Safiya U. Noble: Factual and Just Information a Pillar of Democracy

UCLA IS professor took part in The Wall Street Journal's Future of Everything Festival, spoke on the need for a hate and bias-free internet.

Safiya Noble, UCLA professor of Information Studies, took part in The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival that took place in New York City in May. A scholar of racial and gender bias on the internet, Noble discussed her work on data discrimination and offered solutions for ethical technology.

Noble stated that white supremacist groups are adept at optimizing their content and manipulating journalists into sharing their messaging, and called for more conversations on the accountability for digital platforms. She cited the work of UCLA colleague Sarah T. Roberts on the global workforce of online content moderators.

“In the United States, there is a deep commitment to free speech,” Professor Noble said. “We have the First Amendment and our conceptualization of ‘anything goes’ on these platforms, whether it’s social media or search… is quite committed to this notion of free speech.

“Armies of content moderators around the world, are taking down content or adjudicating content,” said Noble. “What it does is help us understand that the internet is not a free speech zone. In fact, if you’re in Germany or France, it’s against the law to traffic in anti-Semitism and certain types of hate speech or hate propaganda.”

Noble, the author of “Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism,” said that “factual and just information as a pillar of democracy,” should be demanded by internet users. She noted that any increased regulation of social media and tech companies should be accompanied by funding for public education, higher education, libraries, and public media.

To read the Wall Street Journal article on “Three Ways to Fight Bias in Machines,” and to view a video of Professor Noble, visit this link.