Saturday, November 30, 2019

Quebec awards a disabled plaintiff when a stand-up comedian jokes about him, and Twitter fumbles letting the story get out

The Post Millennial, an apparently conservative website in Canada, reports on a case were comedian Mike Ward was ordered to pay $35000 (Canada) to a boy with a non-terminal disability, by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, for joking about it and possibly spreading false medical information about the plaintiff between 2010 and 2013.  The judge regarded Ward’s comments as discriminatory and infringing on the plaintiff’s ability to achieve equality, which sounds like an illogical statement if it were in the US, mixing apples and oranges. 
Some observers expressed concern that stand up comedy could come to an end in Canada, or at least Quebec (which uses a Roman rather than English common law system).
The comment, read at face value, sounds tasteless and probably would not be acceptable at most legitimate comedy clubs.
The plaintiff is said to have a facial deformity, which is not apparent from the photograph in the article.

I found this article in my Twitter feed and it disappeared before I could retweet it.  I tried to tweet the article and Twitter would loop.  I tried to send a tweet to the channel for the publication and it would loop. Today it worked.

The publication has another article claiming that Quebec is considering a human rights law making obesity a protected class and offering a particularly graphic picture of someone.
It might be that Twitter considers even linking to articles like this gratuitous behavior, even though the stories have news value.  

On July 27, I walked past the Canadian Supreme Court near the parliament building in Ottawa (which is a much bigger city than I had thought) late on a Saturday night.  

Thursday, November 28, 2019

COPPA: What should tech do know to deal with more problems in the future?


 “Protecting children” is certainly a concern for everyone, even those who don’t have kids.  It drives politicians to pass laws, like COPPA (not the same as the similarly motivated COPA, overturned in 2007), that will inevitably affect the speech and viewing of everyone.  One of my biggest concerns has been undermining of the capacity of individual persons to speak for themselves rather than paying heed to a tribe, a non-profit cause, or a larger corporate employer, or a need just to “sell stuff”.
Major conventional platforms are demonetizing and sometimes removing independent creators out of corporate interests, which (especially since Charlottesville) have led them to “bend the knee” to SJW boycott threats to a surprising degree. Biased articles in mainstream media have pressured Youtube, and it is clear that mainstream media doesn’t like to have to compete with individuals with low overhead.

And I get feedback in emails, not so well known publicly, that many are concerned that “free” political or social content from people who happen to have more money from other sources may not be welcome either a whole lot longer.  This sounds Marxist, even Marcusian, and it is.  But I’m very concerned about.  The Left especially wants action and solidarity and protesters, not talk and filming.

Tim Pool has a new spin on it today, where he describes a developing opportunity on Minds. I will certainly look into it (I do have a simple Minds page that attracts attention). My first reaction would be that my own video content particularly needs to be more professional. I will look into this.

Let’s focus on one particular thing:  YouTube apparently can’t be profitable and offer free uploading service to low-volume channels (like me) forever unless it can do behavioral (as opposed to contextual) ads on many of its channels.  COPPA blew a big hole into it. This is a huge business model vulnerability.

Facebook and Instagram apparently require log-in and an age-gate verification to even view content (I’m not sure about simply viewing corporate Facebook “pages” as I write this, so this has to be checked out) so they may not be much affected, as they have a pre-screened audience before doing behavioral ads. (They do have other problems – Cambridge, etc.) 

Logically, as Hoeg Law suggests, YouTube could develop an age-gate that secures and hides a family’s IP address the first time it is encountered, and require the family answer one question (just only on the first visit) about the presence of kids under 13 and never serve behavioral ads to that address.  That would comply with COPPA.  (A mid 2018 video by Canadian vlogger John Fish seems to point in this direction as to how to get started doing this.)  But, as YouTube says, there would be practical complexities, because most families would answer “yes, < 13”.  Business model gone.  One idea would be to hope that families have more than one IP address and reserve one for kids.  That’s not practical given the wealth inequality problems of many ordinary families.

This brings me to the subject of other websites – free-service blogs like this one (Blogger or Wordpress without hosting), and hosted blogs (usually connected to Wordpress) or sites when they offer ads.

