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What happened when humans stopped managing social media content

This article is part of a special report, The Essential Tech Worker.

Nobody appreciated the content..



This article is part of a special report, The Essential Tech Worker.

Nobody appreciated the content moderators until they were gone.

As the coronavirus pandemic swept the world, social media giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter did what other companies did. They sent workers home — including the tens of thousands of people tasked with sifting through mountains of online material and weeding out hateful, illegal and sexually explicit content.

In their place, the companies turned to algorithms to do the job. It did not go well.

The COVID-driven experiment represented a real-world baptism of fire for something social media companies have long dreamed of: using machine-learning tools and artificial intelligence — not humans — to police posts on their platforms.

When the social media giants announced the changes, they acknowledged the algorithms might struggle to discriminate between legitimate and illegitimate content. And indeed, the effects were almost immediate.

While far more content was flagged and removed for allegedly breaking the companies’ rules on what could be posted online, in some areas dangerous and possibly illegal material was more likely to slip past the machines.

Facebook and Google roughly doubled the amount of potentially harmful material they removed in the second quarter of this year compared with the three months through March, according to the companies’ most recent transparency reports. Twitter has yet to provide figures for 2020.

In Syria, where campaigners and journalists rely on social media to document potential war crimes, scores of activists’ accounts were closed down overnight — often with no right to appeal those decisions. Other content, including news articles and health information linked to the coronavirus, was similarly scrubbed from the internet as the machines got to work.

And yet, a lot of questionable posts remained untouched. In France, campaigners fighting against racism and anti-Semitism noticed a more than 40 percent increase in hate speech on Twitter. Less than 12 percent of those posts were removed, the groups said.

In other high-profile areas, like child exploitation and self-harm, the number of removals fell by at least 40 percent in the second quarter of 2020 because of a lack of humans to make the tough calls about what broke the platforms’ rules, according to Facebook’s transparency report.

“Everything changed with COVID,” said Jeff Deutch, a researcher at the Syrian Archive, an organization that helps document atrocities in war-torn countries worldwide, often on social media. “It was concerning. We thought we were going back to the problems we had seen before in 2017, when the platforms removed content, out of an abundance of caution, that they believed was glorifying terrorism.”

The results of this impromptu experiment — taken on a massive scale, without notifying users — raise far-reaching questions about what happens to free speech when human arbiters are taken out of the equation, and algorithms become the final judges of what is and is not appropriate to post.

It also reinforces a very non-digital truth: Even the most sophisticated algorithms and machine-learning tools still can’t replicate the computing power of an army of human content moderators.

“It’s very hard to automate certain things,” said Joris von Hoboken, a law professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussels who co-authored a recent study into the use of artificial intelligence to police online material. “A lot of what we see online is based on context. There are serious problems of transparency and accountability when you rely on machines over humans to make these decisions.”

The impact of COVID-19

Before the global pandemic forced tech giants to send home their content moderators, more than 30,000 people — often low-paid workers in places like Berlin and Austin, Texas — spent hours looking at some of the worst material to be found on the world’s largest social networks.

Facebook, Google and Twitter, almost in unison, announced their switch to automation in the middle of March.

There was a bittersweet reaction among many of those who found themselves temporarily out of a job, according to three current and former content moderators who spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to jeopardize their current positions or had signed agreements not to speak publicly about their previous work.

Social media content moderators review thousands of explicit posts each day and are given little mental support to handle the graphic imagery they have to police. Their decisions are then pumped into the companies’ machine-learning tools, which require large datasets of removal decisions to learn from, according to Tarleton Gillespie, who works at Microsoft Research, an independent research unit of the tech company.

One content moderator told POLITICO that the monthslong break was a welcome relief to what he considered “back-breaking work.”

The tech giants initially said content moderators could not work from home because of concerns about how people’s data may be handled — though Facebook now allows some moderators to review material remotely, with the exception of the most explicit material. Google said it would follow suit, but has not given details about how.

The moderator said the unplanned experiment also confirmed something many contractors already suspected — that the human content reviewers weren’t just making calls on questionable content; they were training the machines that were planned to eventually replace them.

“It just fast-tracked something that many of us saw coming,” the moderator said. “We are only here until the AI tools can catch up.”

For now, those tools remain anything but perfect.

Google’s YouTube, for instance, removed 11.4 million videos in the second quarter compared with 6 million videos in the three months through March, based on the company’s latest records. The number of successful appeals — when content creators believed their videos had been deleted incorrectly — also grew fourfold, to 160,000 videos, over the same period.

“Human review is critical for us,” said Marco Pancini, YouTube’s director of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told POLITICO.

