In my continued campaign against hate propaganda spreading its disgusting tentacles further across the surface of the internets, I’m giving a WILU lightning talk. Since I couldn’t make it to Edmonton, it’s a remote session with a video and online Q&A session.
From the program:
Lisa Levesque , Ryerson University | Emily Shearer, County of Carleton Law Association Library
Could your hyperlinks cause harm? As our study on inlink data shows, educational websites that link to racist content may boost its prominence in web search results. Learn about the structure of web search ranking and what websites you should never link to, even with the best information literacy intentions.
If you found this site after seeing the link on the video at the conference, congratulations on having excellent vision. That thing was up on screen for approximately 2.5 seconds.
As this session was really short, I didn’t get the opportunity to mention Sean Spicer, Safiya Noble’s research, Google’s own statements about what it does, the dissent in R. v. Keegstra, or any other worthwhile tangents. Those were definitely on my mind as I made the video, though. The focus of this study was a very small examination of what is really an overwhelmingly large problem: who gets to organize and control information online? What do their biases promote and what do they hide? How do we deal with the fake news, the hate speech, the pornography, that not only exist within the universal body of knowledge, but are fighting to be seen and heard and will use every trick in the book to become more visible?
While we need to deal with these big issues in proportionately big ways, small efforts also help. That includes a personal and professional understanding of the web as it currently functions and how elements of it, such as hyperlinks, shape our online world. While hate speech is an awful and sobering subject, it’s one that we need to grapple with, if only so we don’t do inadvertent harm.