'Cancel Culture' And The Parameters Of Free Speech on LeoFinance - Is Something Amiss Or Am I Missing Something?

in LeoFinance4 months ago (edited)

A couple of days ago I came upon a discussion thread in the comments section of a post on Leofinance which made me pause for considerable thought. I will summarise the exchanges below and link to the original. This post is pitched at a general level and I am therefore avoiding naming the active participants as the issues I am raising here are not about individual personalities. They are to do with the undefined 'parameters' of what is 'allowed' to be said on LeoFinance. I'm not calling for 'action', 'change' etc. I just wish to raise 'awareness' about these concerns.

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The core issue is a version of the 'Cancel Culture' that is to be seen on much of the mainstream media and the big social media platforms. Basically, someone perceives transgression/offence in the actions/words of another, experiences a strong negative reaction and seeks to publicly punish/harm/ostracise the offender. When the initial action is picked up by others in the space, the offender is effectively 'cancelled' - removed, silenced.

This phenomenon clearly has a highly subjective component and is therefore widely open to interpretation and potentially, manipulation. There are instances where a group may not wish certain subjects to be discussed, or where certain things are seen as instantly offensive - and are so to some/many - and people get banned. There are also instances where loaded labels of the sort that lead to bans are thrown around and it is not clear how they apply to what is being said. No explanation or evidence is offered and the 'offence' is not self-evident. This amounts to an effective 'hit and run', relying on the label to be effective on its own at triggering similar feelings in others and getting them to join in the 'cancellation' of the 'offender'. It is this second case that my example refers to.

Summary Of 'Cancel' Discussion Example:

A user commented with the following meme on a post by Khal. You can read the entire exchange in the comment section here.

meme1.jpg

In response, someone from the LeoFinance community commented that this was 'anti-semitic claptrap' and downvoted it. Additionally, the OP and an associated BIG account downvoted the user such that the account reputation reached near 0. You can read this person's perspective here.

A second person then commented in support of the meme not being anti-semitic and they in turn posted a meme that refers to the weaponisation of the term 'anti-semitic', but is not itself anti-semitic in any way that I can see. The meme, IMO, illustrates the point this person was making about how the label 'anti-semitic' has often been used to silence questioning or challenging of powerful vested interests and how these same dynamics were being employed here.

meme2.jpg

Back came the Objector to these memes with another label of 'anti-semitic' directed at the second person (whose perspective on the matter you can read here). On top of that, the Objector went on to suggest that this second person go on to create a "community of anti-semites on Hive". To me this 'suggestion' appeared to be a crass and baseless attack which assumed a narrative that could not possibly be derived from the interaction without resorting to distortion.

Basically, it seems to me that a fantasy was created around a knee-jerk reaction
which lead to a wrongful misapplication of a loaded and sensationalist label: 'anti-semitic'.

In the instance of the first meme, the only reference that can be construed as 'Jewish' is the name 'Rothschild'. However, the content of the meme has nothing whatsoever to do with this particular aspect of the man, nor does it ever mention his race/religion/ethnicity. To infer such a bias from this starting point is surely to take a leap into a kind of paranoid fantasy.

In the second meme the words 'anti-semitic' appear as spoken by Jesus, himself a Jew. As far as I can see, there is nothing offensive going on here. The 'dual-citizenship', even if it does refer to 'Israeli-US' duality and thus hints at the influence that Israel has on the US political system, well even if so, is this really saying something offensive about people of the Jewish faith? Is it not a fact that Israel has tremendous influence in the US? Where's the anti-semitism here folks?

In my comment on the post I invited the person who objected to the memes to spell out why they consider the memes to be anti-semitic. So far I have not had a response. This illustrates a 'hit and run' example - drop a stink bomb and scarper!

So why am I bothering to write a post about this? Shit happens all the time right and folk hurl words at each other... it's the immutable blockchain, we have guaranteed freespeech....right...?

