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Three months to go
Keith stuffed his sleeping bag into the compression sack and put it in his desk drawer. Once upon a time he had used his sleeping bag to sleep outside. In tents. On camping trips. But those were hard to remember now. He hadn’t taken a day off in months. He pulled out a toothbrush and toothpaste from another drawer. The tube was almost empty. Hadn’t he just bought a new one? How many mornings had he woken up here?
Arjuna, another software engineer, still groggy, waved from two rows away. “Morning.” He had slept on the floor last night too? A lot of Chatter employees were sleeping at the office lately. The ones that were left anyway. Half the company quit when the countdown started.
In the bathroom, they both brushed their teeth and spit. “Feels like my college dorm days,” Keith said.
“Except for the countdown,” Arjuna said.
Keith frowned. “Yeah.” Working at Chatter had been fun when he started. Chatter was the social media company that was going to change the world. Solve problems with discourse. Bring the world together one post at a time. Now the mood was different.
“Ad revenue’s been dropping,” Arjuna said.
Like we said it would. But Keith didn’t say that aloud. The new owner of Chatter didn’t appreciate criticism. “Advertisers aren’t happy with the new content moderation policies.” Even that watered-down criticism would get Keith in trouble if someone overheard.
Arjuna only nodded. “We have to be profitable in three months.”
“Do you think he’ll actually do the layoffs? If we don’t make the countdown, I mean.”
“Let’s hope for the sake of my visa we’re profitable before then.” Arjuna gathered his toiletries and left.
Keith splashed water on his face. I’m an idiot. He should have remembered. If Keith lost his job he would look for a new one. Worst case, he would have to move into his parent’s basement to save some money.
If Arjuna lost his job, he would have sixty days to find a new company willing to sponsor his H1-B visa. Keith knew the number because he had heard it whispered around the office a lot lately. Most of the people still working at Chatter couldn’t leave easily for one reason or another. Why was he still here?
He went to throw away his paper towel and stopped. A copy of the now infamous email was on top of the garbage. Except this one was edited to add comments. Edited variations of the email had been floating around for weeks.
To: All Chatter
From: Lance Denton
(CEO) (Chief Executive Overlord and Modern Robber Baron)
Subject: The Countdown TO YOUR DOOM
I won’t lie to you UNLESS IT’S ABOUT HOW CLOSE WE ARE TO GETTING SPACE COLONIES. Our financial situation is serious. The company is deeply in debt BECAUSE I BORROWED A LOT OF MONEY FROM SOME DICTATORS. We have four months to become profitable or I will GET BORED AND have to lay off half the company. I COULD PAY YOUR SALARIES BY SELLING ONE OF MY YACHTS BUT I WON’T. HA HA.
It is imperative we move from advertising revenue to subscription revenue during this time BECAUSE I PISSED OFF ALL THE ADVERTISERS AND THEY DON’T WANT TO BE MY FRIENDS ANYMORE. The next few months will be
intense and exciting EXHAUSTING. If you want to be part of this new intense, exciting Chatter CULT crew MAKING ME RICH sign the pledge at the link below. You have until tomorrow at midnight to sign or you will be laid off with one month’s severance. Sincerely FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU,
Keith laughed and then looked at the door. He definitely couldn’t be seen laughing at this while at work. Then again, why fight for this job? He’d missed out on the severance, but he could still quit.
Was he staying for all his friends, like Arjuna, who needed this job more than he did? That’s what he had told himself when the countdown started. It was at least partly true. Was he staying because he didn’t know where else to go? Five years ago he’d started at Chatter fresh out of college. He had started this job confident he was doing some good, or at least not being evil. Now he wasn’t sure.
Or he might be staying for the pile of money just out of his reach. His stock options hadn’t vested yet. The stock had tanked since Denton’s takeover. When he finally could get his stock, he wanted it to be worth something. He’d spent five years working late nights watching activists organize democratic movements. He’d seen artists launch their careers with the right post, a post that his work had boosted. Now Denton was taking Keith’s work apart, piece by piece. At the very least, Keith should get paid.
Two and a half months to go
Keith woke up in his bed. That was novel these days. This was the first Saturday he hadn’t spent at the office in several weeks. Work could deal. Or fire him. At least he’d get some sleep then. He rolled out of bed and rubbed his eyes.
All of Saturday. To do whatever he wanted. What did he do when he wasn’t working? Hang out with his roommate. Take a walk. Play video games. Maybe drinks with Bruno. If Bruno was still talking to him. Since the car accident, they’d only exchanged a few short texts.
