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If you were to create a social media platform where people are radically honest with each other, how would you make it work?

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Mar 23, 2022
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How would you design a social media platform where people are radically honest with each other while also being kind?
A few quotes that point at human traits that might make things difficult:
  • Those who are brutally honest are seldom so with themselves. - Mignon McLaughlin
  • People who are "brutally honest" generally enjoy the brutality more than honesty. - Richard Needham
  • Honesty without kindness is cruel. Kindness without honesty is manipulation. But honesty with kindness is sublime.
How would your radical honesty platform work to make it feasible?
9
Creative contributions

Making comments kinder and rewarding honest opinions

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Mar 24, 2022
Why make comments kinder? If you don't make people's responses kinder, others would deter from providing honest opinions since they know they will be criticized in a bad way for it.
How to make comments kinder? Usually, the first reaction is the one that matters the most. So, when you post anything on the platform, the first sentence is decided by the platform. The platform gives you options to choose from but you cannot frame the first sentence. The options could be - "I hear you and respect what you say", "I completely agree", "Wow, I had never thought of it. Thank you!", etc. The next sentence could start with "however,..." if you don't agree with what is being said. You can then explain yourself.
Avoiding insulting language - Insulting words cannot be posted. They will simply disappear from your post and will NOT be replaced by "****". When you type words like "rubbish", "idiot", etc., they simply get erased in real-time. The platform then prompts you to use kinder/ softer words. You can be sarcastic, which is usually a funnier and more creative way of putting something.
Identifying honest opinions - This can be done in either of the two ways - If more people agree to your post, your honesty rating increases and that shows on your profile and icon when you post something. It can be a star on your photo or a golden ring around it. The second method to identify honest opinions is by validating them using outside sources (like news).
How is honesty rewarded? - Your posts are shown to more and more people (your friends, their friends), increasing your chances of gaining more followers. Your posts are also shown to more influential people than you, putting you on the map of the bigger players. The more followers you get, the more money you make.
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Miloš Stanković
Miloš Stanković6 months ago
"Insulting words cannot be posted." sometimes they need to be posted due to quoting or indirect speech. I also feel that sarcasm isn't taken well by the people at which it is aimed. It's funny for others and the speaker, but if you're on the receiving end sometimes it's even more annoying than a straight-up insult. I like the second feature particularly.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
About making the comments kinder: How would the software know that you're about to provide a critique or a counter-stance to what the original poster said? It seems that this would make the software significantly more complex and maybe confusing to people. About identifying honest opinions: Agreeability and honesty don't necessarily go hand in hand. Popular opinion is often expressed for publicity (by politicians for example). Likewise, for your proposed incentives - they would reward popular opinion which isn't necessarily an honest opinion.
Take the latest conflict for example. It's popular to express disgust toward the aggressor when the aggressor is in the east (cancel culture is strong with this one). But it's not popular to express disgust with the aggressor when they are in the west (Iraq, Syria, Lybia, Yugoslavia, Serbia, etc). Even when people think it, not many express it. Your proposed model for incentive would reward popular opinion rather than an honest opinion.
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Povilas S
Povilas S6 months ago
How about not only deleting the hurtful words, but giving the one towards whom those words were addressed an indemnity - a micropayment or a reward in another form.
Another remark: I'm not sure how well honesty combines with "the more money you make". People could find out ways to be "honest" just to gain influence and make money. It would be a pretended honesty or in other words - acting, rather than the true one. Even without the money involved, the same could be said about gaining followers for the sake of popularity/being more influential. There are two sides to this.
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Platform padding the ego and reminds of the whole truth

