Sunday, January 31, 2021

Brian Stelter on CNN hints at the need for social credit systems for people who want to speak online ("Freedom of speech" vs. "Freedom of reach")

 

winter, finally

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has  a memo, dated January 21, 2021, to the incoming Biden administration.  Note quickly its recommendations on Section 230 and the need to preserve it to allow everyone to be heard with their own point of view.

But we have increasing sentiment that much of our establishment does not want everyone to be heard.  As Brian Stelter of CNN says now, “Freedom of speech” is protected, but not “Freedom of reach”.  It rhymes like in a poem.  Actually, there is some discussion of the latter in the 2007 COPA opinion that I have discussed before.  

But Brian Stelter, in this video excerpt from Tom Elliot,  talks instead about the “Harm Reduction Model”, and “Reducing Information Pollution”.  

Stelter says that Fox has complained that CNN is trying to drive if off the air.  (He wants service providers and ISP's remove access to harmful content, when they really are "telephone companies".) But it is more that large corporate media would like to get rid of competition from low-cost independent producers who don’t provide others with stable jobs in journalism.

You can’t get rid of “information pollution” and keep it from reaching users without gatekeepers.  And it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the obvious way to gatekeep (as the legal climate is less friendly to protecting platform downstream liability) is to pre-screen who gets published, the way it used to be.  (Stelter mentions Schuster’s cancellation of Josh Hawley.)  I’ve called this idea “the privilege of being listened to”, indeed a conditional privilege.  The next apparent tool would be to establish norms of individual social credit worthiness.  If you want to be heard, you should care about the people who will receive your message and have some accountability for what they do. You should have "skin in the game".  The Chinese already have very precise paradigms on how to do this, and pose that it is fundamental to personal morality.  And they don’t have “critical theory” in the way, which is ironic.

Update:  Allison Morrow weighs  in on Stelter and Nicholas Kristoff in this video

Saturday, January 30, 2021

BUzzfeed News gives us the chronicle of a female Army vet in the Capitol riots

Ohio, Jan 2018


You may want to look at the long article by Jessica Garrison and Ken Bensinger, “Meet the woman facing some of the most serious Capitol Riot charges?”, on BuzzfeedNews.   

The woman is Jessica Watkins (be careful because there are others with her namesake with no connection), whose road to perdition started with the best of intentions, after some devastating tornadoes in her home Dayton, Ohio in the spring of 2019.  She wanted to organize a volunteer humanitarian “militia” to keep order and assist in rebuilding when government, she and others thought, was incapable to doing it.  This sounds like healthful localism, community solidarity.

She went from an ex-Army vet and bar owner and volunteer firefighter, through the frustrations of COVID, to so gradual extreme radicalization.

It wasn’t all just about social media.


Friday, January 29, 2021

The lawyers weigh in on RobinHood, GameStop, short sellers, and ordinary investors

 

San Francisco 2018

Leonard French has a 23-minute video that explains the class action suit against Robin Hood for braking investors from buying GameStop, apparently motivated by the desire to short sellers (also clients) from catastrophe.

One idea to get a dismissal might be to claim the RobinHood’s terms of service allowed it this discretion to stop unusual activity.

But of course, this is a battle that curiously parallels the battle for free speech from independents who provide unwelcome competition to established corporate media interests.  In this case, small investors want to have the power of corporate hedge funds. 

French looks swashbuckling in his pirate hat, but says he lost a decade of his life financially to the crash of 2008.

Hoeg Law has two videos (nearly 90 minutes) on this, too much, but offers a link to the court papers. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

YouTube, Facebook making it impossible for independent journalists to livestream conflict

 

Harpers Ferry wreck Dec. 2019

Matt Taibbi, in his own substack, offers a detailed article examining the unwillingness of YouTube and Facebook to allow livestreams now of controversial events, at least those showing brandishing of firearms, in this article.  

He particularly discusses the problems encountered by Jon Farina and Ford Fischer (see Monday’s post).

In many cases, Fischer has found, for example, that some groups were not supporting either Trump’s extremists or, on the other hand, Antifa, but were more of the libertarian anarchist ilk (as with some of Boogaloo Bois).  Some of the demonstrations, as one in Richmond January 18 (Lobby Day) had little or nothing to do with certification or inauguration.

Algorithms are totally unable to determine the context of speech.

