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Casey Newton

Big tech + democracy at Platformer

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What really happened at Basecamp

Casey Newton interviewed a half-dozen Basecamp employees, as well as David Heinemeier Hansson (Basecamp co-founder) to write this account of recent events.

How a list of “funny” customer names triggered an internal reckoning. The controversy that embroiled enterprise software maker Basecamp this week began more than a decade ago, with a simple list of customers. Around 2009, Basecamp customer service representatives began keeping a list of names that they found funny. More than a decade later, current employees were so mortified by the practice that none of them would give me a single example of a name on the list.

Discussion about the list and how the company ought to hold itself accountable for creating it led directly to CEO Jason Fried announcing Tuesday that Basecamp would ban employees from holding “societal and political discussions” on the company’s internal chat forums. The move, which has sparked widespread discussion in Silicon Valley, follows a similar move from cryptocurrency company Coinbase last year.

Employees say the founders’ memos unfairly depicted their workplace as being riven by partisan politics, when in fact the main source of the discussion had always been Basecamp itself.

Seriously loving the writing coming from Casey on Platformer since his departure from The Verge.

Casey Newton The Verge

The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America

Eventually Artificial Intelligence will take over the human powered content moderation jobs for Facebook. Until then, this small population of humans employed by Cognizant (on behalf of Facebook) in Phoenix, Arizona accept the job of subjecting themselves to the worst of humankind to provide “a better Facebook experience.”

Casey Newton writes for The Verge:

The video depicts a man being murdered. Someone is stabbing him, dozens of times, while he screams and begs for his life. Chloe’s job is to tell the room whether this post should be removed. She knows that section 13 of the Facebook community standards prohibits videos that depict the murder of one or more people. When Chloe explains this to the class, she hears her voice shaking.

Returning to her seat, Chloe feels an overpowering urge to sob. Another trainee has gone up to review the next post, but Chloe cannot concentrate. She leaves the room, and begins to cry so hard that she has trouble breathing.

No one tries to comfort her. This is the job she was hired to do…

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