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Miloš Stanković
Miloš Stanković Mar 28, 2022
In couples therapies and individual psychological sessions where the patient is taught how to have difficult conversations, they are often instructed to speak the whole truth.
Not to say just the potentially harmful honest thing, but the whole truth of the relationship you have with the person you're talking with. So something like: "I love you and care for you deeply, however, I have to say that your ideas on brainstorming are often too abstract."
The idea for a social media platform here is when person A leaves a negative honest comment to person B, its impact is dampened by the platform reminding person B of some of the positive comments person A left to it in the past.
So person A checks a box that his comment is negative. Before reading the new post, person B gets a reminder of up to three positive comments or interactions (shares or post likes). It's to remind that there isn't an agenda from user A, it's not a personal attack, it's an intellectual disagreement.
This way, honesty isn't taken too personal but for the purpose of the message itself. The ego is padded with the previous depictions of pleasant interactions.
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Michaela D
Michaela D6 months ago
Congrats!
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
If the platform shows the recipient of a negative message that the sender can be positive (to others), does that help the recipient in this case?
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
This addresses the problem of how to make the recipient less hurt by truthful negative opinion
How do we make people speak the truth when not speaking it feels easier?
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"Kindness", "Usefulness" and "Honesty" upvote buttons

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Michaela D
Michaela D Mar 28, 2022
Replace the “like” button with “kindness”, “usefulness” and maybe even “honesty/truthfulness” buttons. Similar to what Povilas S mentioned with the three gates of speech, only feedback will be provided by other users of the platform.
Honesty is indeed a debatable feature and the ultimate judge of one’s honesty is the person themselves. However, usually, people can detect lies and it would be good to give them that voice, especially when the goal of the platform is radical honesty. Therefore, testing the “honesty/truthfulness” button would be worth it.
The two/three upvote buttons can be an additional system to an algorithm that has been suggested. The algorithm can give ratings to the very same features. It would be very interesting to see if the algorithm agrees with the users. People would vote before they can see the algorithm rating.
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Profile Rating

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Goran Radanovic
Goran Radanovic Mar 24, 2022
When setting up an account, the user is prompted to input the level of honesty. The level determines the words that the commenter can use and acceptable topics.
As an example, if I rate myself a 10 (1-mild; 10-extreme), the commenter can swear at me and tell me that my work sucks. All topics are acceptable.
If I'm a 1, the AI system detects 'prohibited' words and topics and then trashes comments. Also, the system rates each user based on their interactions. So if I'm ranked 10 because I'm posting extreme comments, I can see the receiver's (rated 1) posts, but I have to submit approval of my comment, which the AI will determine. If acceptable, it will post it.
Users can stipulate words/questions/topics they wish to avoid. The system makes the commenter aware of the violation and asks them to rephrase the comment.
Detecting certain tonality is difficulty in text, even for humans.
How to know what each rating allows?
The system provides examples of previous acceptable comments to give the commenter an idea of language and tone to use.
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Michaela D
Michaela D6 months ago
Congrats!
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
Setting yourself as "resilient to criticism" subconsciously makes you so, because you have an obligation to uphold the image that you said you have. In time you really become more resilient because of it.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
If I understand your suggestions correctly: You propose a system where each person rates themselves on a scale from 1-10 on how much critique their ego is capable of taking without building resentment toward the other person? I like it.
The person can initially configure their tolerance. Then the system should have mechanisms to fine-tune the tolerance based on actual experience.
There are 2 things to consider though:
  1. how tolerant a person is towards what other people say
  2. how honest a person is in what they themselves are saying to others
Your suggestion talks about a potential solution for point 1
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Live, unrehearsed video and audio input prioritized over text