I have never done livestreams.  That’s partly because I haven’t developed the skill to (I started in 2011 or so but backed away back into my established ventures), and a lot of my blogging “career” happened before video really took off like around 2013.  Many of the issues I cover are more legal ones (like the Section 230 debate) or medical ones (coronavirus), and involve conferences and events which don’t allow livestreaming by visitors but already plan their own, so I simply use the videos they make for blog posts. 

More recently, in 2018 through part of 2020, I discovered that once in a while I would come across an event that no other independent journalist (even those that hire contractors) had covered (or even the media) so I would make short clips (but not live) with simple canon Powershots and cell phone and post them, and find them somewhat effective.  That was particularly true of immigration or asylum issues, and later with events like a train wreck in Harpers Ferry.

 Also: Discord has banned the r/WallStreetBets server over extreme levels of hate speech, as Jay Peters reports for The Verge. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

YouTube removes "evidentiary" videos of January 6 made by a prominent independent journalist; how ordinary citizens can accidentally stumble into dangerous plots online

 

Nevada, 2012

Ford Fischer, who owns News2Share, is maintaining Monday (today, January 25) that YouTube removed a video of his made January 6 when he panned the crowd, showing the crowd’s emotional reaction just before it stormed the Capitol.  Here is his complete thread

It appears that he has already licensed some of his footage to CNN and PBS which are showing their own documentary films about the incident.  PBS’s Frontline may be yet to air.

It also appears likely that some of his footage is included in evidentiary materials to be sent over to the Senate tonight at 6:55 PM for the impeachment trial. 

Here is an account on his own News2Share site.  Note that he particular video grays out and gives a warning about TOS removal. 

There are various detailed accounts in news media of this “march”, such as Reuters , and New York Magazine Intelligencer.

Here is a really interesting one in Ohio Capital Journal of the mental planning in advance. I've had brush with this kind of thing in people contacting me, as I explain later in this post. 

A site called "Justsecurity" has a video from Parler (apparently) that connects Trump's speech to the crowd's behavior, link. "We're going to walk down to the Capitol, and I'll be there with you!".  The Vimeo link from Justin Hendrik is here.   The video includes material from Parler.  There is the call "Fight for Trump!" which sounds like the chant of a cult, waiting for its Koolaid. 

There were other prominent speakers advocating “violence”, such as Rudy Giuliani’s “trial by combat”.  Some rioters claimed they were part of a “1776” movement.

YouTube seems to be taking the position that anyone not part of corporate media who films a speech advocating Trump’s claims of the “steal” is now violating the terms of service, and that YT will not give “citizen journalists” the validity of reporting the speech for the sake of the journalism alone.  YT does not trust average social media users to understand what “subjunctive mood” (as in French verb conjugations) means.   However, Ford does this for a living, and regularly sells footage to corporate outlets.  Ironically, it seems not all right for him to post it himself. 

I also have some earlier footage from “STS” rallies on YouTube (from November 2020) that are still up. Some of my footage does not seem to be duplicated by anyone else (which often happens, even though my own video activity is "small").   

YouTube did not give Fischer a community guidelines “strike” on this one, but rather a kind of warning. (YT had said that it would, starting with January 6, originally to start with the inauguration.)

I will add that I found two Facebook posts that I had photographed for private records from a “Friend” on Dec. 20 (six days after the Electoral College vote) speaking about claims to come as a group of people in a van from Nevada, that it “is time to make our move” and “I don’t care how uncomfortable it is, this I what needs to happen”.  Later, she asked if I knew where people could stay.  I said, try a hotel.  The Hotel Harrington closed for the three days.  But the group apparently may have stayed in a Comfort inn in Arlington very close to where I used to live.  They don’t seem to care about giving people COVID_19.

Then I joked on Twitter on January 5 that “game time was 1 PM” next day  That is, I thought, the legal “game” as to whether Pence could (lawfully in any conceivable sense) ever deviate from what had been understood as his constitutional duty, and as to whether Ted Cruz could get the count delayed (for his panel investigation).  No, it didn’t mean storming the Capitol.  (I stayed home and watched everything, as COVID is everywhere, and I am 77!)  But you can see how making a joke on Twitter about a certification session now might be seen as a wrongful joke by the TSA at an airport.  Nothing has come of this, but I wonder if the FBI should see the Facebook posts (I was concerned enough to photo them but I did not report them, as I don’t think I have ever reported anything to social media “censors” – but I could have to answer why I behaved in this particular way in reaction to what I saw).  I guess this woman’s posts don’t make any "direct" threats, so probably not. 

