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Big, If True Series On Tech & The Pandemic

Commercial Content Moderation during the Pandemic

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Date and time
Friday, May 08, 2020

In this week’s episode of BIG, If True, our host Joan Donovan, PhD asks: should we trust our search engines? Have joint industry efforts – led by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn – to limit misinformation been successful? How are new content policies specific to COVID-19 being enforced? And if so, at what cost? As we clumsily shift our lives online, the cracks in the information infrastructure are bursting open. While there’s been an uptick in boosting trusted content by credible sources, like the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, there has simultaneously been sweeping purges of advertisements seeking to capitalize on the crisis and suspicious accounts, leaving us to wonder who’s heard and who’s harmed in the current infodemic. Amidst this sliding scale of uncertainty, we turn to leading voices in the field, UCLA professors Safiya Umoja Noble, PhD and Sarah T. Roberts, PhD and Washington Post Reporter, Elizabeth Dwoskin, who have been taking stock of how commercial content is being moderated during the pandemic. Registration for this event is required, details on how to join the webinar will be sent to registered participants before the event. Register [here.](http://https://forms.shorensteincenter.org/view.php?id=128809) Image courtesy of Pixabay

Donovan leads the field in examining internet and technology studies, online extremism, disinformation and media manipulation. Donovan received her Ph.D in Philosophy from UC San Diego and is currently assistant Professor of Journalism & Emerging Media Studies at Boston University and founder of The Critical Internet Studies Institute, a non-profit that advocates for a public interest internet. Her latest book is MEME WARS: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America, with Emily Dreyfuss and Brian Friedberg.
Safiya Umoja Noble is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the Department of Information Studies and serves as the Co-Director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry. She is the author of a best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in search engines titled: Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism.
Sarah T. Roberts serves as an Assistant Professor of Information Studies at UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies. Roberts is a leading authority on “commercial content moderation”, the term she coined to describe the work of those responsible for making sure the photos, videos and stories posted to commercial websites fit within legal, ethical and the site’s own guidelines and standards. Her book, Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media, was released on Yale University Press in 2019.
Elizabeth Dwoskin, a Silicon Valley correspondent at The Washington Post, covers the rise of data mining, machine learning and AI throughout the tech industry and in the economy at large. Dwoskin’s recent articles – from smartphone apps that map infection pathways to new trends in consumer habits that give way to greater market monopolization – offer readers around the world fresh insight on what’s at play amid the coronavirus pandemic.