There would be the risk, even with Adense (whose TOS does mention COPPA near the end) that if behavioral ads are served, the presence of occasional kid-friendly posts (like about toys or Christmas presents or reviews of kids’ movies) interspersed among general or adult posts (on business, finance, politics and social issues), would indirectly lead to COPPA problems.  So far the FTC has not, as far as I know, done anything about this other than from a few large companies who illegally and knowingly collected data from kids (Wikipedia talks about a few of these cases).  But it could happen.  I think some sites (like the revised Blogtyrant) have some information on how to tweek Adsense the way you want it (even after the deprecation of the Wordpress plugin in 2017) but I don’t know how these techniques would jive with COPPA compliance and that would seem to need attention. Sites that have sponsoring ads would have to be concerned, because site-owners might be liable for the sponsors (by the agency concept in law) if the sponsors collect data illegally (from anywhere in the world, of US families).

One solution for all such sites could be router-level age-gates, which cable providers (Comcast, etc) and wifi providers (Verizon, etc) could be encouraged to develop, probably with new third-party companies to license their use. These could be motivated by the idea of “guest accounts” which households (or even Airbnb renters) might use to defer liability for misuse by guests. Other ideas to come along could include, for example, Wordpress plugins for gating.

One final thought:  of course YouTube can consider simply renting hosted space for non-commercial use.  Bitchute and Vimeo appear to do this, and that solves part of the business model problem with regard to speech, but doesn’t save the channels of people who make a living from ads on kid-friendly content already (or even gamers).  And, for mainly ideological reasons, free political content from individuals may not be welcome for ever (this issue has already come up before;  see the 2005 FEC problem, note the next-to-last comment from EFF).
 I summarized all this with a Twitter thread this morning. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tim Berners-Lee wants to introduce localism to the WWW

Tim Berners-Lee published an op-ed Tuesday in the New York Times, “I Invented the World Wide Web.  Here’s How We Can Fix It”.  Well, that’s a little more convincing than a similar claim about Al Gore.

Jason Aten has a constructive criticism in “Inc” here. Too vague, too socialistic.

I’m quite struck by one aspect of the recent debate – that content creators should know who their unintended audiences are as well as whom they directed their stuff too.  Think about the COPPA issue.

There is also an increasing sentiment that content creators who don't make money just from posting need to be transparent about what they are up to. 
Lee is proposing a concept called “Solid”, which is intended to give data ownership to users.

Monday, November 25, 2019

TokenPost discusses a new Blockchain project for journalists called simply "PUBLISH"

A South Korean company has introduced a new blockchain based news publishing system along with content management called, prosaically enough, just ‘Publish”.  It’s a good question how easily they can trademark this name in the US!

The original article dated back to September 2018 in EconoTimes, here. 

There is a more recent discussion from TokenPost, here

The system incorporates the role of editors and advertisers as providing validity or analytics (through tokens) to the work of journalists.
I don’t know how to interpret the meme “invent your own cryptocurrency”.  That almost sounds like exporting your consciousness and AI, maybe.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Extreme wokeness leads to student breakdowns at Syracuse University

Syracuse University seems to be having the same kind of breakdown that Evergreen College had in Oregon a couple years ago.

Matt Christiansen explains.

The tensions seem to be the result of some pranks that have led to overreactions by the administration, incentivizing the pranksters.

The mental breakdown of two students in the last part of Matt’s video is really chilling.

I saw stuff like this when I was a patient at NIH in the latter part of 1962.

There is a problem that young adults do not face the idea that they will be “scoped” and evaluated by other people as to how they will fit into society later.  It’s understandable to trace this back to historical treatment of groups, but individual problems are much more relevant now.

Everyone has to grow up preparing to deal with some external uncertainties.  Economic Invincibility talks a lot about that.

I happened to pass through Syracuse in late July on the way to Ottawa and Toronto. I think my family spent one night there in the summer of 1954.  Father spent time there on business in the 50s and 60s. 
I had one job interview there in December 1969 with General Electric, before getting out of the Army.

Friday, November 22, 2019

CASE Act passes House, likely to pass Senate by end of 2019, would take some months for Copyright Office to implement

Wikipedia reports that the House of Representatives approved the CASE Act on a floor vote 410-6 on Monday, October 22, 2019 (I could say this happened while Washington was preoccupied with the World Series). Five Republicans and one Independent voted No. This law will set up an administrative "small claims court" at the US Copyright office with the power to subpoena defendants and issue awards up to $30000 for some infractions. 
It is expected that the Senate will pass it by the end of the year, but there could be Republican resistance, so it may be productive for content creators to weigh in. Still, lopsided votes (like we had with FOSTA) make it hard to assess how effective conventional activism by watchdogs really is. 

