Don’t be evil (please define evil)

If you are ever in any doubt how bad an idea it is to simply accept the moderation and policing of content by large technology companies, compare and contrast their willingness to “deplatform” those who have the wrong opinions against this; Google and Apple have an app to help prevent Saudi women running away from home.

Nice.

In his recent interview with Joe Rogan, Jack Dorsey struggled to articulate Twitter’s policies on censorship.

On one hand, that’s an embarrassing admission for the CEO that he’s not across what is arguably the most controversial current issue facing his organisation. On the other, perhaps it’s an indication that the policy is more along the lines of, “whatever we decide it is at the time”.

Ultimately, the big technology companies, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, etc., are private companies, nobody is forced to use their product and their terms of service are whatever they want them to be.

If Google wants to assist the Chinese government in monitoring its citizens, that’s Google’s business decision. Likewise, if Google and Apple are happy to host apps used by Saudi men to monitor their wives and daughters, fair enough. Obviously, we can judge them accordingly.

Bill’s Opinion

Morality is a moving target over time and geography. What was considered acceptable in 1909 or even 1969 is quite different in 2019. Just ask the US politicians who are being berated for costumes and comments being unearthed in their school year books by Offence Archaeologists.

Similarly, social attitudes in Saudi Arabia differ considerably with those elsewhere in the world.

The technology companies have to navigate these border differences. As individuals we also have the added risk over time; who knows today whether an anodyne social media post this year might be regretted if re-published in twenty years’ time? It’s tricky.

The technology companies seem to simultaneously want to pretend that they are simply dumb platforms, like the postal service or telephone carriers, yet kick off those deemed to be holding incorrect opinions. With such questionable views on what constitutes ethical behaviour, these platforms might not be the best places to store one’s data or express opinions that are outside of the norm.

9 Replies to “Don’t be evil (please define evil)”

  1. Lets face it, they have a backdoor to every piece of data that exists, on any platform anywhere on the planet.

    Just like in days gone by, they intercepted mail and listened to phone calls.

    1. Nah, I’m not buying.

      If they had access to every bit of data someone would already have implemented the purge of people with the wrong opinion out of all aspects of modern life.

      That’s people like you and me and, last time I checked, you aren’t living next door to me off grid here in Galt’s Gulch.

        1. I’ll agree with when Jordan Peterson is taken down by digital evidence of some historical indiscretion or thought crime.

          He’s the bellwether, I reckon.

  2. I always thought it was weird that Google had the motto “Don’t be evil”. I mean, why would you need to even say that to yourself? Would a sensible girl go out with a guy who said. ‘My motto is “Don’t chop women’s heads off”? Or would she run a mile?

    1. I’ll chime in late on this. It is a great example of something that sounds good, but doesn’t bear any scrutiny and per your example, probably says more about what they are thinking, rather than what they think others may do. More evidence that these people want to control what you think, rather than how to think.

    2. Yes, it’s a bit like the rape culture rubbish. Nobody ever took me aside when I was a young man and told me not to rape women, so goodness only knows how I’ve got this old without being sexually violent.

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