Tech Talk - Safe and unsafe content online, OnlyFans, power and protection

This session of Tech Talk covers the complexity of content moderation online. Moderation often requires value judgements on what is safe and unsafe, appropriate and inappropriate, but this is almost never straightforward, especially when you include adult and explicit content. Special guest Professor Kath Albury from Swinburne University helps us with this discussion.

Key points:

  • The Australian High Court ruling that found media companies are potentially liable for comments made on their Facebook pages exposes the complicated relationship between media companies and Facebook, and the current engagement model which powers our information ecosystem.
  • The Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos case highlights the lawlessness and the Silicon Valley culture of 'innovation' which often pushes against the edges of what's acceptable and what's legal.
  • China unveils sweeping regulation which addresses online algorithms, providing a surprising source for progressive tech policy.
  • OnlyFans, a subscription service which helps creators monetise their content, became the centre of controversy when it decided to ban adult/explicit content in its platform, which helped it become popular with many users. It has since reversed this decision after securing assurances from its financial backers.
  • Adult and sex workers often face forced censorship of their work online, including when Amazon deleted sex workers' wish lists without their awareness.
  • Content moderation of adult content is often charged with moralism, despite a large portion of the internet accessed for adult content and many adult content creators producing content lawfully, safely and with consent.
  • Accessing adult content online can be for some people a substitute, or even their only source of sex education, highlighting the deficiency of our sex education in Australia.