The Wikipedia article calls EFF and “anti-copyright group” and mentions the concern over the possibility of Righthaven-style copyright trolls.  A good question could be whether YouTube content-id could feed claims (when they don't result in takedowns). 
But the Copyright Office insists it will set up careful systems to prevent abuse, in this statement.
Small content creators could see it both ways.  It is hard to say, but they could be targeted by sweeps and trolls for “panorama” photos or copied text.  On the other hand, it could be argued that small creators could file claims, because smaller-business writers are often plagiarized (as I have been). This could even be significant in that there are other forces in play with some platforms to pressure content providers to prove they are commercially viable (an ironic observation now). 
The experience with the USPTO suggests that government agencies have a hard time dealing with trolling. But the court systems did finally pin down Righthaven around 2013.  As we know with the FTC oversight of COPPA, it is very difficult for administrative law agencies to tailor policies around abstract concepts that have very nuanced real world implications, and where literal interpretation of statute wording is difficult.

The Copyright Office would probably need comment periods and Federal Register publication of exact procedures before starting, and this might take close to a year.
I am in the DC area and I visited the office a few times when I was working on my first book.  I feel I have a little bit of familiarity.

Update:  Nov. 23

I see that the Verge has an article Oct. 22 by Makena Kelley.  Hoeg Law discusses the Verge story here and compares the risk of troll abuse to DMCA abuse today.  But he maintains we should improve the law, not avoid it just with friction. Again, the main risk for some users, especially bloggers with large backlogs, would be that some innocuous practice largely ignored in the past out of practicalities, is declared by the Copyright Office not to be covered by Fair Use and invite massive trolling.  Expect some controversies and comment periods in early 2020 after the Senate votes. Note the picture above, at Independence Ave and 1 ST SE, near the Supreme Court, near the South Capitol Metro stop, where the actual office for these "tribunals" is located. 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Big tech is no longer as interested in "peasant speech" as it once was, because of risks and because it can't pay for itself

A couple days ago, on the Movies blog, I embedded and reviewed Glink’s short film “The Golden Age of the Internet Is Over”.

I have to agree that the “wild West” days are past, as individuals, parents, tech companies, and democratic countries have to deal with the unpredictable chaos that sometimes results from the asymmetries when a whole western world can reach anyone else instantly without gatekeepers, and with the help originally just of search engines but not recommendation algorithms.

One problem is that the free speech advocacies have tended to focus on just one issue at a time in seeking donations and “take action” behaviors. The real problems occur when you inventory all the issues in combination.

Let’s run through a few of them quickly.

The Loss of Network Neutrality regulation, when Trump took over, was touted as an existential threat, provoking protests which I filmed. But generally telecom companies have not tried to charge providers for connection to lawful content.

More serious, at the outset, was Congress’s passing (and intensifying at the last moments) FOSTA-SESTA in the spring of 2018.  Many online services which facilitate hookups or even dating, or help sex workers screen customers without running the risk of violence in the streets (most of all PoC and trans) shut down.  Section 230 was weakened.

Then in May 2018 the European Union suddenly became very determined to and in fact did pass very draconian copyright laws, which will (as implemented by country) will apparently require upload filters of all filters and link taxes.  (The GDPR and “right to be forgotten” had already gotten attention.) This was the EU Copyright Directive and notorious Articles 11 and 13.  It’s obvious that EU politicians don’t believe private citizens should take up journalism on their own without being employed by large and unionized media companies.  Media reporting on this problem in recent months has dropped off, but the problem provides a backdrop for all the other issues that YouTube is having now.

From the middle of 2018 through especially last winter, social justice warriors got many conservative speakers “de-platformed” and in a couple of cases with bank accounts canceled, based on unproven (and questionable) accusations of association with white supremacy. What’s so disturbing was that the tech companies were so easily persuaded by mob justice, although the problem started right after Charlottesville in Aug, 2017 with the very worst “offenders”.

But gradually the public has come to understand that free-wheeling self-publishing platforms have become a vehicle for foreign exploitation and become infected with a malignant risk of inadvertently  spreading right-wing radicalization, which has something to do with the way algorithms work, but also with the particular sociology of right wing “ethnic” tribalism, as compared to the more diffuse extremist tribalism on the far Left (Antifa).  But the far Left is also trying to promulgate a Marxist, identarian communitarianism which is filled with its own moral contradictions and which resists all individual speech (Marcuse theories).

And big media companies started going after independent creators because they think the indies and newbies lowball their guild-paced economic models, resulting in layoffs. Result: big media plays the clickbait game, and gets caught with sloppy work by the indies (like the Covington kids).
Congress, in the meantime, doubles down with more questionable law, the CASE Act, making it easy for established corporate interests and celebrities to sue indie providers in an administrative small claims court, inviting copyright trolls like Righthaven in the past, unless very carefully set up.

