To keep Trump or not to?

And let's watch birds. (RC11)

Good morning. Today’s Right Click is more about social media than normal. Because, well, there’s more happening about social media than normal. Let’s get to it.

  • Facebook is passing its Trump ban decision to its personal Supreme Court

  • Twitter’s getting people to watch out for bad birds.

For Starters

  1. White House’s official website now has Dark Mode. So we can all agree Joe Biden’s government is off to a cool start! Plus, he also added support for Spanish (US’s second most common language), which Trump had removed because apparently, it was “a lot of work to do.”

    And there’s an easter egg too: If you go to the website’s HTML code, you’ll find a hiring message from the US Digital Service, the agency that made this site:

    “If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better”  

  2. Amazon wants to help Joe Biden reach his 100M vaccinations in 100 days goal. By administering vaccinations on its facilities and providing the tech and communication needed for distribution. But why? Amazon — and other Big Tech — didn’t get along with Trump, and looks like they want a better relationship with Biden.

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To keep Trump or not to?

Facebook banned Trump’s account in the first week of the new year because of all the violence he encouraged. And now Facebook has a big question to deal with: Should Trump’s banned FB account be restored?

And Facebook can’t decide it on it’s own. Because:

  • If it bans Trump permanently, some people will complain that FB, a private company, has so much unaccountable power on it’s hand.

  • If it bring Trump back, some people will complain Facebook’s doing it for the engagement and hence ad revenue Trump drives. Plus, Trump can again share misinformation and violence encouraging posts.

BUT Facebook has a special weapon to deal with this. And it’s called the Oversight Board.

Oversight what? Think of Oversight Board as Facebook’s personal Supreme Court. Facebook made it yester years for this very situaution — when something comes up that Facebook can’t decide on it’s own.

  • Obviously, that’s not how Facebook describes its Oversight Board. It calls the Board: “an independent board of experts and civic leaders” which takes final decisions on what should be removed from FB and what shouldn’t.

  • So if FB takes your post down from Facebook or Instagram — and they refuse to put it back — then you can appeal to this Board.

Here’s how this works: FB brought its decision — to ban Trump — to the Board for review. Now, 5 members will look at it and draft a written decision. This decision will be shown to all of the 20 members who will either pass it or make the 5 guys review it again. If passed, FB’s got a week to implement it.

But but but. This is the Board’s first big decision. And people are closely looking forward to how independant this Board is from FB. And some say either decision will make it look like it’s not independent:

  • If it keeps Trump banned: It’s just approving Facebook’s original decision.

  • If it restores Trump’s account: It’s doing what’s good for Facebook’s business (Trump drives engagement and buys ads on FB)

Bottomline: For the Board, this decision will define how analysts will look into its future decisions. For most poeple, it’s the answer to “Is the Board trustworthy?” But remember, the decision need not be binary — keep Trump or not — rather it can be keep Trump with limited reach or a review process for each post.

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Watch Bad Birds

When you allow poeple to say anything on the internet some of them say things that shouldn’t be said. Like stuff that’s violence encouraging, racist, abusive, fake etc. Social media platforms deal with this problem with content moderation.

Basically, when you report a FB post — or when a lot of poeple do so — it’s sent to a human moderator sitting behind a screen deciding if it should be taken down.

  • Life of those moderators are miserable. And sadly, FB can’t make an AI to do this dirty job anytime soon.

The result? mental illnesses and PTSD to many mods and a $52M fine to FB.

So Twitter is taking a different approach. Crowdsourcing moderation. Kinda like Wikipedia. And Twitter’s calling it Birdwatch.

How this works: When you report a tweet with Birdwatch, you write a short note telling why this tweet should be removed or what’s wrong in the tweet. When a lot of people do it, Twitter can display a warning label on the tweet or remove it.

For example: here’s a misinformation tweet

and here’s a helpful birdwatch note:

How to be a birdwatcher: Birdwatch is currently only available in the US. But it will be released broadly soon. Anyways, your account must have these things to watch the birds:

  • verified phone and email address

  • a trusted US phone carrier (to prevent accounts made by fake phone numbers

  • 2 factor authentication (so no one else is using one’s account)

  • no recent Twitter rule violation


What Else

🐦 Twitter bought Revue, which let’s writers write long-form newsletters. Kinda like Substack. The trend is Twitter’s buying a lot of creator tools like podcasts and video chat startups. Twitter says Revue will remain a standalone platform. It also made Revue’s Pro features free for all and it’s revenue share down to 5%.

🚶 Apple launches Time to Walk which is a audio show of sorts where “influential and interesting people” share their stories and memories while walking and thus (somehow) encouraging you to walk too. Only for Fitness+ subscribers. First 4 episodes include country music star Dolly Parton, NBA player Draymond Green, Musician Shawn Mendes, and Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba.

🗞 Facebooks News tab comes to UK where FB partnered with a host of media houses to curate and give news recommendations for users. Will FB be the top source for news?

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