Apple- Facebook and YouTube Remove Content From Alex Jones and Infowars – The New York Times

“Facebook, Spotify and Google’s YouTube site, which removed some Infowars content last week, followed with stronger measures on Monday. Facebook removed four pages belonging to Mr. Jones, including one with nearly 1.7 million followers as of last month, for violating its policies by “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.” Facebook said the violations did not relate to “false news.”

YouTube terminated Mr. Jones’s channel, which had more than 2.4 million subscribers and billions of views on its videos, for repeatedly violating its policies, including its prohibition on hate speech. Spotify cited its own prohibition on hate speech as the reason for removing a podcast by Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones and Infowars are leaders in using the internet to spread right-wing conspiracy theories, an effort that was aided after Donald J. Trump appeared on Mr. Jones’s show during the 2016 presidential campaign and praised Mr. Jones’s reputation as “amazing.” Mr. Jones has repeatedly claimed that the government staged the Oklahoma City bombing, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and numerous other mass shootings and tragedies.”

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Facebook Tried to Rein In Fake Ads. It Fell Short in a California Race. – The New York Times

“SAN FRANCISCO — Regina Bateson had just finished an Easter egg hunt with her children on April 1 when her phone started buzzing. Take a look at Facebook, messages from her friends and colleagues urged.

Ms. Bateson, a Democrat running for Congress in the California primaryon Tuesday, quickly opened up the social network. There, she saw what appeared to be a news article that painted her as underhandedly trying to torpedo the campaign of a rival Democratic candidate. When Ms. Bateson clicked through the article, she was directed to a Facebook page run by Sierra Nevada Revolution, a local progressive group she had clashed with in the past.

The article was not a news story, she found, but a political ad paid for by Sierra Nevada Revolution. And while Facebook rolled out new rules on April 6 mandating that campaign ads be clearly labeled and say who had purchased them, Sierra Nevada Revolution’s ad about Ms. Bateson continued to be targeted to local voters throughout that month without any of those disclosures.”

Is Facebook Just a Platform? A Lawyer to the Stars Says No – by David D. Kirkpatrick – NYT

By David D. KirkpatrickMay 21, 2018BELFAST, Northern Ireland —

“Paul Tweed made his name suing news organizations like CNN, Forbes and The National Enquirer on behalf of Hollywood movie stars, winning high-profile cases for celebrities like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake by hopscotching among Belfast, London and Dublin to take advantage of their favorable defamation or privacy laws.” . . .

“Social media companies have faced allegations about enabling Russia’s interference in elections in the United States and Europe, fueling outbursts of ethnic violence in countries like Sri Lanka and Myanmar, broadcasting a gang rape in Brazil and, most recently, allowing the transfer of user information to the voter-targeting company Cambridge Analytica.

Amid the public backlash, the British information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has told Facebook, “It’s not just a platform anymore; there are some legal and social responsibilities, too.”

President Trump recently signed the first American law to regulate social media companies as publishers, imposing new civil liability and criminal penalties for content that facilitates prostitution or sex trafficking.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Bravo to Germany and the EU. Excellent article.
“Germany is now requiring social media companies to remove any hate speech within 24 hours after their notification of its posting, forcing teams of Facebook employees to evaluate the content almost as editors do. A new European Union regulation to protect online privacy that goes into effect this Friday is providing new opportunities for lawyers to sue. Congress is weighing legislation to require internet companies to disclose the buyers of political advertising, just as traditional news media outlets have to do.”
We should do all of the above, asap. It is OK with me to call Facebook a platform, rather than a publisher, but it still needs strict , adult, government regulation, to require it not to be a rogue nuisance and force for evil. Germany has passed a 50 Million Euro fine for not removing fake news quickly. We should implement the German actions now, before the next election.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

F.C.C. Is Said to Plan Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules

“WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is preparing a full repeal of net neutrality rules that require broadband providers to give consumers equal access to all content on the internet, putting more power in the hands of those companies to dictate people’s online experiences.

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the F.C.C., plans to reveal a sweeping proposal to scrap the net neutrality rules on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details are not public. The rules, created during the Obama administration, prohibit broadband providers from blocking, slowing down or charging more for the delivery of certain internet content. The proposal will be presented in a December meeting of F.C.C. commissioners and is expected to pass in a 3-to-2 vote along party lines.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Help, Help, Stop these people. I am not an expert on this complicated subject, but there was a terrific video on youtube by John Oliver, explaining Net Neutrality. The Obama Administration regulators decided the public needed this protection for a good reason. It will be all too easy for big corporations to stiffle competion, benefiting themselves at the expense of consumers and the ecoomy.

