Recently, the Verge published a look inside one of Facebook’s deals with a content moderating contractor. Facebook hires these moderators to screen posts reported by users for violating their community standards. These moderators look at reported posts and decide whether to delete or allow them. Author Casey Newton was able to convince some former Facebook moderators, who are generally prohibited from discussing their work by NDAs, to tell her about their experiences. Their stories are deeply upsetting; they are routinely forced to witness extreme violence, constantly monitored and held to incredibly high standards for speed and accuracy. Accuracy is determined by how often moderators’ decisions agree with the decisions of slightly more senior moderators; more senior moderators are given a random sample of a regular moderators’ processed posts and asked to make their own judgments. At Cognizant, for example, moderators must be “accurate” at least 95% of the time. Within the Cognizant work site Newton examines, some moderators have responded to constant exposure to the worst of Facebook by buying into the conspiracy theories. One person genuinely believes the earth is flat, another has become convinced that 9/11 was not a legitimate terrorist attack, and another denies that the Holocaust took place.
On Saturday, President Trump announced his intention to issue an executive order requiring American universities to maintain “free speech” on their campuses and threatened to withdraw federal funding from noncompliant institutions. Practical considerations aside – it’s not clear how this plan would be enacted – Trump’s message should trouble Stanford students because of the ways it mischaracterizes the state of free speech at schools like our own. These mischaracterizations feed into a narrative that has the potential to stifle, rather than protect, free speech on Stanford’s campus.
In an “emergency” Sunday morning meeting, the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Undergraduate Senate voted to reject the recommendations of an ASSU internal review on the Standard Grant process, citing “inconsistencies” in the internal review’s recommendations.
In its fourth and final meeting of the quarter, the Faculty Senate heard a panel addressing the nuances of free speech and academic freedom in the campus setting.
Answering The Boston Globe’s nationwide call, The Stanford Daily’s Editorial Board addresses the enduring importance of a free press.
Eliane Mitchell discussed how exposing students to diverse perspectives isn’t always a neutral action.
Stephanie Chen considers the Charles Murray Cardinal Conversations event, and considers the event and conflict surrounding it in the frame of considering alternative ideas.
A series of politically-charged posters placed on — and subsequently taken down from — the walls of Kimball Hall over the past few weeks have sparked debate surrounding free speech and community standards on campus.