 On both the far Right and far Left, I see people going very close to the line, and then sometimes over, in resorting to force to correct what they have become convinced is existential injustice. I remember spying on the "Peoples Party on New Jersey" in 1972 and running into the same kind of hyperbole in person. 

This sort of thing has happened before.  On July 19, 2012, I made a joke on Twitter that I never go to Thursday night midnight showings of comics movies (true – I don’t like to stay up that late.).  Maybe that did not turn out well.

Update: Jan 31:  The BBC has used some of Ford's footage, and viewers in the US are blocked from watching it, where in the UK they can see it (tweet).This is a coverup that dwarfs (in the other direction) Nick Sandmann's incident in January 2019. 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

EFF appears to give a nod to a Guardian piece whose speakers urge crackdowns by social media companies.

 

Reno, 2018

Electronic Frontier Foundation created a bit of a stir Sunday when it tweeted a reference to a UK Guardian article interviewing ten people on how to fix social media, now that radicalization, as shown by the January 6 riot (as well as Charlottesville, Christchurch, and other such incidents) seems so out of control.  Banning Trump and maybe some of his political accomplices won’t itself fix the problem.  

Admirably, one expert reminded readers of the Santa Clara Principles, which are supposed to provide some due process when speakers are to be taken down.

One executive said that Section 230 should not be construed as providing platforms from liability immunity for what some speakers inspire others to actually do.  This sentiment was echoed a few times and seems to call into question “gratuitous” political speech, or implicit content, and encourage platforms or even hosts to audit the intentions of their customers.

The executive was from Reddit was particularly telling, as she seemed to favor cross-checking and blacklisting of bad actors.

 Hunter Avallone, whom I met at the Minds conference in Philadelphia on Aug 31, 2019, now talks about censorship with a new view. 


Saturday, January 23, 2021

Malibu Media has to pay attorney's fees when it doesn't present evidence of its claim of copyright infringement

 

California coast, 2012

In the channel “Lawful Masses with Leonard French”, Leonard discusses the copyright troll Malibu Media, which recently was ordered to pay a defendant’s legal fees.

Malibu Media appears to identify home users to have used the packet capture of Bit Torrent to download copies of copyrighted movies and videos.  They have apparently often focused on “adult content”.

Electronic Frontier Foundation has an article (no date) about their tactic of sometimes listing other “adult titles” that the user has supposedly downloaded, in order to threaten the user into public shaming (like job loss) in order to settle. 

Techdirt has many stories about Malibu Media, the latest of which (by Michael Masnick) from Aug 2020 concerns a judge’s denial of a default judgment.  There is a legitimate question whether, as a matter of law, the “ownership” of an IP address in one’s home (as from a cable company) creates the presumption that this address was used to do an illegal download.

However, cable companies typically offer homeowners the ability to set up separate accounts for other residents or renters.  This could be an issue for an Airbnb renter, or for hosting someone (like an asylum seeker) or for other charitable reasons (domestic violence victims).  I checked into this in 2017 with Comcast when I considered hosting someone (I didn’t) and Comcast appeared to be able to keep the usage separate.

Families, however, could get into trouble if their kids or teens used parents’ accounts. 

It’s unclear from the media reports if Malibu buys titles for the purposes of litigating, or is a legitimate distributor (the way the motion picture industry works) of films, adult or not.

If it normally distributes the content to legitimate consumers, them it would have the legitimate interest of protecting intellectual property that it intends to rent or sell copies of to legitimate actual consumers.

There have been other copyright trolls.  Back more than ten years ago, Righthaven was suing bloggers for including copies of news stories of photos from snall town newspapers, claiming it was protecting legitimate small town journalism.

 I think I had heard of a few other companies trolling Bit Torrent about a decade ago.

French notes that the company finds it more lucrative go after consumers than “purveyors” of copyrighted content, with analogy to drug laws against users. 

He also, at about 34 minutes into the video, questions whether the Copyright Office under the CASE act will be inclined to try to stop this abuse.

