Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

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facebook nudity inspectors video The Flemish Tourism Board has responded to Facebook’s relentless censorship of nudity in classical paintings by Peter Paul RubensIn the satirical video, a team of Social Media Inspectors block gallery goers from seeing paintings at the Rubens House in Antwerp. Facebook-branded security–called fbi–redirect unwitting crowds away from paintings that depict nude figures. We need to direct you away from nudity, even if artistic in nature, says one Social Media Inspector.

The Flemish video, as well as a cheeky open letter from the tourism board and a group of Belgian museums, asks Facebook to roll back its censorship standards so that they can promote Rubens. “Breasts, buttocks and Peter Paul Rubens cherubs are all considered indecent. Not by us, but by you, the letter, addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, says. Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life rather difficult for us.

The Guardian reported that Facebook is planning to have talks with the Flemish tourist board.

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Poland flagThe Polish government is demanding that ISPs snitch on their customers who attempt to access websites it deems illegal.

The government wants to make the restrictions stricter for unauthorised online gambling sites and will require local ISPs to inform it about citizens’ attempts to access them. According to the Panoptykon Foundation, a digital rights watchdog, the government will compile a central registry of unauthorized websites to monitor.

According to the digital rights body, the government seeks to introduce a chief snooper that would compel data from ISPs disclosing which citizens tried to access unauthorised websites. In addition, the ISPs would have to keep the smooping requests secret from the customer.

Local organisations are unsurprisingly worried that the censorship’s expansion could turn out to be the first of many steps in an online limitation escalation.

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declaration of independenceOne moment Facebook’s algorithms are expected to be able to automatically distinguish terrorism support from news reporting or satire, the next moment, it demonstrates exactly how crap it is by failing to distinguish hate speech from a profound, and nation establishing, statement of citizens rights.

Facebook’s algorithms removed parts of the US Declaration of Independence from the social media site after determining they represented hate speech.

The issue came to light when a local paper in Texas began posting excerpts of the historic text on its Facebook page each day in the run up to the country’s Independence Day celebrations on July 4.

However when The Liberty County Vindicator attempted to post its tenth extract, which refers to merciless Indian savages, on its Facebook page the paper received a notice saying the post went against its standards on hate speech.

Facebook later ‘apologised’ as it has done countless times before and allowed the posting.

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slave montreal festival posterThe Montreal International Jazz Festival has explained its decision to censor a show featuring a white woman singing songs composed by black slaves.Festival CEO Jacques-Andre Dupont said the decision to abruptly cancel SLAV partway through its run was made for a mix of technical and human reasons, including security concerns raised by the escalating vitriol surrounding the show. He also said that the show’s star, Betty Bonifassi, had broken her ankle and indicated she was no longer able to continue.

He said that while many protesters were peaceful, the festival and the theatre where the show was performed were concerned by the aggression of some protesters and the rising division and anger surrounding the show. He said Bonifassi’s decision to not continue was prompted both by her injury and the criticism.

Dupont said the festival and the production company would absorb what he said would be hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses associated with cancelling the show, including paying the performers.

SLAV, one of the hottest tickets at this year’s jazz festival, was the subject of protests claiming ‘cultural appropriation’ of black culture and history. It was described as a theatrical odyssey based on slave songs and a journey through traditional Afro-American songs, from cotton fields to construction sites, railroads, from slave songs to prison songs.

Black activists denounced the show and its mostly-white cast, and U.S. musician Moses Sumney cancelled a gig at the festival in protest.

Amid a storm of international media attention, the festival announced Wednesday it was cancelling the remaining performances and apologizing to anybody who had been hurt.

The renowned Quebec playwright Robert Lepage who directed the show criticized the decision to cancel it, calling it a direct blow to artistic freedom. He said in a statement that actors pretending to be someone else is at the very heart of theatre:

When we are no longer allowed to step into someone else’s shoes, when it is forbidden to identify with someone else, theatre is denied its very nature, it is prevented from performing its primary function and is thus rendered meaningless.

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House of Commons logoGoogle, Facebook, YouTube and other sites would be required by law to take down extremist material within 24 hours of receiving an official complaint under an amendment put forward for inclusion in new counter-terror legislation.The Labour MP Stephen Doughty’s amendment echoes censorship laws that came into effect in Germany last year. However the effect of the German law was to enable no-questions-asked censorship of anything the government doesn’t like. Social media companies have no interest in challenging unfair censorship and find the easiest and cheapest way to comply is to err on the side of the government, and take down anything asked regardless of the merits of the case.