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Povilas S
Povilas S Mar 25, 2022
Honesty arguably consists of two components - directness/openness and kindness/integrity. Prioritizing direct video/audio input over text would bring these two benefits.
Directness. It's easier to see whether people are truthful when you can see or at least hear them talk rather than only read the text that they've written. When you write you have more time to think about how to put the words, what thoughts to include, what not to include, etc. While this can seem good for not hurting people's feelings, it leaves more time and room for manipulation. This is not in line with honesty. Text is also more prone to interpretations and misconceptions since you have no direct indicators of people's emotions: tone of their voice, facial expressions, body language.
I suggest using a "no turning back" way of recording video and audio messages, that is - once you press a record button your post/comment will be sent when you release it. This leaves less room for rehearsal and polishing.
Posts could be video recordings and comments can be left as direct audio messages rather than lines of text.
Kindness and integrity. Showing your face/exposing your voice to people when you deliver a message also comes with more responsibility, it takes some guts to do it, it's closer to talking with someone live, so people won't be as reckless as they can be when only typing something.
Strict rules. That said, strict community rules will be nevertheless necessary, e.g. hurtful language should not be allowed in video/audio recordings. The rules should be well thought through by the site creators, there should be only a few of them and they should be very concise and clear so that it would be easy for people to have those in mind when recording their posts/comments.
Posts that don't comply with the rules would be moderated or removed, the users who keep breaking the rules will be banned from the site.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
While this proposal feels feasible, I imagine the requirement for video/audio would significantly lower the number of users such a platform would have. Many people are not comfortable putting themselves online in video/audio format.
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Povilas S
Povilas S6 months ago
Darko Savic Yes, and many people are not comfortable being radically honest also. This is not a conventional platform we are talking about:)
I'm not proposing removing the texting option, just prioritizing video/audio input. So someone who absolutely prefers texting and thinks they are better being honest while writing than speaking could still do it, just it shouldn't be the main means of communicating on the platform.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola6 months ago
This is exactly what I had in mind, but I came across one serious drawback. Although video and/or voice input truly make a difference, it could also easily deter people from giving feedback at all. It's easy to give someone a compliment or ask questions you are interested in, but it's much harder to give constructive criticism or a negative opinion about something. In other words, you would easily record yourself complimenting your friend's outfit, but you would avoid saying it's awful. On the other hand, you would easily miss out on that "like" or write a sarcastic comment. In that sense, I feel like it would not exactly make the honesty work smoothly.
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The three gates of speech

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Povilas S
Povilas S Mar 27, 2022
A perfect rule (or rather three rules) to use on such a platform is the "Three gates of speech" rule composed by an ancient mystic and poet Rumi. It goes like this:
Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates
At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?”
At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”
At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”
Only after the whole three rules are met, you can allow yourself to speak. Words have great power to both create and destroy. It's better to say less and be constructive than say more and cause disbalance and suffering.
How would it work on the platform:
Before posting anything on the platform a notification would pop up "ask yourself if what you wrote/said is true", after pressing "yes" another notification would pop up "ask yourself if it's necessary" if you pressed "yes" again the last notification would appear "ask yourself if it's kind". Only after pressing "yes" three times, your content would be posted on the platform.
Important remarks:
The "is it necessary" part is a bit tricky in this context and I'd say, perhaps, generally in life, since very little of speech is actually necessary. And it's highly disputable what is necessary and what is not with regards to human conversations. Most of the conversations are done for entertainment purposes. Is entertainment necessary? You could say both yes and no, depending on the perspective.
So I guess it would be better to leave the middle rule out and only ask people if what they say is true and kind. Even if it's not necessary, since it's true and kind it shouldn't do harm to anybody.
People should be held responsible for their agreement to the rules of truthfulness and kindness, that is if the moderators (or other users of the platform or both, depending on the way the platform was organized) would detect that what they said is after all not true or/and not kind, their post would get removed, if they continued breaking those rules, they would be banned from using the platform.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
How do you prevent people from saying "yes" to all 3 gates without much thought going into the process? How do you make it function differently from "accepting the cookies"?
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Povilas S
Povilas S6 months ago
Darko Savic One way is removing their content or banning them as users from the site if their content was found contradicting the three rules by the moderators, the AI, other users of the platform, etc. This "legal system" should truly be in place so that users would be held responsible for their agreement to them.
But there's no way to ensure that they won't just mindlessly press "agree" three times. Certain platforms attract certain users, so hopefully, people joining such a platform would want honesty both from themselves and from others. The three gates of speech approvals would simply be reminders for people who are conscious and willing enough to act according to them.
I always press the "manage my options" button regarding the cookies, cause I care about privacy, even though in the end it perhaps doesn't change much. So it really depends on the person.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
In addition to this, I propose having another aspect of each post. The person would be required to add a private message that only they can see. “Why do you REALLY feel you want to say this?”. This targets honesty toward oneself.
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Strict moderation

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Spook Louw
Spook Louw Mar 24, 2022
This is quite a challenge, human nature, paired with the sense of power some people derive from the anonymity of online discourse.
For something like this to work, I believe you would have to enforce a strict definition of "honesty". Honesty does not mean the information has to be accurate, as someone might honestly hold a belief even though they are mistaken. So information does not necessarily need to be fact-checked, although mistakes and untruths should reveal themselves during discussion.
That said, it would still need to be heavily moderated in order to differentiate between being honest and being mean. A simple example: "You are unhealthy, you should adjust your lifestyle" is honest. "Just look at how fat you are, you're going to die soon" is mean and unnecessary. I don't think there is any way to moderate something like this other than through manual, human moderation.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
While both examples were actually honest, one was also mean.
The key seems to be "say what you really mean, but don't enjoy being mean" :)
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Chose a tag to go along with your comments displayed alongside your name.