And a judge in the Second Circuit threatens the “server rule” with regard to who can be chased for copyright infringement.  This could become significant for blogs that do "news consolidation" as they might be perceived as taking traffic away from media sources who want to monopolize consumers with their paywalls (but offer a few articles free -- you could see more HTTP-403's when linked from blogs). 
The latest flap concerns the recent YouTube changes in terms of service, taking effect officially in December. At first, speakers were alarmed by language that suggested YouTube might, after service changes, remove channels who were not commercially viable (who would present outrage if they were monetized, or possibly too small in volume to every be monetized). But the hooker exploded then about COPPA, which has been widely discussed here before.  The latest idea is that YouTube should install an “age gate” for users who don’t have accounts the first time they sign in, and that could work.

There had been similar issues about minor verification with the CDA and its successor, COPA, which was finally struck down in 2007. 

But there is definitely a trend that over time, “gratuitous” speech (by individuals, outside of conventional organizing and activism) might be even more unwelcome.  I can imagine a time when you won’t be able to have a channel or your own site unless you’ve earned “social credit”, maybe by proving you can raise money for somebody else.  That sounds very corrupt, but only to individualists.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

COPPA: a lawyer explains why the FTC's threats on YouTube content creators are at least questionable and constitute "sabre rattling"

Hoeg Law has a useful discussion of the concern from many content creators over the possibility of huge fines against content creators.

This is not legal advice (reminder).  But the lawyer believes that a content creator is not in a position to know or control does what YouTube does with cookies that may pull information.  The content creator is not collecting the information.

I can think of one counter argument.  Even if you don’t have monetization.  Your making your content available for YouTube’s cookies (even on non-monetized videos) comes with the territory of using a free service.  Such possibilities exist even with Blogger.

There may be future questions about whether logs associated with standard websites could create COPPA issues, and these might be a problem in the future for hosted content. But that has nothing to do with putting cookies one a family computer.
The FTC’s behavior in the press conference Sept. 4 does suggest that (it believes that at) a psychological level that individual driven content online (especially YouTube or other social media sites) is gratuitous and making it hard for people with the responsibilities for raising kids. So this is kind of a “skin in the game” problem.

Monday, November 18, 2019

More bogus copyright claims continue on Youtube, while COPPA Controversy explodes

Bostwiki talks about bogus copyright claims against critics even by tech people (newer video).

One complainant then tried to make a “deal” with the "defendant".  Another, a well-known conservative figure who has been deplatformed, had shown integrity by not issuing anything.  The video stresses you normally can’t copyright your name – you can trademark a company name or book or movie series – but that doesn’t mean others can’t criticize it.  

David Pakman reports now that NBC also issued a takedown of his coverage of the impeachment livestream, and CNN issued a second takedown.  All were reversed after complaints, but revenue was lost.  Pakman says he used the CSPAN feed of the House website, which is public domain.

Michael Moreno, a mathematician who talks about morality and logic (maybe like “Moral Tribes”) says he got a privacy takedown from a professor at his school in Utah, whom he says practices reverse racism. But the name and information was widely public.
Viewers may have heard that the COPPA controversy continues today.  According to many observers, individual channels could be liable for fines if they don’t label channels as “made for kids” when the FTC examiners (who will troll the videos) decide otherwise, after the fact.  The policies go into effect Jan. 1.   There is controversy over how examiners at the FTC would classify videos that incidentally might appeal to kids despite the fact that the content provider intended it for general use, and the way it is accessed might matter. 
There is also more talk that the reason for the "commercial viability" clause is let YouTube get rid of "bad actors" whom it can't prove are advocating white supremacy. 
COPPA has been law since 1998 and was upgraded in 2013.  Some years ago, Blogger required all blogs (including this one) to include a Privacy Policy (at the bottom of this page) which I believe is related to COPPA.  Blog posts, since they are based on text, are less likely to be a target for COPPA than videos (I presume).  But if they have ads, the possibility of violations would exist. GDPR in Europe is similar.
I quickly checked most of my videos.  I have a few incidentals from model train shows (which I view as “stage events” or art work, not toys) but YouTube left my marking of them as NFK.  The problem with my videos is that they are intended to be viewed through blogs, not as a channel on its own, and my descriptions (often entered on phones) are sparse.  A random visitor may notunderstand that.  I will probably go back and add the source blog url on some of them to give context.  The volume and subscription counts are too low for YouTube monetization.  But it seems possible that cookies in YouTube could be used to drive visitors to other similar videos that are monetized.  I also don’t have sponsors for ads on YouTube right now, but if I did, that would also create similar potential for violation setups.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Knight Foundation encourages some local papers to become non-profits and do conventional fundraising

Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources today looked at the increased pressures on local journalism, and at the idea of turning some local newspapers into non-profits and getting philanthropies to support non-profit local reporting.  But I think some political sites are non-profits (always asking for donation to be "my voice"; I can have my own, thank you.) 

