BOB GARFIELD: This is On the Media. I’m Bob Garfield.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I’m Brooke Gladstone. Now, we’re heading into Twitch’s lesser precinct, not esports but IRL in real life. And I start with a conversation with a friend down the hall.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So, Jad Abumrad of Radiolab.
JAD ABUMRAD: Yes.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: How much do you interact with people on the digital platform -- Facebook, Twitter, comments, any of that, how much?
JAD ABUMRAD: As little as I can manage.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: How come?
JAD ABUMRAD: I bumped up against my own personality, which is I'm a deep introvert, so I did do a lot of social media stuff and then I kinda got overloaded and I’m, I’m taking a break.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: How would you feel if your success were measured by how many people were watching you working?
JAD ABUMRAD: That is my personal definition of hell, [LAUGHS] frankly.
I hate it when people look over my shoulder when I’m trying to -BROOKE GLADSTONE: Mm-hmm.
JAD ABUMRAD: -- sort out an edit or figure out the right turn of phrase.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And not just look over your shoulder but speak loudly.
JAD ABUMRAD: Ugh, that’s just a nightmare to me.
That’s -- ‘cause I already have all those voices in my head.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Yeah.
JAD ABUMRAD: And I need to shush them in order to actually work, so to have them in my head and out of my head, that seems -- too hard?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: What if this relationship with the chat was as intense as a romance or as roiling as a romance gone bad?
JAD ABUMRAD: You don’t mean in a sexual way, do you?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: I mean as emotionally intense.
JAD ABUMRAD: Wow.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And in order for you to be successful, you have to return a little bit of that but you didn't know, necessarily, who any of these people were and they were both as kind as a person can be and as mean.
JAD ABUMRAD: Well, I’m just trying to imagine that. What are you thinking about when you ask that question?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: I’m thinking about Twitch.
JAD ABUMRAD: Huh! It’s interesting, I mean, you’ve answered a question for me, actually. I stumbled onto Twitch, I’d say, a year, maybe two years ago, at this point. I took a break from Radiolab.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Mm-hmm.
JAD ABUMRAD: I was super-burnt out.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Mm-hmm.
JAD ABUMRAD: And I just basically sat in my room for -- four months.
[MUSIC UP & UNDER]
I was trying to figure out some technical thing about a music project I was working on. At some point, I ended up on YouTube, looking at a screen recording [SOUND EFFECTS] from a guy named Deadmau5 who’s a kind of cheesy, like, EDM techno producer but very successful.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Electronic dance music.
JAD ABUMRAD: Yes, and he used a particular program that I was trying to learn and so, for some reason, I ended up sitting in front of a recording of the screen and watching him work. It's unedited and so you're watching someone sort of click, click, edit, edit, move a sound, move it back, stretch it -- no, it didn’t work, throw it away, open up a new session. At some point, he just stopped and went to the bathroom for 10 minutes.
And you’re just looking at an empty screen.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And you -- stayed.
JAD ABUMRAD: I stayed, for some reason, and it was, like, I found it mesmerizing because you were watching someone think, you know? Like, usually what, what you experience on the other end of any media is some sort of edited prepackaged mediated thing, and it was deeply meditative. It, like, it, it, it adjusted time in a certain way. And so, I watched this whole thing and then I’d call up the next one and I called up the next one and there’s, like, hours and hours of Deadmau5 doing this. Sometimes you can see, like, a little thumbnail video of the camera looking at him and I would stare at that and be, like, oh, what is that gear next to him? And, and then there was -- so you just answered for me the question. There was this chat stream happening in one corner of the screen.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And this was on YouTube.
JAD ABUMRAD: And I wasn’t really sure who these people are that were chatting but, apparently, I was a time-delayed member of a large community who was watching him. This is so weird. We’re all watching this guy work. It’s almost as intimate as sex. I mean, it’s funny, I don’t even like the music but the process was so fascinating. And I started going through his discography and then going back to these Twitch screen captures, where you could see him making those songs.