Keith found his roommate, Mark, in the kitchen.
“You want me to leave the cereal out?” Mark asked.
“Yeah, thanks.” Keith wasn’t used to making breakfast in his own kitchen.
Mark sat down at the counter on one of the black leather barstools he loved so much. It had been Mark’s one request when they became roommates. Your barstools are ugly, man. Can we get rid of them and use mine?
“How are things going at the new job?” Keith asked.
Mark laughed. “New? I started two months ago.”
“Right, sorry.” Keith really was trying. But it seemed like he was always too tired and stressed to know the right thing to say to anyone.
“I know you’ve been working crazy hours,” Mark said. “Don’t worry about it. The new job’s been good. Met some new friends with project cars.”
“I saw you were posting pictures of mods on the Civic. And some stuff from new people.” Keith had seen some of the offensive jokes Mark had reposted. Keith wasn’t offended. Not really. Mark’s sense of humor was best described as edgy. Keith was worried, though.
Jokes about your car being a slut because she had so many different kinds of parts in her were exactly what scared away advertisers. And if the subscription model didn’t take off, Chatter was going to be bankrupt.
Stop thinking about work. Today was supposed to be a break. “Wanna play some Halo today?” Keith asked.
“Wish I could.” Mark was already putting his bowl in the dishwasher. “A friend is letting us use his garage today. Indian is going to help me put a new exhaust on the Civic.”
Keith paused with his spoon halfway to his mouth. “Indian?”
“He’s from India. Don’t get all woke on me. He nicknamed himself that.”
“It’s not street legal until I fix the exhaust. Plus, the washer nozzles keep spraying water on the car roof every time I use them. The crew’s threatening to nickname my car wetback.”
Should Keith say anything about his friend casually using a racial slur like that? He reminded himself to chew and swallow.
Mark laughed at him. “We’re not in Silicon Valley, man. I know you work for a dot-com, but you don’t have to be so politically correct all the time.”
“Have fun,” Keith managed.
“We’re going out tonight before the races,” Mark said. “If you want to join us.”
“Oh, thanks. Already made plans for tonight,” Keith lied. He didn’t want to be accused of being too woke to hang out with Mark’s new friends.
Two months to go
“Engagement.” Lance Denton, the CEO of Chatter, stood in front of Keith’s team in the conference room. “We are losing on engagement!”
Guess it’s my turn to get yelled at, Keith thought. Everyone gets one at the new, improved Chatter.
“Do you see these comps?” Lance stabbed at the numbers projected on the wall. “MeOnTV keeps their users watching for an average of two hours a session. Our users are engaged for an average of one hour.”
Keith thought that one hour was plenty of time to stare at a social media site.
“We can’t sell subscriptions unless people want to stay longer.” Lance looked around the room. “Right? I’m not the only person that sees this.”
“You mean the site should be addictive.” Shit. Keith should have kept his mouth shut.
“Exactly!” Lance pointed at Keith. “He gets it.”
Arjuna and Darcy shifted in their seats. They were the only two people left on the content moderation team with Keith. Everyone else had quit or been fired. Darcy was ostensibly the director. But there were very few people left to direct, so she’d been pulling long days coding like everyone else.
“There’s less content to recommend now,” Darcy said. “That’s why engagement numbers are dropping.”
“Posts have increased 250 percent since I took over,” Lance said. “How can there be less for the recommendation algorithm to use?”
Lance Denton, self-proclaimed free speech advocate (unless it was criticism of him), was not going to like the answer. Someone on the team was going to have to tell him. Arjuna shouldn’t have to risk his job. Darcy was a single mother. Last night she had told her children they were having a campout at the office. Darcy had worked until 1:00 a.m. to get a feature out and then fallen asleep on the floor next to her children.
“Well?” Lance said.
Keith cleared his throat. “Well, there are two algorithms involved.”
“We have two recommendation algorithms?” Lance asked.
“There’s a recommendation algorithm and a moderation algorithm,” Keith said. “They work together to deliver the right content. Offensive content has increased since—” Don’t say since you took over. “Offensive content has increased over the past couple of months. Most of the new content is being flagged. We don’t recommend flagged content.”
“Why not?” Lance demanded.