He notes that if someone receives a complaint from the Office, he they must challenge it affirmatively if they want to challenge it in court.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Cancel culture expands on both sides now that Biden has prevalied

Loudoun County Courthouse, VA, 2021


And now there is semi-outrage from the free-speech crowd (to which I belong) of the firing from the (“left libertarian”) Niskanen Center over a joke from executive Will Wilkinson. Alex Shepard critques in The New Republic.  Robby Soave comes at it from another angle in Reason.  He had tweeted a hyperbole about “lynching” Mike Pence, which should have been understood as satire by anyone familiar with what happened Jan. 6.  Yet, almost any speech could be interpreted as “incitement” if there is a political motive to do so. (Sorry, not enough people are familiar with the late Gode Davis’s unfished film “American Lynching”?  PBS may still have an interest in it, I hope.)

 I became familiar with Niskanen in 2016 when I was looking at the asylum seeker issue (before Trump won).  They were a bit critical of one of my emails or blog posts, but I can’t remember exactly what the issue was now.  Niskansen seems to be left of Catom

Will is a blogger with an issue focus a little like mine, as for example.  

So now is career illustrates the problem when you work for someone else because you need an income, or you need notability and validation.

On Jan 5, I had tweeted “Game time 1 PM” as a way of telling journalists I would be following the certification hearing in Congress from home.  But even that might be taken as incitement for some kind of hunt, like in a dystopian movie (especially from Lionsgate).  Around midnight of the eve of July 20, 2012, when a Batman film was to premier, I had tweeted a joke about Thursday night screenings of hit movies, and that might have turned out wrong.

Tim Pool has pointed out that corporate Democrat Big tech is now going after Leftist extremism now that Trump has won.

You really have to be careful now.



Thursday, January 21, 2021

Virtual Legality has YouTube taken down for merely mentioning a group involved in Jan. 6 "incident"

 

Detroit, Aug. 2012

Richard Hoeg, and his Virtual Legality channel from Michigan, reports on a YouTube takedown of a video 6 months old for “harassment and bullying” in which he was criticizing Twitter’s take down of material from a certain group associated with the Capitol Riots January 6.  I think we can presume that the group is “Q” (like the character in James Bond movies, yeah).

Apparently YouTube went through some other videos and removed any that mentioned the group??  Here we have the problem with “talking about”  v. promotion.

This is very disturbing, to take down a video that is obviously legal analysis.

This sounds like one of those cases where the English language needs a formal subjunctive mood, with endings in verb conjugation, like French.

I’ll mention a clip from the riot in which a cop was told by a rioter, “I’ll spare you because you have kids.”  What?  If I had been a cop I am more expendable because I am childless?  The incel argument?

I’m also perturbed with comments from Antifa (Movies blog Jan 20) about companies complaining about property damage when some people are dying (well, some of these are small businesses) and that rich white people have to be disrupted when they’re dining “by the real world”. 


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Cuomo wants businesses to use rapid tests to reopen; Biden administration urged to look at COVID as "bioterror" (by accident)

NYC 2015


NBCNewYork reports on Jan. 13 that Gov. Cuomo is experimenting with letting venues and businesses offer rapid antigen tests to customers, who must test negative (15 minute turnaround) to be admitted.  If they test positive, they must isolate and get a regular test. 

The idea is being proposed for apartment or condo buildings for residents. 

Ideally, a test result would be stored on a smart phone, and an automated contact tracing system would warn others (Virginia and other states has a voluntary contact exposure program).  There is a patent dispute with this idea discussed today on my Trademark blog.

 The New York Times (Jennifer B. Nuzzo et al) writes today that the Biden administration should treat the vaccination program as a response to bioterror.  That is, a tacit admission that we are at war with China (which was culpable by some kind of semi-accident), which has enormous implications for curtailment of individual rights.  Even as Trump is gone.

Embedded video from Wall Street Journal (Jan 14, paywall possible).   Apoorva Mandavilli has an article in the NYT Jan 20 about concerns over vaccine effectiveness especially against South African and Brazil strains (leads to other links). 

(Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 9 PM EST)



Tuesday, January 19, 2021

As awful as the Capitol riot was, it is very difficult me to "join up" and "take sides"

July 4, 2014

First, to open the discussion today, Karlyn Borysenko notes that she was denied the privilege of posting to Facebook for seven days for posting a link to a tweet showing a photo of one of the rioters trying to warn members of the Senate to evacuate (as if to prove that the rioters may not have had such destructive intentions).  She appealed, and Facebook answered that the Covid19 pandemic was reducing its ability to consider appeals, so she remained suspended.  That shows that severe lockdowns do affect tech companies, despite working from home.