....to some extent AFAIC, and this can potentially be limited (to a greater or lesser extent) on a second-layer community such as LeoFinance! There are two additional factors that prompt me to bring this issue to the attention of the community at large:

  1. the person who objected to the meme and offered up the label of 'anti-semitic' purported to speak for the community to a greater or lesser extent. This can be seen from the language used by them in the exchanges.
  2. two of the large downvotes are from Khal (@khaleelkazi and @leo.voter). If this were Hive, ie not Leofinance.io, the issue would be different for me - downvotes are a personal matter AFAIC. However, being a community, an ecosystem in itself, a sub-layer of Hive, there is the possibility of exercising a certain amount of censorship regarding what does and does not appear on the LeoFinance interface. Given that Khal is top guy here - CEO effectively - downvoting the meme sends out a signal with regard to what content will not be tolerated. It also sends out a message that the 'cancel culture' is being tolerated on LeoFinance. It seems fully possible that the label of anti-semitism was taken at face value leading to the downvote - ie without investigating if it were accurate or not. It is possible Khal thought the meme he downvoted to be offensive and there is no such oversight. I'd be interested to know his considered opinion. I am calling Khal by name as this (for me anyway) goes straight to the top and I've always had respect for his way of interacting and his sense of balance. These downvotes seem to be excessive, and more so, worryingly pander to stirrings of the 'cancel culture'. I say this with respect to him and I know he is busy atm, however, I do think this is something worth (re-)considering. Either way, I have pulled my delegation to leo.voter for now, following the example of at least one other, as I do not wish to support this kind of action.

Personally speaking, I consider the LeoFinance space to have aspects of 'private ownership' that Hive does not. As such, rules can exist or be brought in and if one doesn't like these 'rules', one is free to leave - this I know.

I hope I have expressed my points clearly - this and suchlike can be sensitive and emotive topics. I know it is possible that offence may be taken but please also demonstrate to me where it was intended in what I have said and also how it was offensive.

I'm raising the rather awkward subjects of the bounds of free-speech, the silencing of alternative voices and narratives, the self-righteous weaponisation of language and the issue of Cancel Culture. These are topical issues in the world at large as the macrocosm smashes into the microcosm and we are faced with choices that may well have significant implications for the future.

What say ye?

Thanks for reading 🙏
Barge (@krunkypuram)

Previous LeoFinance-themed artwork by me for anyone to use:

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

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Come join Hive/Leo, where 1 downvote will destroy your rep and can 'mute' you. It will also remove any incentive you have to comment, participate, create, engage, and well......I'm sure there are plenty of other great things!

Yes, no problem recruiting new blood with 'Features' like this!
Bring your friends!

/sarc off

Thank you for your concern krunkypuram. A very clear and concise summation.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

The Rothschild's dynasty are not exempt from scrutiny because they are Jewish.

When you draw the conclusion that ALL Jews are to blame for evil bank systems, that would be a racially hateful remark. To claim the Rothschild's are evil scum because they are Jewish, that would be racially hateful as well.

If I told people JP Morgan raised my interest rate to on my credit card to 36% without my consent, that is not a racist statement. It's true.

When you draw the conclusion that ALL Jews are to blame for evil bank systems, that would be a racially hateful remark

Agree, and I think that this drawn conclusion might've formed the leap of paranoia that prompted the label being used in the first place. A conclusion based on a false assumption which doesn't seem to have any substance when looking at the meme and what it says.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

I went to the @barge account to find your "eyes" post and got completely sidetracked! 🤣

This cancel culture is something that been on my mind of late and you've pulled up a great example right here. Much of the issue seems to come from perspectives which lead to misunderstanding. Is something an insult if you aren't even aware it's an insult? How may innocuous words will we have to change, because the meaning of it has been changed to an insult in someone's mind? A recent discussion is happening on a friend's Facebook page around whether we should call "breasts" "chests" in order to be more inclusive. If a word that innocuous can cause offense, where does this end? Perhaps we should abolish language altogether.

