Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

Rethinking (read abandoning) Free Speech

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

If The A.C.L.U. Needs to Rethink Free Speech by K-Sue Parkaug were an exercise in legal logic, Parkaug would get an F.

These paragraphs capture Pakkaug’s argument:


After the A.C.L.U. was excoriated for its stance, it responded that “preventing the government from controlling speech is absolutely necessary to the promotion of equality.” Of course that’s true. The hope is that by successfully defending hate groups, its legal victories will fortify free-speech rights across the board: A rising tide lifts all boats, as it goes.

While admirable in theory, this approach implies that the country is on a level playing field, that at some point it overcame its history of racial discrimination to achieve a real democracy, the cornerstone of which is freedom of expression.

I volunteered with the A.C.L.U. as a law student in 2011, and I respect much of its work. But it should rethink how it understands free speech. By insisting on a narrow reading of the First Amendment, the organization provides free legal support to hate-based causes. More troubling, the legal gains on which the A.C.L.U. rests its colorblind logic have never secured real freedom or even safety for all.

For marginalized communities, the power of expression is impoverished for reasons that have little to do with the First Amendment. Numerous other factors in the public sphere chill their voices but amplify others.

Without doubt, the government, American society in general and the legal system in particular is not race, gender, class or in any other meaningful sense, blind. Marginalized communities bear the brunt of that lack of blindness.

If the legal system deprives those with privilege and power of free speech, what does logic and experience dictate will be the impact on marginalized communities?

Are you expecting a different free speech result for the marginalized from courts that discriminate against them?

If yes, call your mother to say your failure at legal logic is putting the marginalized in harm’s way. (post her reaction)

Updating “First they came …”

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Ds. Martin Niemöller neemt deel aan oecumenische samenkomst in de Grote Kert te Den Haag. Vlnr [Vrnl in spiegelbeeld!] . Ds M.N. W. Smitvoors (van de Haagse Oecumenische Raad), ds. Niemöller en prof. P. Kaetske, predikant van de Duitse Evangelische gemeente in Den Haag
*27 mei 1952

An updated version of Martin Niemöller‘s First they came … for censors:

First they censored pornographers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a pornographer.

Then they censored terrorists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a terrorist.

Then they censored “hate speech,” and I did not speak out—
Because I don’t use “hate speech.”

Then they censored Nazis, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Nazi.

Then they censored the KKK, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a member of the KKK.

Then they censored the alt-Right, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a member of the alt-Right.

Then they censored the environmentalists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not an environmentalist.

Then they censored the feminists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a feminist.

Then they censored #BlackLivesMatter, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not Black.

Then they censored me—and no one was able to speak for me.

Feel free to add to or re-order “Then they censored…” lines based on your own priorities and experience.

For a defense of free speech, consider the 1934 ACLU pamphlet entitled: “Shall We Defend Free Speech for Nazis in America?“:


To those who advocate suppressing propaganda they hate, we ask—where do you draw the line? They can answer only in the terms of revoluntionists—at our political enemies. But experience shows that “political enemies” is a broad term, and has covered the breaking up even of working class meetings by rival working class organizations. It illustrates the danger, and the impracticality of making any distinctions in defending rights sought by all.

To those who urge suppression of meetings that may incite riot or violence, the complete answer is that nobody can tell in advance what meetings may do so. Where there is reasonable ground for apprehension, the police can ordinarily prevent disorder.

To those who would suppress meetings where race or religious hatred is likely to be stirred up, the answer is simple,—that there is no general agreement on what constitutes race or religious prejudice. Once the bars are so let down, the field is open for all-comers to charge such prejudice against any propagandists, — Communists, Socialists, atheists,—even Jews attacking the Nazis. On that ground the Union has opposed the anti-Nazi bills introduced in the New York and New Jersey legislatures punishing propaganda which “stirs up race or religious hatred” or “domestic strife”. No laws can be written to outlaw Nazi propaganda without striking at freedom of speech in general.

Further, we point out the inevitable effect of making martyrs by persecution. Persecute the Nazis, drive them underground, imitate their methods in Germany—and attract to them hundreds of sympathizers with the persecuted who would otherwise be indifferent. The best way to combat their propaganda is in the open where it can be fought by counter-propaganda, protest demonstrations, picketing—and all the devices of attack which do not involve denying their rights to meet and speak.

Authored 84 years ago, the ACLU position on free speech is remarkably relevant today.

“[S]tirs up race or religious hatred” sounds a lot like “hate speech.”

Propaganda to suppress equals “political enemies.”

Political enemies today include the alt-right, Nazis, white supremacists, feminists, #Blacklivesmatter, and others, depending upon your personnel perspective.

Three of the world’s largest censors, Google, Facebook and Twitter, pout that freedom of speech doesn’t apply to them as non-governments.

True enough but their censorship spans governments, creating an even greater denial of the basic right to be heard.

If censorship is the question, none is the answer.


I cannot claim credit for finding the 1934 ACLU pamphlet. See: Fee Speech or Hate Speech? Civil Liberties Body ACLU Will No Longer Defend Gun-Carrying Protest Groups by Josh Lowe.

Yes, the ACLU is retreating from a long and honorable history of defending the First Amendment. (I won’t speculate on their motivations.)

Sex Trafficking at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport – Quick, Censor the Internet!

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta, GA, is the hub of sex trafficking in the United States.

FBI reports that Atlanta is the center for the sex-trafficking of adolescence and around 200 to 300 youth are prostituted in Atlanta a month. (At world’s busiest airport, sex trafficking abounds)

With an average of 20 to 30 youths prostituted a day in Atlanta, some members of Congress want to address sex trafficking by censoring the Internet.

Elliot Harmon in Internet Censorship Bill Would Spell Disaster for Speech and Innovation, puts it this way:

There’s a new bill in Congress that would threaten your right to free expression online. If that weren’t enough, it could also put small Internet businesses in danger of catastrophic litigation.

Don’t let its name fool you: the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) wouldn’t help punish sex traffickers. What the bill would do (PDF) is expose any person, organization, platform, or business that hosts third-party content on the Internet to the risk of overwhelming criminal and civil liability if sex traffickers use their services. For small Internet businesses, that could be fatal: with the possibility of devastating litigation costs hanging over their heads, we think that many entrepreneurs and investors will be deterred from building new businesses online.

Make no mistake: sex trafficking is a real, horrible problem. This bill is not the way to address it. Lawmakers should think twice before passing a disastrous law and endangering free expression and innovation.