There are details at the Knight Foundation website

Most local papers have paywalls, which make it impractical for non-locals to read them online (except for large cities).  I generally will buy a print copy of a local newspaper when I go into a convenience store in a small town when “on the road”.

I have suggested paywall consolidation companies (which would have to be capitalized and formed) as a possible solution.
About ten years ago some local papers joined up with a copyright troll, Righthaven, to try to “increase revenues” from questionable copyright claims. The problem lasted until 2013.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

YouTube now has a new twist in its community guidelines, grown out of pure tribalism

Matt Christiansen has reported that he received a very bizarre message from YouTube early Nov. 13 warning him that one of his livestreams must be marked private because it could create “a credible threat to life”, presumably in the whistleblower case.
He did not get a community guidelines strike, and YT said that in these unusual circumstances it did not know how to apply its normal rules, because the context is so unusual. But then it suggested that it remove “misleading tags” and the like.
Apparently other creators, including Tim Pool, received the email too.
Christiansen showed normal media outlet stories (although they are “mid-sized” possibly conservative sites (Heavy and Real Clear Politics), not major media) that had named the person and he redacted the name and image.  (Personal note: the image in Heavy site is familiar to me, but I get around and travel to other cities a lot.  I won’t give more details now.)

It is almost unprecedented for a platform to imply that one user could "get somebody killed" (with the attendant moral culpability) outside of the more familiar context of organized crime and hired hitmen ("The Godfather" movies, etc).  The issue comes up with providing certain kinds of information (usually weapons) or in the Paladin Press book controversy in the 1990s (or possibly Turner Diaries). This is more of a moral precept we associate with hyper-tribalism, in opposition to the narrow libertarian idea that you are responsible (only) for the results of your own personal actions. That idea has really lost traction since 2016. 
The idea that a side, blog (set) or video channel is “misleading” or not transparent as to purpose is becoming more significant. For example, a lot of my content is spread across several platforms and sometimes duplicated, going back to legacy flat websites I set up around 1997 at the time of my first book.  Some are kept available but not often updated. The possibility of some items being on more than one place grew out of the idea that redundancy would keep content available when one site was down, in the early days.  I now have to contemplate reducing redundancies (which happen when new technology is introduced and it isn’t practical to move everything) and making the entrypoints much clearer to the public because of these concerns, which relate to the radicalization issue at least indirectly.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Ninth Circuit narrows moderator privilege with Section 230; Facebook undermines 230 by saying now it is a publisher; Pakman gets "attacked" by CNN, Facebook for no reason

Aaron Mackey and Sophia Cope report for Electronic Frontier Foundation on a Ninth Circuit decision that further compromises Section 230. 
The defendant was Malwarebytes, and plaintiff was Enigma, which claims content was blocked for “anti-competitive purposes”.  But (according to EFF) CDA230 says nothing about competitive motives as a reason for content moderation, at least if moderation is justifiable for other reasons (like terms of service). 

Breitbart, in a story by Allum Bokhari, reports that Facebook called itself a “publisher” rather than a “platform”, in defending itself in a lawsuit against Facebook by Laura Loomer, which Facebook had banned as a “dangerous person” and won’t allow on its platform even as a political candidate.  FB also mentioned the idea of "compelled speech". 
That situation obviously raises serious issues, which in some ways are parallel to an issue that I have, that I’ll get back into in detail again later.
Laura Loomer admittedly said some provocative things. But is Facebook’s calling her a “dangerous individual” potential libel, or is that the “opinion rule”.
I wanted to present David Pakman’s video today, about CNN’s copyright claim for Pakman’s use of it during the impeachment inquiry (House videos are public domain – and he used the House feed).

Facebook cut off his monetization with no explanation for Pakman’s supposed violation of “community standards”.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Journalists leak their salaries by company, intersectional group

Bostwiki rocks!  Today he offers a video about a Google Doc where various employees of media companies disclosed their salaries, and their “woke” intersectional categories.