...and I was logged into the wrong account...

LOL, I had kinda gatered that it was you behind the HSI comment. Cool that you got sidetracked here :)

Is something an insult if you aren't even aware it's an insult?

Right! And what of the intention where no insult was intended? Insult in the eye of the 'insulted'!

Perhaps we should abolish language altogether.

Or reclaim it for ourselves at an individual level?!

We really didn't look much at all at the situation. Downvoted because it was entirely irrelevant to the actual content itself.

I think too many people take downvotes as a personal attack as opposed to what they are literally intended to be: a disagreement over the content, context or rewards (or all 3) on a particular post or comment.

Just as you are able to vote who you want to vote and post what you want to post, others are able to downvote what they want to downvote.

The beauty of Hive is that all of the actions live on the base layer of this blockchain. That means that regardless of what you do, you can't be censored in any wa on the blockchain itself. a UI can remove you, another user can downvote you, etc. but your content/actions can't be removed from the blockchain.

LeoFinance is meant to be a place for crypto/finance content and discussion. If something is on there that doesn't fit this description, anyone on the site can downvote it.

Again, people take downvoting so personally. If downvoting becomes an attack vector: i.e. we take leo.voter and start downvoting every single post and comment that someone makes regardless of what they say because we don't like them - then I would be concerned about the use of downvotes... This happens frequently on Hive but never happens with this account, so I am not concerned.

Posted Using LeoFinance

Downvoted because it was entirely irrelevant to the actual content itself.

No, it wasn't. It was very related.

I think too many people take downvotes as a personal attack

You completely ignored the issue of the 'rep'. You destroyed his rep with your little button, without even having the Honor or decency to comment as to why you showed how hurt you were. You didn't 'Disagree'. You didn't do anything but destroy a new account's rep in one shot. Lols even mentioned that he/she better not protest, because he/she is afraid of going 'negative' and being muted. You do NOT address this ramification, that you are guilty of imposing. You, should be PROTECTING others (new,small,etc) against the very abusive behavior that you have just demonstrated.

I find your actions here, sickening. I find this destructive downvote system sickening as well. I find the illogical word salad used to justify it sickening as well.

I was waiting to see a more 'official' response from this community, and now I have it. I most definitely will be having nothing to do with this. We have enough issues on Hive as it is.

As far as I am concerned, this is a typical Cancel Culture place. You should give fair warnings instead of Hypocrisy.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

The comment in question was very specifically relevant to the content, and taking an account rep down from 45 to 4 for one comment is as personal as it gets.

I realise my 50k delegation was not a lot in your 2.5 million pool, but I know four other accounts who have now pulled their delegations to Leo-voter over this blatant downvote abuse, and after reading this response, all I can say is you have confirmed my decision to stop all support for Leo-finance.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

This happens frequently on Hive but never happens with this account

I would not imagine you going after accounts in a vindictive and punitive manner like some big accounts previously have on the blockchain, and how the person who posted the first meme feared you might.

Whereas downvoting in general is a personal matter, one of the meme downvotes came from a big LF 'community' account and the other from the personal account of the 'CEO' of LF. This is a clear signal with undeniably 'official' overtones within the LF ecosystem. The meme was not anti-semitic in spite of the accusation. However, the meme was also not irrelevant to the general topic as it spoke of the wealth of a family involved in banking and the use to which this wealth has/is being put. Regardless of one's opinion on the accuracy of those statements, the meme itself and the brief text comment ("Musk is just a dog-boy...") cannnot be justifiably accused of being "entirely irrelevant to the actual content itself". The user has now recovered his rep, but being hammered down to single-digits is a pretty brutal experience, especially when unfairly accused out of the blue and finding oneself beaten up by powerful allies of the unfairly accusing voice.

