Saturday, July 06, 2019

Facebook and YouTube appear to be doubling down even more on independent journalism


Tim Pool has posted some tweets recently indicating that he believes both Facebook and YouTube are doubling down on attempts to remove independent political content from their platforms, as posing too much risk of radicalization of ordinary users and too problematic for advertisers, even now with many non-monetized videos.  YouTube has already demonetized most "political" posts and even entire channels. 
  
Today he posted a twitter comment that suggests Facebook will no longer allow “embedded” hate speech that is posted to call it out.  However Facebook’s current community standards still suggest that this is acceptable. However the standards seem to indicate that Facebook (and YouTube) are troubled by the real world fact that most visitors are not literate enough to understand the difference between news, which embeds troubling content, and actual propaganda, and that these large platforms don't think they can safely remain suitable for independent journalism. The risk of foreign misuse is also very problematic. 


What I find troubling is Facebook’s prodding users (like me) into unwanted social activity or into supporting existing non-profits with donate buttons.  I do this only in limited circumstances, where the non-profit or cause (it might be something funding an independent documentary film) is something I have something to do with already.

Pool also notes, on the deletion of one of his videos over the Pinterest-Gravitas controversy, that YouTube claims that any reference to anyone without their permission for news gathering might be considered a privacy violation, which is generally not what the law says.  This idea might be related to "the right to be forgotten" in Europe. 
   
Photography would become an issue.  It’s normally lawful to photograph anyone in a publicly owned space (as long as the photo is not lewd). It generally is not inside a business.  In practice, people have become more sensitive about appearing in other’s photographs than they were ten years ago because of all the problems.
   
In general, the major tech platforms (not the smaller ones associated with cryptocurrency or with a specific commitment to free speech) are becoming sensitive to the idea of “citizen journalism” which, true, keeps politicians and major media honest (look at Covington) but poses some uncontrollable risks.  Facebook says it is trying to create more social capital, not simply become a platform for writers who don’t get published the old fashioned way. 
  
It's also reasonable to wonder if YouTube's issues will affect Blogger (this platform), even though the latter does not have nearly the reach into radicalization. 

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