Noted white nationalist and guy who got punched in the face Richard Spencer is "financially crippled" from lawsuit

Self-proclaimed white nationalist and alleged domestic abuser Richard Spencer has been bogged down in a civil lawsuit for his part in helping to organize the "Unite The Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virgina, which resulted in much calamity, including the tragic death of activist Heather Heyers at the hands of another proud self-proclaimed white nationalist. Spencer is — perhaps, sadly, fittingly — the heir to a cotton farm fortune, and that privilege has helped him to finance his campaign of hate. But increasing legal (and marital) pressures have finally started to milk his racist wallet dry. From Huffington Post:

Richard Spencer’s attorney has asked for the court’s permission to withdraw from representing him in the civil case. The lawyer, John DiNucci, said Spencer owes him a significant amount of money in legal fees and hasn’t been cooperating adequately.

Spencer told U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Hoppe that the lawsuit over the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 has been “extremely expensive” and a “huge burden” for him.

“This case has been financially crippling for a long time,” said Spencer, who popularized the term “alt-right” to describe a loosely connected fringe movement of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists.

Huffington Post goes on to note that Spencer has also (allegedly) failed to turn over numerous documents for the trial, including thousands of photos and video files.

The trustfund Neo-Nazi baby runs a "nonprofit" called the National Policy Institute, which had previously raised nearly $500,000 in tax-deductible contributions between 2007 and 2012. Read the rest

Banned from Youtube, Chinese propagandists are using Pornhub to publish anti-Hong Kong videos

China's state disinformation campaigns against the Hong Kong protesters are unwelcome on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook, with the mainstream platforms shutting down accounts that spread propaganda videos; but increasingly these blocked videos are available on Pornhub, something that has been jubilantly announced by mainland Chinese social media influencers on Wechat. Read the rest

Join me today at 12PM Pacific/3PM Eastern for a New York Times/Periscope livestream about my "op-ed from the future"

Yesterday, the New York Times published my "op-ed from the future," an essay entitled "I Shouldn’t Have to Publish This in The New York Times," which tried to imagine what would happen to public discourse if the Big Tech platforms were forced to use algorithms to police their users' speech in order to fight extremism, trolling, copyright infringement, harassment, and so on. Read the rest

European legal official OKs orders that force Facebook to globally remove insults to politicians like "oaf" and "fascist" (as well as synonyms)

Austria has incredibly broad libel laws -- so broad that they prohibit disgruntled voters from calling politicians "oafs" or "fascists." Predictably, this gave rise to a legal dispute between an Austrian politician and Facebook, when the former ordered the latter to remove a comment containing these two insults, and the whole mess ended up before the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU -- a person whose decisions are not binding, but are incredibly legally influential. Read the rest

TOSsed out: EFF catalogs the perverse ways that platform moderation policies hurt the people they're supposed to protect

TOSsed Out is a new project from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that catalogs the myriad of ways in which Big Tech platforms' moderation policies backfire spectacularly, like the anti-terrorism policies that delete evidence of war-crimes needed by investigators and prosecutors. Read the rest

Apple removed a teen's award-winning anti-Trump game "Bad Hombre" because they can't tell the difference between apps that criticize racism and racist apps

Bad Hombre is an award-winning satirical game created by 16-year-old Jackie George. Two days after it won the Shortly Award and was recognized in her school newsletter, Bad Hombre was removed from both Apple's App Store and Google Play (George notes that her town of Naples, FL is very conservative with a lot of Trump supporters and is suspicious that one of her neighbors reported the app). Read the rest

Alex Stamos on the security problems of the platforms' content moderation, and what to do about them

Alex Stamos (previously) is the former Chief Security Officer of Yahoo and Facebook. I've jokingly called him a "human warrant canary" because it seems that whenever he leaves a job, we later learn that his departure was precipitated by some terrible compromise the company was making -- he says that he prefers to be thought of as "the Forrest Gump of infosec" because whenever there is a terrible geopolitical information warfare crisis, he's in the background, playing ping-pong. Read the rest

Every NSFWpocalypse sends users to small, indie platforms, who are threatened by the same factors that make no-platforming practical

Back when Livejournal purged its NSFW fanficcers and other text-based purveyors of delightful smut, users flocked to Dreamwidth, a small, indie, smut-tolerant community run as much as a labor of love as it is as a business. Read the rest

A successful no-platforming means we can talk about Alex Jones again

Zeynep Tufekci (previously) says that Big Tech's "engagement maximization" algorithms meant that any time you talked about Alex Jones critically, the algorithms would start relentlessly recommending that you watch some Alex Jones videos, because they were so well designed to please the algorithms by sucking up our attention. Read the rest

Shopify no-platforms Nazis (but not Breitbart)

Canadian turnkey e-commerce giant Shopify has kicked its farthest-right customers off the service, banning made-in-Canada racists like the Proud Boys, but not wink-nudging white supremacists like Breitbart. Read the rest

Twitter suspends academic who quoted feminist STEM research

MIT Comparative Media Studies researcher/instructor Chris Peterson is an adrent supporter of the Math Prize for Girls, and as part of his work with the organization, he's learned about the way that STEM fields were once considered inherently feminine, while the higher-status humanities were dominated by men -- it's the subject of some outstanding feminist scholarship by Professor Maria Charles. Read the rest

Hate-speech detection algorithms are trivial to fool

In All You Need is “Love”: Evading Hate Speech Detection, a Finnish-Italian computer science research team describe their research on evading hate-speech detection algorithms; their work will be presented next month in Toronto at the ACM Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Security. Read the rest

Want the platforms to police bad speech and fake news? The copyright wars want a word with you.

There are lots of calls for the platforms to police the bad speech on their platform -- disinformation and fake news; hate speech and harassment, extremist content and so on -- and while that would represent a major shift in how Big Tech relates to the materials generated and shared by its users, it's not without precedent. Read the rest