Thursday, February 27, 2020

PragerU doesn't have a "first amendment" case against YouTube, which IS a private platform

Hoeg Law reviews a Ninth Circuit opinion that maintains YouTube is not effectively a “state actor” by providing an almost monopolistic platform for users to speak, and therefore PragerU as a plaintiff has no claim.

YouTube may lawfully suppress content from “conservatives” for its corporate purpose or for advertiser relations.

Hoeg says many of his videos are marked inappropriate for advertisers, or get delayed, costing revenue.

Anything socially or politically controversial is generally inappropriate for advertisers.  

This could become controversial in other ways of platforms eventually insist that user content pay its own way (the “commercial viability” idea).

YouTube has tagged many PragerU videos as restricted mode, which led to the litigation.

Some of PragerU’s videos are edgy, particularly when talking about “masculinity”, for example. 

Some populations find their criticism of the temperament of some people as offensive. 

Note Hoeg’s discussion of private property concepts at 28:25. 
He also discusses an old case with AOL (“you got mail”).

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Mystery group shuts down several Twitch streams, including David Pakman, claims to be hired by networks to do DMCA takedowns

Patrick Klepek writes on Vice about apparently bogus takedowns of livestreams on Twitch of a Democratic Party debate, which Twitch apparently admits it was conned by, link.  Vice says that the legal doctrine of Fair Use with talkover streams is not completely settled.
Newsweek has a similar story by Steven Asarch.  
David Pakman says his Twitch account got a copyright strike from Twitch and the account could be shut down forever even by bogus claims.

The DMCA takedown was issued by a group that calls itself Praxis Political Legal.  However Pakman could not find a legitimate website.  His video explains his gumshoeing with WHOIS, etc.  I can’t find it either.
The group could be a proxy hired by CBS or other groups or, as David claims, it could be a right wing troll group.
But streaming companies need to have some procedures for identifying suspicious DMCA takedown claims.
Electronic Frontier Foundation has a “takedown hall of shame” page
This kind of incident is particularly questionable during an election.
I do subscribe to the David Pakman Show. 

Update: Feb. 28

Pakman has an update on the broken DMCA system. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Sargon of Akkad retaliates against what seems like a SLAPP suit from across the Pond; YouTube demonetizes coronavirus

The Left (even the less radical part) is apparently not afraid to file frivolous or SLAPP suits, as Sargon of Akkad (Carl Benjamin) claims, where he had to pay tens of thousands to defend himself in NY from England, link  This was apparently a copyright claim.
Benjamin was sued by Hillary Clinton supporter Akilah Hughes for using her video from Clinton’s concession night in losing to Trump, and modifying it to make fun of it. Akkad eventually prevailed in court and is now suing for legal fees (story).
Reclaimthenet also has stories about YouTube’s crimping cyptocurrency channels, and especially demonetizing channels discussing Coronavirus.
YouTube is said to have demonetized almost all videos discussing the coronavirus.  Presumably this is to discourage conspiracy theories (Wuhan lab), but this time the independent medical channels have been quite reliable and superior to mainstream media.  Rush Limbaugh, well, no.  

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The unionization of self-broadcast "free" speech

Today I noticed a story in a Richmond VA newspaper about proposed legislation in Virginia to protect people with disabilities from discrimination in receiving organ transplantation when medically necessary for lifesaving.  I had never thought about this as an issue.  My immediate personal reaction is that when families have children, there’s always a risk like this (which I would encounter in special education when I worked as a substitute teacher).  But this doesn’t happen in most well-off families or to single people who remain childless, usually.
So, here I go with in meta-post mode.  The Left will say to me, if you mention this at all, why aren’t you in the streets fighting for it?  To blog about stuff gratuitously, without skin in the game, would have been seen as just objective issue discussion ten years ago.  Now it is seen by the far Left as a form of indirect bullying, and the tech industry feels the pressure.