“Because—” Keith was trying to summarize five years of experience in one sentence. Hadn’t Lance talked to anyone who worked here about why they had developed the moderation algorithms in the first place? Darcy was scowling and looked ready to yell at someone. Keith desperately wanted to think of something to say before Darcy got herself in trouble.
“Because of the Pulse Night Club shooting,” Darcy said.
Too late, Keith thought.
“The Tree of Life shooting,” Darcy continued. “The Unite the Right rally. The January 6 coup attempt. Because of Elliot Rodger. Have you not been fucking paying attention?”
“That’s just proof the moderation algorithms aren’t working,” Lance said. “Stuff gets through all the time anyway. If we let people fight these battles out online, there would be less political violence and fewer hate crimes.”
Darcy’s scowl became a full-on snarl. “I’m sorry, are you simultaneously arguing that the moderation algorithms aren’t working well enough and that they don’t work at all?”
Lance waved a hand in the air. “You know what, I see the problem now. We shouldn’t be using the moderation algorithm to screen recommended posts. We’re only recommending what people’s friends post anyway.”
Keith shook his head. “Actually, that’s not—”
“Kill the moderation algorithm,” Lance said. “That’s my decision.”
“You’re not listening.” Darcy slammed her chair back. She wasn’t tall, but she was imposing in her combat boots and cropped leather jacket. “We put these safeguards in place for a reason.”
Lance returned her glare. “We’re hemorrhaging money. We need to increase engagement. If it’s a mistake, we’ll roll the change back. We have to be flexible. Try new things.”
Fail fast and kill people, our new motto. Keith’s head was spinning. Darcy was only saying what they all knew was true. But she was close to getting fired for it.
“I’m not making the change,” Darcy said. “And if anyone else makes that change, I’m quitting.” As the director of the content moderation team, she was a semi-public figure. Her absence would be noted by the community. And the stock market.
“Your resignation is accepted. Effective immediately.” Lance turned away from Darcy to Arjuna. Keith knew what order Lance was about to give.
“I’ll do it,” Keith said. “I’ll make the change.”
“Seriously?” Darcy threw her hands in the air. “I’m done killing myself for this company.” She took her badge off and shoved her open laptop toward Lance. “If you’d like to see what your fans think free speech means, you can look through my inbox to see all the rape threats I got today.”
Keith ran after Darcy. He finally caught up with her at her desk.
“You know what you’re doing,” she said.
“I couldn’t let him . . . Arjuna would have been fired if he refused to kill the moderation algorithm. I volunteered so Arjuna doesn’t have to feel like he was forced to.”
“So it’s better for you to do something unethical voluntarily than for Arjuna to do it involuntarily?” Darcy asked.
The question made Keith’s head hurt. He was tired. Same as yesterday and the day before that. He’d been tired for weeks. “Maybe? I don’t know.”
“Keith.” Darcy took him by the shoulders. “I’ve been in meetings with this asshole for months now. Lance Denton doesn’t listen to anyone but himself. I know you don’t want to hear this, but you can’t save Arjuna’s job. You can’t save your stock options. Get out now before you do something you regret.”
He shook her hands off. “Are you going to be okay?”
Darcy smiled sadly. “Of course I am. Things might be rough for a while. And I’m probably going to have to sue this garbage company to get my last paycheck. But I’ve been through worse.” She packed the last of her things in a box. “You’ll survive if you quit, you know.”
Keith wasn’t sure. “Keep in touch, Darcy.”
“You too.” Darcy walked away toward the elevators.
“I’m trying to do the right thing,” Keith said quietly to Darcy’s retreating back. He knew she couldn’t hear him. He knew she didn’t agree.
One month to go
Keith was working a twelve hour Friday doing nothing. He needed to be at his desk to keep up appearances. The new intense, exciting work culture demanded his devotion. Chaotic would be a better description. Priorities changed hourly. People quit or were fired every day. Meetings regularly became yelling matches.
A normal day at the office, before all this, would have been Keith reviewing other people’s code changes and making a few of his own. But with half the company gone there weren’t many code changes to review. He didn’t even know what he was supposed to be coding because he didn’t know who his manager was.
His manager had changed three times already this week. On Monday and Tuesday, his manager had been Carl. On Wednesday, his manager had been Terrance. For thirty minutes. Until Terrance quit and his manager became Sara. She quit on Thursday.
Arjuna pulled up a chair next to him.
“The moderation algorithm is still in place,” Arjuna said. “You didn’t remove it.”
