Thank you for writing this Marley K.
Just yesterday I read a very reasonable article on Yahoo finance about the difficulties Black and other PoC small business owners have been having with getting loans from the recent stimulus package. As another example of the lack of “platform responsibility”, more than 90% of the responses were short, hateful, racist, vitriol, mostly by apparently White men.
If Medium wanted to, if they were serious about it, they could put a significant dent in bots and trolling. There will always be false negatives (some trolls and bots will slip through, but the “defense” AI can learn) and an increase in false positives (some disagreeable, discordant and antagonistic comments from people will get flagged; this is okay as long as there is a transparent process for individual redress) concomitant with the desirable increased identification of True Positives. I suspect however, that currently social media errs on the side of too few bots and trolls being identified and stopped, under the false guise of “protecting free speech”. Zuckerberg has said as much at a speech at Georgetown where he drew parallels between himself and Civil Rights leaders, but in his context of basically defending the right of politicians to lie in ads on FB! (Co-opting human rights language is probably a symptom of “intelligent” White fragility, I haven’t seen that mentioned in Robin DiAngelo’s book, I’m only halfway through it.)
They can do it technologically. Because money matters, as long as 8 years ago ad tech companies were investing in identifying bots, fake websites, fake e-mails, self-botting websites, porn sites etc. and black-listing them. So if social media is slow on the uptake now it is because they choose to be so. Not to mention the speed with which they manage to block Black activists for speaking out about white supremacy or police brutality.
Is this a surprise at all? No. I think the leaders, CEOs, founders, investors, owners of these normative social media companies have never faced the brunt of racist trolling under a racist system, are blissfully intentionally unaware of the impact on PoC and women and Queer folk of such behavior, and worse, probably sympathise to a greater rather than lesser extent with the attitudes underlying the trolling/bot behavior.