Indeed, I do fear that in a few more years we may well see an environment where you get to speak for yourself online only if you will speak to others first, as with the issue I have with Facebook’s constantly prodding me to “add a donate button” when I post about something yesterday (it happened yesterday when I quote the CDC talking about the possibility of ordinary people’s freedom of movement or activity being restricted if contact tracing reports they were in accidental close contact with someone infected with Covid-19).  
As far as the combativeness of the Left goes, I do get it.  Some groups feel more threatened when assembled in public, especially by the less-hidden extreme alt-right today than they were a few years ago (before Charlottesville and before Trump’s election) by radical Islam (Pulse, Bataclan in Paris, etc), which was perceived as “easier” to sift out in advance and less connected to western society.  Some also see a political threat of a return to authoritarianism, with Trump’s disregard of normal decorum when combined with “gratuitous speech” from those with no real personal stake in the difficulties that (intersectional) groups claim they have. In the view of the Left, no one should feel above having to march in protest or join a movement.
Big Tech really wants to see people run genuine consumer-oriented businesses online – see authors sell books themselves, for example (and compete with Amazon?).  In the past, persistent identifiers have hidden the problem that most people really are not in a very good position to do this if that is the only way to be known online, unless you raise money for somebody else first (and you “belong” to that somebody else).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Twitter will experiment with system to mark misleading information, "score" users

NBC News (Ben Collins) reports (with a video) that Twitter is experimenting with a system to highlight misinformation, overlaying with bright orange shading portions of tweets that violate a “Community Policy on Harmfully Misleading Information”.

Apparently users may gain points or reputation scores as to the validity of information they post.

I try to link to credible sources when I present controversial or disturbing information (such as about the Covid-19 coronavirus).  But some stories are views as “conspiracy theories” (such as about the biolab in Wuhan) even when credible news outlets have reported them. 
Tim Pool reports on an experiment he did with a PragerU story.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Many Youtubers doing gaming stuff are technically violating copyright law and depend on the largesse of the game creators

Richard Hoeg and Virtual Legality (“HoegLaw”) discusses the technical legality of a lot of transformative work by YouTubers, in a post called “Streaming, Copyright Infringement, and Fair Use”.

He says that a lot of common practices online are in a legal gray area where Fair Use would be hard to prove. He talks particularly about copyright strikes on YouTube caused by Electronic Arts.  

In some situations streamers are making a living at the “largesse” of some original content creators, and might be more likely if the content reflects poorly on the copyright holder.

He talks about whether making a video about playing a particular game (as an instance) would be infringing.
There could also be a question of performing still copyrighted works, although in most cases the original owner benefits from the event.  It might be an issue with playing recordings at a church service or funeral (although I did that at my mother’s funeral in 2011).
It’s pretty obvious that many sports are very strict about this with licensing because that is their business model.
He says there could be a problem with revealing movie spoilers in reviews (given the mentality of many potential moviegoers in the commercial world). He talks about "game spoilers".  
It might matter if the derivative content creator itself takes patronage or subscriptions.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Interesting "bad review" of a law firm in Australia, "in bad faith"

Steve Lehto describes a “bad review” defamation case involving a law firm in Australia.  The plaintiff (the law firm) won a judgment of $750000 in Australia.  

The review was on “Google”.  Is that Blogger?

The woman did not try to defend herself in court.
 This case involves anonymous reviewers.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Will future community-acquired COVID-19 infection in the US require mandatory isolation? Yes, if state health departments say so. And it's a legal mess

Can the government order quarantine of persons in the United States who have no symptoms of the coronavirus of COVID-19, on the basic of contact tracing indicating the likelihood of exposure?

Yes.  Polly J. Price of Emory University in Atlanta offers some analysis in The Atlantic .  Essentially, only state and local health departments can quarantine individuals once they have entered the country;  the CDC alone cannot, although state health departments would follow CDC (and NIH) guidance. There were a few questions in Texas and New York City in 2014 regarding one or two persons exposed to Ebola. 

