Many Westerners are disturbed by what they read about China’s social credit system. But such systems, it turns out, are not unique to China. A parallel system is developing in the United States, in part as the result of Silicon Valley and technology-industry user policies, and in part by surveillance of social media activity by private companies.
Here are some of the elements of America’s growing social credit system.
When Google’s employees or algorithms decide to block our access to information about a news item, political candidate or business, opinions and votes can shift, reputations can be ruined and businesses can crash and burn. Because online censorship is entirely unregulated at the moment, victims have little or no recourse when they have been harmed. Eventually, authorities will almost certainly have to step in, just as they did when credit bureaus were regulated in 1970. The alternative would be to allow a large corporation to wield an especially destructive kind of power that should be exercised with great restraint and should belong only to the public: the power to shame or exclude.
Psychologist and search engine expert Dr. Robert Epstein, a liberal Hillary Clinton supporter, blasted the failed presidential candidate on social media yesterday after she falsely claimed his research showing pro-Clinton bias from Google in 2016 had been “debunked.”
Twitter Inc. removed hundreds of accounts linked to the Chinese government this week meant to undermine the legitimacy of Hong Kong protests. It also said it would no longer allow state media to purchase ads on its platform.
What Twitter didn’t mention in its series of blog posts this week was the increasing number of Chinese officials, diplomats, media, and government agencies using the social media service to push Beijing’s political agenda abroad.
Axios reports that social media giant Facebook has new plans aimed at helping handpicked news outlets on its platform and will be hiring a number of seasoned journalists to curate a planned “News Tab” feature. The news tab is reportedly an effort by Facebook to restore some credibility to the site’s news feed which it believes has become inundated with fake news and clickbait.
Facebook has removed President Trump’s pro-women re-election advertisements, according to reports from tech site Gizmodo, as well as the left-wing Popular Information blog that reported a “violation” of Facebook’s terms and conditions.
Twitter has been distributing sponsored posts from Chinese state media criticizing the Hong Kong protests, as spotted by the account of Pinboard, a social-media bookmarking site run by the entrepreneur and developer Maciej Ceglowski.
The posts were from China’s state-run Xinhua news agency. “Two months on, the escalating violence in Hong Kong has taken a heavy toll on the social order,” one tweet reads, adding that “all walks of life in Hong Kong called for a brake to be put on the blatant violence and for order to be restored.”
A former Google insider claiming the company created algorithms to hide its political bias within artificial intelligence platforms – in effect targeting particular words, phrases and contexts to promote, alter, reference or manipulate perceptions of Internet content – delivered roughly 950 pages of documents to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust division Friday.
The head of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said he’s prepared to break up major technology platforms if necessary by undoing their past mergers as his agency investigates whether companies including Facebook Inc. are harming competition.
FTC Chairman Joe Simons, who is leading a broad review of the technology sector, said in an interview Tuesday that breaking up a company is challenging, but could be the right remedy to rein in dominant companies and restore competition.
The massive probe, spanning over 250 investigations, was launched in response to the live streaming of a migrant protest by the Bavarian-wing of the AfD party in 2017, German media disclosed on Saturday. Some 97 people were fined and three others were to face incitement charges in the court, the weekly Der Spiegel reported.