This Newspaper Used an Algorithm to Play a Nasty Trick on Readers in Comments Section

Inverting opinions gives them a taste of censorship

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A publication in Pakistan is taking an aggressive approach to stressing the importance of press freedoms—by helping readers better understand the unpleasantness of having their own words inverted.

The Daily Times and agency Grey Singapore wanted to drive home the dangers of censorship with their "Free My Voice" campaign. They wrote an algorithm that automatically flipped the meaning of commenters' posts, and applied it to comments beneath a controversial article about the Islamic country's blasphemy law (which includes such punishments as life imprisonment for desecration of the Quran—but often finds accused parties murdered before their trials are complete).

Commenters praising the article or its subject automatically found themselves criticizing it, and vice versa, with the site changing their intent over and over.

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