Hanlon again

Probably everybody can find an example from his own surroundings, but the one I will describe here is the one most appalling that I’ve encountered.

A few days ago a Facebook page Croatian History Portal (“Hrvatski povijesni portal”) – connected to the homonymous web page – went down. The reason for this was that the Facebook algorithm found that the published images of Hitler, Mussolinni, Ante Pavelić (the local variety of the former) and some others do not conform to the Facebook policy of “non-promoting hate-speech” or whatever they called it.

Give it a moment to let this sink in. A history page was taken down because it showed images of nazis and dictators.

I probably don’t have to explain that the purpose and the additional content of those entries was not uncritical praise, but quite the opposite: an objective overview of events and characters so that we can, oh, correct me if I’m wrong, but… learn something from history?

For the record, the decision was appealed and the appeal was rejected so as of today the Croatian History Portal Facebook page is gone, deleted from Facebook. (There will probably be a new one, but one has to wonder how much it makes sense, really.)

So, it seems the worst fears of doomsayers will not be fulfilled. The overall centralisation and informatisation of our media lives will not end up with full Thought Police and dictatorship aimed to control the flow of information. Rather, it will end with mindless algorithm supported by a intellectually deficient clerks who can’t see the difference between different contents. It’s ilke a version of Hanlon’s razor that says “Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity”. In this example, it is not the totalitarianism and conservative counter-evolution that we have to fear. Those you can fight, resist, hide from, evade and counterattack. However, the blunt force of stupidity is a natural force akin to entropy and when it gets supported by large systems things are bound to go down.

The only hope is that what is going to go down will actually be Facebook, in order to make room for something less solid and more adaptable to something as esoteric as human mind.

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