Tim Pool reports (Jan. 14) that Facebook has demonetized him, for reasons that he doesn’t see anything as other than political contrariness.

That brings me to another observation.  Yes, we are hearing about the severity of the threat of white supremacy and the radical “alt-right”, leading to unprecedented lockdowns before the inauguration, and these may be slow to lift.

Agreed, the behavior I saw live at home on CNN on January 6 was much worse than I would have expected (and even allowing for Charlottesville).  A female Facebook friend from  a western state inquired of me about housing, and a couple of posts about sharing rides and how critical this rally was, to come to DC and fight.  I said, well, try a hotel.  (We know the Harrington and other hotels shut down.) In retrospect, it seems rather chilling that someone would think I would participate in such radicalism (and by the way, maybe get COVID).

None of this, however, means that it is OK for an Antifa mob to storm into an outdoor restaurant and visit my table and demand that I join them in “allyship”. I'm not going to pick between white supremacy with fascism, and then communism.  You could say that's deciding whether you are better off with Hitler or with Stalin (or Mao or now Jinping). 

I don’t join things and pick sides, when both are wrong.  Sorry. (Well, what would I have done if I had been living in Germany in the 1930s?  You’re right, it would be over.)

Yet, as I’ve noted before, as COVID remains uncontrolled (and we don’t know if the more contagious variant is about to explode out of control, resulting in more destructive lockdowns, maybe shutting down even a lot of the Web, like theses blogs) there is a certain paradox in that people used to being alone (like me) right now have a survival advantage (especially if they don’t allow visitors to crash for protests!).

But as we finally get to a new normal, much our past personal agency (related to physical freedom of movement in the real world as well as globalized speech) could be severely curtailed.  People could be expected to bond in family groups, which then have to negotiated (or fight) their way through political process and challenge power structures.  Welcome back to critical theory!   This is particularly problematic for me not simply because of homosexuality, but because I perceived the subservience demanded by others especially insulting because of not being “competitive” enough to have had my own lineage.  Indeed, that harkens back to anthropological theories of homosexuality (as opposed to “incel-ship”) as related to a need for extended families to have backups for caregiving and long term survival as such.  That is a particularly painful irony right now, that not many people want to recognize.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

More on alternate platforms (and the World According to Louis Rossmann)

 

NYC 2016

OK, maybe this post will be politically incorrect for Google. 

Louis Rossmann, the NYC Apple Mac repair guy, has a recent video where he discusses the topic of alternative free speech platforms. 

He then discusses his own use of “lbry.tv” (don’t confuse with library.com) and where he has 0.5% of the traffic he gets on YouTube, as a backup.  He is also critical of how the lbry.tv smartphone app (probably iOS, but possibly droid too) gets hung up and loses its place.

Here is the URL for the same video on lbry.  I also tried embedding a recent video by Tim Pool regarding the security situation on Congress, which is pretty terrible.

Rossmann is explicitly critical of how when one major platform removes a customer, the others usually follow suit.  This has happened before, as Parler found out.  Parler seems to be in the middle of its migration to Epik, which is where Gab went in November 2018 after the Pittsburgh incident.

Recode (Vox) discussed the problem of mass-deplatforming of sites with extremist users or content, in an article by Rebecca Heilweil.   All of these alternative sides would have tremendous problems if Section 230 is completely revoked during the Biden administration.  Some people do have the tech savvy to build their own servers and connect to the backbone themselves, but that still could run into policies of major telecom backbones (and facilitating hate speech).  

Saturday, January 16, 2021

EFF reviews the various levels on the Internet where censorship of user content can happen

 

San Francisco, 2018

Electronic Frontier Foundation has an important article, “Beyond platforms: Private censorship, Parler, and the Stack”, by Jillian C. York, Corynne McSherry, and Danny O’Brien.

The article leads to a second piece by Joan Donovan, from Oct. 28, 2019, “Navigating the Tech Stack: When, where and how should we moderate content? Look at the diagram “Content moderation in the Tech Stack”.

The most common takedowns are from social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter) or “free hosting” platforms, mainly YouTube.  They have a “signature style” for dealing with individual users. In principle these takedowns involve community guidelines (hate speech, incitement) and copyright strikes, and the platforms have the controversial third party liability protections from Section 230 and DMCA Safe Harbor (and the EU Copyright Directive adds to complexity).

But there are many other choke points for other content, including hosting companies, content delivery networks (like Cloudflare), Domain Name registrars, and telecom ISP’s.