[MUSIC UP & UNDER]
He’s playing around and then some mistake will happen that will generate an idea and you can see him latch onto it and then he starts building it out. And then you fast-forward 25 minutes in the video and you’re like, oh my God, there's the beat. Ooh, and he just found the baseline. It’s super addictive. I spent, I would say, in total a week watching nothing but this guy.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Mm-hmm.
JAD ABUMRAD: He’s a complete ___hole. And I still find the whole thing a little mystifying but I think back to that and that there’s something deeply comfortable about it.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: When my kids were little, we had a VCR and we played them tapes sometimes, you know, the "neglect-o-matic."
JAD ABUMRAD: Mm-hmm.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And one day it didn’t work and we opened up the drawer and they had stuck their lunch in there, which was broccoli and chicken, because they thought it would come on TV.
JAD ABUMRAD: Just stepping out, out of the conversation --
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Mm-hmm.
JAD ABUMRAD: -- I, I think that your kids putting their sandwiches into the TV --
-- is a good ending because what it suggests is that there's a -- it's a primal desire we have. We want to keep -- we want to interact and we want to manipulate the people on the screen. And somehow now, here we are.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: We understand what the screen is supposed to be.
JAD ABUMRAD: Mm-hmm. [AFFIRMATIVE]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: But we seem to be getting closer and closer to what my kids thought it was. You can talk to the guy on the screen. You can ensure that that guy on the screen gets a meal -- or not.
JAD ABUMRAD: Yeah, yeah.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: I tell Jad about VP Gloves who crossed the country for a job offered by a guy named Joe and found himself dumped at a McDonald's in San Luis Obispo. He was already streaming but now he was homeless. He tapped his viewers to help cover the cost of a cheap room and a meal.
JAD ABUMRAD: So this guy was homeless and he was streaming his, his own homeless life?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Yes!
JAD ABUMRAD: And then people started giving him money?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Right.
JAD ABUMRAD: How did this guy get an audience, to begin with? Is he a super charismatic, funny type of person or --
BROOKE GLADSTONE: He’s shy, low key. He -- is nice.
JAD ABUMRAD: Wow.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: There seems to be no pretense to him and also very little resistance to the influence of the people who watch him.
JAD ABUMRAD: Hmm, so the people who watch him will say, hey, take a left and he’ll just take a left kind of thing?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Sure.
JAD ABUMRAD: Wow. There’s something kind of beautiful and kind of creepy about that, you know?
MAN: You want to come to, like, a little, a little show going on?
MAN: So we go boys? Follow him or not? Follow him?
MAN: Follow, follow.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Are you ready to hear VP Gloves?
JAD ABUMRAD: I am, yeah.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS] We managed to get Gloves and Weezer, who moderates Gloves’ chat, and Gloves’ girlfriend Neeley into a studio. We were recording, he was streaming and I could watch the chat, weighing in.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: You’re not nervous, are you?
ALEX “VP GLOVES” WAGNER: A little bit.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS] Just introduce yourself. Who are you? How old are you? Where are you from?
VP GLOVES: Okay. I’m VP Gloves from Twitch.tv. I'm 38.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: You don't want to use your real name?
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: Alex.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Now, Alex, Gloves, produces heaps of streaming content practically every waking moment and sometimes draws a couple of thousand viewers, some of whom contribute regularly to support his life on the edge. And they’ve been doing it since March.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: Like, every day I just seemed to be able to raise the money to stay indoors and eat. It just seemed like it was doable. You know, it was like long hours and whatever but it was working out. So it felt good. It felt safe, in a way, like, these guys kept me safe.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Why do you think people watch you?