Rather than focusing on a known location for sex trafficking, Congress is putting “…small Internet businesses…” in harm’s way.

The large content providers, Facebook, Google, Twitter, already have the financial and technical resources to meet the demands of SESTA. So in a very real sense, SESTA isn’t anti-sex trafficking but rather anti-small Internet business, in addition to being a threat to free speech.

Call your member of the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate, asking for their vote against Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693).

SESTA:

  1. Endangers free speech
  2. Favors large content providers over small ones
  3. Ignores known sex trafficking locations
  4. Is a non-solution to a known problem

Sex trafficking is a serious problem that needs a workable solution. Not an ineffectual, cosmetic non-solution that favors large content providers over smaller ones.

#FCensor – Facebook Bleeding Red Ink of Censorship

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Naked down under: Facebook censors erotic art

From the post:

Facebook has censored Fine Art Bourse’s (FAB) adverts for the online auction house’s relaunch sale of erotic art on the grounds of indecency. In 2015, FAB, then based in London, went into receivership shortly before its first sale after running out of funds due to a delay in building the technology required to run the cloud-based auctions. But the founder, Tim Goodman, formerly owner of Bonhams & Goodman and then Sotheby’s Australia under license, has now relaunched the firm in his native Australia, charging a 5% premium to both buyers and sellers and avoiding VAT, GST and sales tax on service charges by running auctions via a server in Hong Kong.

When Goodman attempted to run a series of adverts for his relaunch sale of Erotic, Fetish, & Queer Art & Objects on 12 September, Facebook barred the adverts citing its policy against “adverts that depict nudity” including “the use of nudity for artistic or educational purposes”.

Remember to use #FCensor for all Facebook censorship. (#GCensor for Google censoring, #TCensor for Twitter censoring.)

Every act of censorship by Facebook and every person employed as a censor, is a splash of red ink on the books at Facebook. Red ink that has no profit center offset.

Facebook can and should erase the red ink of censorship from its books.

Provide users with effective self-help filtering, being able to “follow” filters created by others and empowering advertisers to filter the content in proximity to their ads (for an extra $fee), moves censoring cost (read Facebook red ink) onto users and advertisers, improving Facebook’s bottom line.

What sane investor would argue with that outcome?

Better and “following” filters would enable users to create their own custom echo chambers. Oh, yeah, that’s part of the problem isn’t it? Zuckerberg and his band of would-be messiahs want the power to decide what the public sees.

I’ll pass. How about you?

Investors! Use your stock and dollars to save all of us from a Zuckerberg view of the world. Thanks!

When You Say “Google,” You Mean #GCensor

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Google Blocking Key Search Terms For Left Websites by Andre Damon.

From the post:

Note: In a previous article we reported that Popular Resistance had also seen more than a 60% drop in visits to our website since April when Google changed its search functions. This report goes further into how Google is blocking key search terms. See Google’s New Search Protocol Restricting Access To Leading Leftist Web Sites. KZ

Google blocked every one of the WSWS’s 45 top search terms

An intensive review of Internet data has established that Google has severed links between the World Socialist Web Site and the 45 most popular search terms that previously directed readers to the WSWS. The physical censorship implemented by Google is so extensive that of the top 150 search terms that, as late as April 2017, connected the WSWS with readers, 145 no longer do so.

These findings make clear that the decline in Google search traffic to the WSWS is not the result of some technical issue, but a deliberate policy of censorship. The fall took place in the three months since Google announced on April 25 plans to promote “authoritative web sites” above those containing “offensive” content and “conspiracy theories.”

Because of these measures, the WSWS’s search traffic from Google has fallen by two-thirds since April.

The WSWS has analyzed tens of thousands of search terms, and identified those key phrases and words that had been most likely to place the WSWS on the first or second page of search results. The top 45 search terms previously included “socialism,” “Russian revolution,” “Flint Michigan,” “proletariat,” and “UAW [United Auto Workers].” The top 150 results included the terms “UAW contract,” “rendition” and “Bolshevik revolution.” All of these terms are now blocked.
… (emphasis in original)

In addition to censoring “hate speech” and efforts such as: Google Says It Will Do More to Suppress Terrorist Propaganda, now there is evidence that Google is tampering with search results for simply left-wing websites.

Promote awareness of the censorship by Google, Facebook and Twitter, by using #GCensor, #FCensor, and #TCensor, respectively, for them.

I don’t expect to change the censorship behavior of #GCensor, #FCensor, and #TCensor. The remedy is non-censored alternatives.

All three have proven themselves untrustworthy guardians of free speech.

Twitter – Government Censor’s Friend

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Governments, democratic, non-democratic, kingships, etc. that keep secrets from the public, share a common enemy in Wikileaks.

Wikileaks self-describes in part as:

WikiLeaks is a multi-national media organization and associated library. It was founded by its publisher Julian Assange in 2006.

WikiLeaks specializes in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption. It has so far published more than 10 million documents and associated analyses.

“WikiLeaks is a giant library of the world’s most persecuted documents. We give asylum to these documents, we analyze them, we promote them and we obtain more.” – Julian Assange, Der Spiegel Interview.

WikiLeaks has contractual relationships and secure communications paths to more than 100 major media organizations from around the world. This gives WikiLeaks sources negotiating power, impact and technical protections that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to achieve.

Although no organization can hope to have a perfect record forever, thus far WikiLeaks has a perfect in document authentication and resistance to all censorship attempts.

Those same governments, share a common ally in Twitter, which has engaged in systematic actions to diminish the presence/influence of Julian Assange on Twitter.

Caitlin Johnstone documents Twitter’s intentional campaign against Assange in Twitter Is Using Account Verification To Stifle Leaks And Promote War Propaganda.

Catch Johnstone’s post for the details but then:

  1. Follow @JulianAssange on Twitter (watch for minor variations that are not this account.
  2. Tweet to your followers, at least once a week, urging them to follow @JulianAssange
  3. Investigate and support non-censoring alternatives to Twitter.

You can verify Twitter’s dilution of Julian Assange for yourself.

Type “JulianAssange_” in the Twitter search box (my results):

Twitter was a remarkably good idea, but has long since poisoned itself with censorship and pettiness.

Your suggested alternative?

Truth In Terrorism Labeling (TITL) – A Starter Set

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Sam Biddle‘s recent post: Facebook’s Tough-On-Terror Talk Overlooks White Extremists, is a timely reminder that “terrorism” and “terrorist” are labels with no agreed upon meaning.