I was rather shocked at how little some of these journalists (I use the word) make in New York City. (It's a little cheaper in Jersey.) 
But there were some more impressive salaries at a few of the companies (including Vox).

Bostwiki likes to look good, in his own way, open shirt and chest (you don’t need hideway tattoos). 
Then you have (Beanie) Tim Pool’s longer piece on the same thing, maintaining that the salaries and job descriptions were leaked.  They were.  Oh, it’s not oK to talk about salaries at work. And capitalism means, not all the salaries will be the same.  You have to think about your “market value” in the world, and the idea seems immoral to the Maoists and the Marcuse’s.
Here's the Google Doc, which was linked in Columbia Journalism Review. (By the way, I don't think you can open a Google Doc url with a New Tab;  at least in Wordpress on another article I did, it didn't work;  you probably can't embed it either.) 

Pool talked about his time as a "development manager" for a non-profit, which means managing other people who call or ask for funds from the public for non-profits.  I worked as a caller myself for the Minnesota Orchestra and later National Symphony 2002-2003. 
Then the you have the YouTubers who compete with these companies, start their own studios, and sometimes make six figures as entrepreneurs, maybe more.  The pure entertainers like Pewdiepie set up whole companies (his are in England).  You have all the “conservative” commentators that the SJW’s call “dangerous” and want to deplatform.  Then you have the tech and education channels (ThioJoe, John Fish) that can pay your way through school.  Young adults (previously unknown) making themselves celebrities on YouTube, and legacy media wants to take the competition out. But, "the kids" know what other kids want, and can become millionaires by giving it to them -- now YouTube doesn't like that anymore.  (Luke Korns is another "journalist"-vlogger in the upper Midwest who has mastered this.) 
 Well, I like watching Logan Paul sometimes, when he does Burning Man. (I confess, I do like Pewdiepie.)
Then you have me, who influences policy outcomes on some things (I really have) and make next to nothing, but I have resources from elsewhere.  (It’s not just inheritance;  steady professional employment for three decades and no debt and conservative investing and compound interest helps – call it “economic invincibility”.) And some journalists may complain that I’m lowballing them.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Blogtyrant site is back and redesigned, but has advice similar to before

The Blogtyrant site has recently redesigned, under its new owners.  Ramsay sold the site in early June, 2018.  (The site did stay up continuously but was left unchanged for over a year.)

Like Ramsay, the site generally encourages niche blogging, which actually works best when the writer already has a real-world business with a product or service to sell.  The “product” may however be charity, or social or political activism.  In terms of attracting visitors and revenue, the narrower the better (although this may not be the best thing ethically).

The role of blogging may seem controversial in that it seems overshadowed by vlogging or running video channels.  Some of the advice for bloggers may apply to video channels.  But politically-oriented video has become controversial since Donald Trump was elected and since many people began to fear the alt-right (and then likewise the far Left) after Charlottesville. Deplatformings without much explanation or due process have occurred, sometimes after underground pressure from activists.  On the other hand, video blogs that are commercial and emphasize products or services outside of politics have done well.

The same general observations could apply to blogs, but generally they have been less affected by political controversy (despite some predictions to the contrary).  Social media (especially Twitter and Facebook) have tended to capture traffic by algorithms and divert many potential visitors from reading blogs (and looking for them on search engines) the way they did in the past.

One thing to bear in mind that political issues and recent changes in copyright law in Europe (the Copyright Directive) will hit video blogging particularly hard overseas, and that seems to be affecting the US now indirectly. Other adverse political developments (like FOSTA in the US,  affecting downstream liability and Section 230, and the proposed CASE Act, emboldening trolls, and pressure on the tech industry particularly about hate speech and white supremacy threats and radicalization, have all cast a darkening cloud on user-generated content in general, but these may affect major social media more than traditional websites and blog with narrower focus (especially if they can pay their own ways).

The site still gives a lot of technical advice on Wordpress and web hosts.  Blogger has never chosen to make itself as high-end as Wordpress, which does make me wonder about its long term future (see posts in previous days).

Much of the basic advice is similar to what it was before.  Here is a typical link, “How to Write a Good Blog Post”.  Ramsay used to emphasize long posts with detail. The new guidelines suggest eye appeal, bullet points, shorter sentences, and particularly a definite apple to “take action” (sign up, buy, join, donate) at the end. I don’t do this very often, because in my individualism and circumstances (I had some discussions with Ramsay about this maybe three years ago) I don’t like to push people.