These companies generally don’t moderate content and don’t have close relationships with users. Web hosts do have "acceptable use policies" to ban spam, hacking, illegal behavior, and sometimes online pharmacies and weapons sales.  But they became dragged in to controversy after Charlottesville, and feel the same or worse pressures today after the Capitol Riots, and hence the situation with Parler.

But actions by hosting providers have occurred.  Corynne McSherry back in 2010 discussed a DMCA takedown of a whole site, Cryptome, for publishing material from Microsoft which it maintained was Fair Use. 

There is another case in 2010 where Fred Von Lohmann discusses the copyright dangers for music bloggers.   Now it seems to me that you can usually embed a legal video of a performance or trailer to talk about the music (don’t count absolutely on the “server rule” given a case in New York State, see post February 17, 2018).

Mike Masnick has a similar discussion of moderation at infrastructure layers on Techdirt. 

The laws regarding downstream liability protection (especially Section 230) are running into friction over public concerns not only about radicalization, but also of inequity and the need to get individuals to be more open to participating in conventional activism. Many established interests feel that user-generated content that we take for granted brings risk and instability (and disruption to legacy media).  But if you undermine the ability of individual speakers to be heard, you don’t get the next teenager who develops a coronavirus tracker and warns the world about what is about to come.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Teen entrepreneur suggests a way to organize content creators, maybe would help with accommodating to more restrictive opportunities given political climate and Section 230 loss

UNC Chapel Hill, 2015


Teenage entrepreneur Max Reisinger, 17, in Chapel Hill NC (I think), announced his idea for forming content creator groups today as adjunct to his clothing business called Perspectopia.,

The video makes no mention of politics or the obvious problems right now with social media censorship (or the critical national security situation), but reading behind the lines, he seems to be thinking about how content creators can work if YouTube and other platforms are faced in loss of Section 230 downstream liability protection, early in the Biden administration, for which there will be a lot of pressure given current events (to say the least).

I don’t know whether he would forbid “politics” in his setup, but the video does seem to suggest that platforms will start paying more attention to whether creators really have commercial viability.

I must say that Perspectopia offers some intriguing extrasolar planet cityscape artwork.  The speed of light would create a problem for staying in touch with us earthlings on social media.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

OK, lockdowns and internet speech crackdowns can crash together

Potomac


I just want to lay out my concerns in the coming days again.

Biden will speak tonight, and many people will be pleased with his promises.  Of course, they have to be paid for. 

I discussed on the “major issues” blog today the possibility that, with the increasing spread of supposedly more transmissible strains of COVID19, Biden will feel pressured to try to implement an unprecedented (in terms of strictness) total national lockdown for about six weeks, as the vaccines try to catch up.

In any such situation, I would be concerned about getting broken hardware replaced or connections fixed.  That could happen from normal wear and tear, or storms, and the like; it might happen because of vandalism and political violence.  Last spring, Virginia’s stay-at-home order allowed visits to electronic stores for repairs, but not all states did so explicitly.  In Canada, Quebec’s lockdown right now appears to allow it.

A severe lockdown could actually result in the suspension of some Internet services seen as gratuitous or unnecessary, maybe even the blogging platform that this is on. 

In the meantime, a Biden administration might get Section 230 revoked, which could set up a situation where many speakers are never allowed back on.

YouTube has admitted before that it may someday have to prescreen new creators.  That idea was stated in 2018 in response to the EU Copyright Directive.  It would be a logical result of the end of Section 230.

It would be speculative as to how YT would pare down its “gratuitous” creators who make no money.  Those who had no strikes might be grandfathered and trusted for a while, or maybe not.

In general, a facility like YT would be open to more new content creators than a cable channel or movie company or even, say, Netflix;  but people it accepted would need real expertise in what they were going to address, and real substance, with evidence of some public support that would generate revenue cleanly.  Possibly new creators would have probationary periods or targets in analytics they would have to meet. 

There would be a “danger” that creators would have to prove that they could work for or raise money for “legitimate” non-profits before being allowed to have their own shows, in the future.  A lot of people seem to think that is how it should be,

More like the world before the Internet, but not quite.

Were there to be a complete shutdown of everything (Internet kill switch), and then restoration to what was there before, I would carry on – except that it could be very difficult to bring everything back up.  I would not get credit for time lost, because everyone has to share in the sacrifice.