To illustrate, here are some common definitions with suggestions for specifying the definition in use:

Terrorist/terrorism(Biddle): ISIS, Al Qaeda, and US white extremists. But not Tibetans and Uyghurs.

Terrorist/terrorism(China): From: How China Sees ISIS Is Not How It Sees ‘Terrorism’:

… in Chinese discourse, terrorism is employed exclusively in reference to Tibetans and Uyghurs. Official government statements typically avoid identifying acts of violence with a specific ethnic group, preferring more generic descriptors like “Xinjiang terrorists,“ “East Turkestan terror forces and groups,” the “Tibetan Youth Congress,” or the “Dalai clique.” In online Chinese chat-rooms, however, epithets like “Uyghur terrorist” or “Tibetan splittest” are commonplace and sometimes combine with homophonic racial slurs like “dirty Tibetans” or “raghead Uyghurs.”

Limiting “terrorism” to Tibetans and Uyghurs excludes ISIS, Al Qaeda, and US white extremists from that term.

Terrorist/terrorism(Facebook): ISIS, Al Qaeda, but no US white extremists (following US)

Terrorist/terrorism(Russia): Putin’s Flexible Definition of Terrorism

Who, exactly, counts as a terrorist? If you’re Russian President Vladimir Putin, the definition might just depend on how close or far the “terror” is from Moscow. A court in the Nizhniy Novgorod regional center last week gave a suspended two year sentence to Stanislav Dmitriyevsky, Chair of the local Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, and editor of Rights Defense bulletin. Dmitriyevsky was found guilty of fomenting ethnic hatred, simply because in March 2004, he published an appeal by Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov — later killed by Russian security services — and Maskhadov’s envoy in Europe, Akhmet Zakayev.

Maskhadov, you see, is officially a terrorist in the eyes of the Kremlin. Hamas, however, isn’t. Putin said so at his Kremlin press-conference on Thursday, where he extended an invitation — eagerly accepted — to Hamas’s leaders to Moscow for an official visit.

In fairness to Putin, as a practical matter, who is or is not a “terrorist” for the US depends on the state of US support. US supporting, not terrorists, US not supporting, likely to be terrorists.

Terrorist/terrorism(US): Generally ISIS, Al Qaeda, no US white extremists, for details see: Terrorist Organizations.

By appending parentheses and Biddle, China, Facebook, Russia, or US to terrorist or terrorism, the reading public has some chance to understand your usage of “terrorism/terrorist.”

Otherwise they are nodding along using their definitions of “terrorism/terrorist” and not yours.

Or was that vagueness intentional on your part?

Combating YouTube Censorship (Carry Banned Videos Yourself)

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Memorial Day is always a backwards looking holiday, but reading How Terrorists Slip Beheading Videos Past YouTube’s Censors by Rita Katz, felt like time warping to the 1950’s.

Other jihadi propaganda on the video-sharing platform may be visually more low-key, but are just as insidious in their own ways.

There is a grim bit in comedian Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix special about clicking “don’t like” on an Islamic State beheading video.

“How is this guy cutting peoples’ heads off on YouTube?” Chappelle asks, noting the absurdity of it.

Don’t like. Click.

In reality, reports of extremist content littering YouTube aren’t new. But when hundreds of major advertisers began suspending contracts with YouTube and Google in recent months, boycotting the massive video-sharing platform over concerns with such explicit content, things got a lot more real.

Google services—namely YouTube—are the most plentiful and important links used by terrorist organizations to disseminate their propaganda. And despite all of YouTube’s efforts to keep them out thus far, such groups still manage to sneak their media onto its servers.
… (emphasis in original)

Whatever label you want to apply to another group, “terrorist,” “al Qaeda,” etc., censorship is and remains censorship.

Censorship and intimidation were practiced during the Red Scare of the 1940’s/50’s, lives/careers were ruined, and we weren’t one whit safer than without it.

Want to combat YouTube censorship?

When videos are censored by YouTube, carry them on your site.

Suggested header: Banned on YouTube to make it easy to find.

It won’t stop YouTube’s censorship but it can defeat its intended outcome.

Introduction: The New Face of Censorship

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Introduction: The New Face of Censorship by Joel Simon.

From the post:

In the days when news was printed on paper, censorship was a crude practice involving government officials with black pens, the seizure of printing presses and raids on newsrooms. The complexity and centralization of broadcasting also made radio and television vulnerable to censorship even when the governments didn’t exercise direct control of the airwaves. After all, frequencies can be withheld; equipment can be confiscated; media owners can be pressured.

New information technologies–the global, interconnected internet; ubiquitous social media platforms; smart phones with cameras–were supposed to make censorship obsolete. Instead, they have just made it more complicated.

Does anyone still believe the utopian mantras that information wants to be free and the internet is impossible to censor or control?

The fact is that while we are awash in information, there are tremendous gaps in our knowledge of the world. The gaps are growing as violent attacks against the media spike, as governments develop new systems of information control, and as the technology that allows information to circulate is co-opted and used to stifle free expression.

The work of Joel Simon and the Committee to Protect Journalists is invaluable. The challenges, dangers and hazards for journalists around the world are constant and unrelenting.

I have no doubt about Simon’s account of suppression of journalists. His essay is a must read for everyone who opposes censorship, at least in its obvious forms.

A more subtle form of censorship is practiced in the United States, self-censorship.

How many stories on this theme have you read in the last couple of weeks? U.S. spy agency abandons controversial surveillance technique

Now, how many of those same stories mentioned that the NSA has a long and storied history of lying to the American public, presidents and congress?

By my count, which wasn’t exhaustive, the total is 0.

Instead of challenging this absurd account, Reuters reports the NSA reports as though it were true and fails to remind the public it is relying on a habitual liar.

Show of hands, how many readers think the Reuters staff forgot that the NSA is a hotbed of liars and cheats?

There is little cause for government censorship of US media outlets. They censor themselves before the government can even ask.

Support the Committee to Protect Journalists and perhaps their support of journalists facing real censorship will shame US media into growing a spine.

3,000 New Censorship Jobs At Facebook

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Quick qualification test for censorship jobs at Facebook:

  • Are you more moral than most people?
  • Are you more religious than most people?
  • Are you more sensitive than most people?
  • Do you want to suppress “harmful” content?
  • Do you enjoy protecting people who are easily mis-lead (unlike you)?
  • Do you support the United States, its agencies, offices and allies?
  • Do you recognize Goldman Sachs, Chase and all other NYSE listed companies as people with rights?