 It appears that CDC can quarantine people at international airports upon arrival (which is what happens now with the evacuations). 

There is no constitutional protection of the individual from involuntary confinement even if they have done nothing wrong.  There is no provision to reimburse financial, job losses or other possibilities.  You can imagine the gofundme’s on social media in the future if this became widespread, or the “social justice” implications down the road.  However, there are some due process concerns.  The orders must be reasonable and based on evidence.

The Virginia health department notes some persons under monitoring, none of whom have tested positive.  I am surprised that persons with recent travel to China (that’s most of them) would be in the group given travel bans.

California also has a statement here.
I would be concerned about domestic travel to another state and being detained because you were reported to be in proximity of someone else who had tested positive, even if you had not traveled abroad.  I don’t know yet if this is a realistic concern.  You would presumably be responsible for your own housing expenses if you did not have symptoms and were not held at a federal or state quarantine center.  This needs attention.

Update: NPR says that the CDC did get increased federal quarantine authority at the start of the Trump administration in this article about the Diamond Princess. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Do you "owe" the less fortunate your "time" and even public advocacy? Should you be willing to knock on doors?

I need to react a bit to the tone of pleas and even demands for my “time” and personal attention from activists, charities, non-profits, various persons online and even in the mail.
Let me preface this by noting that I do make monthly contributions through my trust mechanism to certain non-profits (some were my mother’s and some are beneficiaries) privately through an automated process at a bank.  Of course, this doesn’t get matching funds or support their public relations.  It’s just a monthly contribution.

There’s a young man raising funds for a shopping spree for underprivileged kids, for example. 

Recently he wrote a tweet scolding wealthier people with the means to contribute for not supporting his effort. 

He also says, “veterans need your time”. Well, time given away may be time lost.  Actually, veterans do mean something because I have been in the military myself (a long time ago).  But I decide where my time goes, not someone else.
Or another example.  Often, when I link to a news story on an issue in a Facebook post (and I usually choose well known and reliable sources to link to)  I often get prodded to add a donate button and raise money publicly for an established non-profit, as if this were a quid pro quo for publishing online.  Also, Facebook, back, in 2018, told me that it could not promote my page unless I sold things on it to become known to advertisers.  I don't have any obvious consumer items to "sell". 

You can imagine where this is heading.

I do subscribe (through paywalls) to a few news outlets, and I do make small contributions through patronage sites (Patreon) to a few YouTube channels that I like.  But I don’t let anyone claim “I am your voice” and I don’t let anyone hire me to advertise or speak for them under normal circumstances (“until I do”). 

To become involved in something, I need to really believe in it and be prepared to offer considerable time and effort, before any other public involvement or contribution streams are appropriate.

So, please don’t scream “we can’t do this without you.”  Yes you can.  That’s patently false.  I don’t need your false extroversion.

But I agree, you can go down a rabbit hole when you talk about issues and then don’t actually have responsibility for other people who are less than perfect and are able to care about them personally (call it social capital, call it “skin in the game”).

In a tangentially related matter, I have kept this “connect the dots” (aka “do ask do tell”) operation online for twenty-plus years by myself, but I get feedback that this cannot be sustainable into today’s polarized and risk-laden environment, and that’s why I have announced changes for the end of 2021.  I hope we get there without incident (like hospitalization, another big tech political collapse, or coronavirus).  In the meantime, I don’t make political contributions to candidates (at least in 2020) or volunteer for campaigns.  I can’t take the position that one politician can fix everything for me.  I pick and choose my own issues. 
But, of course, you will say, I am hollowing out the system and leaving it to the extremes.  Remember my “dangerous thought experiment”. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Why "Black Swans" can destroy parasitic individualists (like me?)