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: Uh, some people like to just see me talk to them, just kind of hang out. Other people really like me to be out and about and interacting with other people. That’s what they like. Other people like the story. Like, probably most of them only tune in when there’s a level of drama, like, when my life's at a really unstable point and, like, am I gonna make the hotel goal for the day or how am I gonna eat? What’s gonna happen with Joe or with whoever?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Joe is the guy with the job that never materialized. He’s a dark character in the saga. And he dated Gloves’ erstwhile best friend Amanda. Viewers play in Gloves’ story like it was a sandbox. Some pay for shelter, others, just for fun, call the cops on him.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: Someone once put it, I think it was Janice said it was like playing Homeless Guy Simulator.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS] How does that feel?
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: It feels, it feels fine, I guess. I’m, I’m okay with it. I mean, it’s a great improvement on my situation before.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So how did you get Weezer in your life?
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: He was a troll at first. I was staying at the homestead in San Luis Obispo and someone in the stream had doxed my location, calling the hotel and just harassing me and then basically extorted me into making Weezer a mod.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: How did they extort this confession from you to add a moderator?
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: Because he knew my hotel and, and the room and stuff so, like, they, they just put the pressure on me. Like, it’s happened to me before and it’s, like, so embarrassing, to go down the next day and, and have the front desk asking, like, who was calling, like, that guy was so rude. Like, I couldn’t handle that, so I just did whatever they said. BROOKE GLADSTONE: And the idea was to pick any random viewer.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: The random stranger on the phone chose them.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Ah.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: We don’t know who it was, called me and said mod Weezinator.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And --
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: It definitely wasn’t me. [LAUGHS]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS]
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: It wasn’t.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: We’re hearing from Weezinator right now. Tell me about how you became interested in VP Gloves’ channel?
WEEZER: My friends and I usually watch gaming streams. We were just scrolling through and he just seemed interesting at the time. I think he was promoting his flat-earth theory.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: I believe the earth is sort of like a cone, okay? And underneath is a giant tortoise.
WEEZER: He also said he was not sure where he was gonna stay for the next night, so he was raising a funding goal on there. So my trolling was he was 50 bucks short or something for his stay for the weekend.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Aha.
WEEZER: And so we donated 50 bucks to him and he would write “the earth is round” on his forehead. [LAUGHS]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Aha.
WEEZER: And that’s what he did.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So, here's the interesting twist. You decided to invite Alex to come and live with you and your wife at your home in Riverside, and he has.
WEEZER: [LAUGHS] We had watched him for at least 15 hours plus a day for over a month. So I work on the computer from home most of the time, so I would have his stream running on, like, a second monitor. It was just really intriguing to see what was going to happen with him, as well as his back story of Joe and his friend Amanda. He would kind of promote, like, what’s gonna happen next. If something would happen, I could go there and interact with the chat and talk to people about it.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: You were essentially inviting someone you'd never actually met into your home for an indefinite period.
WEEZER: We didn't necessarily feel like we didn't know him because we had been watching him for, at that point, maybe two months now a large portion of the day and we wanted to help him out.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: There seems to be a fair amount of skepticism that I'm seeing on the feed here, things about a Porsche and never sleeping outside, an emoji that’s --
-- represents a resident dreamer or something. I mean, I know that I'm out of my depth. There’s a lot going on.
WEEZER: Yeah, there is a lot going on in chat, and through the course of, of meeting him I've realized that chat is its own beast. At the end of the day, though, I genuinely believe if we met them in real life, the majority of them would be the nicest people there is. And, and I believe that because we have met other people from the chat. Their identity has been released to the chat room and when that happens and when you're being your real self, then you are nicer. And a lot of the people in the chat play this role of a, of a troll and they talk a lot of crap to each other. I guess I'm somewhat the same way. When I'm just in chat, I start yelling at people in the chat because it's fun and entertaining. But then, you know, if you met me in real life I’m actually fairly calm and, and nice and, you know, I wouldn't hate on anybody. But the community inside the chat room when you're not face-to-face with somebody is very different.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So what do you do as a moderator? Do you block people?
WEEZER: It’s very rare that you let people just kind of go off and say whatever they want and do whatever they want in the chat, and that’s what a moderator is for. In Alex’s case, his chat and his community kind of feeds off of the craziness that's happening and a lot of it is borderline not acceptable but because of the drama and situation that he's in, those are the type of people that like to stick around, so you kinda let it be a little bit less strict.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Hi, Neeley. I see you sitting right next to him there.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: How did you guys meet?