If you answered one or more of these questions with “yes,” congratulations! You have passed a pre-qualification test for one of the 3,000 new censorship positions for Facebook.

(Disclaimer: It is not known if Facebook will recognize this pre-qualification test and may have other tests or questions for actual applicants.)

For further details, see: Will Facebook actually hire 3,000 content moderators, or will they outsource? by Annalee Newitz.

Censorship is the question. The answer is no.

EU Censorship Emboldens Torpid UK Parliament Members

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Social media companies “shamefully far” from tackling illegal and dangerous content

From the webpage:

The Home Affairs Committee has strongly criticised social media companies for failing to take down and take sufficiently seriously illegal content – saying they are “shamefully far” from taking sufficient action to tackle hate and dangerous content on their sites.

The Committee recommends the Government should assess whether failure to remove illegal material is in itself a crime and, if not, how the law should be strengthened. They recommend that the Government also consult on a system of escalating sanctions to include meaningful fines for social media companies which fail to remove illegal content within a strict timeframe.
… (emphasis in original)

I can only guess the recent EU censorship spasm, EU’s Unfunded Hear/See No Evil Policy, has made the UK parliament bold. Or at least bolder than usual.

what leaves me puzzled though, is that “hate crimes,” are by definition crimes. Yes? And even the UK laws against hate crimes, police officials to enforce those laws and courts in which to try those suspected of hate crimes and prisons in the event they are convicted. Yes?

If all that’s true, then for social media, really media in general, you need only one rule:

If what you see, hear and/or read disturbs you, look, listen and/or read something else.

It’s really that simple. No costs to social media companies, no extra personnel to second guess what some number of UK parliament members find to be “hate and dangerous content,” no steady decay of the right to speak without government pre-approval, etc.

As far as what other people prefer to see, hear and/or read, well, that’s really none of your business.

EU’s Unfunded Hear/See No Evil Policy

Friday, April 28th, 2017

EU lawmakers vote to make YouTube fight online hate speech by Julia Floretti.

From the post:

Video-sharing platforms such as Google’s YouTube and Vimeo will have to take measures to protect citizens from content containing hate speech and incitement to violence under measures voted by EU lawmakers on Tuesday.

The proliferation of hate speech and fake news on social media has led to companies coming under increased pressure to take it down quickly, while internet campaigners have warned an excessive crackdown could endanger freedom of speech.

Members of the culture committee in the European Parliament voted on a legislative proposal that covers everything from 30 percent quotas for European works on video streaming websites such as Netflix to advertising times on TV to combating hate speech.

Ironically, the reported vote was by the “CULT” committee. No, I’m not making that up! I can prove that from the documents page:

From the report,


Amendment 18

(28) Some of the content stored on video-sharing platforms is not under the editorial responsibility of the video-sharing platform provider. However, those providers typically determine the organisation of the content, namely programmes or user-generated videos, including by automatic means or algorithms. Therefore, those providers should be required to take appropriate measures to protect minors from content that may impair their physical, mental or moral development and protect all citizens from incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to sex, race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.
… (emphasis in original)

In addition to being censorship, unfunded censorship at that, the EU report runs afoul of the racist reality of the EU.

If you’re up for some difficult reading, consider Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination – A European Report by Forum Berlin, Andreas Zick, Beate Küpper, and Andreas Hövermann.

From page 13 of the report:

  • Group-focused enmity is widespread in Europe. It is weakest in the Netherlands, and strongest in Poland and Hungary. With respect to anti-immigrant attitudes, anti-Muslim attitudes and racism there are only minor differences between the countries, while differences in the extent of anti-Semitism, sexism and homophobia are much more marked.
  • About half of all European respondents believe there are too many immigrants in their country. Between 17 percent in the Netherlands and more than 70 percent in Poland believe that Jews seek to benefit from their forebears’ suffering during the Nazi era. About one third of respondents believe there is a natural hierarchy of ethnicity. Half or more condemn Islam as “a religion of intolerance”. A majority in Europe also subscribe to sexist attitudes rooted in traditional gender roles and demand that: “Women should take their role as wives and mothers more seriously.” With a figure of about one third, Dutch respondents are least likely to affirm sexist attitudes. The proportion opposing equal rights for homosexuals ranges between 17 percent in the Netherlands and 88 percent in Poland; they believe it is not good “to allow marriages between two men or two women”.

At the risk of insulting our simian relatives, this new EU policy can be summarized by:

(source: Three Wise Monkeys)

Suppressing hate speech does not result in less hate, only in less evidence of it.

While this legislation is pending, YouTube and Vimeo should occasionally suspend access of EU viewers for an hour. EU voters may decide they need more responsible leadership.

Dissing Facebook’s Reality Hole and Impliedly Censoring Yours

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Climbing Out Of Facebook’s Reality Hole by Mat Honan.

From the post:

The proliferation of fake news and filter bubbles across the platforms meant to connect us have instead divided us into tribes, skilled in the arts of abuse and harassment. Tools meant for showing the world as it happens have been harnessed to broadcast murders, rapes, suicides, and even torture. Even physics have betrayed us! For the first time in a generation, there is talk that the United States could descend into a nuclear war. And in Silicon Valley, the zeitgeist is one of melancholy, frustration, and even regret — except for Mark Zuckerberg, who appears to be in an absolutely great mood.

The Facebook CEO took the stage at the company’s annual F8 developers conference a little more than an hour after news broke that the so-called Facebook Killer had killed himself. But if you were expecting a somber mood, it wasn’t happening. Instead, he kicked off his keynote with a series of jokes.

It was a stark disconnect with the reality outside, where the story of the hour concerned a man who had used Facebook to publicize a murder, and threaten many more. People used to talk about Steve Jobs and Apple’s reality distortion field. But Facebook, it sometimes feels, exists in a reality hole. The company doesn’t distort reality — but it often seems to lack the ability to recognize it.

I can’t say I’m fond of the Facebook reality hole but unlike Honan:


It can make it harder to use its platforms to harass others, or to spread disinformation, or to glorify acts of violence and destruction.

I have no desire to censor any of the content that anyone cares to make and/or view on it. Bar none.

The “default” reality settings desired by Honan and others are a thumb on the scale for some cause they prefer over others.

Entitled to their preference but I object to their setting the range of preferences enjoyed by others.

You?

