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Category Archives: In the News

Fighting Online Bullying

From Micah Sifry in Civicist 1st Post today

Katy Steinmetz reports for Time magazine on how Instagram is trying to use AI to reduce how much the platform is used for cyberbullying, but as she notes, “it’s much easier to recognize when someone in a photo is not wearing pants than it is to recognize the broad array of behavior that might be considered bullying.” Oh, and the person in charge of this whole effort, Adam Mosseri, previously was in charge of the development of Facebook NewsFeed, so this should inspire confidence. (How does your AI read sarcasm, he asked.)

One problem with Steinmetz’s article is that she accepts the frame of all the blitzscaled platforms, which is that connecting the entire world online requires massively open platforms, unfortunately creating massive toxic effects. But cyberbullying isn’t, as Steinmetz writes, “a problem that crops up anywhere the people congregate online.” It’s a problem that crops up wherever a platform has been optimized for engagement over any other value, and where there is limited to no human moderation. For example, a user of Front Porch Forum in Vermont, where each instance is centered on a neighborhood of roughly 1000 households and a paid part-time moderator helps keep the conversation civil, does not experience cyberbullying, as a recent study found.


Front Porch Forum is expanding to Upstate New York!

Residents in Warren and Washington counties, NY, will now have access to their own FPF!  If you live, work, or know anyone in the greater Glens Falls/Lake George area, across the line from Bennington and Rutland counties — ask them to sign up at FrontPorchForum.com and help spread the word!

FPF‘s mission is to help neighbors connect and build community.  Our free community e-newsletters go out daily with postings from neighbors, community organizations, and local businesses about everything from lost dogs to plumber recommendations to upcoming community events.  Sign up today, and join the conversation!


FPF Becomes an Example for Community-Building Tech in Canada

Do you speak french? Check out this wonderful piece about Front Porch Forum from our neighbors at Radio Canada. Reporter, Janic Tremblay, shares his experiences speaking to FPF members at a screening of the film “The Story of Vermont’s Quiet Digital Revolution.” Attendees share how FPF has encouraged forming positive relationships with neighbors, neighbors who bring their hyper-local forums to life.

Read Janic Tremblay’s article in french here.


The secret? Staying local

We’re seeing an outpouring of interest in Front Porch Forum in light of the recently published article on the Verge!

Andrew Liptak, author of the Verge article How a Vermont social network became a model for online communities,” writes “Vermont’s Front Porch Forum is a good example of how to create a positive, online community – staying local.” 

Creator of Ruby on Rails and founder/CTO at Basecamp, David Hanemeier Hanson, saw the article and tweeted on his feed.  Then Jack Dorsey, a founder of Twitter and Square, retweeted it.  Clearly the work we’re doing is being recognized!  Thanks @dhh, @jack and the many others who have shared this article.

“Front Porch Forum isn’t designed as a virtual replacement for one’s real-world neighborhood — it’s meant to facilitate those everyday, in-person connections that form the basis of a community.”