NEELEY: He was out streaming one night in downtown Riverside and a couple of friends of mine had dragged me out to one of the bars and we were watching him walk around with a camera and a giant rainbow-colored hula hoop. And then he kept kind of walking back and forth in front of us and I started yelling at him about the hula hoop. And he came over, and so I basically left my friends and wandered off with the stranger down the street.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Jad was fascinated by Neeley's entry into the story because it was engineered by the chat, which had saddled Gloves with the hula hoop and the directive to catch a woman’s eye.
JAD ABUMRAD: Someone told him to do a hula hoop public display of humiliation --
-- that ended up getting him --
BROOKE GLADSTONE: The girl.
JAD ABUMRAD: -- to meet somebody.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Yeah.
JAD ABUMRAD: Oh, that’s so complicated.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS]
JAD ABUMRAD: That’s so complicated.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Actually, it was chat that asked her out. He was instructed to hand her his phone.
JAD ABUMRAD: Oh, my God.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And she could see the chat saying, go out with him, go out with him.
JAD ABUMRAD: Wow, it’s like in every moment it's like kind of sweet and kind of abusive. It’s, like, go do this humiliating thing and go out with him. Very -- it’s like kind of hard to parse, you know?
NEELEY: Yeah, we walked down the street with the hoop, found a place that would let him in with an expired ID and we sat there and we talked with chat.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: What did chat say?
NEELEY: Ah, oh jeez, telling him to kiss me.
CHAT: Hey, out of money, give the guy a kiss, I got to go to bed.
NEELEY: For real? This was not how I’m going to first kiss Gloves.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: Sorry about that.
NEELEY: You’re sorry about it until it works, though, right?
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: No, that’s not what this is about.
NEELEY: Like, exactly.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: It’s just they want the payoff so bad, but like I’m just -- this is nice, this is fine. Trust me, that’s not what I’m -- you get it.
NEELEY: I believe you. You’re a homeless hipster that takes your gigantic hula hoop for walks at nighttime.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: They, they made me do that. Like, I just do what these guys tell me to do, pretty much.
NEELEY: So you’re a cuck for these guys on the internet.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: Yes.
NEELEY: All right.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: I mean, as you heard at first, they really liked her and really liked kind of having her around, and then some people just didn’t like her anymore, and so they were trying to bribe me to, to break up with her, basically. The level of control was going, you know, up another level.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Some people probably think that they own the relationship because they --
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: Yeah.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: -- got it going.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: I think that’s exactly how they feel. It’s a weird position to be in because, obviously, I do feel like a weird obligation or whatever.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Why? I mean, how much of your life is yours?
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: It doesn’t seem like a lot because, you know, they really s -- they saved me. So, but yeah, it’s, yeah.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: I mean, if you assert yourself, do you think you’ll lose that support?
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: It’s definitely possible that I would lose that support, definitely.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: I am going to say “Janice Joplin” so that that person will give you $20.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: Thank you.
NEELEY: So after some of the people in chat started turning on me, they were saying I was making the stream boring, other stuff, I went back over old videos and it looks to me like things come in waves where, you know, they're really encouraging but then you get a few people that will come in and sort of dominate, not be happy with the content that he's making.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: So things can’t go too good for me, like, I can’t be too happy or else it gets boring. They’re got to take that away.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Probably people have offered you work, I'm guessing.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: There are, are people that say they want to hire you and stuff but it’s always been, like, a weird elaborate trolling attempt to, like, get a lot of attention. They don't see a stream broadcasting as a job and they think it's easy and they don't like the idea of you making money doing this. But yet, they still watch, which is weird.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: A lot of people were very supportive when his situation was more dire and he was in need of just the basics. He was just literally alone on the street. The people that followed him then aren't willing to give up that story. He’s a real human being and wants real friends and wants a real life and sometimes the chat does feel like they own it because they have donated and supported him for so long.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So [LAUGHS] Alex, what if you didn't need the financial support anymore, would you still need the community support? Would you still need the chat?
