Crowdsourcing Censorship

Fast Company reports that the Egyptian government is using crowdsourcing as a way to censor the web. This is hardly new. Wikipedia has defacto crowdsourcing censorship, and many websites use crowdsourcing to filter offensive content.

When you submit your photo to a social or dating site, the site does not have full time employees making sure your photo follows the site rules. Instead, your photo and others are collected and end up at a service like Amazon’s mechanical turk. Piece work online contractors earn a few cents checking batches of photos, and the same photo will be shown to multiple contractors to try and achieve accurate results.

The concept of crowdsourcing is older than the internet. Another term for it might be public interaction. For example, the Ontario Film Review Board has open rating sessions once a month, where members of the public propose and discuss a film’s rating. The board also considers communication received from the public, and ultimately answers to a democratically elected government. Anyone can contact the board or their elected representative, and request that something be censored.

Egypt has a long way to go to achieve democratic censorship, but crowdsourcing might be a step in the right direction.

By trc

Freelance writer, freelance editor, web consultant, and film studies scholar.

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