Kinzen's Weekly Wrap - November 26, 2021

Every day, we work with Trust and Safety teams to help them understand the latest threats on their platform. These people work hard - with technology - to filter out spam and reduce harassment, toxic speech, disinformation, and all manner of other horrible things. That’s why we call them the ‘internet’s essential workers’. 

Now, we’re proud to have partnered with Griffith College in Dublin to aid in their professional development. This is a field that is coming under increased scrutiny and the people working in it deserve opportunities to reflect and gain new skills. The course content is diverse, taking in topics from law to philosophy, communications to mental health.

Read more about it on our blog. You can apply to join the Postgraduate Diploma in Trust, Safety and Content Moderation Management on Griffith’s site.

For Your Headphones This Weekend

Dr. Claire Wardle appeared on a recent episode of the Diplomates - A Geopolitical Chinwag. Wardle, a friend and former colleague, is always worth listening to when it comes to dis and misinformation. Here, she talks through the recent history of misinformation, how we can inoculate people against it, and all sorts of other issues. Check it out here.

Another person to listen out for is Jay Rosen. The professor of journalism has been one of the more innovative minds teasing out the role of the media in our information environment. In a recent episode of The Ezra Klein Show, he reflects on the structural struggles at the heart of modern journalism. Check it out here.

Editor’s Pick: Book Slot

First published in 2015, reading The Internet of Garbage in 2021 feels a little like stepping back in time. And yet, so much still resonates today. 

In a 2018 reissue, the author Sarah Jeong said that if she was writing the book again it would focus on misinformation. But in 2015, given the climate at the time, she focused on the problem of harassment. She teases through the problem from the perspective of content, on the one hand, and behaviour, on the other, while also looking at the role of copyright law, Section 230, and freedom of speech. 

A memorable quote for me: “Even though John Stuart Mill might have thought that even bad or wrong ideas had value in the marketplace of ideas, John Stuart Mill never dealt with legions of junk-transmitting botnets.”

Recommended Articles: From the Kinzen Slack channels this week

Nieman Lab. On Twitter, fossil fuel companies’ climate misinformation is subtle

Not terribly surprising, but still a very useful report on the nature of climate misinformation from fossil fuel companies. Compared with the extreme conspiracy theories that we’ve seen so much with COVID, this world is much more based on misdirection, misleading information or cherry-picked data. 

Pew Research Center. The Future of Digital Spaces and Their Role in Democracy

As we worry about the future of democracy and the internet, it’s worthwhile keeping an eye on polls like this over time. In this case, Pew asked 862 tech innovators and others about whether digital spaces will be improved to serve the public good by 2035. The response was quite positive, with 61% saying yes. 

BBC. Climate change: Conspiracy theories found on foreign-language Wikipedia

Back to climate change, and the BBC reports on how non-English language Wikipedia editions spread misinformation about the issue. “In more than 150 languages,” the story finds, “fewer than 10 people a month regularly edit any pages.” And yet Wikipedia is an important source for so many people around the world. 

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