Is Slashdot the Answer to Facebook’s Fake News Problem?

David Collier-Brown led the Sun Microsystems Canada team specializing in performance and capacity planning. He later becoming a consulting systems programmer and performance engineer, as well as an O’Reilly author (co-authoring the 2003 book Using Samba). He’s also davecb, Slashdot reader #6,526, and today submitted a story headlined “Slashdot is the answer to Facebook’s ‘fake news’ problem.”

“OK, not the whole answer, but I argue that /. is part of a defense in depth against the propagation of lies, sophistries and deliberate disinformation in discussion groups like ours and Facebook’s.”

There’s more details on his technical blog:
William Gibson once said The future is already here — It’s just not very evenly distributed.

That also applies to the solutions to problems, like that of finding out who’s telling the truth in widespread discussion. By Gibson’s dictum, we should expect to find different parts of the solution, but not together, and likely in all sorts of unexpected places. It’s up to us to find them all and compose them together…

With luck, machine learning (ML) can be trained to recognize minor variants of a banned article, and refer them to the staff to be sure that’s what is being recognized. Those can be treated the same way as the original posting. But how can we credibly detect the lies in time? The kind of team a site can afford are always going to be behind.

That is solved for a distantly related problem, one that is as as unexpectedly helpful as looking at policing stock trades. Slashdot.
The post describes Slashdot as “One of the older big discussion groups” that “from its inception in 1997 needed to deal with overenthusiastic commentators, flamers and trolls. In 2020, it’s still easy to ‘read at 4 or 5’, and see a measured, reasonable and informative discussion of a difficult subject.

“Or you could ‘read at -1’, and listen to the madmen and flamers that elsewhere would drown out the insightful comments.”

It’s an interesting read, and ultimately proposes solving Facbook’s “fake news” problem by empowering readers with moderation points, overseen by a staff of double-checking humans who then pass along their conclusions for execution by an automated system.

Is Slashdot the answer to Facebook’s fake news problem?

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