Keith’s conversation with Darcy had thrown him. What if he was responsible for the next hateful shooting rampage? “The moderation algorithm isn’t filtering recommended posts anymore. Like Lance wanted. I did what he asked.”
Arjuna still looked worried. “But the evidence is there. Evidence that we knew a post was dangerous and we still boosted it.”
“I know.” Keith hadn’t been able to make himself turn off the moderation algorithm completely. Maybe he wanted his guilt recorded for history in a git repo.
Arjuna pointed to a tab on Keith’s screen. The tab showed the moderation algorithm’s findings. Each post that was flagged had a reason. Racial slur. Holocaust denial. Hate group symbol. Implied violence. “This could get the company in trouble,” Arjuna said.
An idea floated into Keith’s head and began to formulate itself. “Yes, it could.”
“The company would blame you,” Arjuna said.
By ‘the company’ Arjuna meant Lance. Lance would blame Keith. “I know,” Keith said.
Arjuna glanced around the room. Every software engineer who still worked at Chatter was at their desk. But that was ten people now. And they were all several rows away with headphones on. “I have a new job,” Arjuna whispered. “Darcy helped me get a job where she got hired.”
Keith was relieved for both of them. He whispered too. “That’s great.” Keith’s idea looked even better now. “Does Darcy still have that archive project going?”
Three weeks to go
“I am the best Spartan generation!” Keith put down his controller to do his victory dance.
“We are the best Spartan generation,” Mark corrected. “Nice run. Glad you finally took a night off.”
Beer. Video games. Pizza. Hanging out with his roommate on a Saturday night. The kind of night that helped Keith recharge. The kind of night he hadn’t had in a while. Mark’s phone buzzed.
“Gotta do a thing quick,” Mark said. “Then we can play some more.” He dialed a number on his phone. “Eighty-eight pizzas. Yeah, for real.” He muted his phone while he laughed. When he had composed himself, he unmuted. “We’re having a big party. Eighty-eight pepperoni pizzas to this address.”
Eighty-eight? Keith knew that number from coding the moderation algorithm. White supremacists sometimes used it as a code for ‘Heil Hitler.’ Context was everything for the moderation algorithm. On its own, eighty-eight might mean nothing. But paired with other symbols or posted from an account with a history of Nazi symbols, it might qualify as hate speech.
Mark finished his call. “This is going to be great.”
Keith was afraid to ask. “What’s going to be great?”
“There’s this woman—this bitch—on Chatter that keeps reporting my friend’s posts for anti-Semitism. So he just ordered fourteen pizzas to her house. And I just ordered eighty-eight pizzas for her house.”
1488. A numeric hate symbol. Fourteen words for the “14 words” slogan and eighty-eight for ‘Heil Hitler.’
“You’re trolling her with a Nazi hate symbol,” Keith said. “Because your friend doesn’t want to be called a Nazi?”
Mark put down his controller. “It’s not like we sent the police to her house. Your CEO trolls like this all the time. Don’t lecture me.”
Keith didn’t know what to say.
“We’re the ones getting harassed,” Mark said. “Our posts get reported all the time. We’re not actually racist or anything. We’re just not politically correct. Maybe getting a bunch of pepperoni pizzas she can’t eat will get her to stop bothering us.”
“She’s a vegetarian?”
“No, she’s Jewish. They have all these weird food rules and one of them is not mixing meat with cheese.”
The more Keith learned the worse this prank sounded. Had his roommate just committed a minor hate crime? “You mean the food rules around being kosher. You know not every Jewish person keeps kosher, right?”
“Whatever, man. She needed to be taught a lesson.”
Keith took a step back from his roommate. As if he thought Mark was dangerous. Was Mark dangerous? “I think I’m going to turn in.”
“Oh, now you don’t want to hang out with me?”
Keith thought of the meeting with Lance and how Keith had caved. Had Keith’s cowardice exposed Mark to these ideas? “You sent a Jewish person a Nazi hate symbol.”
“Not because I meant it!”
“How would you feel if someone threatened to kill you ironically?”
Mark went for his coat. “I’m going out. To hang out with people who know what a joke looks like.”
Keith stared at the door Mark closed behind him. Even though Keith was alone, he could feel their argument hanging in the air. Like a live wire he might trip over. He could go to the office. The office he’d spent too many Saturday nights at already. What could Keith do to reach Mark? To make him see what kind of friends he’d actually found?
