Whatever it was, it was funny, and for some, a welcome reprieve
. Man, I can’t wait until it happens again. My favorite part
about the tale of Memphis was that it started trending on Hacker News, which led to Twitter bots posting about the Hacker News thread, which led the Hacker News bots to get suspended from Twitter. No amount of marbles, banana peels and roller skates could create slapstick that perfect in 2021.
In all seriousness, though, now is a great opportunity to talk about factors that can lead to false positives like this. Back in 2016, I referred to it as the “Scunthorpe Problem,” in which an AI blocks a profane term
that shouldn’t be blocked because it’s not smart enough. (The piece I wrote about it features a particularly roundabout way to describe a certain profanity in the name of the city of Scunthorpe: “One of the harshest profanities in the English language, one generally associated with the hands-on directing style of David O. Russell.”)
Filters are often not very good
, and that’s always been the case, though they’re getting better. Nonetheless, bad filters often cause problems for people doing legitimate things online.
And mainstream social networks just have not figured out how to manage the scale of people to properly ensure effective moderation without lots of automation, automation that too often gets it wrong.
Because of course it does. The human diaspora is made up of billions of people, and there’s no controlling us.
So, to finish off my point here: Memphis Memphis Memphis Memphis Memphis Memphis.