Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are all facing moderation issues - here's how America's tech giants are struggling to police their massive platforms
- The Wall Street Journal published an investigation on Friday into Amazon's "struggle to police its site." The report found that Amazon is allowing thousands of "banned, unsafe, or mislabeled" items to be sold on its marketplace.
- YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter similarly struggle to moderate content, illustrating the larger issue of tech platforms swelling to a size where current guidelines for oversight are no longer adequate.
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Amazon sells hundreds of millions of items on its online marketplace. With such a massive quantity of products, the question becomes: How does the company regulate what's being sold?
The Wall Street Journal published an investigation on Friday into Amazon's "struggle to police its site." The Journal found over 4,000 items being sold on Amazon that the publication says were labeled deceptively, determined to be unsafe by federal agencies, or banned by federal regulators. Those items included: a children's toy xylophone with four times the lead allowed by the federal government, knockoff magnetic children's toys that can lead to internal damage if ingested, and a motorcycle helmet that was falsely listed as US Department of Transportation-certified.
"The challenge for Amazon is that what built the marketplace - it being so open and welcoming to new sellers - has also meant that today Amazon is really having a hard time enforcing many of its own rules, because it just physically cannot allocate enough human power to police many of these rules," Juozas Kaziukenas, an e-commerce analyst, told the Journal.
That issue is mirrored at tech giants like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. These enormous, open tech platforms have struggled to weed through reams of problematic content, from Facebook posts calling for the genocide of the Rohingya minority Muslim group in Myanmar to YouTube videos calling survivors of mass shootings at US schools "crisis actors."
Here are the issues tech giants like Amazon, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are facing, and how they're attempting to regulate their platforms.
Amazon was caught selling thousands of items that have been declared unsafe by federal agencies. In response, the company says it uses machine learning and natural language processing to monitor the items it sells.
YouTube, which has more than 1 billion users, has been criticized for not moving swiftly to take down homophobic content and videos denying the veracity of mass shootings at schools. The company has updated its hate speech policies and currently employs 10,000 human moderators.
Facebook has been criticized for failing to adequately moderate both hate speech and calls for genocide of the Rohingya minority Muslim group in Myanmar. And while the company employs human content moderators, that comes with its own set of issues.
Twitter has made policy changes to help curb abuse, but it still has a long-standing white supremacist problem.
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