Naming German Censors

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Germany gives social networks 24 hours to delete criminal content by Simon Sharwood.

From the post:

Germany has followed through on its proposal to make social networks remove slanderous hate speech and fake news or face massive fines.

The nation’s Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz (Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection) has announced that cabinet approved a plan to force social network operators to create a complaints mechanism allowing members of the public to report content that online translate-o-tronic services categorise as “insults, libel, slander, public prosecutions, crimes, and threats.”

The Bill approved by Cabinet proposes that social networks be required to establish complaints officer who is subject to local law and gets the job of removing obviously criminal content 24 hours after receiving a complaint. A seven-day deadline will apply to content that’s not immediately identifiable as infringing. Social networks will also be required to inform complainants of the outcome of their takedown requests and to provide quarterly summaries of their activities.

The ministry’s statement also suggests that those who feel aggrieved by material posted about them should be able to learn the true identity of the poster.

A Faktenpapier (PDF) on the Bill says that if the deadlines mentioned above aren’t met the social network’s designated complaints-handler could be fined up to five million Euros, while the network itself could cop a fine of 50 million Euros. An appeal to Germany’s courts will be possible.

Sharwood’s post is a great summary of this censorship proposal but fails to identify those responsible for it.

“Germany” in the abstract sense isn’t responsible for it. And to say the “Cabinet,” leaves the average reader no more informed than saying “Germany.”

Perhaps this helps: German Cabinet / Censors:

Peter Altmaier Alexander Dobrindt Sigmar Gabriel
Hermann Gröhe Barbara Hendricks Ursula von der Leyen
Heiko Maas Thomas de Maizière Angela Merkel
Gerd Müller Andrea Nahles Wolfgang Schäuble
Christian Schmidt Manuela Schwesig Johanna Wanka
Brigitte Zypries

I don’t have their staff listings, yet, but that’s a start on piercing the veil that “Germany,” and “Cabinet” puts between the reader and wannabe censors.

Other veils that hide/protect censors that need piercing?

UK Proposes to Treat Journalists As Spies (Your Response Here)

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

UK’s proposed Espionage Act will treat journalists like spies by Roy Greenslade.

From the post:

Journalists in Britain are becoming increasingly alarmed by the government’s apparent determination to prevent them from fulfilling their mission to hold power to account. The latest manifestation of this assault on civil liberties is the so-called Espionage Act. If passed by parliament, it could lead to journalists who obtain leaked information, along with the whistle blowers who provide it to them, serving lengthy prison sentences.

In effect, it would equate journalists with spies, and its threat to press freedom could not be more stark. It would not so much chill investigative journalism as freeze it altogether.

The proposal is contained in a consultation paper, “Protection of Official Data,” which was drawn up by the Law Commission. Headed by a senior judge, the commission is ostensibly independent of government. Its function is to review laws and recommend reforms to ensure they are fairer and more modern.

But fairness is hardly evident in the proposed law. Its implications for the press were first highlighted in independent news website The Register by veteran journalist Duncan Campbell, who specializes in investigating the U.K. security services.

Comments on the public consultation document can be registered here.

Greenslade reports criticism of the proposal earned this response from the government:


In response, both Theresa’s May’s government and the Law Commission stressed that it was an early draft of the proposed law change. Then the commission followed up by extending the public consultation period by a further month, setting a deadline of May 3.

Early draft, last draft or the final form from parliament, journalists should treat the proposed Espionage Act as a declaration of war on the press.

Being classified as spies, journalists should start acting as spies. Spies that offer no quarter and who take no prisoners.

Develop allies in other countries who are willing to publish information detrimental to your government.

The government has chosen a side and it’s not yours. What more need be said?

Continuing Management Fail At Twitter

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Twitter management continues to fail.

Consider censoring the account of Lauri Love. (a rumored hacker)

Competent management at Twitter would be licensing the rights to create shareable mutes/filters for all posts from Lauri Love.

The FBI, Breitbart, US State Department, and others would vie for users of their filters, which block “dangerous and/or seditious content.”

Filters licensed in increments, depending on how many shares you want to enable.

Twitter with no censorship at all would drive the market for such filters.

Licensing filters by number of shares provides a steady revenue stream and Twitter could its censorship prone barnacles. More profit, reduced costs, what’s not to like?

PS: I ask nothing for this suggestion. Getting Twitter out of the censorship game on behalf of governments is benefit enough for me.

White House blocks news organizations from press briefing [Opsec vs. Boromir, Ethics]

Friday, February 24th, 2017

White House blocks news organizations from press briefing by Dylan Byers, Sara Murray and Kevin Liptak.

From the post:

CNN and other news outlets were blocked Friday from an off-camera White House press briefing, raising alarm among media organizations and First Amendment watchdogs.

The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were also excluded from the meeting, which is known as a gaggle and is less formal than the televised Q-and-A session in the White House briefing room. The gaggle was held by White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

In a brief statement defending the move, administration spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the White House “had the pool there so everyone would be represented and get an update from us today.”

The pool usually includes a representative from one television network and one print outlet. In this case, four of the five major television networks — NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News — were invited and attended the meeting, while only CNN was blocked.

And while The New York Times was kept out, conservative media organizations Breitbart News, The Washington Times and One America News Network were also allowed in.
… (emphasis in original)

Good opsec counsels silence in the face of such an outrage but as Boromir says in The Fellowship of the Ring:

But always I have let my horn cry at setting forth, and though thereafter we may walk in the shadows, I will not go forth as a thief in the night.” (emphasis added)

I trust this outrage obviates “ethical” concerns over distinctions between leaking, hacking, or other means of obtaining government information?

Twitter reduces reach of users it believes are abusive [More Opaque Censorship]

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Twitter reduces reach of users it believes are abusive

More opaque censorship from Twitter:

Twitter has begun temporarily decreasing the reach of tweets from users it believes are engaging in abusive behaviour.

The new action prevents tweets from users Twitter has identified as being abusive from being displayed to people who do not follow them for 12 hours, thus reducing the user’s reach.

If the user were to mention someone who does not follow them on the social media site, that person would not see the tweet in their notifications. Again, this would last for 12 hours.

