The differences between English and non-English content moderation
Monkeypox conspiracies in China, shrinking space for atheists in Pakistan and arrests of independent journalists in Ethiopia
We hope you’re keeping well.
In this edition we highlight the statement of the head of Meta’s oversight board on the gap between the investment in content moderation in English and non-English languages. We also look at the conspiracy theories in China alleging US to be the source of Monkeypox, how atheists and agnostics face the threat of death penalty for ‘digital blasphemy’ in Pakistan and Ethiopian government’s crackdown on independent media outlets.
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The latest top stories
There isn’t enough moderation in Arabic and non-English languages, Meta Oversight Board’s Head of Global Engagement tells forum in Dubai (Arab News)
During a conference in Dubai, UAE, the Head of global engagement for Meta’s Oversight Board commented on the state of content moderation on Facebook and other social media networks. Rachel Wolbers said “Meta –Facebook– is really taking a lot of initiative to try to figure out a way to outsource some of these really difficult decisions”.
While fake news was in no way created by social media, the sheer speed and accessibility the networks provide means that harmful and malicious behavior now has a greater reach than ever before.
“I'm definitely not here to apologise or defend Facebook in any circumstance, and some of the problems that they (Facebook) had in 2016 still continue to this day, the challenge of misinformation and disinformation is a really big one,” -- Rachel Wolbers, Head of global engagement for Meta’s Oversight Board
Chinese social media users are speculating the US could be the source of monkeypox infections now reported in at least a dozen countries, including the UK, Spain and Australia.
While Chinese state media has refrained from accusing the US of intentionally spreading monkeypox -- an accusation it made about Covid-19 -- many social media users haven’t held back. Nationalist influencer Shu Chang, who has 6.41 million Weibo followers, deliberately misconstrued the report and posted that it showed “a plan by the US to leak bioengineered monkeypox virus.”
The atheists, agnostics, and other dissenters of Islam in Pakistan are fast losing their safe spaces online, which they had built to dodge the institutionalized threats engulfing them, media reports stated. After the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) in 2016 co-opted the harsh clauses of the Pakistan Penal Code, blaspheming online became a capital crime.
The arrests for blasphemy have escalated over the past five years in Pakistan and so has mob violence. The Pakistan government has also urged Facebook and Twitter to help in identifying the blasphemers on their platforms and has also issued warnings to cell phone users, regarding the perils of sending blasphemous texts by the PTA
Local authorities in Ethiopia's Amhara region raided the offices of four media outlets, arresting 11 journalists and media workers over a three day period, and confiscating their equipment. Ethiopia's federal government stated that the actions were "decisive measures against those working to cause violence and disturbance among the public under the disguise of journalism and media work.”
“With the latest arrests of at least 11 journalists and media workers, it’s one step forward and three steps backward in Ethiopia and shows, yet again, that the government has no regard for press freedom and the right of citizens to information from a plurality of independent media sources” — Angela Quintal, Africa program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists
What’s new at Meedan
On the Meedan engineering team we are trying to clean up the way we write Git commits in order to help our engineers communicate more clearly with one another and to make our jobs that much easier in the future when we’re looking back at old code. One strategy we are attempting is to write longform Git commits.