I wanted to share a link to a couple of tweets from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “Skin in the Game” (2018) regarding the moral consequences of “Black Swans”.  The first tweet is this.  
One of these insights is that personal damage (or damage to your cohort) can be minimized by reducing global connectivity and enabling localism or local self-sufficiency.  Of course, on the surface, this comports with supporters of the Second Amendment and self-reliance.  But this more significance to “non-comformists” who don’t fit in well with their family or social climate of origin, and use globalism to to establish their influence with the world, without close relationships with people who would actually have their backs (reciprocally) in a personal way.  In a sense, they have outflanked those who restricted their freedom, and are taken down when something external (a natural catastrophe, or a terror attack born out of resentment) destroys them.  It’s a very ugly thing when it happens.

Prager U has talked about the difference between “anywhere’s” and “somewhere’s” and the moral tension between them as explaining why Trump won in 2016.

But the more I ponder this, the more I see the point of the far Left’s trying to force all our individualists to admit our vulnerability and join their intersection groups.  However, most people alive today on the far Left didn’t live through the time when we had the male-only Vietnam-era military draft, with a deferment system for the privileged that lowered their risk.  They don’t get the moral aspect of sharing risk.
Typical, in most societies, "faith-based" moral systems have factored in large concerns about the survival of the group from the improbable. 
Taleb also shared some cartoon material about Black Swan’s that looks like pages from a graphic novel.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Small donations tend to help more extreme candidates and drive partisanship and ideological extremism; moderates won't "donate" because they feel insulted

Richard Pildes writes in the Washington Post, Outlook section Sunday, “Small dollars, big changes: Wedb-based donations aimed to democratize our campaigns. They also radicalized both parties.” 
The reason is becoming apparent:  people who take more extreme position are more likely to respond to pleas and “take action”.  Moderates tend to ignore group pleas or speak for themselves, more about issues than candidates.  As I noted even yesterday, this is starting to create controversy even for platforms. 

People on the extremes (especially on the Left) tend to believe they have more skin in the game.
See also TV blog today for related post about the Full Measure show.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

The "platform or publisher" issue: the public doesn't get it, and that's bad for the future of user-generated content

Just a quick note to start the weekend.

I’m quite struck in eavesdropping on ordinary conversations that “ordinary people” online don’t understand the concept of downstream liability protection for platforms, in either the usual torts like defamation (Section 230 in the US) or copyright infringement (DMCA Safe Harbor, which requires a platform to respond to a complaint and then ask questions later).  The recent developments in the EU, especially for copyright, do make this a lot more problematic for the entire western world.

Furthermore, people have different perceptions of the social consequences of speech.  In the early days, like the late 90s, practically unlimited free speech from any other “nobody” was considered a way to enhance democracy and encourage equality.  That wasn’t questioned at first but has gradually eroded.  But this perception was largely true even during the early days of big social media.  

Remember, Zuckerberg was “person of the year” for Time’s 2010 cover, as “the connector”.  We had an Arab spring, and the takeout of Osama bin Laden by Obama.  But by 2014, things were changing. 

 We saw more evidence of identarianism, as with Ferguson, even while Obama was president.  Radical Islam, now ISIS, was recognized as am essentially identarian theocratic threat, but relatively easy to spot and isolate.  Because of the nature of some aspects of US History, “white nationalism” was becoming a more insidious threat, which connected underground to some people who would support Trump’s 2016 rhetoric (and greatly exacerbated by Charlottesville, and then Pittsburgh and Christchurch).  The identity-centered concerns of some groups on the Left do have some validity, such as security issues when people in various groups assemble.  I say this as a libertarian to centrist “gay conservative” (David Rubin makes sense to me) myself.

