One user requested we filter alt right podcasts from the content suggestions. A discussion emerged about whether (the host of) the podcast in question is alt-right, about the responsibility AntennaPod has over content suggestions coming from iTunes.
An argument thrown into the debate claimed that AntennaPod is ‘neutral’, claiming that we have no control over the content that we recommend (as they’re provided by iTunes). Neutrality of technology in general and AntennaPod in particular can be topic of discussion. Claiming we have no control over content we suggest is straight-out nonsense.
This is about what content this app is actively recommending to users. And there’s always a decision based on political views. The only question is where I, you or we as a community draw the line.
I wholeheartedly agree, and I think we gotta take responsibility here. Editorial responsibility, for editorial questions. That’s not to say I’m arguing per say for filtering individual feeds per se. But there’s got to be more options than just accepting as a fact of life that our app recommends racist content.
I think we should discuss further the possibility of blocking specific content from the suggestions. But if we agree to doing so, we’d need to draw up some qualifications and processes for this first (which is a long and complex road). A slightly less complex, but still challenging path is getting new content sources, which would give us more flexibility in handling/moving away from iTunes.
We also can take some technological quick fixes, which slightly improve the situation:
- make specific that the suggestions come from directly iTunes (signalling where a large part of the editorial responsibility lays)
- let users block specific podcasts (feeds) from being proposed any-more on their device
- make it possible for users to select a different region for their suggestion sources
About the last one: currently AP takes the locale for the device to determine which content suggestions to retrieve (as @ByteHamster explained). Yet I guess that there are many users like me who have their language/locale set to English, while they’re actually based or focused elsewhere. Presenting more localised (relevant) content suggestions, the app would better account for local norms and expectations (national filter bubbles, as it were). (A similar thing has actually been requested before - though that’s focused on making on-the-fly changes in the discover screen, while I think it’d be better to have this an app-wide setting, and it should be possible to select multiple regions to source from).