Home > News content

How will Microsoft deal with controversial code on GitHub?

via:博客园     time:2018/6/8 18:33:47     readed:424

According to: On June 4, 2018, the same day as Apple WWDC held, Microsoft preemptively announced the acquisition of the code hosting platform GitHub for US$7.5 billion; although this news did not grab the headline of WWDC, it still caused People have concerns about how Microsoft handles disputed code on GitHub. Based on this issue, "Link" magazine's article put forward its own thinking, Lei Feng network on this article did not change the willingness to compile.


After a weekend of rumors, Microsoft officially announced on Monday that it will acquire the code-hosting website GitHub for $7.5 billion. The platform is an important reference resource for 28 million developers and has billions of open source code. It is Microsoft's best choice in many aspects, and Microsoft has been experimenting with open source projects in recent years.

However, this much-loved developer platform may also cause some trouble. Microsoft will soon need to formally decide how to deal with GitHub repositories that conflict with their own interests. The tech giant will face similar challenges faced by peers like Facebook and Google, with the difference being code rather than words.

GitHub was created more than a decade ago and almost every major software organization developer, from Google to NASA, is collaborating. It has a wide range of projects, from Bitcoin codes to all laws and regulations of the German government. The platform serves as a social network for programmers; their contributions to the site can replace traditional resumes. Anyone can distribute open source code to GitHub for free; the platform makes money by charging individuals and companies with code confidentiality fees.

The 85 million repositories on GitHub make it one of the most popular websites in the world. However, this includes issues that the new owner of GitHub may have to deal with.

Microsoft's burden

Take the Xbox emulator hosted on GitHub as an example. These usually self-made programs allow people to play host games on their computers. Microsoft owns the Xbox. When gamers refuse to buy a game console and play on a desktop computer, they obviously lose money. These simulator softwares bring an interesting problem: If developers put them off, Microsoft may be angry, but not doing so will violate their commercial interests. This is just a simple example, but after Microsoft gains control of GitHub, there will be many other conflicts.

Microsoft will have to carefully consider whether to host those tools so that people can create what is widely considered harmful.

GitHub also provides some code that allows users to use artificial intelligence to create fake pornographic videos that convert one's face to another person. According to Motherboard, almost all major social networks have banned the Deepfakes technology. But the code used to create them still exists on GitHub, which brings potential ethical issues to Microsoft.

In many ways, tweaking the code used to create objectionable content is trickier than simply prohibiting itself. For example, it can theoretically be assumed that the code that continues to host deepfake is for educational purposes.

Sarah T. Roberts, assistant professor of information research at the University of California, Los Angeles, which controls content research, said that taking offensive content and "eliminating code that may generate 1 million items" is not the same as they brought. The impact is different.

The code to help generate objectionable content is not objectionable in itself, but Microsoft will have to seriously consider whether to host it so that people can create something that is widely considered harmful, although not completely illegal. This is a problem that a user-generated content platform (such as Facebook) does not need to consider.

Microsoft may also face problems with GitHub overseas, such as in China. Unlike websites such as Facebook, the Chinese government cannot simply shield GitHub, which will prevent its own developers from accessing valuable open source code. But GitHub also hosts what the government needs to review.

GitHub has also been reviewed in many other countries where Microsoft has commercial interests, including Russia and India. The former temporarily blocked access to a page for hosting suicide description methods in 2014. The latter limited GitHub and some other hosted content on the site and was allegedly published by ISIS. But it is worth noting that Microsoft also has LinkedIn, which faces similar censorship issues abroad; this is not a brand new challenge for the company.

More complicated than expected

Like all websites that host user-generated content, GitHub has made some difficult review decisions. In 2016, the site decided to remove the code released by Shadow Brokers, a hacking organization that obtained loopholes related to the National Security Agency. This was done because Shadow Brokers tried to sell more stolen data, which violated GitHub's terms of service. However, the site sometimes continues to host other stolen code that is not on sale. This may also bring difficulties to Microsoft.

“ GitHub is not a perfect censorship defender, but they still host certain sensitive data. This may disappear under Microsoft's control. “

Like other technology companies, GitHub has released an annual transparency report detailing the number of times the repository was removed and why it was taken. The site also has a written list of community rules prohibiting such things as threats of violence, hate speech and harassment. Importantly, it also prohibits the use of the site to release active malware or vulnerabilities. Recently, GitHub even wrote a study with the United Nations on content control and freedom of speech.

Despite this, the acquisition shocked some developers. GitLab is a website that provides similar GitHub competition services. It said that after Microsoft released the news, its project attracted much attention. The most popular repository released by GitHub on Tuesday was the "GitHub evacuation center", which aims to help users move their projects to other locations.

Despite this, developers' concerns about Microsoft's rules are still theoretical. It is not yet clear how Microsoft will manage GitHub. Since the transaction has not yet been finalized, both companies declined to provide further details. However, Microsoft has publicly acknowledged that it is taking responsibility.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, wrote in a blog post: “We are committed to becoming the GitHub community's manager. The GitHub community will retain its developer-first style, operating independently and keeping the platform open. “ Now, achieving this promise may be more complex than expected.


China IT News APP

Download China IT News APP

Please rate this news

The average score will be displayed after you score.

Post comment

Do not see clearly? Click for a new code.

User comments