But if I were singled out because I was “unnecessary” or “gratuitous” or don’t have “skin in the game’. the setup I have would never return.  Another casualty of the pandemic and the Chinese Communist Party (effectively).

I do want to finish the projects I have (screenplay based on the DADT books, novel, and music).  The least “political” is the music (and the short pieces are in good shape, and can be assembled into varying performance opportunities when the pandemic lets up.)  There are ideas based on the screenplay that are simpler (one idea in particular) that Netflix might go for. 

But I would need to get back on with something without a quid pro quo.  I simply can’t be a mouthpiece for someone else’s grievances of “oppression”, critical theory or not.

But when you have been “privileged”, you owe something back. When you don’t respond and step up when demanded of you (share some that “privilege” with those who really need it, even personally) you can become a casualty of conflict yourself (when you won’t respond to the concept of “victim”).  But this just doesn’t happen very often.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Parler's de-platforming; Facebook, YouTube censoring questioning the final election certification

 

Pharra, TX border crossing, 2018

 The debate on big tech censorship has focused on the sacking of Parler, by Google and Apple aps, and then the hosting service being pulled by Amazon Web Services Sunday night.  The New York Times has a detailed story by Jack Nicas and Davey Alba.

Johnathan Turley, GWU law professor, sees this as a gratuitous and monopolistic attack on free speech.

Parler seems to be able to move the service to Epik, a Seattle provider which hosts Gab.  It will have to start from scratch.  (Later Amazon said it would turn over the data for copying.)  It is reported that some users on Parler were giving instructions to rioters as to how to avoid police, and that some of the deleted content may be hacked or used in evidence.

But what also got attention Monday was that Facebook is now banning any content regarding “stop the steal”, almost a GOP meme, because it believes it will incite some people in what is still a dangerous situation with next week.  I actually posted a link to their announcement and to an NBC story and it stayed up (or down, if you get the metaphor).

I had discussed a comparable situation with YouTube on January 7.

All of this sits on top of a controversy we have to face soon, over the value and place of citizen journalism, which does add content that MSM overlooks, but which is often misinterpreted as “activism” by the na├»ve for dangerous stuff. It also undermines the Left-wing claims that systemic racism is so poisonous that allyship with eliminating it can become a legitimate pre-requisite for staying online. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Trump prepares to react to his own takedown ; more on where I stand right now

 

Parker has lost its hosting 

Kevin Liptak at CNN warns that Donald Trump may “lash out” at “Big Tech” today, and make announcements in a speech that major media (outside of “conservative” media) will not carry. As I noted on a review of an Atlantic article in the Books blog in January 2019, on paper his emergency powers are considerable, including practically shutting down the entire Internet.  As a practical matter, it might be possible to stop this with immediate invocation of the 25rh Amendment, which Pence has 24 hrs to decide on today.  (Later: Fox reports that Trump will speak at 1:30 PM today).

The Wall Street Journal, with Ryan D. Tracey and John McKinnon, discuss the increased pressure on Congress to roll back downstream liability protections of Section 230, and I have discussed various proposals on these blogs recently (one of which is to protect hosting with common carrier language). Biden has reportedly doubled down on his idea that Section 230 should be repealed outright, to prevent radicalization and “stochastic terrorism” (a term that the “communist” Non-compete YouTube channel was using before anyone else did, as also did Countrapoint.)

I’ll not that Parler is gone this morning, but Gab is still there.  I don’t know why they went after Parler first, unless it is because Gab seems to have built its own infrastructure.

Cloudflare intercepts Gab access

I have indicated that I will pin down my own plans more soon, probably right after the Inauguration when things are settled down a bit more. I cannot dismiss the possibility of sudden disruption of the services that I use.

My main concern is to be able to wind up with a simpler, consolidated presence in 2022, along with the completion of a few projects that right now are largely offline.   

If there were a sudden shutdown and restart, I would hope to continue with the plans I had laid out.  I’m not entitled to more time because others didn’t get out of losses and hardship either.   However, it my sites were taken down because they were seen as “gratuitous” or “inessential”, they could not be continued, and the ability to set up the simpler presence I have contemplated would be in peril.

There are other things to say about all this.  I am, as of today, eligible for vaccination as a member of group 1B (I am age 77), and the logistics of getting the vaccine are uncertain. The vaccine of choice is likely to be Moderna, which means two shots 21 days apart, and then a period of two weeks afterward before I am considered fully protected.  But after a minimum of 5 weeks (toward the end of February) I would be able to move about and function safely, although wearing a mask to protect others while indoors (we don’t know if the vaccine sterilizes one from infecting others for sure). 