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Aashi Agarwal
Aashi Agarwal Mar 28, 2022
I believe tonality is something everyone perceivces differently and no amount of moderation will lead to a world where nobody is hurt by anyone else. What if in addition to one's comments or feedback, there could be a tag that simplifies what opinion they hold of the idea. I propose a feature that allows you to chose one of these options to be shown next to your name while commenting "Completely agrees [insert thumbsup icon]" , "partially agrees" or "respectfully diagrees". Would this help reduce the blow of honest comments?
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Indirectly increasing chances of people being kindly honest by making them feel special, important, and better

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola Mar 27, 2022
The idea
Increase chances of people being honest by supporting kindness through add-ons and tools that put you and your emotional state in the first place
Defining the problem
I think the problem is not in people being dishonest, but, as Darko Savic mentioned in the session description, in people not being kind. We could make people "forcefully" kinder (as proposed in several contributions and in this session about rewarding good deeds), and it should work, but generally, it solves consequences, not causes. People not being kind are people having a bad day, dealing with intimate issues, or simply people who cannot feel that they are hurting someone. That's why I would propose a social media platform that deals with YOU in the first place.
How would it work?
Have you heard about AboutYou? It's a clothing webshop that markets itself as "your private webshop". Their webpage is full of „how do you feel today“, „discover your style“, “fulfill your wardrobe with special details“ messages which make you feel special. After all, the brand is called AboutYou 😊I would make the social medial work similar like this.
The main goals would be:
  • to make you feel comfortable as like scrolling through the Instagram
  • to have fun through new interesting contents
  • to be able to work on yourself through small psychological lessons, examples and motivation workshops
  • to be able to detect, recognize, understand and/or find solution for your current issues
  • to feel like having others with you in all of this through "counters" of people who feel similar to you
  • to be able to learn from others mistakes through examples of how people were rude, left nasty comments and reacted harmfully to other peoples posts
Implementation
In the existing social networks, I would create a giant platform that would work in the background and would be completely private. It would consist of many small add-ons and tools that would create an atmosphere of you talking to a friend. Through "what do you like or dislike on this photo?", "how is your faculty going?", "how was the last night out from 1 to 10?" and similar questions, the service would write completely private and safe diary made up of your comments, opinions and feedbacks. When you rate things bad, it would suggest you a short and unobtrusive courses in psychology, writing, communication, self-esteem or anything that presents a problem in that moment. That way you would spent a lot of time on social media, but by detecting, understanding and possibly solving your problems. It would make you happier and more satisfied, increasing chances of you being kindly honest to others.
"When you are willing to let go of personal salvation for the larger good by not speaking a brutally honest and harmful truth, you are doing the righteous thing" - Amid Soot MD

What do you think? Can you think of any other tool or add-on that would examine YOU in a better or more convenient way?
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General comments

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
My take-aways after reading the entire page:
  1. Principle #1 of such a platform should be: “Say what you really mean, but don't enjoy being mean”. When there is a chance that your words will hurt someone, make it a point to put the message in words that minimize the damage to other people’s egos. Solve the problem of rewarding the honesty of message originators but also protecting the feelings of message recipients.
  2. Don’t let people that could be emotionally affected by someone’s words, rate those words. The rating could never measure honesty. It’s likely to measure likeability, agreeability, etc, but not the honesty of the original poster. Solve the problem of identifying the honesty of message originators, but not by having message recipients rate the message.
I would suggest gamifying the platform as a training ground to strengthen people's egos so that they are better able to cope with the unfavorable opinions of others.
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