This month one of the most popular actors out of “The Mandalorian” Lucas Film TV series was terminated because of a Tweet. Gina Carano is far from the first and likely will not be the last. She wasn’t just terminated; when a major studio like this fires you, getting work as an actor may be impossible because no studio wants to hire a problem. This outcome could have been prevented with an AI tool that kept her from retweeting a meme that would most certainly cause Disney to terminate her. Disney’s hot buttons are well known, and when I first saw her tweet before she was fired, I accurately predicted she would be fired.
Disney, Twitter, and any company that cares about their brand and what employees could do to that brand could justify an AI-driven app that would protect against this kind of catastrophic outcome. Twitter should do it because getting your users fired will reduce usage and revenue eventually; other companies should do it to prevent brand damage and employee losses (Carano was supposed to act in a spin-off series that might have been very popular). Besides, Disney is being blasted by conservative lawmakers who will likely attempt to execute a boycott costing them money in what will be a challenging year for the company given the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s talk about using AI to prevent committing career suicide, and the idea of Social Media Protection this week.
The Protective Digital Assistant
Digital assistants will be undergoing significant changes this decade as they evolve to integrate more into our personal and work lives. Amazon is advancing Echo to be more places and do more things. Companies like iGenius are building business-focused AIs like Crystal to provide even more generous support and broad company data access in businesses.
But these tools could do far more. For instance, integrated with Facebook’s moderating system, they could alert to false news stories preventing you from being scammed and preventing you from sharing them and being embarrassed by followers who know better.
Advancing the digital assistant concept to include preventing lousy behavior on social media shouldn’t be that hard because the moderating and monitoring systems set up to identify this kind of behavior already exist. The tools your companies are using to monitor and report on your lousy behavior could form the basis for a tool to prevent that behavior in the first place.
I’d argue that perhaps these prevention tools should have come first, but, as a society, we remain way too focused on finding blame and focus too little on preventing the problem in the first place.
Tools In Process
Several tools are circling this problem from companies like Sentropy, Spectrum Labs, L1ght, and Block Party that focus on online abuse but could pivot to online protection relatively quickly with the right training set and reporting options.
Most of these companies are focusing on Twitter first because that is where most of the abuse is. But Twitter has also had a substantial adverse impact on employment, suggesting it is also the largest contributor to getting people fired.
These tools focus on identifying bad behavior targeting you or that may appear in your feed to block it or the user and, even now, could flag posts you shouldn’t retweet. But that same training set used a different way, could—as a frontend to the social media platform—identify a bad post coming from you and prevent it from being posted. It could even alert your manager or publicist that you are attempting to go around the service so they could step in and help prevent a career-ending mistake. And it is far better to get a warning from a manager or a publicist than a pink slip from your employer.
It fascinates and troubles me that we have had people losing their jobs and trashing their careers on social media for years and haven’t yet developed a way to mitigate the problem. Yes, we can identify bad actors far more quickly and get them fired, but that doesn’t seem to fix the problem, and the collateral damage against the companies that employ these people, the increasing effort to shut down social media companies, and the damage to careers go on largely unabated.
We have tools that are close to what we need; we need to reprioritize them so that the best advice to overcome social media’s threat is no longer to simply quit or abandon it.