Today, we have a “crisis” in the way people perceive the “value” of individual speech.  More people on the Left see it as a manifestation of inherited advantage and privilege (sometimes connected to race).  I personally value nuance and seeking truth and provable facts in debate.  The practical reality is that most people today believe that access and propagation of information should come from social structures (families, countries, religious or tribal authority, and now intersectional groups) and be related to meeting real needs of other people, sometimes in “creative” channels (as Paul Rosenfels used to describe them). This view would require individuals to contribute to others' social capital as understood by localism before they could have a soapbox to be heard globally. 
So now we see the public as a whole seeing the big social media platforms as publishers, who should no longer just allow anyone on to self-publish anything.  Generally, (leftist) activists want speech to be justified by follow-up of action (as Burt Neuborne explained in Madison’s Music) so that, at least politically, people will come together in enough numbers (as “foot soldiers” or “proles”) to make real political change.  A parallel idea exists with gun control:  if you want to claim the natural right to own a gun, you ought to belong to a volunteer fire department, so to speak (the “justification” clause regarding militia, which the Supreme Court says is not actually incorporated into exercising the natural right, as Eugene Volokh has explained). 

So, we are likely to see a future where there will be many more “publishers” than in the past (before the Internet) but they will have to be screened to ensure the legitimacy of their intentions.  They generally will need to be running a real business (actually conducting commerce and selling things) or doing legitimate organizing and activism.   That is how the tech world is seeing things, as being pressured by the corporate world, which in turn has become unexpectedly responsive to the threats of the established Left (read – organize boycotts).  The Left is about getting people to show up and protest, not to film and remain spectators (which is what conservatives like to do, including myself).
No wonder, big tech seems favorable to the Left and to collectivists, and has turned against conservatives, not so much directly about ideology, but because conservatives tend to act individually, not in groups.  (David Pakman is a “liberal” but has gotten in trouble because he also is a very strong individualist, unusual on the Left.)   Indeed, Tech has fallen into a spell related to Herbert Marcuse and to neo-Marxism.  Another way to perceive what is going on is to ponder Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “skin in the game” or the idea of “no spectators” as expressed by Burning Man in Nevada or even the Netflix satire “Rebirth”.
My own situation is related to the idea that my setup is very old, dating as far back as 1996, before my first “do ask do tell” book was self-published (1997).  I don’t have advanced video skills, because I did all my stuff before YouTube really took off.  My setup has multiple entry points, set up over time, so it may sound like it has redundancies and seem non-transparent.  Yet, I am trying to do something about this, but it will take until the end of 2021 (there’s a lot of detail I can’t cover in one post).
The redundancies and multiplicity of access routes, and my strategy of simply letting people find me, was very effective in the early years but could be a source of criticism and even threats of shutdown now, because I don’t “play ball” with the tribal climate today.  This observation reminds me of the “media manipulation” policies and takedowns of “coordinated inauthentic behaviors” by Facebook in 2018, which are not quite the same things operationally.  They are basically related not just to spam (as usually understood) but to the inflation of metrics (especially on large social media platforms) to convey the misleading impression of more popularity of a speaker than actually exists or "earned".  In the future, social media will pay much more attention to the “authentic” metrics of all speakers --- does this content pay its own way?  Does it fill real needs of consumers?  The use of persistent identifiers clouds these questions (COPPA and CCPA, in different ways) as does the practice of patronage.  It’s much healthier if consumers really pay for what they consume -- but paywalls are just too cumbersome.  We have a lot of work to do.
I will also say this.  I don’t have particularly good numbers in the legitimate sense, but I know that my content,, however "gratuitous", has been politically influential about certain issues (it was very important in ending “don’t ask don’t tell” some years ago).  In perhaps two instances my hidden participation has turned out to be very critical for the final outcome of a situation. But that’s because the “right” people find it and the nuanced ideas about moral ambiguity (sometimes traceable to some bizarre ironies or incidents in my own narrative history) stick.  Yet that doesn’t seem to be as acceptable a way for global speakers to operate now as it had been twenty years ago, because it gives covert intellectual “elites” with no direct responsibilities for others who need them, too much covert power.  That is a real problem for me.  Back in 2005, there was an argument going around that McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform would shut down political blogging because it could give bloggers too much covert power – the FEC eventually calmed that situation down (as I have explained in the past), and then we had Citizen’s United and various other rulings.  But now the problem is coming back just with pressure on Tech itself, and gain from political candidates (like Biden and Warren).  So yes, I am watching this carefully.  