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: Yeah, I think there is something that I’m chasing on here, some kind of experience or some kind of, like, connection with the, the audience. Yeah, it’s not just money. There’s something else. I feel like a real closeness with them. It’s like you feel cared about. It’s hard, I don’t know. There’s just something, yeah, there’s some kind of like a magic.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Well, thank you, all three of you. It’s really helped me understand this, so much appreciated.
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: Thank you, you’re welcome. I mean, thank, thank you. [?]
[MUSIC UP & UNDER]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: There’s a magic. He said he felt cared for. But nothing comes for free. As Weezer said, often we’re not as good when we’re anonymous. Twitch offers one new thing, the power of the chat to be heard in real time. The next advance will be when every member of the chat can be seen in real time. Every new entertainment exposes a little more of who we are as a species. If we could see ourselves in action, who knows who we could be. Twitch, do you feel me?
ALEX “VP GLOVES”: I have everything. I got the guys, on one hand, I got Neeley in the other. It’s, like, I have everything, snuggling with both of you, all snuggling together in the bed. Don’t you just feel it, all of us together? I mean, I’m going to bring you guys closer, for extra snuggliness.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: One more story before we go, not about Twitch but about our dominant connection platform, ever in the news and in our personal data. I’m talking about Facebook, a short preview of a fascinating new report from Radiolab’s Simon Adler.
SIMON ADLER: Down the hall from you folks here at OTM.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: You betcha! We see you running around like fire ants on bits of carrion.
SIMON ADLER: Yes, that is I.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Begin by telling me about the project which dovetails so beautifully with our general bailiwick.
SIMON ADLER: The episode actually came out this past Thursday. Whether you know it or not, for the past 10 years Facebook has been writing a hyper-detailed rulebook of what you can and can't say or see on Facebook. And, at this point, they are enforcing this rulebook on all 2.2 billion of us users. [LAUGHS]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS] And what drew you to the story?
SIMON ADLER: Sort of a tension here that drew me to this was trying to understand how you take something as abstract and lofty as the First Amendment and the American free speech tradition and how do you boil that down into what essentially has become a series of “if-then” statements.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Mm, as in?
SIMON ADLER: If there is a nipple or areola present in a photograph, it constitutes a naked breast and so, therefore, because Facebook does not allow for nudity, that photo has to come down, unless there is a baby present in the photo that appears to be a toddler or younger and has recently finished breast feeding, is in the act of breast feeding or is just about to breast feed.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS] I think I see the problem.
SIMON ADLER: One of the most controversial and fascinating examples was back in 2017 The Guardian leaked a, a training document about these guidelines. Essentially, it was a set of PowerPoint slides and on one of the slides they state clearly, Facebook will protect white men from hate speech but it will not protect black children from hate speech.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Ooh, yes, this is from your episode. You were talking to Jad and Robert about this. And it kind of boils down, in the end, to modifiers, parts of speech.
SIMON ADLER: This is Monika Bicker, Facebook’s head of policy. MONIKA BICKER: So traditionally, we allowed speech once there was some other word in it that made it about something other than a protected characteristic.
SIMON ADLER: In Facebook jargon, these are referred to as a non-protected modifier.
JAD ABUMRAD: I just need to lie down when I hear that.
ROBERT KRULWICH: That means literally nothing to me.
ROBERT KRULWICH: Give us an example of this.
SIMON ADLER: Sure.
MONIKA BICKER: So traditionally, if you said, I don't like this religion’s cabdrivers.
SIMON ADLER: Cabdriver would be the non-protected modifier because employment is not a protected category.
ROBERT KRULWICH: Right.