It’s “not only necessary to train our machine learning systems, but it also serves as a check providing feedback that improves the accuracy of our systems over time,” Pancini added.

Facebook reported similar figures, with the number of removals flagged as hate speech on its main platform more than doubling to 22.5 million in the second quarter of 2020, according to the social network’s data. The rise was in part because the company expanded its content moderation tools to non-English language posts. Meanwhile, the number of successful content appeals was just 12,600, a significant drop from the 2.3 million figure for the first three months of the year.

Appeals to overturn incorrect decisions also took longer or, in some cases, were not handled at all because of an absence of people to handle them, according to the company’s latest transparency report.

That represents a “backslide” in the rights of people posting content online, said Jillian York, director for international freedom of expression at Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group.

“Before the pandemic, people were getting some notice about bans and violations,” she added. “We were making more progress. I’m worried we’re back to 10 years ago.”

Stephen Turner, European director for public policy at Twitter, said in a statement that the company had widened its definition of what constitutes harmful content in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The company will publish figures on how much content its machines have so far taken down later this year.

There’s a growing awareness within the social media giants — which have been grappling with how to deal with hateful and false content from high-profile figures like U.S. President Donald Trump — that it may never be possible to fully automate decisions on questionable content, especially when it comes to difficult calls that require local knowledge or cultural cues.

“Content enforcement is not an either-or approach, where we use either human reviewers or artificial intelligence,” Guy RosenRead More – Source

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How does technology affect reading and writing?



Technology has dramatically changed the way we read and write in the 21st century. From e-books and online articles to social media and instant messaging, technology has made reading and writing more accessible and convenient. However, it has also brought about new challenges and concerns.

One of the biggest benefits of technology is the increased access to information. With just a few clicks, people can access an endless supply of books, articles, and other written materials from all over the world. This has made reading and writing more accessible for people who may not have had the opportunity to do so in the past. It has also allowed for greater collaboration, as people can now share their writing and receive feedback from a global audience.

Technology has also made writing and reading more interactive. Social media and blogs have made it possible for people to engage with written content in real-time, sharing their thoughts, opinions, and experiences with others. This has led to a more dynamic and engaged reading and writing community, with people able to communicate and connect with each other in new and meaningful ways.

However, there are also concerns about how technology is affecting our ability to read and write. One of the biggest concerns is the decline of attention span. With so much information available at our fingertips, it can be difficult to stay focused and absorb what we are reading. Many people find it difficult to concentrate on longer written works, and are instead drawn to shorter, more bite-sized pieces of content.

Additionally, technology has led to an increase in informal writing. The widespread use of text messaging and instant messaging has led to the widespread use of shorthand and abbreviations. This has created concerns about the impact it may have on people’s writing skills, as well as the way they communicate with others.

Another concern is the rise of “fake news.” With the ease of publishing content online, it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate between credible and unreliable sources. This has led to a decline in trust in the media, and has created a need for critical thinking and media literacy skills.

Despite these concerns, technology has also provided new opportunities for writing and reading. E-books and online platforms have made it easier for people to self-publish their work, giving them greater control over the distribution and promotion of their writing. This has created a more democratized publishing industry, and has made it possible for voices and perspectives that may have previously been excluded to be heard.

In conclusion, technology has had a profound impact on reading and writing. While there are certainly challenges and concerns, the increased access to information, the ability to connect and engage with others, and the opportunities for self-publishing have all made reading and writing more accessible and dynamic. As technology continues to evolve, it will be important to address the challenges it presents and embrace the opportunities it provides.

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How to measure human intelligence?



Measuring human intelligence is a complex task that has been attempted by many experts and researchers over the years. Intelligence is often defined as an individual’s ability to think, reason, and solve problems. However, this definition is not enough to capture all the aspects of intelligence. In this article, we will look at some of the ways that human intelligence can be measured and evaluated.

  1. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Tests: IQ tests are the most commonly used method of measuring intelligence. They are designed to measure an individual’s ability to solve problems, think logically, and understand abstract concepts. The results of an IQ test are expressed as an IQ score, which is a number that represents a person’s intellectual abilities in comparison to the general population.
  2. Achievement Tests: Achievement tests are designed to evaluate an individual’s knowledge and skills in specific subjects such as mathematics, reading, or science. These tests can be a good indicator of a person’s intelligence in a particular subject area and are often used in schools and colleges to assess students’ abilities.
  3. Neuropsychological Tests: Neuropsychological tests are used to evaluate the functioning of the brain and nervous system. These tests can be used to diagnose neurological disorders, measure cognitive abilities, and determine the impact of injury or illness on a person’s cognitive abilities.
  4. Cognitive Ability Tests: Cognitive ability tests are designed to measure an individual’s mental abilities such as memory, reasoning, and problem-solving. These tests can be useful in determining a person’s potential for learning and development.
  5. Behavioral Assessment: Behavioral assessment involves evaluating an individual’s behavior, including their social skills, emotional regulation, and communication abilities. This type of assessment can be useful in identifying areas where an individual may need support or intervention.
  6. Performance-Based Tests: Performance-based tests are designed to measure an individual’s abilities in real-world tasks and activities. These tests can be useful in determining a person’s practical intelligence and can be used in a variety of settings, including schools, workplaces, and healthcare facilities.

