Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

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heist tightsBack in 2016, after a bit of a hoo-hah about a ‘beach body ready’ advert, London Mayor Sadiq Khan pressurised Transport For London (TfL) into introducing a PC ban for all adverts which didn’t adhere to the notion of ‘body positivity’.And in the latest example of extreme PC censorship, Heist, a company which sells up-market tights, recently revealed that TfL forced it to cover-up a woman’s naked back with a bandeau top in one of its adverts on the tube.

A representative from Exterion Media, the company which works on behalf of TfL and enforces its policy, told Heist:

Whilst I know this is only showing a bare back, it still depicts a ‘topless model. If we could add a boob tube around the back I think this would be passed.’

It also looks as if the tights were photoshopped to darken them a little to hide a rather sharply outlined bottom.

… Read the critical comment in article from blogs.spectator.co.uk by Ella Whelan.

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European Parliament logoUnder disgraceful plans set out last year by the European Commission, news publishers would get extra rights over their content, giving them the right to charge and licence publishers seeking to use snippets or short quotes from articles. The policy has been dubbed ‘the link tax’.Now a key committee of the European Parliament, the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, wants to extend the proposals so that these rights would also cover publishers of academic research. Surely a nightmare for open access and open science. Researchers might have to pay, or might at least have to ask for permission, every time they want to quote another academic’s work in their piece.

If the proposed ancillary right is extended to academic publications, researchers, students and other users of scientific and scholarly journal articles could be forced to ask permission or pay fees to the publisher for including short quotations from a research paper in other scientific publications, according to an open letter from Science Europe.

But even if this latest amendment is not adopted, the wider plan could still make it much harder for everyone, including researchers, to include quotations from news articles in their work, the organisation fears. For example, students might have to buy a licence for every newspaper quote they use in a thesis. Links to news and the use of titles, headlines and fragments of information could now become subject to licensing. Terms could make the last two decades of news less accessible to researchers and the public, leading to a distortion of the public’s knowledge and memory of past events.

openmedia.org is campaigning against the link tax and notes:

open media logo Next week, MEPs on the European Parliament’s powerful Civil Liberties committee will vote on whether to approve the Link Tax and mass content filtering. With your help we’ve been relentlessly fighting to put a stop to this disastrous duo of copyright policy, and this is what all that pressure and hard work comes down to.

Let’s be clear: these proposals are abusing copyright to censor the Internet. Backed by powerful publishing lobbyists and unelected European Commissioners, they include sweeping powers for media giants to charge fees for links, and requirements that websites build censorship machines to monitor and block your content. But with the help of tens of thousands of EU citizens, we’ve made clear to the European Parliament just how dangerous and unpopular these censorship proposals really are.

See  article from boingboing.net . Boing Boing are also somewhat unipressed by the crap law being generated by the EU.:

boing boing logo The European Commission has a well-deserved reputation for bizarre, destructive, ill-informed copyright plans for the internet , and the latest one is no exception: mandatory copyright filters for any site that allows the public to post material, which will algorithmically determine which words, pictures and videos are lawful to post, untouched by human hands.

These filters already exist, for example in the form of Youtube’s notoriously hamfisted Content ID system, which demonstrates just how bad robots are at figuring out copyright law. But even if we could make filters that were 99% accurate, this would still be a catastrophe on a scale never seen in censorship’s long and dishonorable history: when you’re talking about hundreds of billions of tweets, Facebook updates, videos, pictures, posts and uploads, a 1% false-positive rate would amount to the daily suppression of the entire Library of Alexandria, or all the TV ever broadcast up until, say, 1980.

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yale logoFacebook touts its partnership with outside fact-checkers as a key prong in its fight against fake news, but a major new Yale University study finds that fact-checking and then tagging inaccurate news stories on social media doesn’t work.The study , reported for the first time by POLITICO, found that tagging false news stories as disputed by third party fact-checkers has only a small impact on whether readers perceive their headlines as true. Overall, the existence of disputed tags made participants just 3.7 percentage points more likely to correctly judge headlines as false, the study said.