If the user who had posted abusive tweets was retweeted by someone else, this tweet would not be able to be seen by people who do not follow them, again reducing their Twitter reach.
… (emphasis in original)

I’m assuming this is one of the changes Ed Ho alluded to in An Update on Safety (February 7, 2017) when he said:

Collapsing potentially abusive or low-quality Tweets:

Our team has also been working on identifying and collapsing potentially abusive and low-quality replies so the most relevant conversations are brought forward. These Tweet replies will still be accessible to those who seek them out. You can expect to see this change rolling out in the coming weeks.
… (emphasis in original)

No announcements for:

  • Grounds for being deemed “abusive.”
  • Process for contesting designation as “abusive.”

Twitter is practicing censorship, the basis for which is opaque and the censored have no impartial public forum for contesting that censorship.

In the interest of space, I forego the obvious historical comparisons.

All of which could have been avoided by granting Twitter users:

The ability to create and share filters for tweets.

Even a crude filtering mechanism should enable me to filter tweets that contain my Twitter handle, but that don’t originate from anyone I follow.

So Ed Ho, why aren’t users being empowered to filter their own streams?

Defeating “Fake News” Without Mark Zuckerberg

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Despite a lack of proof that “fake news” is a problem, Mark Zuckerberg and others, have taken up the banner of public censors on behalf of us all. Whether any of us are interested in their assistance or not.

In countering calls for and toleration of censorship, you may find it helpful to point out that “fake news” isn’t new.

There are any number of spot instances of fake news. Michael J. Socolow reports in: Reporting and punditry that escaped infamy:


As the day wore on, real reporting receded, giving way to more speculation. Right-wing commentator Fulton Lewis Jr. told an audience five hours after the attack that he shared the doubts of many American authorities that the Japanese were truly responsible. He “reported” that US military officials weren’t convinced Japanese pilots had the skills to carry out such an impressive raid. The War Department, he said, is “concerned to find out who the pilots of these planes are—whether they are Japanese pilots. There is some doubt as to that, some skepticism whether they may be pilots of some other nationality, perhaps Germans, perhaps Italians,” he explained. The rumor that Germans bombed Pearl Harbor lingered on the airwaves, with NBC reporting, on December 8, that eyewitnesses claimed to have seen Nazi swastikas painted on some of the bombers.

You may object that it was much confusion, the pundits weren’t trying to deceive, any number of other excuses. And you can repeat those for other individual instances of “fake news.” They simply don’t compare to the flood of intentionally “fake” publications available today.

I disagree but point taken. Let’s look back to an event that, like the internet, enabled a comparative flood of information to be available to readers, the invention of the printing press.

Elizabeth Eisenstein in The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe characterizes the output of the first fifty years of printing presses saying:

…it seems necessary to qualify the assertion that the first half-century of printing gave “a great impetus to wide dissemination of accurate knowledge of the sources of Western thought, both classical and Christian.” The duplication of the hermetic writings, the sibylline prophecies, the hieroglyphics of “Horapollo” and many other seemingly authoritative, actually fraudulent esoteric writings worked in the opposite direction, spreading inaccurate knowledge even while paving the way for purification of Christian sources later on.
…(emphasis added) (page 48)

I take Eisenstein to mean that knowingly fraudulent materials were being published, which seems to be the essence of the charge against the authors of “fake news” today.

As far as the quantity of the printing press equivalent to “fake news,” she remarks:


Compared to the large output of unscholarly venacular materials, the number of trilingual dictionaries and Greek or even Latin editions seems so small that one wonders whether the term “wide dissemination” ought to be applied to the latter case at all.
… (page 48)

To be fair, “unscholarly venacular materials” includes both intended to be accurate as well as “fake” texts.

The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe is the abridged version of Eisentein’s The printing press as an agent of change : communications and cultural transformations in early modern Europe, which has the footnotes and references to enable more precision on early production figures.

Suffice it to say, however, that no 15th equivalent to Mark Zuckerberg arrived upon the scene to save everyone from “…actually fraudulent esoteric writings … spreading inaccurate knowledge….

The world didn’t need Mark Zuckerberg’s censoring equivalent in the 15th century and it doesn’t need him now.

Facebook’s Censoring Rules (Partial)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Facebook’s secret rules of deletion by Till Krause and Hannes Grassegger.

From the post:

Facebook refuses to disclose the criteria that deletions are based on. SZ-Magazin has gained access to some of these rules. We show you some excerpts here – and explain them.

Introductory words

These are excerpts of internal documents that explain to content moderators what they need to do. To protect our sources, we have made visual edits to maintain confidentiality. While the rules are constantly changing, these documents provide the first-ever insights into the current guidelines that Facebook applies to delete contents.

Insight into a part of the byzantine world of Facebook deletion/censorship rules.

Pointers to more complete leaks of Facebook rules please!

Achtung! Germany Hot On The Censorship Trail

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Germany threatens to fine Facebook €500,000 for each fake news post by Mike Murphy.

Mike reports that fears are spreading that fake news could impact German parliamentary elections set for 2017.

One source of those fears is the continued sulking of Clinton campaign staff who fantasize that “fake news” cost Sec. Clinton the election.

Anything is possible as they say but to date, other than accusations of fake news impacting the election, between sobs and sighs, there has been no proof offered that “fake news” or otherwise had any impact on the election at all.

Do you seriously think the “fake news” that the Pope had endorsed Trump impacted the election? Really?

If “fake news” something other than an excuse for censorship (United States, UK, Germany, etc.), collect the “fake news” stories that you claim impacted the election.

Measure the impact of that “fake news” on volunteers following standard social science protocols.

Or do “fake news” criers fear the factual results of such a study?

PS: If you realize that “fake news,” isn’t something new but quite tradition, you will enjoy ‘Fake News’ in America: Homegrown, and Far From New by Chris Hedges.

The Biggest Fake News…

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Naval Ravikant tweeted:

The biggest fake news is that the “fake news” debate is about anything other than censorship.

Any story/report/discussion/debate over “fake news,” should start with the observation that regulation, filtering, tagging, etc., of “fake news” is a form of censorship.

Press advocates of regulation, filtering, tagging “fake news” until they admit advocating censorship.

The only acceptable answer to censorship is NO. Well, perhaps Hell NO! but you get the idea.

Fight Censorship – Expand Content Flow! Censor Overflow!

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Facebook, Twitter and others have undertaken demented and pernicious censorship campaigns. Depending upon your politics and preferences, some of their rationales may or may not be compelling to you.

All censorship solutions fail to honor the fundamental right of all users to choose to listen/view or not, whatever content they choose. Instead, these censors seek to impose their choices on everyone.

I’m indifferent to the motivations of censors, some of which I would find personally compelling. The fact remains that users and only users should exercise the right of choice over the content they consume. I would not interfere with that right, even to further my own views on appropriate content.