The site describes how to use Adsense in a Wordpress blog, which appears to be either a manual script placement or a third-party plugin, since Google deprecated its original Adsense plugin for Wordpress in the spring of 2017.  You need to use a reputable plugin to be sure you are complying with the rules (which now could include tightened enforcement of COPPA).  It's not recommended for a new blog until you have at least 100 distinct visitors. 
Ramsay Taplan started a site called “The Outsidely” and was planting trees and fighting climate change in Australia.  But he dropped off Twitter (he used to show himself with his huge cat) and lately I haven’t been able to tell how he is doing.
I’ve embedded a video from Ramsay from early 2018, which has been left up. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

YouTube followup: most observers think it is standard contractual language, after News2share tweet today pops the question

There’s more to say about the flak over YouTube’s proposed Terms of Service changes.

I received their email in my Gmail box at 4:37 AM EST.  But five days before, I see I had received another email with a new instructional video (actually three of them) from YouTube.  The first one is about community standards, the second is about copyright, the third is about advertising partners.

Ford Fischer sent out a rather alarming tweet at 10:30 AM EST this morning, which provoked a long discussion about what the “commercialviability” clause means.  The link for the Tweet thread is here.
The best comment from one user seemed to be that it meant simply that if YouTube becomes unprofitable, you can’t sue them if they take your content down. Generally, there is less alarm now that something “bad” will happen Dec. 10 than there was this morning. I’ve been in workplace situations where rumors would fly whenever the executives flew other people in for a meeting.  (CABCO in Dallas in the early 1980s provided a good example.)  I’ve seen this kind of corporatese before.  I’ve seen it in my book publishing contracts.

Nevertheless, quite a few people watched the video on my “doaskdotell” page today, “A Dangerous Thought Experiment”. 
Ford Fischer had lost monetization in June when YouTube suddenly announced major policy changes on “hate speech” (so to speak) without much explanation, at the same time as the Maza-Crowder controversy.  ABC News, as a mainstream media company and part of Disney, was good enough to run a rather detailed story about Ford’s situation the next day, and acknowledged (in a link) that the Maza mess looked bad.  (Maza used to make Strikethrough videos for Vox and hasn’t made any since, as far as I can tell. They were snazzy, animated and witty. I wish he would make more of them. One of his best was an interview of David Hogg. Despite his name and ancestry, Maza is “European” (the “nice” word, Spain is in Europe) and born and raised in the US and fully “majority” otherwise as a gay male. Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell is likewise.  The Left is throwing around intersectional labels recklessly and misrepresenting what is going on.  In the meantime, ABC seems to be trying to deny that mainstream media is trying to drive YouTube to close down indie creators (a theory David Pakman has also stated). 

Update:  Nov. 11

Julia Alexander has explained this "viability" language in an article today in "The Verge", "You Tube says it has 'no obligation' to host anyone's video", and explains that the "commercial" language had been there in 2018 without being noticed. The change is that it may remove content at its "sole discretion" if it doesn't want to host it. But the literal language in the document seems to tie such an event to a "service change".  The article acknowledges that some creators were concerned that they could be removed if they didn't generate revenue (that has to do with the "pays for itself" idea I have been discussing recently myself, since early 2018 -- reminder video).  But this interpretation is not correct, at least according to most legal sources or to Vox. 

Saturday, November 09, 2019

New YouTube terms of service have language about when "provision of this Service to you is no longer commercially viable"; do all videos have to be monetizable? Or is this a rhetorical CYA?

Tim Pool (Timcast) followed through on the removal of some of his materials with respect to the whistleblower issue yesterday.

At 13:55 he makes reference to the YouTube Terms of Service change on Dec. 10, 2019 (Tuesday).
YouTube says that it may deny parts of the service to a user if “provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable”.  Some people (even Pool) have truncated this to say “you’re no longer commercially viable”, for example.

I hope this is just a rhetorical statement for extreme circumstances (earlier in the Terms, YouTube mentions “bad actors”).  But some people could wonder, does this mean that they don’t want to allow uploads except from commercial interests that want to monetize (they don’t want commercial speech, only selling things).  You could wonder how the Blogger platform makes money now (because most users of it don’t seem to have the Adsense service, at least from what I have seen).

Long term concerns like this provide one reason why I started to migrate more material to hosted Wordpress domains in May 2016 (six months before Trump won).