Senators Demand Online Ad Disclosures as Tech Lobby Mobilizes – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain and two Democratic senators will move on Thursday to force Facebook, Google and other internet companies to disclose who is purchasing online political advertising, after revelations that Russian-linked operatives bought deceptive ads in the run-up to the 2016 election with no disclosure required.

But the tech industry, which has worked to thwart previous efforts to mandate such disclosure, is mobilizing an army of lobbyists and lawyers — including a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — to help shape proposed regulations. Long before the 2016 election, the adviser, Marc E. Elias, helped Facebook and Google request exemptions from the Federal Election Commission to existing disclosure rules, arguing that ads on the respective platforms were too small to fit disclaimers listing their sponsors.”

They bring tears to my eyes. Here are some critical comments I support.

ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 2 hours ago

“And, in the weeks leading up to the introduction of the Klobuchar-Warner-McCain bill, Facebook told congressional aides that it is too difficult to figure out if an ad is political or commercial because candidates are often changing messages and topics. The company added that with the sheer number of ads on the site, the engineering involved in identifying political ads would be extremely challenging.”

Sure. Very challenging to their bottom line. I think social media companies should be subject to the same disclosure rules as TV ads, revealing the source behind the ad if not the funding (we can thank Citizens United for that one).

I listened to Cheryl Sandberg responding to critiques at a forum about online truth in advertising, and found her to be both patronizing and insincere–all that talk about “transparency” from the most nontransparent company around.

Bottom line is Facebook, Google and lesser companies won’t change their wild west communication culture unless forced–and they know what following strict FEC laws will cost them, an amount they’re simply not willing to pay.

Their excuse such disclaimers would “stand in the way of innovation” makes me gag–why don’t they just come out and say it, “stand in the way of profits”?

They also know that forcing transparency as the senators propose is probably the last thing this administration–which prospers by falsehood–is interested in.

123Recommended

Erik New York 2 hours ago

Time for these companies to own up to the fact, that they are, at least in part, responsible for the whole Trump presidency debacle. We need to know how it happened so we can take steps to make sure nothing like this happens again. We are all paying for their lack of diligence and greed.

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JDH NY 2 hours ago

The WWW is no longer the Wild Wild West. FB and the other carriers of information to the general public have willingly become the modern Trojan Horse. The refusal to see the merits of regulation, including disclaimer rules, as a means to protect the public from propagandist use of the platform, is based on one thing and one thing alone. Greed. The argument that regulation would “stand in the way of innovation” has no merit. Until these companies take their responsibility to the public seriously, we will be vulnerable to a large percentage of that public making choices based on information presented to manipulate. The reasons for political advertising regulation have been well thought out and to say that the internet’s presentation of that advertising is any different is disingenuous at best.

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114Recommended

Will Mark Zuckerberg ‘Like’ This Column? – by Maureen Dowd – NYT

“Finally on Thursday, speaking on Facebook Live, Zuckerberg said he would give Congress more than 3,000 ads linked to Russia. As one Facebooker posted: “Why did it take EIGHT MONTHS to get here?”

Hillary is right that this $500 billion company has a lot to answer for in allowing the baby-photo-sharing site to be turned into what, with Twitter, The Times’s Scott Shane called “engines of deception and propaganda.” ”

“As Vanity Fair pointed out, Mueller’s focus on social media during the campaign could spell trouble for Jared Kushner, who once bragged that he had called his Silicon Valley friends to get a tutorial in Facebook microtargeting and brought in Cambridge Analytica — Robert Mercer is a big investor — to help build a $400 million operation for his father-in-law’s campaign.

Some lawmakers suspect that the Russians had help in figuring out which women and blacks to target in precincts in Wisconsin and Michigan.”

“The Sandberg admission was also game, set and match for Elon Musk, who has been sounding the alarm for years about the danger of Silicon Valley’s creations and A.I. mind children getting out of control and hurting humanity. His pleas for safeguards and regulations have been mocked as “hysterical” and “pretty irresponsible” by Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg, whose project last year was building a Jarvis-style A.I. butler for his home, likes to paint himself as an optimist and Musk as a doomsday prophet. But Sandberg’s comment shows that Musk is right: The digerati at Facebook and Google are either being naïve or cynical and greedy in thinking that it’s enough just to have a vague code of conduct that says “Don’t be evil,” as Google does.”

Nice work Maureen Dowd. Here is a comment I support.

