We talk a lot on this show about the responsibility of major tech platforms when it comes to content moderation. But what about problems the platforms can’t—or won’t—fix? Tracy Chou’s solution involves going around platforms entirely and creating tools that give power back to users to control their own experience. She’s the engineer behind Block Party, an app that allows Twitter users to protect themselves against online harassment and abuse. It’s a fine-tuned solution to a problem that a lot of Twitter users struggle with, especially women and particularly women of color.
This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Tracy about her work developing Block Party and how the persistent lack of diversity in Silicon Valley contributes to an environment where users have little protection against harassment. They also talked about what it’s like working with the platforms that Block Party and other apps like it are seeking to improve. And they discussed what content moderation problems these kinds of user-driven tools might help solve–and which they won’t.