What happens when the accusing voice voices a LIE? The voice that shouted out the falsely applied label of anti-semitism - not just once, but twice, and against two different folk, neither of whom had displayed any anti-semitism.

  • The particular instance of this falsely accusing voice as per the drama on the 'meme' post appears to have a form of official support and sanction from LeoFinance.
  • This support implies a tolerance by LF of what is a manifest example of 'Cancel Culture'.
  • This is a dangerous precedent. This is unsettling because it is appears to be potentially considered acceptable

These are the points that I wished to raise.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

That is a great summary - I pulled my 50k delegation to Leo-voter because of this and have mostly stopped using the Leo front end (I'm only on it now because your link came here)

To me this is full on censorship, and if it starts with this it will soon escalate further as we have seen on nearly every other social media platform.

You are very measured and diplomatic. I wouldn't be myself - this bullshit pisses me off!

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Something tells me you won't be getting a $10 payout on this post :)

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Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

Thanks, I wanted to steer clear of triggering aggro and focus on the 'thing in itself' (such as it is :).

Something tells me you won't be getting a $10 payout on this post :)

LOL. I feel the satisfaction of having expressed myself on a tricky issue that had bugged me since I came across it - a more buoyant feeling than producing palatable plates aimed at mainstream palates.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

Haven't we seen this approach somewhere before?

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Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

Considering this platform constantly claims to be anti-censorship this concerns me.

I am not going to wade into the above memes. Let's pretend there's a more clear cut case of an account posting content that is racist/vulgar/offensive and 99% of readers just plain old don't like it.

That's what the down vote and ignore feature is for. You're telling the author your view of the post, and as you disagree with their views you've blocked them so they'll never get your upvote, even if they post content you'd agree with.

That's how far it should go.

By going through their past articles and down voting you're effectively deplatforming. Something that isn't anti-censorship at all.

Being pro free speech is not easy. I hate seeing anti-vaxxing posts and covid denying but I don't down-vote. Why? Because they're entitled to their opinion no matter how stupid it is.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

This is the first example of what I describe that I have come across on LF. It is by no means widespread and I do not claim or suggest this.

Content on Hive is censor-resistant and immutable but frontends and communities can filter stuff. In this case, there was a series of downvotes. This is not exactly 'censorship' IMO, but it can have similar effects.

That's how far it should go.

Agree, downvotes are a personal matter.

Being pro free speech is not easy. I hate seeing anti-vaxxing posts and covid denying but I don't down-vote. Why? Because they're entitled to their opinion no matter how stupid it is.

Agree it's not easy being 'tolerant' when one's sensitivities have been triggered. LOL at the type of posts you don't like seeing - you see, I'm someone who has serious doubts about those issues you mention and would therefore be 'on the other side' of such issues from you :). Like you, I consider folk entitled to act in accordance with what they see fit and how they research and interpret 'reality'. It is multi-faceted and not easy to accommodate or tolerate, let alone expose oneself to, the full spectrum.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

Considering this platform constantly claims to be anti-censorship this concerns me.

It make no such claim. Folks tout that it’s censorship-resistant, not that it’s anti-censorship. Two very different things.

As a German I should maybe give my 2 cents.

First a point for the downvoters. The optics of the first meme are very reminiscent of NS Propaganda
ETynpCeXYAIx8L4.jpg

I cant really find it but I think there is one that is even much more similar.

Now a point for the Rothschild Conspiracy, I was introduced to that by left wingers as an anticapitalist, antioligarchie thing, not a world wide jewish conspiracy.

Reading your post you seem to be a little naive when it comes to anti-semitism. It mainly focuses on there being too much influence by the jewish community and forcefully wanting to put an end to it. It is not really about racial discrimination.

With all that said I was actually believing the Jews control the world for a long time, which I am not allowed to say out loud in Germany. I would like for people to be still able to do that on hive and Leo.