Youtube may well also be thinking about how it will deal with the EU Copyright Directive as it gets implemented by country.  One solution is to restrict who can post videos to "professionals" and allow people to "apply" first.  I wonder if that is down the path even for the US.  Susan Wojcicki had warned about the implication of Article 13 (now 17) back in October 2018.
I do have a lot of small videos which embed into one of my Wordpress blogs as a log of my own work (I would obviously hate for them to disappear).  There are not enough subscribers to make it monetizable and I have not personally needed that anyway.  Yet, the use of the system this way by persons like me might have an effect on how the whole ecosystem is viewed. Most of the embeds on the other blogs are from larger sources.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Facebook and YouTube hide or block content "naming names" of whistleblowers ("coordinated harm" policies)

There is a lot of flak this evening about social media companies removing content that names “the” whistleblower(s) on Ukraine and possibly Epstein.

Actually, the facts are not quite hammered down. I think it is possible there is more than one, but that's another matter. 

But Facebook is removing posts that mention “the” name and YouTube is marking such videos “private”.

Since YouTube and Blogger belong to the same company, I have to presume for the moment that it is banned on Blogger.  I haven’t heard about Wordpress.

As a practical matter, visitors will find it very easy to get the name(s) right now so I don’t need to spell it out here.

Facebook says it will revisit the policy if public figures regularly name “they”.   But social medias have to grapple with the "amplification" effect which is related to radicalization (as they are now worried about it). On the other hand, "activists" (in FB's words) often want to be public.  And if an "activist" (SJW) falsely complains someone advocates white supremacy (and "opinion" in defamation law), what recourse should the target have (Rand Paul, helow). This slides back to tribalism. 
Facebook says its policy bans coordinating harm and facilitating crime, and it has to apply to policy in a neutral manner to protect ordinary users from being targeted if they become involved in an unusual or bizarre situation in some coincidental, unpredictable matter.  (This actually happened to me when I was working as a substitute teacher in the fall of 2005.)

Twitter as of now has not banned the naming.
There are good legal questions as to whether naming a protected whistleblower is a crime.  

Apparently it is not when testifying or giving a deposition. It doesn’t seem to be so for a president to do it. Or Congress. 

What about an ordinary journalist or blogger?  Could the Whistleblower Protection Act apply?

There are some articles with distant discussion, one in the Washington Post by Harry Litman  and another on CNN   David Pakman speculated that Donald Trump Jr., Breitbart, or even an ordinary blogger (if mentioning it) could be arrested and prosecuted. 
Both Tim Pool and Matt Christiansen have had YouTube videos marked private today (Pool also was hit by Facebook).  Matt’s is available on Bitchutel  Tim's should be available on Subverse or Minds. 

Sen. Rand Paul has argued that "the accused" (Trump) have a right to confront their accusers, but somehow feels that this situation is very different from Edward Snowden, who should have been protected.  

I also wanted to share a grim article by Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine, "This is no ordinary impeachment", where Sullivan warns of a sinister cleavage in liberal democracy from tribalists who simply want to belong to their cults (that's true on both left and right). 

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Andy Ngo speaks at Heritage Foundation today, video already available

Andrew Ngo spoke at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, exactly one hour.
The presentation was live-streamed, and security at the event was very tight, with reports that cell phones had to be surrendered.

But the complete video was immediately available when the event ended.  It is called “Behind the Mask: Antifa’s Plan to Undermine Liberal Democracy”.
The introduction by HF mentioned the far radical Left of the past, including the ideology of Marcuse (that violence of the oppressed must be met with such) and particularly the Symbionese Liberation Army which kidnapped Patty Hearst in 1974 (which Jeff Toobin at CNN has written a book).
Ngo opened by discussing how his parents were affected by the aftermath of the fall of Saigon in 1975.

About the last third minutes were taken with questions.
Ngo mentions that the United States does not by definition outlaw hate groups as Europe does (it does outlaw assisting foreign terror groups).  Ngo explained that Antifa is informally constructed and anonymous, but described its ideology as anarchistic and utopian.  He says that American groups (which he says are mostly white) have incorporated the far Left ideology of intersectionality.  Ngo suggested possibly outlawing masks at protests.
One question (by Luke O’Brien) mentioned a plot and a Quillette article by Eoin Lenahan. 
Many of the events attracting Antifa cells have involved fights with Proud Boys or Patriot Prayers, especially in Portland, according to the speech.
Ngo seemed to refer to a remark by Beto O’Rourke tracing Trump’s speeches to Goebbels (Axios). 
Ngo thinks some of the mainstream Left has accepted some of Antifa’s ideology.
Ngo said he needed special therapy for memory, speech and balance after the brain injury from the beating in Portland this summer.