Having said all that, you no doubt have noticed that your freedom to consume the content of your choice are being rapidly curtailed by the aforementioned censors and others.

One practical defense against these censorious vermin is to explode the flow of content. Producing a condition I call “censor overflow.”

Radio.Garden (which I posted on yesterday) is one source of new content.

Here are some others:

Australian Live Radio Some 268 “proper” radio stations (no internet only) from Australia.

InternetRadio As of today, 39,539 internet radio stations. Even more intriguing is the capability to create your own radio station. Servers are in London and the US so you will need to self-censor or find concealment for your station if you want to be edgy.

Listenlive.edu Over 4000 “proper” radio stations from across Europe.

Live-Radio.net Another “proper” radio station listing but this time with worldwide coverage.

RadioGuide.fm A focus on online radio stations from around the world, now numbering more than 3000 stations.

Radio Station World A wider worldwide listing which expressly includes:

RadioStationWorld is an informational directory dealing with the radio broadcasters worldwide. We depend on many people around the world to help us keep the RadioStationWorld listings up to date. (And much thanks to those that take some time to help keep information up-to-date!) Some of the features you will find on our site include listings of local radio stations on the web, radio station that offer streaming webcast services, and in depth listings of local radio broadcast stations including digital radio throughout North America. Also featured are national and regional broadcast networks, shortwave radio, satellite radio, hospital radio, cable radio, closed circuit/campus radio and radio service providers, as well as a growing list of links to sites that deal with the radio broadcasting industry. Enjoy RadioStationWorld, we hope you find this site useful to whatever your needs are, but remember, we do depend on people like yourself to help update in an ever changing broadcast industry. [Correction: The shortwave radio broadcast listing ahs been withdrawn and the provided link points to a dead resource.]

TuneIn Radio

TuneIn enables people to discover, follow and listen to what’s most important to them — from sports, to news, to music, to talk. TuneIn provides listeners access to over 100,000 real radio stations and more than four million podcasts streaming from every continent.(emphasis in original)

For the sake of completeness, avoid the List of Internet radio stations at Wikipedia. It is too outdated to be anything other than a waste of time.

Contribute content, writing, sound, music, videos, graphics, images, anything that can bring us closer to a state of censor overload!

No promises that censors will tire and go away, after all, censors have been censoring since Plato’s Republic.

But, we have more opportunities to bury censors in a tidal wave of content.

Which will be almost as enjoyable as the content in which we bury them.

Sigh, Tolerance for Censorship is High

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Almost half of Americans believe government ‘responsible’ for tackling fake news by Alastair Reid.

From the post:

Americans are increasingly concerned about the impact of fake news and believe the government bears responsibility in stopping its spread, according to a new survey published today by the Pew Research Center.

Almost 90 per cent of respondents believe fake news causes a “great deal” or “some” confusion about “the basic facts of current events”, and 45 per cent think the government, politicians or elected officials have a “great deal of responsibility” in stopping the spread of fake news.

I am less concerned with the 75 per cent of people who believe fake stories to be true (BuzzFeed News) than the 45% who find it acceptable for government to combat fake news.

I don’t know of any government or tech company I would trust to filter the content I see.

You?

The full Pew report.

Be Undemocratic – Think For Other People – Courtesy of Slate

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Feeling down? Left out of the “big boys” internet censor game by the likes of Facebook and Twitter?

Dry your eyes! Slate has ridden to your rescue!

Will Oremus writes in: Only You Can Stop the Spread of Fake News:


Slate has created a new tool for internet users to identify, debunk, and—most importantly—combat the proliferation of bogus stories. Conceived and built by Slate developers, with input and oversight from Slate editors, it’s a Chrome browser extension called This Is Fake, and you can download and install it for free either on its home page or in the Chrome web store. The point isn’t just to flag fake news; you probably already know it when you see it. It’s to remind you that, anytime you see fake news in your feed, you have an opportunity to interrupt its viral transmission, both within your network and beyond.

I’m glad Slate is taking the credit/blame for This is Fake.

Can you name a more undemocratic position than assuming your fellow voters are incapable of making intelligent choices about the news they consume.

Well, everybody but you and your friends. Right?

Thanks for your offer to help Slate, but no thanks.

How To Brick A School Bus, Data Science Helps Park It (Part 1)

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Apologies for being a day late! I was working on how the New York Times acted as a bullhorn for those election interfering Russian hackers.

We left off in Data Science and Protests During the Age of Trump [How To Brick A School Bus…] with:

  • How best to represent these no free speech and/or no free assembly zones on a map?
  • What data sets do you need to make protesters effective under these restrictions?
  • What questions would you ask of those data sets?
  • How to decide between viral/spontaneous action versus publicly known but lawful conduct, up until the point it becomes unlawful?

I started this series of posts because the Women’s March on Washington wasn’t able to obtain a protest permit from the National Park Service due to a preemptive reservation by the Presidential Inauguration Committee.

Since then, the Women’s March on Washington has secured a protest permit (sic) from the Metropolitan Police Department.

If you are interested in protests organized for the convenience of government:

“People from across the nation will gather” at the intersection of Independence Avenue and Third Street SW, near the U.S. Capitol, at 10:00am” on Jan. 21, march organizers said in a statement on Friday.

Each to their own.

Bricking A School Bus

We are all familiar with the typical school bus:

school-bus-460

By Die4kids (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The saying, “no one size fits all,” applies to the load capacity of school buses. For example, the North Carolina School Bus Safety Web posted this spreadsheet detailing the empty (column I) and maximum weight (column R) of a variety of school bus sizes. For best results, get the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, maximum load) for your bus and then weight it on reliable scales.

Once you determine the maximum weight capacity of your bus, divide that weight by 4,000 pounds, the weight of one cubic yard of concrete. That results is the amount of concrete that you can have poured into your bus as part of the bricking process.

I use the phrase “your bus” deliberately because pouring concrete into a school bus that doesn’t belong to you would be destruction of private property and thus a crime. Don’t commit crimes. Use your own bus.

Once the concrete has hardened (for stability), drive to a suitable location. It’s a portable barricade, at least for a while.

At a suitable location, puncture the tires on one side and tip the bus over. Remove/burn the tires.

Consulting line 37 of the spreadsheet, with that bus, you have a barricade of almost 30,000 pounds, with no wheels.

Congratulations!

