa are considering or introducing new laws, financial penalties and even prison time for those who fail to remove harmful content and do so quickly. Others will follow, and that’s a good thing — securing the internet’s future requires the world’s governments to collectively raise the bar on safety, and cooperate across boundaries.

In order to reach this shared goal, it is essential that technology companies engage fully as partners. We witnessed a huge step forward in just last week when Facebook, Amazon, and other tech leaders came out in strong support of the Christchurch Call to Action. Two Hat stands proudly with them.

Clear terms of use, timely actions by social platforms on user reports of extremist content, and transparent public reporting are the building blocks of a safer internet. Two Hat also believes every web site should have baseline filtering for cyberbullying, images of sexual abuse, extremist content, and encouragement of self-harm or suicide.

Crisis protocols for service providers and regulators are essential, as well — we have to get better at managing incidents when they happen. Two Hat also echoes the need for bilateral education initiatives with the goal of helping people become better informed and safer internet users.

In all cases, open collaboration between technology companies, government, not for profit organizations, and both public and private researchers will be essential to create an internet of the future that is Safe by Design. AI + HI (artificial intelligence plus human intelligence) is the formula we talk about that can make it happen.

AI+HI is the perfect marriage of machines, which excel at processing billions of units of data quickly, guided by humans, who provide empathy, compassion and critical thinking. Add a shared global understanding of what harmful content is and how we define and categorize it, and we are starting to address online safety in a coordinated way.

New laws and technology solutions to moderate internet content are necessary instruments to help prevent the incitement of violence and the spread of online hate, terror and abuse. Implementing duty of care measures in the UK and around the world requires a purposeful, collective effort to create a healthier and safer internet for everyone.

Our vision of that safer internet will be realized when exposure to hate, abuse, violence and exploitation no longer feels like the price of admission for being online.

The United Kingdom’s new duty of care legislation, the Christchurch Call to Action, and the rise of the world’s collective will move us closer to that day.

Two Hat is currently offering no cost, no obligation community audits for anyone who could benefit from a second look at their moderation techniques.

Our Director of Community Trust & Safety will examine your community, locate areas of potential risk, and provide you with a personalized community analysis, including recommended best practices and tips to maximize user engagement. This is a unique opportunity to gain insight into your community from an industry expert.

Book your audit today.