MC Weekly Update 11/21: Bot Populi, Bot Dei

Evelyn and Alex talk about the latest Musk shenanigans, why the fight to decentralized platforms isn’t solving all our content moderation problems, account hijacking at Meta, and what to make of the discussion of the security risks of TikTok. Also, Evelyn learns the results of the Big Game.

Show Notes

Stanford’s Evelyn Douek and Alex Stamos weigh in on the latest online trust and safety news and developments:

  • How else would Elon Musk decide to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s account than a Twitter poll? Okay, well maybe the content moderation council he proposed to deal with reinstatement decisions. – Faiz Siddiqui, Drew Harwell, Isaac Arnsdorf / The Washington Post
  • Musk’s mind is also made up on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones whose account will not be reinstated on the platform. – Brian Fung/ CNN 
  • Former Twitter trust and safety lead Yoel Roth penned a New York Times opinion piece on why he left Twitter and the influence that app store operators have on content moderation. – Yoel Roth/ The New York Times (commentary)
  • The EU might just scare Musk straight. After the Financial Times reported the headline “Elon Musk’s Twitter on ‘collision course’ with EU regulators,” European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager responded that “We are never on a collision course with anyone because we consider ourselves a mountain.” – Javier Espinoza/ Financial Times, Silvia Amaro/ CNBC
  • Mastodon might not be the paradise we hoped we could toot freely and safely in. Content moderation is hard and there’s less control or quality assurance in a federated model, as Block Party CEO Tracy Chou already knew too well before she had a post blocked and now faces torrents of harassment. – @triketora, @mmasnick
  • A Mastodon server administrator is deciding who is a journalist while other server operators block those verified journalists from being seen on their “instances.” – Mathew Ingram/ Columbia Journalism Review
  • Meta “has fired or disciplined more than two dozen employees and contractors over the last year whom it accused of improperly taking over user accounts, in some cases allegedly for bribes.” – Kirsten Grind, Robert McMillan/ The Wall Street Journal
  • FBI Director Chris Wray testified that TikTok poses a national security challenge for the United States because the Chinese government may be able to access extensive data collected by the app or even use recommendation algorithms to push the country’s influence operations on users. – Chris Strohm, Daniel Flatley/ Bloomberg News, David Shepardson/ Reuters, Suzanne Smalley/ CyberScoop
  • Sport ball is happening in Qatar “without controversy,” and Meta is using the moment to highlight its recently introduced anti-harassment features on Instagram to block or limit offensive messages aimed at players and encourage fans to think twice before sending potentially abusive content. – Jess Weatherbed/ The Verge, Meta

Join the conversation and connect with Evelyn and Alex on Twitter at @evelyndouek and @alexstamos.

Moderated Content is produced in partnership by Stanford Law School and the Cyber Policy Center. Special thanks to John Perrino for research and editorial assistance.

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Transcript coming soon.