I’m still working on the data science aspects of where to park. More on that in How To Brick A School Bus, Data Science Helps Park It (Part 2), which I will post tomorrow.

Facebook Patents Tool To Think For You

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

My apologies but Facebook thinks you are too stupid to detect “fake news.” Facebook will compensate for your stupidity with a process submitted for a US patent. For free!

Facebook is patenting a tool that could help automate removal of fake news by Casey Newton.

From the post:

As Facebook works on new tools to stop the spread of misinformation on its network, it’s seeking to patent technology that could be used for that purpose. This month the US Trademark and Patent Office published Facebook’s application for Patent 0350675: “systems and methods to identify objectionable content.” The application, which was filed in June 2015, describes a sophisticated system for identifying inappropriate text and images and removing them from the network.

As described in the application, the primary purpose of the tool is to improve the detection of pornography, hate speech, and bullying. But last month, Zuckerberg highlighted the need for “better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.” The patent published Thursday, which is still pending approval, offers some ideas for how such a system could work.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company often seeks patents for technology that it never implements, and said this patent should not be taken as an indication of the company’s future plans. The spokeswoman declined to comment on whether it was now in use.

The system described in the application is largely consistent with Facebook’s own descriptions of how it currently handles objectionable content. But it also adds a layer of machine learning to make reporting bad posts more efficient, and to help the system learn common markers of objectionable content over time — tools that sound similar to the anticipatory flagging that Zuckerberg says is needed to combat fake news.

If you substitute “user” for “administrator” where it appears in the text, Facebook would be enabling users to police the content they view.

Why Facebook finds users making decisions about the content they view objectionable isn’t clear. Suggestions on that question?

The process doesn’t appear to be either accountable and/or transparent.

If I can’t see the content that is removed by Facebook, how do I make judgments about why it was removed and/or how that compares to content about to be uploaded to Facebook?

Urge Facebook users to demand empowering them to make decisions about the content they view.

Urge Facebook shareholders to pressure management to abandon this quixotic quest to be an internet censor.

Attn: “Fake News” Warriors! Where’s The Harm In Terrorist Propaganda?

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube team up to stop terrorist propaganda by Justin Carissimo.

Justin’s report is true, at least in the sense that Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube are collaborating to censor “terrorist propaganda.”

Justin’s post also propagates the “fake news” that online content from terrorists “…threaten our national security and public safety….”

Really? You would think after all these years of terrorist propaganda, there would be evidence to support that claim.

True enough, potential terrorists can meet online, but “recruitment” is a far different tale than reading online terrorist content. Consider ISIS and the Lonely Young American, a tale told to support the idea of online recruiting, but is one of the better refutations of that danger.

It’s not hard to whistle up alleged social science studies of online “terrorist propaganda” but the impacts of that so-called propaganda, are speculation at best, when not actually fantasies of the authors.

“Fake News” warriors should challenge the harmful terrorist propaganda narrative as well as those that are laughably false (denying climate change for example).

Resisting EU Censorship

Monday, December 5th, 2016

US tech giants like Facebook could face new EU laws forcing them to tackle hate speech by Arjun Kharpal.

From the post:

U.S. technology giants including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Google’s YouTube could face new laws forcing them to deal with online hate speech if they don’t tackle the problem themselves, the European Commission warned.

In May, the four U.S. firms unveiled a “code of conduct” drawn up in conjunction with the Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, to take on hate speech on their platforms. It involved a series of commitments including a pledge to review the majority of notifications of suspected illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to the content if necessary. Another promise was to provide regular training to staff around hate speech.

But six months on, the Commission is not happy with the progress. EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova has commissioned a report, set to be released later this week, which claims that progress in removing offending material has been too slow.

I posted about this ill-fated “code of conduct” under Four Horsemen Of Internet Censorship + One. I pointed out the only robust solution to the “hate speech” problem was to enable users to filter the content they see, as opposed to the EU.

Fast forward 2 internet years (3 months = 1 internet year) and the EU is seeking to increase its censorship powers and not to empower users to regulate the content they consume.

Adding injury to insult, the EU proposes directives that require uncompensated expenditures on the part of its victims, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Google, to meet criteria that can only be specified user by user.

Why the first refuge of the EU for disagreeable speech is censorship I don’t know. What I do know is any tolerance of EU censorship demands encourages even more outrageous censorship demands.

The usual suspects should push back and push back hard against EU demands for censorship.

Enabling users to filter content means users can shape incoming streams to fit their personal sensitivities and dislikes, without impinging on the rights of others.

Had Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Google started developing shareable content filters when they proposed their foolish “code of conduct” to the EU last May, they would either be available or nearly so by today.

Social media providers should not waste any further time attempting to censor on behalf of the EU or users. Enable users to censor their own content and get out of the censorship business.

There’s no profit in the censorship business. In fact, there is only expense and wasted effort.

PS: The “EU report” in question won’t be released until Wednesday, December 7, 2016 (or so I am told).

Internet Censor(s) Spotted in Mirror

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

How to solve Facebook’s fake news problem: experts pitch their ideas by Nicky Woolf.

From the post:

The impact of fake news, propaganda and misinformation has been widely scrutinized since the US election. Fake news actually outperformed real news on Facebook during the final weeks of the election campaign, according to an analysis by Buzzfeed, and even outgoing president Barack Obama has expressed his concerns.

But a growing cadre of technologists, academics and media experts are now beginning the quixotic process of trying to think up solutions to the problem, starting with a rambling 100+ page open Google document set up by Upworthy founder Eli Pariser.

Woolf captures the essential wrongness with the now, 120 pages, of suggestions, quoting Claire Wardle:


“The biggest challenge is who wants to be the arbiter of truth and what truth is,” said Claire Wardle, research director for the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. “The way that people receive information now is increasingly via social networks, so any solution that anybody comes up with, the social networks have to be on board.”

Don’t worry, selecting the arbiter of truth and what truth is won’t be difficult.

The authors of these suggestions see their favorite candidate every day:

mirror-460

So long as they aren’t seeing my image (substitute your name/image) in the mirror, I’m not interested in any censorship proposal.

Personally, even if offered the post of Internet Censor, I would turn it down.

I can’t speak for you but I am unable to be equally impartial to all. Nor do I trust anyone else to be equally impartial.

The “solution” to “fake news,” if you think that is a meaningful term, is more news, not less.

Enable users to easily compare and contrast news sources, if they so choose. Freedom means being free to make mistakes as well as good choices (from some point of view).