The Pew Research Center has issued a new report which in part discusses use of artificial intelligence to help create safe zones for social media users. Titled “The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News Online,” the center states:
Many experts fear uncivil and manipulative behaviors on the internet will persist – and may get worse. This will lead to a splintering of social media into AI-patrolled and regulated ‘safe spaces’ separated from free-for-all zones. Some worry this will hurt the open exchange of ideas and compromise privacy
The Center, working with Elon University, also conducted a massive survey of technology, corporate and government experts to assess the manipulation of public opinion caused by hacking social media. They were asked to respond to this statement: “In the next decade, will public discourse online become more or less shaped by bad actors, harassment, trolls, and an overall tone of griping, distrust, and disgust?”
The report notes that anonymity, a key component of the early internet, “is an element that many in this canvassing attributed to enabling bad behavior and facilitating ‘uncivil discourse’ in shared online spaces.”
This especially has impacted journalism.
Michael Bugeja, author of Interpersonal Divide, was one of the first to call attention to this issue. In this ABC News report, he is quoted as stating, “If you want enlightened conversations on your site, people have to use their real names” because anonymity is troll camouflage
However, Bugeja is against the use of artificial intelligence to create “safe zones” on social media as that may curtail speech and First Amendment protections. “If we put that power in the digital hands of artificial intelligence,” he adds, “we will conform to what programmers believe is ‘safe,’ which opens up all manner of constitutional and philosophical questions.”
The answer is not a Troll Patrol but tempered use of social media (short term) combined education on First Amendment freedoms and media and technology literacy (long term).