Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Mutually Assured Dumbness

So, since the majority of my atheism blogs seem to be dedicated to drama in the atheist community let's have another look at the latest twitstorm, which revolves around the harassment of Caroline Criado-Perez and the call for a report abuse button. For the record, the abuse being thrown her way is reprehensible, however the proposed solution will cause more problems than it solves. I'm going to leave the block bot drama and the list alone for the time being and instead focus on the "report abuse" button.

I don't know if anyone has been around since the cold war days, but I'm pretty sure most people are familiar with the doctrine known as "mutually assured destruction" often shorted to MAD. For those not in the know, this refers to fact that while the US or Russia could launch a nuclear strike to cripple the other, the resulting nuclear counterstrike would destroy their own nation, and possibly cause the end of human life on earth as a result of the fallout. Thus neither side was willing to use nuclear weapons in any situation unless the possible extinction of the human race (or at least the homeland) was an acceptable consequence thereof. Luckily we had mostly rational people sitting behind the proverbial big red buttons, so we are all here today to have this conversation. If you can't yet see how this relates to the proposed button, then please red on.

So you want a way to report abuse that doesn't involve filling out a form? Fair enough, the world is getting lazier and lazier, why not have it quick and simple so your lazy ass can get on with it's day? Well, as there are a couple ways twitter can implement this feature, I'll comment on the reasonable ones. If you've seen Subman's video on the topic (which is excellent apart from a mis-edit in the middle), and @Beagrie 's also excellent vid then same of this will be re-hash, but here I go.

The first is just an extension of the block button, whereas you block the user and a flag goes into the computer system for the twitter administrators to check at some point, which is essentially the lazy (wo)man's version of the existing system, if this is all anyone wants, fair enough, I'm a supporter of any sort of laziness except the kind that generates obesity, and keystokes don't burn many calories so fuck'em and make it a one click process (preferably two, so we don't click it by mistake).

However, That's not what most of them are calling for, they want something to be DONE IMMEDIATELY! They want a way to either suspend or ban accounts in real time, because the best way to get your views across is to censor all dissent, or so I'm told, so lets look at a few options for that.

The first  of these is that twitter will hire a herd of people to check all these things in real time as they come in. This is completely unfeasible, as twitter will not go to the expense of hiring thousands of employees to review flagged tweets. This I wouldn't object to either if it were in any way possible to implement.

Secondly we could get a system similar to youtube, where a complaint or certain number of complaints results in a temporary suspension and possible a permanent one pending a review by a human being, a process known to take weeks, sometimes over a month. No one has ever abused this system to have people they disagree with temporarily banned. If you believe the previous sentence I have a bridge to sell you.

Thirdly we have a system where a complaint immediately disables an account pending a human review. Much like the above option on steroids, basically we have a standoff, no one would abuse this against you for fear you would abuse it against them right?

I won't even consider such stupidity as a button that connects directly to the police.

Now I want you to think about the last two options, carefully for a moment, then please watch this video.

My favorite movie supervillian, and an apt description of an internet troll, wouldn't you say?

So, back to the mutually assured dumbness, by adding this button you don't disarm the trolls, you give the little kids who want to watch the world burn a nuclear armament and set them in front of the big red candy colored button that says "launch". Not only that, but they know they can launch without any sort of consequence, the troll doesn't care if his account gets banned in response. In fact he probably created a dozen sock accounts just to keep yours down even longer as his accounts die a glorious death in the name of the lulz.

Congratulations! You are attempting to use the MAD doctrine against a Jihadi, not too fucking bright now, is it?

Stand up and fight!

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