Paul Wortman

East Setauket, NY 1 day ago

Yes Maureen, Facebook was used by the Russians. Unfortunately, they exploited a major gap in our campaign laws that do not regulate social media. That, and not just Mark Zuckerberg, is what needs to change. We desperately need to end the money in politics that has bought most of both political parties leaving many angry at the “establishment.” That is why we have Donald Trump in the White House. And don’t forget, The Donald continues to take advantage of Twitter to run a 24/7 political campaign. So, what we’ve learned is that social media can be “weaponized” not just by the Russians, but also by the man now occupying the Oval Office. We need to have “regulation,” but with an anti-regulatory Republican Congress and Supreme Court that is unlikely. Prepare yourself for the battle of the bots in 2020! You can even tweet that if you like.

 Steve Mnuchin’s Wife Has a Talent for Being Tone-Deaf – By TARIRO MZEZEWA – NYT

“As a native Zimbabwean, I know “In Congo’s Shadow” should offend me. And it does. But it’s also so over the top that I can’t help finding it hilarious.

“I soon learned that Africa is rife with hidden danger,” she wrote. “I witnessed random acts of violence, contracted malaria and had close encounters with lions, elephants, crocodiles and snakes. As monsoon season came and went, the Hutu-Tutsi conflict in neighboring Congo began to escalate and then spill over into Zambia with repercussions all along the lake.”

Zambia doesn’t have a monsoon season. And the Hutu-Tutsi conflict happened in Rwanda.

Later, in a line that rivals the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad, Ms. Linton wrote: “Whenever that happens, though, I try to remember a smiling gaptoothed child with H.I.V whose greatest joy was to sit on my lap and drink from a bottle of Coca-Cola.” At one point, she actually called herself “angel-haired.” I could go on.

When the self-published book raced around the Web last year, Ms. Linton apologized, hid her social media accounts and pulled the book, and Africans around the world rebuked her #LintonLies. Apparently that wasn’t enough to teach her to avoid blitzing the world with her deeply misguided, angel-haired views.”

Yes, and the Hutu-Tutsi conflict happened in Burundi, next to Rwanda, as well.

The Right Way to Brag on Instagram – by Lindy West – NYT

“Louise Linton, wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, raised ire this week with an Instagram post depicting herself descending the steps of a government jet accompanied by the caption, “Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #rolandmouret pants, #hermesscarf, #tomford sunnies, and #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa.” In the photos, the 36-year-old Scottish actress, who grew up in a castle and married Mr. Mnuchin, a multimillionaire, earlier this year, is clad in what appeared to be approximately $16,000 of luxurious cream wool crepe designer clothing and opulent accessories, which she dutifully tagged for any Real Americans currently in the market for thousand-dollar white pants.

Several Instagram commenters pointed out that, in a country where an estimated 43 million people live below the poverty line and 6.4 million children live with food insecurity, flaunting ostentatious wealth at least partially supported by taxpayer money goes beyond tackiness and approaches sadism. One user wrote: “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.” Added another: “Please don’t tag your Hermes scarf. Distasteful.” ”

Don’t miss the rest of it. It is priceless.

Here is a comment I took issue with.

Dominic

Astoria, NY 20 hours ago

The Instagram post was revolting, but I have no doubt Ms. Linton’s sentiments are widely shared by her fellow members of the 1%.

Frankly, this is what happens when a nation spends four decades gutting the middle class for the benefit of the wealthiest. This is what happens when we allow our government to be for sale, and our elected officials dependent upon the financial influence of the wealthiest to gain and maintain office. Finally, this is what happens to a class of individuals who are allowed to rig the economic game to their benefit, regardless of the destruction it causes most Americans, and are lead to believe that their avarice is somehow indicative of greater talent, higher intelligence, or harder work. (Spoiler: not true).

This is a symptom of a diseased nation, suffering under grotesque income and wealth inequality. If you want to strut around like Marie Antoinette, it may be instructive to remember how her story ended.

David Lindsay

Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Dominic, your comment was OK until you maligned Marie Antoinette. I recommend you actually pick up a book about her and read it. I recommend Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser, which I listened to as a talking book by Random House audio. Marie Antoinette was the 7th or 8th daughter of the Queen of Austria. She came to the French court as a bride as an innocent 14 year old. By about 20, she was reprimanded for sharing a large part of her stipend with hospitals and orphanages.  Etc.

The “Let them eat cake” expression, was fake news. It had been uttered 100 years earlier by another female. Revolutionaries who wanted to bring down the monarchy, and did, printed hundreds of pamphlets maligning the foreign born queen, to help rouse the public in anger at the monarchy.