For Political Cartoonists, the Irony Was That Facebook Didn’t Recognize Irony

San Francisco – Since 2013, Matt Bourse has made a living as a left-leaning cartoonist on the Internet. His site, Nib, Plays cartoons from her and other contributors who routinely stop right-wing movements and are mired in conservative irony with political commentary.

One Cartoon Took aim in december Proud boys, A far-right extremist group. With a tongue firmly planted in the cheek, Mr. Bors titled it “Boys Will Boys” and featured a recruiter, where the new Proud Boys were trained to play the game “hardcore boys” and “yell at teenagers”. .

A few days later, Facebook sent a message to Mr Borus stating that it had removed “Boys Will Boys” from its Facebook page for “advocating violence” and was on probation for violating its content policies .

This was not the first time Facebook had dinged him. Last year, the company named former President Donald J. An ironic take of Trump’s pandemic response was another nib cartoon – briefly, the substance of which publicly supported the wearing of masks – to “spread misinformation” about coronaviruses. Instagram, which owns Facebook, to be shelved One of his sardonic antiviral cartoons in 2019, as the photo-sharing app stated, promoted violence.

Mr. Boers’ confrontation was the result of two opposing forces on Facebook. In recent years, the company has become more active prohibiting certain types of political speeches, clamping down on posts about fringe extremist groups and calls for violence. In January, Facebook stops Mr. Trump From posting completely on his site after provoking a mob attack on the US Capitol.

At the same time, misinformed researchers said, Facebook has had trouble identifying political content: satirical slippers and the most subtle. While satire and irony are common in everyday speech, the company’s artificial intelligence systems – and even its human intermediaries – may have difficulty distinguishing. This is because such discourses rely on nuances, implications, exaggeration and travesty to make a point.

This means Facebook has sometimes misunderstood the intentions of political cartoons, prompting takedowns. The company has acknowledged that some of the cartoons that appeared – including Mr. Bores – were accidentally removed and later reinstated.

“If social media companies are going to take the responsibility of instigating, conspiring and regulating abusive language in the end, they have to develop some literacy,” Mr. Borus, 37, said in an interview.

Emerson T., a resident fellow of the Atlantic Council studying digital platforms. Broking said that Facebook “does not have a good answer to the satire because a good answer does not exist.” He said that the satire reflects the limits of a content moderation policy and could mean that a social media company needs to become more handsome to identify that type of speech.

Many political cartoonists whose commentary Facebook had left were left-lien, an indication of how social networks have sometimes drawn liberal voices. Conservatives are the first Charged on facebook And Other internet platforms Only to suppress right-wing ideas.

In a statement, Facebook did not say if it was a problem to understand the satire. Instead, the company said it made room for satirical content – but only up to a point. Regarding hate groups and extremist content, the post said, only allowed if the posts explicitly condemn or neutrally discuss them, because the risk for real-world harm is otherwise too great.

Facebook’s struggle to moderate content on its main social networks, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, has been well documented. After Russians manipulated the stage Spreading inflammatory posts ahead of the 2016 presidential election, the company recruited thousands of third-party arbitrators to prevent a recurrence. It also developed sophisticated algorithms to sift through the content.

Facebook also created a process so that only verified shoppers could purchase political ads, and instituted policies against hate speech to limit posts containing anti-speech or white supremacist content.

Last year, Facebook said that it had stopped more than 2.2 million political ad submissions that have not yet been verified and targeted US users. It also cracked down on conspiracy groups QAnon and Proud Boys, removed vaccine misinformation, and displayed warnings on more than 150 million content seen in the United States that third-party fact checkers were debunked.

But the satire kept popping up as a blind spot. Mr Brooking said that in 2019 and 2020, Facebook often dealt with far-flung misinformation sites that used “satire”. for example, The Babylon Bee, A right-leaning site, sometimes Misinformation smuggling Under the guise of sarcasm.

“At one point, I suspect that Facebook got tired of this dance and adopted a more aggressive posture,” Mr. Broking said.

Researchers said that political cartoons that appeared in non-English speaking countries and also included social humor and irony specific to certain regions, were mistaken for Facebook.

This has led to the decline of many political cartoonists. One is Ed Hall in North Florida, Whose independent work Appears regularly in North American and European newspapers.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2019 that he will Bar two congress – Critics of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians – Visiting the country, Mr. Hall showed a cartoon Sign affixed with barbed wire In the German language, “Jews are not welcome here.” He added a line of text addressing Mr. Netanyahu: “Hey Bibi, did you forget anything?”

Mr. Hall stated that his intention was to draw an analogy between how Mr. Netanyahu was treating American representatives and Nazi Germany. Facebook took the cartoon down shortly after posting, saying it violated its standards on hate speech.

“If algorithms are making these decisions based on words that pop up on just one word, then it is not the catalyst for appropriate or measured decisions for proper speech,” Mr. Hall said.

Nationally syndicated political cartoonist Adam Zieglis was also caught in Facebook’s cross hairs for The Buffalo News.

After the Capitol storm in January, Mr. Zieglis placed a cartoon on Mr. Trump’s face, showing several of Mr. Trump’s “supporters” as piglets who wore piglets wearing MAGA hats and carried Confederate flags. Mr. Trump said the cartoon was a condemnation of how Mr. Trump fed violent speech and hate messages to his supporters.

Facebook removed the cartoon to promote violence. Mr. Zieglis speculated that a flag in the comic included the phrase “Hang Mike Pence”, which Trump’s supporters raised during the riot about the vice president. Another supporter, Piglet, performed a noose, an item that was also present at the event.

“Those of us who are speaking the truth with power are being caught in the trap with the intention of catching foul language,” Mr. Zieglis said.

For Mr. Bores, who lives in Ontario, the issue with Facebook exists. While his main source of income is Subscribed to nib And book sales on his personal site, he receives most of his traffic and new readers through Facebook and Instagram.

Takedowns that result in a “strike” against their Facebook page, may exacerbate it. If he strikes more, his page could be erased, something Mr. Bors said would cut his readership by 60 percent.

“Deleting someone from social media can end their career these days, so you need a process that incites violence to the satire of these violence groups.”

Mr. Bors said he had also heard from the Proud Boys. Recently a group of them organized their important cartoons on the messaging chat app Telegram to report to Facebook for violating the site’s community standards, he said.

“You just get up and find that you are in danger of being shut down because the white nationalists were triggered by your comic,” he said.

Mr Burr said Facebook sometimes recognized its flaws and corrected them. But, the prospects of eviction from the front and back have been disappointing and he questioned her work, he said.

“Sometimes I think about whether a joke is worth it, or if it’s going to ban us,” he said. “With that problem, where is the line on that type of thinking? How will it affect my work in the long run? “

Cad metz Contributed to reporting.

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