The researchers also found that, for some groups–particularly, Trump supporters and adults under 26–flagging bogus stories could actually end up increasing the likelihood that users will believe fake news. This because not all fake stories are fact checked, and the absence of a warning tends to add to the credibility of an unchecked, but fake, story.

Researchers Gordon Pennycook & David G. Rand of Yale University write in their abstract:

Assessing the effect of disputed warnings and source salience on perceptions of fake news accuracy

What are effective techniques for combatting belief in fake news? Tagging fake articles with Disputed by 3rd party fact-checkers warnings and making articles’ sources more salient by adding publisher logos are two approaches that have received large-scale rollouts on social media in recent months.

Here we assess the effect of these interventions on perceptions of accuracy across seven experiments [involving 7,534 people].

With respect to disputed warnings, we find that tagging articles as disputed did significantly reduce their perceived accuracy relative to a control without tags, but only modestly (d=.20, 3.7 percentage point decrease in headlines judged as accurate).

Furthermore, we find a backfire effect — particularly among Trump supporters and those under 26 years of age — whereby untagged fake news stories are seen as more accurate than in the control.

We also find a similar spillover effect for real news, whose perceived accuracy is increased by the presence of disputed tags on other headlines.

With respect to source salience, we find no evidence that adding a banner with the logo of the headline’s publisher had any impact on accuracy judgments whatsoever.

Together, these results suggest that the currently deployed approaches are not nearly enough to effectively undermine belief in fake news, and new (empirically supported) strategies are needed.

Presented with the study, a Facebook spokesperson questioned the researchers’ methodology–pointing out that the study was performed via Internet survey, not on Facebook’s platform–and added that fact-checking is just one part of the company’s efforts to combat fake news. Those include disrupting financial incentives for spammers, building new products and helping people make more informed choices about the news they read, trust and share, the spokesperson said.

The Facebook spokesman added that the articles created by the third party fact-checkers have uses beyond creating the disputed tags. For instance, links to the fact checks appear in related article stacks beside other similar stories that Facebook’s software identifies as potentially false. They are powering other systems that limit the spread of news hoaxes and information, the spokesperson said.

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doj logoThe U.S. Department of Justice has indicated it will end Operation Choke Point, the repressive program that discouraged banks from offering financial services to a range of companies it deemed objectionable.

Critics of the program that was initiated during the Obama administration said it was hurting legitimate businesses such. Adult entertainment companies were also affected.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd referred to the program as a misguided initiative in a August 16 letter to House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte. In the DOJ’s letter obtained by Politico, Boyd said, We share your view that law abiding businesses should not be targeted simply for operating in an industry that a particular administration might disfavor.

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Facebook logoAs queer artists and activists, we’re alarmed by a new trend: Many LGBTQ people’s posts have been blocked recently for using words like dyke, fag, or tranny to describe ourselves and our communities.

While these words are still too-often shouted as slurs, they’re also frequently reclaimed by queer and transgender people as a means of self-expression. However, Facebook’s algorithmic and human reviewers seem unable to accurately parse the context and intent of their usage.

Whether intentional or not, these moderation fails constitute a form of censorship. And just like Facebook’s dangerous and discriminatory real names policy , these examples demonstrate how the company’s own practices often amplify harassment and cause real harm to marginalized groups.

For example, two individuals wrote that they were reported for posting about the return of graphic novelist Alison Bechdel’s celebrated Dykes To Watch Out For comic strip. A gay man posted that he was banned for seven days after sharing a vintage flyer for the 1970s lesbian magazine DYKE , which was recently featured in an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. A queer poet of color’s status update was removed for expressing excitement in finding poetry that featured the sex lives of black and brown faggots.

A young trans woman we heard from was banned for a day after referring to herself as a tranny alongside a selfie that proudly showed off her new hair style. After she regained access, she posted about the incident, only to be banned again for three more days.

