Archive for the ‘Internet Social Media’ Category

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adolf hitler YouTube has decided to adopt a widespread censorship rule to ban the promotion of hate speech. Google wrote:

Today, we’re taking another step in our hate speech policy by specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.

However for all the Artificial Intelligence it has at its disposal the company cannot actually work out which videos promote hate speech. Instead it has taken to banning videos referencing more easily identifiable images such as Nazi symbology, regardless of the context in which they are presented.

For example YouTube has blocked some British history teachers from its service for uploading archive material related to Adolf Hitler.

Scott Allsopp, who owns the longrunning MrAllsoppHistory revision website and teaches at an international school in Romania, had his channel featuring hundreds of historical clips on topics ranging from the Norman conquest to the cold war deleted for breaching the rules that ban hate speech. Allsopp commented:

It’s absolutely vital that YouTube work to undo the damage caused by their indiscriminate implementation as soon as possible. Access to important material is being denied wholesale as many other channels are left branded as promoting hate when they do nothing of the sort.

While previous generations of history students relied on teachers playing old documentaries recorded on VHS tapes on a classroom television, they now use YouTube to show raw footage of the Nazis and famous speeches by Adolf Hitler.

Richard Jones-Nerzic, another British teacher affected by the crackdown, said that he had been censured for uploading clips to his channel from old documentaries about the rise of Nazism. Some of his clips now carry warnings that users might find the material offensive, while others have been removed completely. He said he was appealing YouTube’s deletion of archive Nazi footage taken from mainstream media outlets, arguing that this is in itself form of negationism or even holocaust denial.

Allsopp had his account reinstated on Thursday following an appeal but said he had been contacted by many other history teachers whose accounts have also been affected by the ban on hate speech. Users who do not swiftly appeal YouTube’s decisions could find their material removed for good.

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information commissioners office logo New proposals to safeguard children will require everyone to prove they are over 18 before accessing online content.

These proposals – from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – aim at protecting children’s privacy, but look like sacrificing free expression of adults and children alike. But they are just plans: we believe and hope you can help the ICO strike the right balance, and abandon compulsory age gates, by making your voice heard.

The rules cover websites (including social media and search engines), apps, connected toys and other online products and services.

The ICO is requesting public feedback on its proposals until Friday 31 May 2019. Please urgently write to the consultation to tell them their plan goes too far! You can use these bullet points to help construct your own unique message:

  • In its current form, the Code is likely to result in widespread age verification across everyday websites, apps and online services for children and adults alike.

  • Age checks for everyone are a step too far. Age checks for everyone could result in online content being removed or services withdrawn. Data protection regulators should stick to privacy. It’s not the Information Commissioner’s job to restrict adults’ or children’s access to content.

  • With no scheme to certify which providers can be trusted, third-party age verification technologies will lead to fakes and scams, putting people’s personal data at risk.

  • Large age verification providers will seek to offer single-sign-in across a wide variety of online services, which could lead to intrusive commercial tracking of children and adults with devastating personal impacts in the event of a data breach.

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maga klan An artist who redesigns President Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) hats into recognizable symbols of hate speech says she has been banned from Facebook.Kate Kretz rips apart the iconic red campaign hat and resews it to look like other symbols, such as a Nazi armband or a Ku Klux Klan hood.

It all seems a bit hateful and inflammatory though, sneering at the people who choose to wear the caps. Hopefully the cap wearers will recall that free speech is part of what once made America great.

The artist said Facebook took down an image of the reimagined Nazi paraphernalia for violating community standards.

She appealed the decision and labeled another image with text clarifying that the photo was of a piece of art, but her entire account was later disabled. Kretz said:

I understand doing things for the greater good. However, I think artists are a big part of Facebook’s content providers, and they owe us a fair hearing.

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donald trump The US Whitehouse has set up a page on the online form building website, typefac.com. Donald Trump asks to be informed of biased censorship. The form reads:

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear violations of user policies.

No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump.

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internet association logo The world’s biggest internet companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter are represented by a trade group call The Internet Association. This organisation has written to UK government ministers to outline how they believe harmful online activity should be regulated.The letter has been sent to the culture, health and home secretaries. The letter will be seen as a pre-emptive move in the coming negotiation over new rules to govern the internet. The government is due to publish a delayed White Paper on online harms in the coming weeks.

The letter outlines six principles:

  • “Be targeted at specific harms, using a risk-based approach
  • “Provide flexibility to adapt to changing technologies, different services and evolving societal expectations
  • “Maintain the intermediary liability protections that enable the internet to deliver significant benefits for consumers, society and the economy
  • “Be technically possible to implement in practice
  • “Provide clarity and certainty for consumers, citizens and internet companies
  • “Recognise the distinction between public and private communication”

Many leading figures in the UK technology sector fear a lack of expertise in government, and hardening public sentiment against the excesses of the internet, will push the Online Harms paper in a more radical direction.

Three of the key areas of debate are the definition of online harm, the lack of liability for third-party content, and the difference between public and private communication.

The companies insist that government should recognise the distinction between clearly illegal content and content which is harmful, but not illegal. If these leading tech companies believe this government definition of harm is too broad, their insistence on a distinction between illegal and harmful content may be superseded by another set of problems.

The companies also defend the principle that platforms such as YouTube permit users to post and share information without fear that those platforms will be held liable for third-party content. Another area which will be of particular interest to the Home Office is the insistence that care should be taken to avoid regulation encroaching into the surveillance of private communications.

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UK Government arms Social media companies face criminal sanctions for failing to protect children from online harms, according to drafts of the Government’s White Paper circulating in Whitehall.

Civil servants are proposing a new corporate offence as an option in the White Paper plans for a tough new censor with the power to force social media firms to take down illegal content and to police legal but harmful material.