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Twitter has a more elaborated "manipulated media" policy now (for deep fakes)

Twitter has taken on the deep fakes problem with a new “manipulated media” policy, as explained by Andrew Hutchinson on Social MediaToday
The text of the new change in in the Twitter Rules, at the word manipulated. Their tweet is here  and the phrase “causes harm” sounds ambiguous but it would normally refer to reputational harm.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Youtube social media lawyer warns that EU Copyright Directive and Article 17 may soon be exported to the US, UK, Canada, Australia, etc. by corporate lobbying

Ian Corzine has a brief but critical video “The Copyright Ticking Time Bomb”.

He discusses the existence of an underground international cabal of media companies to export the provisions of the EU’s Copyright Directive to the United States, to UK (after Brexit), and the various countries in the British Commonwealth.

You will recall that Alex Voss, in Germany, had at some point made comments to the fact that independent speakers are not legitimate and commercial news and other content publications (giving people jobs and benefits) should not have to compete with amateurs who don’t do it for a living, or who simply spread sensationalism for a living.  Yup, Article 17 is pure legacy job protectionism.  David Pakman, in particular, has mentioned the constant bogus DMCA takedowns he gets from CNN/Warner Brothers, NBC and others during livestreams, which get reversed but not before David's show has lost most of its opportunity for revenue.  "It's not personal, it's just business". 
Some of the countries in the EU, especially Germany, have passed their Articles 13 and 17, but Susan Wojcicki had written that there is an out for plaforms if they make their best efforts to filter out copyrighted and unlicensed  material.  But it sounds as like the US idea of “Fair Use” is not allowed. 
Corzine mentions Section 230, although that doesn’t involve copyright, but rather the other torts.  He says Trump and Biden have both said they want to end Section 230, and I have documented Biden’s comments to the New York Times here recently (Jan 20), and Elizabeth Warren's (Jan. 30).  The downstream liability protection for copyright in the US resides with the DMCA Safe Harbor provision. 
 I would also add that the CASE Act, once it passes the now distracted Senate (and that impeachment situation should end tomorrow) could expose content creators like myself with a large past inventory of images, a practical risk of action from copyright trolls (like Righthaven in the past) if the Copyright Office does not handle this new responsibility and power in a small claims court very carefully and get a lot of public comments before it adapts its rules. 

Monday, February 03, 2020

"Is Blogging Dead?" Create and Go has some good advice, and times are changing indeed