…Read the full article from wired.com

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sony clean versionSony have been regularly ‘sanitizing’ their movies but cutting down the violence and strong language so as to make them suitable for children. These versions are targeted at airlines and daytime TV but earlier this month Sony decided to make these sanitised versions available to download at home, choosing 24 titles:

50 First Dates, Battle Of The Year, Big Daddy, Captain Phillips, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Easy A, Elysium, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Goosebumps, Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2Hancock, Inferno, Moneyball, Pixels, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2Step Brothers, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, White House Down

The censorship cuts are typically very extreme. For example, the clean version of Will Ferrell comedy Step Brothers – originally given an R rating for crude and sexual content according to Sony – has had 23 instances of violence taken out, 152 of bad language and 91 of sexual content.

The Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler romcom 50 First Dates had a PG13 for crude sexual humour and drug references. Its clean version has 10 violent moments taken out, 34 uses of bad language and 34 instances of sexual content.

Matt Damon sci-fi film Elysium , which also had an R rating for bloody violence, had 18 of those violent moments taken out, 63 uses of bad language and one instance of sexual content.

Horror comedy Goosebumps was a PG when it came out – so could be described as family-friendly already. But its clean version had four fewer incidences of violence, with five uses of bad language and five examples of nudity taken out too.

But now they’ve had to backtrack after filmmakers complained about the vandalisation of their works. After an outcry, the president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Man Jit Singh, said their directors were of paramount importance to us and they wanted to respect those relationships to the utmost:

We believed we had obtained approvals from the film-makers involved, for use of their previously supervised television versions as a value-added extra on sales of the full version. But if any of them are unhappy or have reconsidered, we will discontinue it for their films.

Seth Rogen was one of the first to react when news of Clean Version emerged. He pleaded, adding a swear word for emphasis, please don’t do this to our movies.

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has said the hard-fought-for rights that protect a director’s work and vision are at the very heart of our craft and a thriving film industry.

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open rights group 2016 logo A Freedom of Information request to the DCMS has revealed that porn company MindGeek suggested that the BBFC should potentially block millions of porn sites if they didn’t comply with Age Verification requirements outlined in the Digital Economy Act.

MindGeek, who are also developing Age Verification technology, said that the Government’s plans to prevent children from seeing pornography would not be effective unless millions of sites could be blocked.

Notes made by the company and sent to the DCMS state:

A greylist of 4M URLs already exists from Sky, but lets assume that’s actually much smaller as these URLs will I suspect, be page- level blocks, not TLDs. The regulator should contact them all within that 12 months, explaining that if they do not demonstrate they are AV ready by the enforcement date then they will be enforced against. “On the enforcement date, all sites on the greylist turn black or white depending upon what they have demonstrated to the regulator.

Corey Price, VP of Pornhub, separately noted:

It is our corporate responsibility as part of the global tech community to promote ethical and responsible behavior. We firmly believe that parents are best placed to police their children’s online activity using the plethora of tools already available in modern operating systems. The law has the potential to send a message to parents that they no longer need to monitor their children’s online activity, so it is therefore essential that the Act is robustly enforced.

Despite the law, those seeking adult content can still circumvent age verification using simple proxy/VPN services. Consequently the intent of the legislation is to only protect children who stumble across adult content in an un-protected environment. There are over 4 million domains containing adult content, and unless sites are enforced against equally, stumbling across adult content will be no harder than at present. If the regulator pursues a proportionate approach we may only see the Top 50 sites being effected 203 this is wholly unacceptable as the law will then be completely ineffective, and simply discriminate against compliant sites. We are therefore informing, and closely monitoring the development of the regulations, to be published later this year, to see if they achieve the intended goals of the Act.

MindGeek could stand to gain commercially if competitor websites are blocked from UK visitors, or if the industry takes up their Age Verification product.

Executive Director of Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said:

There is nothing in the Act to stop the BBFC from blocking 4.6 million pornographic websites. The only constraint is cash.

This leaves the BBFC wide open to pressure for mass website blocking without any need for a change in the law.

When giving evidence to the Public Bill Committee , the chief executive of the British Board of Film Classification, David Austin implied that only tens of sites would be targeted:

We would start with the top 50 and work our way through those, but we would not stop there. We would look to get new data every quarter, for example. As you say, sites will come in and out of popularity. We will keep up to date and focus on those most popular sites for children.