Personally Ben Shapiro changed my mind. I love that guy and while I disagree on many things, I surely do understand and respect the Jewish mind set much more thanks to him.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

Reading your post you seem to be a little naive when it comes to anti-semitism. It mainly focuses on there being too much influence by the jewish community and forcefully wanting to put an end to it. It is not really about racial discrimination.

My post is about the phenomenon of 'Cancel Culture' as manifested in the example provided and linked to. The provided example illustrates the misapplication (wilful, knee-jerk or otherwise, I don't know) of a heavily loaded term of accusation. Discussion is silenced and unjustified repercussions are triggered. Such patterns of interaction set dangerous precedents, especially if they go by unnoticed and move closer to acquiring group/community acceptability.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

I'm generally all for free speech and I maybe did not emphasize that I think it is pretty crazy to jump from that meme to you are an anti-semite. But I thought I made that clear by saying that I was confronted with that conspiracy in a left-wing context.

I also did not point out that I think a creator should have the freedom to downvote whatever the fuck he wants in his comment section. To me this is not a case of suppressed discussion, but of I don't want to deal with this bullshit.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

Ok, cool, np. TBH, I didn't quite get what you were saying/what point you were making in your first comment. I therefore responded to the bit where you spoke directly to me/my post.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

There , that was just about working the presentation .

952E7870-7A93-4A68-BB8C-7303E580E1E6.jpeg

LOL mischievous you!

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

Great post, and well written! Thanks for the tag in your comment, which lead me here to read this.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

HIVE!D

All aboard the Culture Cancel

Ask @theycallmedan what he thinks of that 😉

Why sharing this at the end ?

1862E123-FA89-4D82-9CC5-8477D1438AF1.png

Very perceptive Opidia :)

I did so because until the post I had been supporting/promoting the LF space and basically I was not sure at the time of posting if the issues raised in this post were indeed supported/echoed/tolerated. I had given the benefit of doubt.

But I did consider whether to include the info or not, yes!

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

all is very clear

wow i am shocked , those are not our deepdives friends for sure .
Each time i tried to chat in their discord , i am just ghosted or bullied .
I am very impressed the way you write , it is so nice to read , with so much class in your expression .
I dont have that perfect english language to write this level of articles , but what a nice moment for me , thank for sharing and taking the time to do so .

Thanks for your nice words and thoughts about how I express myself 🙏😊

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

This has been an ongoing debate since the "other" blockchain days. The voting system is in some ways a form of censorship if it is abused. For the most part though, it's community policing. It seems to work well on spammer accounts and does seem to handle the riff - raff. Abuse does happen from time to time and accounts have been singled out.

Cancel culture is an issue and I do think something should be done about the powers whales have with their downvotes. I don't think CC has a place on HIVE.

I would love to see a system where if 100 people liked the offending post, a single downvote from a whale shouldn't be able to destroy the thread or the post earnings. The voting system could definitely use improvement. I'd also like to see a system to block people from your content. If someone is constantly downvoting your material, it's obvious they don't like it, I don't see the problem with blocking them so you don't have to offend them anymore. Problem solved. This also works the other way where I would be able to block subject matter I'm not comfortable with. That's how freedom of speech works. You're free to voice your opinion, I'm free to ignore it! I generally only downvote blatant spam and scammy behaviour, but I'd have no problem blocking content I'd prefer not to see.

Simple answer to all this.... There is no simple answer. The current system is the best we have and beats just having your account deleted or canceled one day because you said one thing off color. I would love to see a serious discussion voted on about changing the voting system to prevent abuse though. There is definitely room for improvement here!

Is saying the name Steemit subject to censorship here now as well?

No it really isn't. It's like Lord Voldemort, it's the chain that shalt not be named! 🤣

"Only"

That's rich. Just imagine if one could think of how fast it has gotten up to 'half', and then apply that to what it will be in the future.

Imagine that people who aren't "right/left", are hearing of it too, because they are sick to death of it being practiced, and sick to death of those that practice it :)

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta

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