“Is Blogging Dead?  Does It Really Have a Future in 2020 and Beyond?”
This is a 16-minute video by Create and Go, with advice similar to that of Blogtyrant.
OK, he is certainly right about most of his points.  Today, longer, in-depth blog posts do much better than short ones, and I notice this on my own blogs, where a brief post just keeping track of a news item that is otherwise widely reported doesn’t get many clicks.
The idea of frequent posting about many topics is dying.  Yes, that is what I have done over the years, and it used to work a lot better than it does now, and I agree with him.  And newer Mommy blogs (“Dooce” notwithstanding) apparently don’t do as well as they once did.
One “problem” is that since about 2013, video blogging – YouTube – has taken over a lot of users.  However, you can read a detailed blog post and get serious information about something (like, right now, coronavirus) than you can watch a 30-minute video.
And YouTube has become controversial for a lot of reasons, with all the demonetizations of political content, largely because of radicalization, accusations of foreign meddling, polarization, and the like – and it got much worse after Charlottesville and again after Adpocalypse (Maza-Crowder).
Blogging inverts the presentation, with embedding of videos, which could be from third party sources and rarely would need licensing or permission (there is a courtesy issue).  He recommends developing skill in multi-media.
I have covered multiple topics of a social and political nature, and much of my work has been to “connect the dots” among many legal or political threats to independent user generated content today.  I’m am a subject matter expert not so much on any one of them alone (like net neutrality) but on how they work in combination.  I am somewhat known in the video blogging community as that pest blogger who keeps warning us of how we will get in trouble.
My best chance for real SME (subject matter expertise) as he explains it, is probably music composition, or my sci-fi novel and screenplay.  There are reasons why the music might work, but I have to finish the music itself and actually get it working properly in Sibelius (etc) and make it presentable and playable for performers.  There is more technology for me to master (and there are problems with Avid and Apple right now regarding releases and compatibility – but that’s another opportunity for expertise).  The music subject matter opportunity stresses that the underlying priority is the music (or whatever "business product" you are selling or promoting), and the blog is then secondary to its purpose -- it's again about "implicit content". 
In the past, I was a detailed SME on "don't ask don't tell" because of my own history (not the same as the transgender policy today) and I was also an expert on COPA (not COPPA) for which I was a sub-litigant.  (But COPA affects COPPA, and that's another discussion).  Another area where I connect the dots is the importance of "downstream liability" protections for platforms (Section 230, DMCA Safe Harbor, and the destruction of all of this in the EU with Article 17, etc.) 
The science fiction is, well, what really is out there (extraterrestrial life, consciousness, etc).  I do have a controversial theory that could stand up to the physicists in coming years.
What I am not good at is tribal politics, and I will be moving away from them.  I am a gay male and libertarian, and I think wokeness is self-destruction and won’t work. (Look at what happened to China).
The young man who presents the material seems to have disfigured himself by shaving his left arm and tattooing it.  I see body art as disfiguring.  A distraction.  I don’t care about the race or gender (even binary or not) of the presented, but I’ve never dug permanent body art.  But like in a 48-hout film project, “that’s my opinion”.  You didn’t ask, but I told.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Twitter suspends Zero Hedge over "deceptive" practices with regard to coronavirus; facts are confusing; Facebook prods speakers to raise money for non-profits

There is some confusion as to Twitter’s suspension of Zero Hedge, an edgy website, for posting information related to a conspiracy theory for coronavirus and supposedly doxing a Chinese scientist.  But others stay that the PII of the scientist was publicly posted already. 

The Verge (Jay Peters)  explained the incident as a violation of Twitter’s spam or platform manipulation policy. 
However Tim Pool, in a video, notes that apparently one of the ZeroH articles had an implied threat.  It is true that Twitter will suspend an account that it believes has published threats or broken laws on other sites; this was noticed in some purges in late 2018 in conjunction with the Facebook Purge 3.0.
Recently, I posted an informative medical story on Facebook about the coronavirus epidemic (link to a reputable news source) and I still got the “add a donate button” again.  Facebook seems to want you to act in your own social network rather than just “publish” things, and remember in Sept. 2018 that they said they could not promote my Page unless I had third party sellers on my page doing real commerce.
There is also one tweet  about a proposal in Canada to require website holders to have licenses.  I haven’t confirmed it yet. 

"Economic Invincibility" has an important video where he explains why YouTube has been demonetizing amateur videos who talk about issues and politics.  I get the feeling that tech platforms want to see business and commerce, but not political talk from people who want to do their own activism and take it away from established non-profits. 
Update: Feb. 4

Hoeg Law also explains Twitter's suspension of Planter's accounts under "Baby Nut" for causing illegitimate spam to be generated during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 

Saturday, February 01, 2020

"EARN IT" Act seems to target some encryption through Section 230 changes; DOJ plans forum on 230 issues Feb. 19

Adi Robertson writes in The Verge about a proposed bill called the “EARN IT Act” (Eliminating Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies) supported by S. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) which would set up a commission requiring platforms to remove certain content exploitative of children, with loss of Section 230 protection.  There are reports that it intended to target end-to-end encryption and could lead to the sale of WhatsApp.  Bloomberg has a story by Ben Brody and Naomi Nix and links to a draft of the bill.   The name suggests good karma. 

Also, the Department of Justice plans a public forum on Wednesday, Feb. 19 to discuss Section 230. 

Update: February 6

EFF has an article now, including urging action, on the EARN Act.