It is important to note that no single method of measuring intelligence is perfect and each has its own strengths and limitations. Additionally, the results of intelligence tests can be influenced by many factors such as cultural background, education, and experience. As a result, it is important to use a variety of assessment methods to get a more comprehensive understanding of an individual’s intelligence.

In conclusion, measuring human intelligence is a complex task that involves evaluating a variety of cognitive, behavioral, and performance-based abilities. While intelligence tests can provide valuable information about a person’s intellectual abilities, it is important to use a variety of assessment methods to get a more comprehensive understanding of an individual’s intelligence. By using a combination of tests, experts and researchers can get a more complete picture of an individual’s intellectual abilities and potential for learning and development.

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The best children’s movies to watch on Netflix



Before the 1950s there were only two types of films, those for adults and those for children, it is since then films for boys have become a respectable cinematographic trend. Family, study, sexuality, love, rejection, growth of an ego no longer willing to come to terms with the will of others (especially adults), originality, over the years, teen movies have become the spokesperson for the present of their target, bringing at the cinema what the kids of one era after another wanted to see.

From action-packed special effects to the exploration of sexual identity, from makeover movies to first love dramas, to animated films and anime, there are many unmissable children’s titles. On Netflix there is a good selection, here are the ones to watch.

Little Women by Greta Gerwig

Although in the Netflix catalog there is also the version with Winona Ryder from 1994, we choose the one with Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson and Florence Pugh by Greta Gerwig from 2019 because, even if remaining faithful to Louisa May-Alcott’s classic and not abandoning the costumes, better approaches in spirit and staging to a more contemporary filmic language. 

The narration is entrusted to Jo (Ronan), who tells her story at the March house and that of her very different sisters. The great protagonist of this narrative but we can say of Little Women in general – is Amy, in whose shoes there is an amazing Florence Pugh. No baby-girl-boy-girl etc. can remain without ever having read or seen this cult. 

Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, by Ian Samuels

Sierra Burgess is a Loser is a teen-comedy that tells the hard life of a not-so-IT teenager at school. Sierra Burgess (Shannon Purser) is a very intelligent and somewhat nerdy young woman who ends up the (voluntary) victim of an identity mistake. Jamey, the most popular boy in school starts sending her a series of messages thinking he’s writing them to cheerleader Veronica. Once the exchange is discovered, however, she is unable to tell him, and so sets up a real parallel relationship.

Spirited Away and all Studio Ghibli films 

At the announcement that all Studio Ghibli’s animated cult films from Porco Rosso to My Neighbor Totoro had been included in the Netflix catalogue, we could only rejoice in profound joy. The films of the studio founded by Miyazaki, on the other hand, are little jewels of plot and staging, full of deep meanings and the result of boundless imagination. Watch them all. With the little ones have fun with Ponyo on the cliff, with the older ones let yourself be carried away by the wonderful stories of Kiki’s home deliveries, Howl’s moving castle or The enchanted city, but also by the amazing heroines of Princess Mononoke or Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Getting to know, seeing and re-watching the Studio Ghibli-Miyazaki films is a gift that you give yourself and you will give to those who don’t know them yet. 

Mowgli – Son of the Jungle, by Andy Serkis

This Netflix adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic is certainly not suitable for the little ones, but for grown-up kids. Forget the dancing bears and the tunes of the Disney animated version, Mowgli – Son of the Jungle is a ruthless and dark film about diversity and acceptance. The story is known, Mowgli was still a baby when he was stolen by the panther Bagheera from the clutches of the bloodthirsty tiger Shere Khan who had just exterminated an entire village of humans. Entrusted to the care of a family of wolves, Mowgli grows up thinking he is one of them, but it will only be through the famous ‘hunting test’ that he will be able to prove whether he is worthy of remaining in the pack.

Harry Potter – the saga

The world of Hogwarts and the most famous wizard ever arrived for Christmas in streaming, immediately positioning itself among the most viewed titles. From Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 and 2: all 8 films in the saga are available on Netflix, to watch and watch again while waiting for some news. 

Read more from the source Grazia

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