The Algorithmic Elimination of the Fair Trial

How Silicon Valley may well be killing the concept.

What tends to show in the first five swipes of a person's social media feed? Is it the never-ending barrage of ads personally tailored for each user, eerily  prescient to our wants and needs? Or is it updates from our friends, family and folks whose content we enjoy? Is it links to news stories that we commonly click on?

Thanks to the Netflix documentary 'The Social Dilemma' and a plethora of expose articles and essays written about the topic, we know that it tends to be an amalgamation of these, an algorithmic formulation of what we as users are most likely to engage with and hold our attention. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, these are the major players in this space, and they have all had former programmers and personnel come out over the last five or so years and proclaim, quite clearly, that our social media feeds are curated, manipulated, to snatch our attentions and hold them as long as possible.

While this is a perfectly justifiable practice to the profit-minded men and women of Silicon Valley, I would argue that it has all but decimated the concept of publicly available, unbiased jury pools for court proceedings.

"Whoa, Josh, calm your horses. You are neither a jury selection expert, nor a technology expert, dude." No, but I am a reasoning human being with the ability to add two and two and come up with a result of four. And before you tell me it could be five, let me quickly dismiss you as a quack whose redefinist abuse would make Cornman, Lehrer, Pappas and Phillips blush and be ashamed of the current state of the human animal.

High profile cases are, at this juncture, irretrievably damaged in the United States at this point, and I can reason you through this statement. If you're responsible for selecting a jury for a criminal trial, you need only, at this point, ask the potential juror to show the court the first five to ten full-screen scrolls of their social media feeds. Stories associated with the biggest events of the day, or related incidents, are invariably going to propogate into the top of their Feed. This will give the selection expert a fair window into what perspective on the subject at hand the juror holds, since almost every news source in the current online environment holds an idealogical bias.

Users are fed what the algorithm sees they interact with. Per these studies and "The Social Dilemma", we interact most with what makes us angry and/or upset by feeding our confirmation bias. We've known this already for years, but haven't followed the downstream consequences to this logical conclusion.

The only 'pure' and useful jurors we'll ever get again for high profile criminal cases are those who do not use social media at all, or those who don't use it in the way most folks do.

Lesser-covered or publicized cases tend to end up following the trends and precedents set by larger profile cases, which, if this holds true, will eventually result in the loss of the 'Fair Trial' concept throughout the entire judicial system.

And we can thank Silicon Valley for this problem.

And before anybody tries to claim that it's only those social media avenues that are a problem, they're not; I would be just as likely, as a jury selection person, to be wary of the silo effect of potential jurors whose main social media inputs are Parler, Gab, and Bitchute. How can I say this is equivalent? Well, because I have accounts on ALL of these social media platforms, and a couple more besides, including MeWe, Pocketnet, Odysee and Rumble. I'm fucking everywhere, and I have a fairly broad view of how each service tends to cater to one side of the ideological divide or the other. Measuring the raw membership numbers and comparing the overall market control and influence, it is clear to me that the Big Tech oligopoly of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and YouTube/Google has a MASSIVE advantage in terms of power.

After all, can you name a single instance of former staffers, CEOs, or board members from the other platforms mentioned above now serving in the Biden Administration? Or having outsized voices in the ears of House or Senatorial Committees or Sub-Committees? The answer is emphatically 'No'.

What does any of that have to do with my point? A lot, in fact. If the average potential juror is asked, point blank, "What, if any, social media platforms, including video hosting sites, do you have an account on", the majority of them will answer with at least one or two of the Big Tech entities. I'd estimate that the numbers for Gab, Parler, Bitchute and Minds would number MAYBE a quarter of the total of their Big Tec equivalents.

In short, most Americans, even the ones who HATE Big Tech and socio-politically stand in opposition to their unstated but obvious biases, nonetheless have accounts on those platforms. Knowledge of the alternatives is not universal, and thanks to the smear tactics employed by Big Tech in the court of public opinion, even confessing to having an account on Gab or Parler is much the same effect as having a crimson patch of cloth shaped like an 'A' pinned to your chest.

Double points to those of you who catch the reference.

The jury selection process, because of all of this, could easily be rendered completely ineffective. Attorneys who spend just enough time arguing with a judge that potential juror X should be dismissed due to their involvement with, say, Parler, since the USPS iCOP program has already admitted to spying on those users for 'potential criminal activity', can get them quickly dismissed.

Juror Y gets dismissed because she's in four Facebook Groups associated with Antifa, and she can be seen posting comments and memes glorifying violence and property destruction, and our potential defendant is a known socio-political agitator- guess what? She's already decided not to vote guilty on this defendant, no matter what.

Do you see what I'm getting at? It isn't just the mob that has damaged the legitimacy of the criminal justice system; it's Silicon Valley, too.

And if we aren't careful, folks working in the legal sector, far, far smarter than I am, are going to realize this and start using the above sort of tactics to jam up the system, until it completely breaks down. After all, if a dope like me can figure this out, someone else can surely use it to their advantage, and the rest of our disadvantage.