SIMON ADLER: And here’s where things get a little wonky. So the rule, the rule stated that, that when you add this non-protected modifier to the protected category, in this case, the cabdriver’s religion --
MONIKA BICKER: We would allow it because we can't assume that you're hating this person because of his religion. You actually just may not like cabdrivers.
JAD ABUMRAD: So in the case of black children, children is modifying the protected category of black.
SIMON ADLER: Mm-hmm. [AFFIRMATIVE]
JAD ABUMRAD: And so, children trumps black?
SIMON ADLER: Age is a non-protected category.
JAD ABUMRAD: Okay.
SIMON ADLER: And so, children becomes a non-protected modifier. And their, their, their child-ness trumps their blackness.
You can say whatever you want about black children, whereas white men, you’ve got race and gender, both protected, so you can’t attack that.
JAD ABUMRAD: That’s just a bizarre rule.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Yeah, I’ll say. It’s [LAUGHS] -- you know, I guess you can’t attack black men either or white women or black women.
SIMON ADLER: Well, yeah, so I was talking to some of the folks involved in writing these rules. The thought was, okay, do we want to make age a protected class? And they decided no because then essentially, among other things, you wouldn't be able to make fun of a toddler on Facebook. If a toddler is doing something stupid and you say, God, he’s -- isn’t he a stupid little toddler, that would effectively be hate speech by that rule and, therefore, no one could write that. And they didn't want to do that.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is why you can’t use an algorithm. Ultimately, you need someone with an eye on that.
SIMON ADLER: Back in 2008, when this rulebook started being written, there were 12 people in Menlo Park doing this work.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS]
SIMON ADLER: Fast forward 10 years, we’re now looking at somewhere around 16,000 people doing that work.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: We spoke to Adrian Chen about four years
SIMON ADLER: Mm-hmm, yeah.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: -- about the unseen world of moderators and, apparently, there was an attempt to employ a lot of people in India but culturally they were further away from the US than people in the Philippines.
SIMON ADLER: Hyderabad was the first place Facebook decided to start offshoring their content moderation. These were still Facebook employees, mind you, so it wasn’t being outsourced but they were building an office in Hyderabad and they were gonna send a lot of the nudity, images flagged as being nude, to these folks in Hyderabad. So they put ‘em through the two-week training period and they give them the rule that they’re judging against, and it says things like, no male or female genitalia, no breasts, no butt cracks. And then they left this release valve in the rule at that point -- this was in 2010 -- saying, and take down anything else that is sexually explicit.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Mm.
SIMON ADLER: And what they found within moments of these folks going live --
-- was you had these moderators in India who were taking down pictures of people kissing on their wedding day --
-- because this definition of “sexually explicit” was so culturally bound. And so, essentially, the story of the development of these rules is them cranking the screws down on these tighter and tighter definitions, so that culture and moderator judgment is not allowed into the equation at all.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is a project, I imagine, that can never end. Is there any point where this is actually going to work?
SIMON ADLER: I know everyone wants to hate Facebook. They’re not great but, like, this is an intractable problem that they have to try to solve but they never knew that they were creating. And I walk away from this reporting feeling that they will inevitably fail but they have to try and we should all be rooting for them because the alternative is you just have more situations like that in Sri Lanka or Myanmar where they, where they are goofing up and people are dying as a result of it.
[MUSIC UP & UNDER]
BOB GARFIELD: To hear Simon Adler’s full story, which is called “Post No Evil,” head over to radiolab.org or the podcast app of your choice.
That's it for this week’s show. Producer Micah Loewinger did the heavy lifting on this one. One the Media is produced by Alana Casanova-Burgess, Leah Feder and Jon Hanrahan. We had more help from Asthaa Chaturvedi and our show was edited -- by Brooke. Our technical director is Jennifer Munson. Our engineer this week was Sam Bair.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Katya Rogers is our executive producer. Jim Schachter is WNYC’s vice-president for news. On the Media is a production of WNYC Studios. I’m Brooke Gladstone.
BOB GARFIELD: And I’m Bob Garfield.
* [FUNDING CREDITS] *