When I heard this on the radio I was impressed (it may be a low bar) with Pinterest’s Ifeoma Ozoma’s responses to NPR’s Audie Cornish:
OZOMA: Our goal, really, is harm reduction. And so because we’re humble about our limitations and our own expertise here, we look to outside experts like the WHO, CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics and their guidance on what’s harmful.
CORNISH: Now, there are some critics of this move. Jennifer Granick of the ACLU told The Wall Street Journal that this is dangerous, that it’s essentially a secretive process, no real appeal. People are making very difficult subject calls when it comes to politics and culture and religion. What’s your response?
OZOMA: So to that, we have clear and transparent community guidelines. And this is just one way of enforcing, like…
CORNISH: Like buried in the terms and conditions or what do you mean by that?
OZOMA: No. Nope. They’re clear in our community guidelines on our website. And we also, whenever we have a search that we’ve removed results for, we explain right in there in the search advisory why we removed it, and we link to those community guidelines. And we also have an appeals process for any content that’s taken down.
CORNISH: Is this essentially censorship?
OZOMA: For us, we don’t see it as that. There’s an enthusiasm gap between those who save harmful health misinformation and organizations like the CDC and WHO and American Academy of Pediatrics. And so because of that, you’re going to find more health misinformation than, say, journal articles on the virtues of vaccination or other science-based health interventions. We’ve taken the view that further sharing that harmful content through our search results isn’t in line with enforcing our community guidelines.
CORNISH: Your title is public policy and social impact manager. None of those things are things we thought about when we thought about social media when it was first starting up, right? We called them platforms. They were just places we put things that we wanted to share. When do you think this mindset changed?
OZOMA: We have had content policy and trust and safety teams since the beginning. And so safety has always been a consideration when you think about different types of harmful content, whether they’re illegal or not illegal. Safety has been top of mind and still is for every team across the company.