They see criminal sanctions as desirable and as an important part of a regulatory regime, said one source who added that there’s a recognition particularly on the Home Office side that this needs to be a regulator with teeth. The main issue they need to satisfy ministers on is extra-territoriality, that is can you apply this to non-UK companies like Facebook and YouTube? The belief is that you can.

The White Paper, which is due to published mid-March followed by a Summer consultation, is not expected to lay out as definitive a plan as previously thought. A decision on whether to create a brand new censor or use Ofcom is expected to be left open. A Whitehall source said:

Criminal sanctions are going to be put into the White Paper as an option. We are not necessarily saying we are going to do it but these are things that are open to us. They will be allied to a system of fines amounting to 4% of global turnover or Euros 20m, whichever is higher.

Government minister Jeremy Wright told the Telegraph this week he was especially focused on ensuring that technology companies enforce minimum age standards. He also indicated the Government w ould fulfill a manifesto commitment to a levy on social media firms, that could fund the new censorr.

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dcms facebook The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has published its final report on Disinformation and ‘fake news’. The report calls for:

  • Compulsory Code of Ethics for tech companies overseen by independent regulator

  • Regulator given powers to launch legal action against companies breaching code

  • Government to reform current electoral communications laws and rules on overseas involvement in UK elections

  • Social media companies obliged to take down known sources of harmful content, including proven sources of disinformation

Further finds that:

  • Electoral law ‘not fit for purpose’

  • Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws

Chair’s comment

Damian Collins MP, Chair of the DCMS Committee said:

“Our inquiry over the last year has identified three big threats to our society. The challenge for the year ahead is to start to fix them; we cannot delay any longer.

“Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use everyday. Much of this is directed from agencies working in foreign countries, including Russia.

“The big tech companies are failing in the duty of care they owe to their users to act against harmful content, and to respect their data privacy rights.

“Companies like Facebook exercise massive market power which enables them to make money by bullying the smaller technology companies and developers who rely on this platform to reach their customers.

“These are issues that the major tech companies are well aware of, yet continually fail to address. The guiding principle of the ‘move fast and break things’ culture often seems to be that it is better to apologise than ask permission.

“We need a radical shift in the balance of power between the platforms and the people. The age of inadequate self regulation must come to an end. The rights of the citizen need to be established in statute, by requiring the tech companies to adhere to a code of conduct written into law by Parliament, and overseen by an independent regulator.

“We also have to accept that our electoral regulations are hopelessly out of date for the internet age. We need reform so that the same principles of transparency of political communications apply online, just as they do in the real world. More needs to be done to require major donors to clearly establish the source of their funds.

“Much of the evidence we have scrutinised during our inquiry has focused on the business practices of Facebook; before, during and after the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal.

“We believe that in its evidence to the Committee Facebook has often deliberately sought to frustrate our work, by giving incomplete, disingenuous and at times misleading answers to our questions.

“Even if Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t believe he is accountable to the UK Parliament, he is to the billions of Facebook users across the world. Evidence uncovered by my Committee shows he still has questions to answer yet he’s continued to duck them, refusing to respond to our invitations directly or sending representatives who don’t have the right information. Mark Zuckerberg continually fails to show the levels of leadership and personal responsibility that should be expected from someone who sits at the top of one of the world’s biggest companies.

“We also repeat our call to the Government to make a statement about how many investigations are currently being carried out into Russian interference in UK politics. We want to find out what was the impact of disinformation and voter manipulation on past elections including the UK Referendum in 2016 and are calling on the Government to launch an independent investigation.”

Final Report

This Final Report on Disinformation and ‘Fake News’ repeats a number of recommendations from the interim report published last summer. The Committee calls for the Government to reconsider a number of recommendations to which it did not respond and to include concrete proposals for action in its forthcoming White Paper on online harms.
Independent regulation of social media companies.

The Report repeats a recommendation from the Interim Report for clear legal liabilities to be established for tech companies to act against harmful or illegal content on their sites, and the report calls for a compulsory Code of Ethics defining what constitutes harmful content. An independent regulator should be responsible for monitoring tech companies, backed by statutory powers to launch legal action against companies in breach of the code.

Companies failing obligations on harmful or illegal content would face hefty fines. MPs conclude: “Social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a ‘platform’ and maintain that they have no responsibility themselves in regulating the content of their sites.”

The Report’s recommendation chimes with recent statements by Ministers indicating the Government is prepared to regulate social media companies following the death of teenager Molly Russell. The Committee hopes to see firm recommendations for legislation in the White Paper to create a regulatory system for online content that is as effective as that for offline content.

It repeats its recommendation for new independent regulation to be funded by a levy on tech companies operating in the UK.

Data use and data targeting

The Report highlights Facebook documents obtained by the Committee and published in December 2018 relating to a Californian court case brought by app developer Six4Three. Through scrutiny of internal Facebook emails between 2011 and 2015, the Report finds evidence to indicate that the company was willing to: override its users’ privacy settings in order to transfer data to some app developers; to charge high prices in advertising to some developers, for the exchange of data, and starve some developers–such as Six4Three–of that data, contributing to them losing their business. MPs conclude: “It is evident that Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws.”

It recommends that the ICO carries out a detailed investigation into the practices of the Facebook platform, its use of users’ and users’ friends’ data, and the use of ‘reciprocity’ of the sharing of data. The CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) should conduct a comprehensive audit of the advertising market on social media and investigate whether Facebook has been involved in anti-competitive practices.

MPs note that Facebook, in particular, is unwilling to be accountable to regulators around the world: “By choosing not to appear before the Committee and by choosing not to respond personally to any of our invitations, Mark Zuckerberg has shown contempt towards both our Committee and the ‘International Grand Committee’ involving members from nine legislators from around the world.”