The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee says executives from Facebook, Alphabet/Google, and Twitter have been summoned to appear Thursday at a virtual hearing on foreign influence and election security. Read the rest
President Trump enjoys a vaguely-defined but formal exemption from Twitter's policies on the grounds of his inherent newsworthiness. Recently, Twitter began putting warnings on his Tweets when they called for violent acts, which Trump considers censorship. A new Twitter account set out to see whether Twitter would simply suspend anyone else who posted what Trump does. It didn't last long before the hammer fell.
"Experiment Update," posted Bizarre Lazar. "Well it finally happened. Took longer than expected. 12 hour suspension and had to delete the offending tweet. Here’s the screenshots. Will post to the account when suspension is lifted."
Since Trump obviously gets to Tweet as he pleases, this experiment might be better quietly applied to other accounts that appear to enjoy a similar special status but are not heads of state. Read the rest
After Trump threw a tantrum over Twitter doing the bare-minimum to fact-check his deliberately misleading tweets, Trump announced plans to sign an Executive Order that forces social media to "protect" "free speech." Because government-approved top-down authoritarian control of private companies is apparently now a central tenet of the Republican Party.
Content Moderation expert Kate Klonick shared a draft of the order.
Section 230 doesn't protect editorial conductTwitters labels on tweets regarding falsity = editorial conduct
Therefore, this EO places such platforms outside scope of Sec. 230 protection2/
— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) May 28, 2020
This is all in the name of the commitment and concern for free and diverse speech online.
"So say we all."
(that last bit was me)
— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) May 28, 2020
You can read the full document here, which hinges on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (as well as the continued wolf-crying fantasy of "conservative censorship"). If you want the sparknotes, Vice has a pretty comprehensive breakdown:
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As far as legislation goes, the first subsection of 230 is concise and powerful: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."
In the order, Trump also makes the argument that social media companies' actions should not "infringe on protected speech," which would be a massive change from Section 230 as it's currently worded, which makes an explicit carve-out for restricting protected speech. This will, unequivocally, change the internet as a whole and make it worse.
Today, Trump will announce his executive order against social media companies, the day after Twitter added a fact-checking note to two of Trump's misleading tweets. Surprising nobody, Trump's draft order goes after Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that is an essential protection for free speech on the Internet. (Here's the EFF's explanation of Section 230.) From CNN:
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"In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online," the draft order says. "This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power."
Under the order, the Commerce Department would ask the Federal Communications Commission for new regulations clarifying when a company's conduct might violate the good faith provisions of Section 230 -- potentially making it easier for tech companies to be sued.
That is consistent with a draft order whose text CNN first reported last summer -- and which prompted FCC officials to push back on the plan privately.
The draft order instructs the Justice Department to consult with state attorneys general on allegations of anti-conservative bias. It bans federal agencies from advertising on platforms that have allegedly violated Section 230's good-faith principles.
Finally, the draft order would direct the Federal Trade Commission to report on complaints about political bias collected by the White House and to consider bringing lawsuits against companies accused of violating the administration's interpretation of Section 230.
Always an aggrieved victim, isn't he. Read the rest
• “Our algorithms exploit the human brain's attraction to divisiveness.”
• “64% of all extremist group joins are due to our recommendation tools”
• GOP operative turned Facebook policy VP Joel Kaplan, who threw a party for Brett Kavanaugh upon his Supreme Court confirmation, killed any action on Facebook's internal findings, reports WSJ Read the rest
Twitter said Tuesday it's not taking any action on grotesquely abusive tweets by impeached U.S. President Donald Trump about the 2001 death of a woman who once worked as a congressional staff member for Joe Scarborough, after her husband asked the company to remove the false and personally harassing tweets. Read the rest
• Yay, Clearview AI but for shopping!
Facebook Mark Zuckerberg today announced the launch of Facebook Shops, an e-commerce feature to allows business users to list and sell products on Facebook and Instagram. Read the rest
• Facebook is one of the big-tech entities behind American Edge, a new lobbying group in DC to fight antitrust regulators and push back against lawmakers trying to rein in Big Tech.
“Facebook is working behind the scenes to help launch a new political advocacy group that would combat U.S. lawmakers and regulators trying to rein in the tech industry, escalating Silicon Valley’s war with Washington at a moment when government officials are threatening to break up large companies,” reports Tony Romm at the Washington Post: Read the rest
Twitter is reportedly testing a prompt for iOS users that will ask them to consider editing a tweet they are writing if the system detects that they are using “harmful” language. Read the rest
After The Markup revealed that Facebook users were being targeted with bad ads for garbage products, Facebook has now agreed to remove “pseudoscience” as an ad targeting option for advertisers.
Yes, this was allowed during the coronavirus pandemic, until a news website shamed Facebook into eliminating it. Read the rest