On the TV, their interrupted game mocked Keith. And gave him an idea. What if Mark could experience his social media feed like an environment? What if Mark could see the connections between what he was posting and the history?
Operation Archive had just expanded. Keith headed to the office.
Two weeks to go
Only a few days before Keith’s stock options would vest. The stock price hadn’t fallen as much as Keith had expected. If he could hang on, he would get a few thousand dollars. Keith knew he wouldn’t quit before then. He’d survived months of late nights and chaotic management. But Keith was worried he might get fired before Operation Archive was finished.
He’d been making nonsense code changes to hide what he’d been working on. Branches of code that would never get executed, but made him look busy. No one was looking, yet. If someone were to look at the functional code changes he made they would find the new metadata he had added to each post flagged by the moderation algorithm. A string of random characters that no one would think to decode. Until he committed professional suicide and posted the directions.
What he needed to finish today was Mark’s game. Keith carried his laptop from his desk to a small office where he could have some privacy. He ran his code and listened to the fan on his laptop spin. Graphics work was CPU intensive. Right now his code was building a 16-bit environment and populating it with characters.
He watched the door while he waited. What would he do if someone showed up? Wrestle with them to keep his laptop while he tried to type his final post? The table began to shake; Keith realized he was fidgeting. Minutes passed. He put in his earbuds and tried to focus on his favorite music. Three songs later, the code was finally done.
Keith took his earbuds out to listen for people in the hallway. No one yet. He didn’t want to test this at work, but he wasn’t allowed to bring his work laptop home anymore. When Lance took over, he had issued an edict that everyone had to do work from the office and only the office. Keith hovered his mouse over the game.
Do it. Now.
This game was Keith’s last attempt to reach his friend. Mark was moving out, Mark’s choice. But he might accept Keith’s gift.
Keith clicked on the game. He chose an avatar. His avatar started in the town square. Keith tested the keys for moving right, left, forward, and back. All good. An NPC dressed in a suit walked up to him.
“You’re here for the tour,” the NPC said in a text box. “Welcome to your town square!”
Dialogue options showed up on Keith’s screen. He chose, “What do you mean, my town square?”
“This is the environment you’ve built with your posts,” the NPC explained. “Would you like me to show you around?”
More dialogue options. Keith chose, “Sure, why not?”
“Just explore whatever is most interesting to you,” the NPC said. “I will give you helpful information along the way.”
Keith wasn’t ready to explore the shadowy side of the square. He walked to a cart advertising food instead.
“You are quite the foodie,” the NPC said. “At this cart, you can order many of your favorite foods and drinks.”
The menu included nachos and several kinds of beer. Mark used to brew his own beer in their apartment. Keith’s job was to organize the parties to share Mark’s handiwork. This was all before Mark had gotten into drag racing cars. Before Keith had started living at the office.
Move on. You’re not here for nachos.
Keith turned to the shadowy part of the map. The part he’d been avoiding. He approached a tall, wrought-iron gate. The territory beyond it was half apocalypse, half low-budget horror film. Keith wished he could perfect the graphics, but he didn’t have time. Two weeks from now he expected to either be laid off or fired. Rumors had been swirling around the office about this quarter’s revenue. The accountants couldn’t say anything, of course. But their mood wasn’t encouraging.
Open the gate. Keith clicked in the screen and the gate swung wide.
“I have to warn you,” the NPC said. “This section of your world contains some disturbing images and language. Do you want to proceed?”
Of course, everything here was something Mark had posted. But Keith would be releasing the tool out to everyone and felt a warning was justified.
“I would like to proceed,” Keith told the NPC.
Keith followed the wide path through the gate. Buildings lined one side of the path. On the other side was a field of graves. What difficult thing to test first, Keith wondered.
The easiest of the difficult things. Keith went to a café with chairs and tables outside.
“This is a vegan café owned by a chef whom you follow on Chatter,” the NPC said.
Posters covered the windows. The biggest poster read ‘QAnon’ in giant letters. Around it were smaller posters, each with an icon he could click. He chose the image of a puppet.
“This chef has accused numerous high-profile Jewish people of being puppeteers, including George Soros,” the NPC said. “There is a long history of anti-Semitic movements stoking fear by claiming Jewish people are secretly running the world.”
Next, Keith chose the image of a bunker.
“This chef supported and is followed by a Day X group in Germany,” the NPC said. “The Day X group killed ten people and planned violence against many other targets, including politicians. They were prepping a bunker with weapons and food for the day they believed that civilization would collapse.”
