Tech Talk – Secret Algorithms, Data Protection and Surveillance Cities

May 7, 2021; Publisher: ; Format: ,


In this fortnight’s Tech Talk we review the US Senate hearings into social media algorithms, evaluate competing models for data protection and take a walk through Melbourne’s not-so-secret city.

Key points:

– Facebook Oversight Board’s ruling on Donald Trump’s suspension from the platform opens up a lot of different implications

– Facebook is being assailed from both sides of politics for very different reasons

– The Oversight Board is also toothless, Facebook ultimately doesn’t have to act on any of their recommendations

– Creating safe platform norms is an important way to moderate behavior, rather than trying to (post) moderate content in essentially harmful platforms

– Regulation hasn’t caught up with digital platforms – there are many rules for election advertising in other media for example, while there are almost none online

– We should further unpack “harm” online through product design – particularly when there is clear evidence of user issues through sustained product use

– Algorithmic opacity is an issue particularly for the largest companies – i.e. Google, whose algorithm essentially powers the commercial internet

– Surveillance in cities is not often thought about, and Digital Rights Watch hosted a tour of Melbourne city to help people become aware of this