Why the feminist internet would be better for everyone
“My first rape and death threats came in 2005,” she says. Farrell wrote a blog post criticizing Hurricane Katrina for the U.S. response to the racism, and then it was flooded with abuse. Since then, he says the situation has worsened: “About a decade or so ago, you had to say something that attracted reproach. That’s not it now. It’s happening every day now.” He is very careful about what services he uses, and is very careful to never share his location online.
However, death threats and online abuse are not the only online issues that have a disproportionate impact on women. They are not as tangible damage as algorithmic discrimination. For example, try Googling in terms of “school boy” and “school girl”. The results of boys ’images are mostly harmful, and the results of girls, however, are sexualized images. Depending on the image recognition algorithms, what image a website appears on, what alternative text or caption it contains, and what it contains, among other things, Google classifies these results. Bias is introduced in two ways: image recognition algorithms themselves are trained in sexist images and captions on the internet, and websites and captions that talk about women are distorted by the penetrating sexism that has emerged over the decades. Basically, the internet is a self-reinforcing machine for misogyny.
Facebook has been training machine learning systems for years place and clean up images that have a touch of sex or nudity, but these algorithms have repeatedly complained that they are overly jealous and censor photos. oversized women, or women breastfeeding their babies. The fact that the company has done this while allowing hate speech to spread on its platform is not lost on entrepreneurs. “This happens when Silicon Valley bros let you set the rules,” says Carolina Are, an algorithmic bias researcher at City of London University.
How we got here
All the women I spoke to for this story said that they have had higher bullying volumes in recent years. The most likely culprit is the design of social media platforms, and specifically their algorithmic foundations.
In the early days of the network, technology companies chose to protect their services mostly with advertising. They just didn’t give us a chance to subscribe to Google, Facebook, or Twitter. Instead, the currency these companies want is eye-popping, clicks, and comments. All of them create data that they can package and use to market their users to real customers: advertisers
“Platforms strive to maximize engagement (anger, really) through algorithms that cause more clicks,” says Farrell. Almost all major technology platforms reward commitment above all else. This favors fiery content. Charlotte Webb, who founded the Feminist Internet activist collective in 2017, makes it clear: “Hate makes money.” Facebook has done it win $ 29 billion by 2020.