Keith forced himself to choose one more image, a picture of a syringe.
“This chef has propagated numerous false stories claiming COVID-19 vaccinations are dangerous or part of a mind-control plot from the government. Vaccine hesitancy contributed to thousands of preventable deaths.”
Keith didn’t have the appetite to trace any more of the poisonous threads leading out of QAnon.
Next, he moved to a concrete building. Inside was an office with two prison cells, like a sheriff’s station in a small town. The game had used Mark’s post to choose the prisoners.
A wiry man with deep-set eyes sat on a bunk in the first prison cell.
“This is David Lane,” the NPC said. “He was a founding member of the white supremacist terror group known as The Order. He was convicted of murder, among other crimes, and died in prison.”
Keith shuddered. He’d given David Lane the shadow of a skull over his face to show that David Lane was dead. Even pixelated, the effect was creepier than he expected.
“David Lane is known for creating the ‘14 words’ slogan still popular with white supremacists,” the NPC said. “You have several posts with 1488 in them. The 14 in 1488 refers to this slogan.”
“Thanks for the boost,” David Lane said. “I’m real proud of those words and especially how far they spread.”
The screen blurred out and came into focus in the graveyard. Keith was now standing in front of two tombstones.
“Vasudev Patel and Waqar Hasan were murdered in 2001 by a white supremacist inspired by David Lane,” the NPC said. “Many others have been inspired by his propaganda.”
The camera view shifted again and now rows and rows of tombstones stood in front of Keith.
“In 2019, a white supremacist killed fifty-one people with a rifle that had ‘14 words’ written on its side,” the NPC said. “Here in the graveyard you will find other deaths inspired by the slogans and images you have posted.”
Keith wandered the graveyard as long as he could stomach it. He had helped the white supremacists too. The recommendation algorithm only worked when it was balanced out by the moderation algorithm. The recommendation algorithm had always boosted the posts that generated the most emotion—positive or negative. The moderation algorithm partially corrected the tendency to amplify hateful messages. A yin and a yang. How did that quote go? Inside of me there are two dogs fighting . . .
He had let Lance intimidate him into taking the good dog out of the fight. Sure, he hadn’t posted any of the content himself. The algorithm had boosted posts with hateful images and slogans. But that didn’t absolve him.
The recommendation algorithm wasn’t a person or a natural phenomenon or a force of god. It was a tool he had built. A tool that reflected the frailties of its maker and the society around it. A tool he had set free without safeguards.
Darcy had told him to quit before he did something he regretted. It was already too late for that. But maybe the project he and Darcy were working on would be some absolution.
One week to go
“I can’t believe I’m doing this.” This would be the last time Keith sat at this desk.
“I know I was hard on you when I walked out,” Darcy said on other end of the call. “But this game you made, it’s brilliant.”
I’m going to get myself fired. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.
“He’s not saying anything.” Arjuna was also on the call. “I think he’s freaking out.”
“You can do this,” Darcy said. “Just remember the plan.”
In one window Keith had his resignation letter ready to send. In another he had his last post to Chatter. By his feet, he had a grocery bag with all the personal items from his desk.
“Everything’s set on your end?” Keith was stalling. He just needed . . . one more minute.
“I’ve been archiving every post the moderation algorithm flagged,” Darcy said. “Chatter can’t destroy the evidence even if they want to.”
“And with your game, anyone will be able to explore their universe,” Arjuna said. “We’re here to support you.”
Shit, shit, shit. Keith could do this. If he didn’t do this, he would have wasted all those sleepless nights. He hit enter on one window, then the other. He didn’t stop to read his last post until he was a block away from the office.
THREAD: This post will get me fired, and that will be a relief. Before Lance Denton took over, all posts flagged by our moderation algorithm were ignored by our recommendation algorithm. (1/5)
We never recommended a post that we knew contained hate speech. On Lance Denton’s order, I removed that safeguard. For the past few months, the recommendation algorithm has been boosting whatever posts are the most popular. (2/5)
Increasingly, the most popular posts are the most toxic. I am ashamed of my role in spreading hateful messages that have real world consequences. The moderation algorithm is now filtering recommending posts again, but probably not for long. (3/5)
My former director Darcy has been archiving all posts flagged by the moderation algorithm to track this unfortunate experiment. Her research will be published soon. (4/5)
For my part, I made a game where you can see the world your posts are building. Enjoy and learn from it. I certainly did. (5/5)
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