The counter-terrorism strategy unveiled by the home secretary, Sajid Javid, this month, said the Home Office would place a renewed emphasis on engagement with internet providers and work with the tech industry to seek more investment in technologies that automatically identify and remove terrorist content before it is accessible to all.

But Doughty, a member of the home affairs select committee, said his amendment was needed because the voluntary approach was failing. He said a wide variety of extremist content remained online despite repeated warnings.

If these companies can remove copyrighted video or music content from companies like Disney within a matter of hours, there is no excuse for them to be failing to do so for extremist material.

Doughty’s amendment would also require tech companies to proactively check content for extremist material and take it down within six hours of it being identified.

The proactive check of content alludes to the censorship machines being introduced by the EU to scan uploads for copyrighted material. The extension to detect terrorist material coupled with the erring on the side of caution approach would inevitably lead to the automatic censorship of any content even using vocabulary of terrorism, regardless of it being news reporting, satire or criticsim.

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An almost theological question for, what will AI make of religion? What will it make of people who proclaim peace whilst inciting violence; who preach tolerance whilst practising intolerance; and whose hypocrisy about sexuality is simply perverse?Anyway, Facebook have excelled themselves by banning an image of Jesus Christ on the cross in a context of religious education.

A post on the Franciscan University blog explains:

We posted yesterday a series of ads to Facebook to promote our online MA Theology and MA Catechetics and Evangelization programs.

One ad was rejected, and an administrator of our Facebook page noticed this rejection today. The reason given for the rejection?

Your image, video thumbnail or video can’t contain shocking, sensational, or excessively violent content.

Our ad was rejected because it contained:

  • shocking content

  • sensational content

  • excessively violent content

What was the offending image?

banned cruxifictionAnd indeed, the Crucifixion of Christ was all of those things. It was the most sensational action in history: man executed his God.

It was shocking, yes: God deigned to take on flesh and was obedient unto death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)

And it was certainly excessively violent: a man scourged to within an inch of his life, nailed naked to a cross and left to die, all the hate of all the sin in the world poured out its wrath upon his humanity.

Although the university owned up to the ‘violent’ image Facebook then decided that of course the image wasn’t violent and yet again issued a grovelling apology for its shoddy censorship process. So do you think AI censorship process will be any better?

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open rights group 2016 logo Facebook Tracking Exposed (FTE) is a browser extension which intends to find out – but you won’t find it in the chrome store because Facebook have issued a takedown request.

Facebook don’t want you to know how their algorithm works. That will hardly be a shock to you or anyone else, but it is a serious problem. The algorithm is what Facebook uses to determine what you, or anyone else around the world, will see.

What it chooses to promote or bury has become increasingly important to our democracy. But Facebook don’t want you to know how it works.

Facebook Tracking Exposed (FTE) is a browser extension which intends to find out – it lets users compare their timeline posts against the potential chronological content, helping them to understand why some posts have been promoted, and other haven’t. It also allows comparative research, pooling data to help researchers try and reverse engineer the algorithm itself.

So far, so great – but you won’t be able to find FTE in the chrome store because Facebook have issued a takedown on the basis on the basis of an alleged trademark infringement. Facebook do not want you to know how their algorithm works – how it controls the flow of information to billions of people.

To pretend the premise of Facebook’s trademark claim is reasonable for a second (it’s not likely – the Facebook used in the name describes the purpose of the tool rather than who made it) the question becomes – is it reasonable for Facebook to use this as an excuse to continue to obfuscate their filtering of important information?

The answer, as all of the news around Cambridge Analytica is making clear, is that it absolutely is not. People looking to understand the platform they are using would find it very difficult to find without the Facebook in the name. But then, Facebook don’t want you to know how their algorithm works.

This is easy for Facebook to fix, they could revoke their infringement claim, and start taking on some genuine accountability. There is no guarantee that FTE will be able to perfectly reveal the exact workings of the algorithm – attempts to reverse engineer proprietary algorithms are difficult, and observations will always be partial and difficult to control and validate.

That doesn’t change the fact that companies like Facebook and Google need to be transparent about the ways they filter information. The information they do or don’t show people can affect opinions, and potentially even sway elections.

We are calling on Google to reinstate the application on the Chrome store and for Facebook to withdraw their request to remove the app. But, then, Facebook don’t want you to know how their algorithm works.

The equivalent add-on for Firefox is also now unavailable.