CJ, Reggie and Milo

At a social media company in a nearby alternate reality. The boss, known to all as”CJ” is chairing an early morning crisis meeting in his private office known as The Nest.
CJ: OK team. Are we all here? I didn’t get where I am today by having meetings starting late.
Reggie: (Arriving late) Sorry I’m late CJ. Slow puncture on Nob Hill.
CJ: Sit down everybody.
Yes Men: Great. Super.
Everyone sits at the same time. Air is pushed out of seat cushions causing their chairs to emit a cascade of beautiful bird song. Reggie’s chair appears to be faulty and makes a Bronx cheer.
CJ: Thank you all for coming in early. We have had a lot of complaints about hate speech. It is clear that we need to find a way to make our platform a safe space for the vulnerable.
Yes men: Great. Super.
Reggie: Right Ho CJ. Who are these poor fragile flowers who need our protection? Are they ethnic minorities, the disabled, single mothers?
CJ: Many vulnerable individuals have contacted me recently. Sony and Disney just this week.
Reggie: Pardon CJ? Sony and Disney?
CJ: Why yes Reggie. These poor vulnerable corporations have spent a fortune on our platform, promoting their products, and then some of our users start saying these products are rubbish.
Reggie: Is that not just because they are rubbish?
CJ: Well of course they are, but they don’t appreciate their potential customers being told they are. Honestly Reggie, the reason we headhunted you from Grot industries was your experience in selling absolute rubbish to the public.
Reggie: Right you are CJ, but I thought the core of your business model was free speech?
CJ: Of course it is. But free speech must not get in the way of paid for speech. I didn’t get where I am today by turning down money.
Reggie: In that case CJ there’s a few steps we need to take. Tech have gone through the statistics for me. Although independent voices on the platform are numerous, they are generally amorphous and unimportant if we exclude nodal posters. This handful of people have large numbers of followers and so have disproportionate influence.
CJ: Of course! We pay them off!
Yes men: Great. Super.
Reggie:  Sorry CJ. We’ve bought off the ones we could, but most of them seem to either enjoy trolling their enemies too much to stop, or actually believe in something. Sometimes both.
CJ: They believe in something! I always find it hard to believe such people exist. I didn’t get where I am today by believing in things. So what do we do about them? Ban them?
Reggie: Hopefully not necessary. We can make their presence less visible. Software ‘errors’ so not everyone sees what they post. Automated accounts who reiterate opposing viewpoints. But we may need to ban now and then. So we will need for it to look like we have standards.
CJ: Don’t worry about standards. Have you met Anita here?  She is a harassment and diversity expert, so she tells me. I’ve appointed her to a committee on free speech standards. Isn’t that right.
Anita: (Stridently) Yes CJ!
CJ: Did you tell me what the committee’s been named? (laughing) You haven’t chosen anything too Orwellian have you.
Anita: (mumbles answer)
Yes men: Great. Super.
Reggie: There is a risk however. If people are on our platform for free speech they may leave it if we censor too much.
CJ: Reggie, you really shouldn’t worry. Advertisers don’t care what free thinkers think anyway. They will work out for themselves what they need. The most important market is the one that passively accepts being marketed to. Dumb people is where the smart money is.
Reggie: In that case CJ we have a few more ideas.
Yes men: Great. Super.
Reggie: The Alt-right we plan to ignore and sideline. The left just need a bit of a nudge using the right people. They generally follow the herd. For this reason they are in fact the audience which will be most attractive to our advertisers. We can program automated bot accounts to like the things we are promoting. These bots are surprisingly sophisticated. We are ready in fact to replace your yes men with a software simulation.
Yes men: (Hesitantly) Great. Super.
Reggie: We can’t replace all accounts with simulations unfortunately. We have tried and failed to produce a convincing SJW bot. It’s extremely difficult to program a computer with that degree of irrationality. Although those bots have got more accurate since we added Voxday’s three laws to the algorithms.
(There is a sharp screech. The sound of nails being dragged down the surface of the conference table.)
CJ: Yes Anita? Is there a problem.
Anita: (Who has been triggered by the utterance of The Name That Shall Not Be Named speaks through gritted teeth.) CJ. I think we do need to set an example.
(She slides copies of a user file to all on the table. A photo of silver haired young man is clipped to the front. )
Reggie: Ah yes. We have been watching him. We discussed him at a previous meeting. I thought we agreed that as a gay man he had additional free speech rights?
Anita: Not necessarily. Have a look at this.
She brings a series of graphs up on the conference room display monitor.
Anita: This is the latest data from the SJW100. That’s a summation of the opinions of the current 100 most influential social justice warriors. It’s a bit like the FTSE100 or the Dow Jones is for shares, but it’s far more volatile. Here is the chart showing us the current victimhood league table. As you can see, taking account of him being gay, but being male, right wing and not portraying himself as a victim, he would currently be outranked by a black woman. So that’s where we hit him. Call him racist.
Reggie: Is that dog going to hunt? I hear he is quite fond of black men. Plus, how come I’ve never heard of this data “the SJW100.” Did you just make this up.
Anita: Sexism! Harassment! Don’t you believe a woman can do…
CJ: That’s enough Anita. That won’t work here, and I need Reggie more than you. I didn’t get where I am today by letting people throw their weight around in my boardroom. That is my prerogative.
Anita: Sorry CJ.
CJ: Anita, I can see you carry a grudge against this man. (tapping the photograph on the desk) And I am not prepared to let you use my firm for your grudges.
Anita: Sorry CJ.
CJ: However, in this case we are going to go ahead and ban him. This is why I called you here today. Our colleagues in Sony have been on the phone complaining constantly to me about this man. We have been promoting one of their new products heavily recently, for which we have received a considerable sum and this, (Tap tap tap), person, has posted an atrocious review. Sony have made it clear, that if we cannot police our social network properly for the good of the advertisers, there are other social networks that will.
Yes Men: Great. Super.
CJ: Reggie, when can we replace those two with bots?
Reggie: This afternoon CJ.
CJ: Great. Super. Now here’s the plan. One of the ladies who worked on Sony’s latest piece of crap is going to start complaining about her treatment. As per Anita’s recommendation she is a person of colour. Hopefully if she is vocal enough, this will stir up more trouble. If it doesn’t get bad enough, it’s your job Reggie to set some attack bots to insult her.
Reggie: Yes CJ.
CJ: Then she will quit the network, but not before contacting me for help. I will white knight it in and take compassionate charge of the situation. We will ban this character here as a warning to all and demonstrate how virtuous and anti-racist we are. Our advertisers will recognise that our priorities are correct and continue to spend their money here. That’s the plan. It’s the job of the team here to make sure it works. Any questions?
Anita is playing with the photograph on the desk. Prodding it with a manicured nail. She is smiling. It is not a smile which makes her attractive. Reggie shudders inwardly as he looks at her, but reminds himself of the mortgage he has to pay. At least his life can’t get any worse he tells himself. He turns back to CJ.
Reggie: Oh yes. Questions CJ. Since I came to work here, I’ve wondered what the reason is for all the bird themed paraphenalia here. What’s it all about?
CJ: Well Reggie, funny you should ask. I’ve always wanted to be a super villain. Specifically the Penguin. Stay behind after the meeting and I’ll show you my costume.