That would mean that I ought to be willing to volunteer in person for activities like food banks.  I used to do that with Community Assistance in Arlington once a month, although I was not particularly useful.  I do have a hip issue that can make prolonged standing an issue.  I have driven delivery for Food and Friends, but continuing to do so presented a security issue which I won’t get into right now.  But after successful vaccination, I should deal with this stuff.

 I won’t to remind others, please do not ask me to “join” you in “solidarity” because I should share your “oppression”.  Please do not expect me to prove myself in public by “raising money” for “your” intersectional causes.  My life cannot be predicated on quid pro quo, of some kind of demanded allyship.  Do not barge in when restaurant dining resume and demand my public solidarity, as a price for being online.  Of course, I understand the point of your “silence is violence” as a kind of “relativistic hate speech”.

There is something about my background that makes “fighting” impossible, at this stage of life.  Please respect that.  Of course, I realize the dangerous implications of having to say this, when the world has become unstable.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

What my own personalized "journalism" means to me

 

Me at 17

Within the next couple of weeks, I will give more specific details as to the times (mostly very early 2022, one year from now) when I will have to shut down most of my blogs and greatly simplify my presence, mostly into one blog and channel.

A lot of this is driven by my advancing age, and by the fact that my work needs to be supportable by someone besides me. I’ve discussed the issue of my domain name and trademark implications before, as well as “commercial viability” before, and will make a more detailed statement on the Notes blog, at the latest being right after the inauguration.

There could be a lot more shutdowns and changes in the Internet world in the coming few weeks as a result of the deep concern over radicalization online, in the wake of the Capitol attacks January 6 and many prior incidents, going back to Charlottesville.  Visitors would have heard about the situation with Parler, which could go dark tonight.  I have an account on it but have not used it.

The other possibility that could come into play might be much more severe lockdowns soon, which could affect “gratuitous” sites like mine, in my opinion.  I won’t rehearse all the arguments right now. Possibly, for example, I wouldn't be allowed to continue "citizen journalism" again without "press credentials" (a concept we haven't talked about much). 

I do want people to understand what I think I accomplish with my own presence. 

It’s mainly early warning and connecting the dots.  Reminding readers of other unintended consequences of policy changes or of remaining scientific uncertainties or even enemy threats.

Today, I posted on my “Bill on Major Issues Blog” (see profile) a link to a story about concerns that spike proteins of the coronavirus may be more harmful, even when separated from the virus, than previously thought.  Not conclusive.  But possibly significant in how soon or thoroughly we can get back to individual freedom as we knew it before mid March of 2020. 

A world in which people have to be preoccupied with the fact that their own bodies may be undetected weapons against others my mere physical proximity is not a world for individualism.  Ironically, even though the pandemic may have been “convenient” for introverts who like to work “home alone”, in the long run it is very bad for people who don’t function well in intimate, closed social structures (as I don’t).

So I don’t allow others (like non-profits) to do my speaking for me.  I don’t allow others do enter my personal space in a public area and demand that I join them, no matter how oppressed their group is or how “privileged” they think I am.

And I don’t fight or join movements or especially mobs.

It is becoming apparent to me that upgrading the quality of my screenplay based on the three books might have a positive impact on the viability of my other activities.  As of this time, I expect to have a presentable version by Monday, February 15,

(The video is my statement in a recent Zoom call about my own screenplay.  The other speaker is the group leader Tyler Mowery.)

Friday, January 08, 2021

#Walkaway campaign and allies banned by Facebook; FB bans a NYTimes article on vaccine priority viewed as hateful to elderly(?); More details on hotel quarantine and what it is like; Twitter on Trump

 

near where I lived in Dallas in 1980s

There is a lot of controversy today about Facebook’s banning the Walkaway campaign, and many people associated with it.  This included founder Brandon Straka and assistant Tracy Beanz.  There is relatively little about this in mainstream sources so far but Reclaimthenet has a story

Karlyn Borysenko and Tim Pool have detailed videos.

I recall Karlyn’s coverage of a Walkaway march in the fall in Dallas.  There was a minor scuffle with people claiming to be from Black Lives Matter.

Wikipedia explains the controversies about Walkaway, which may include the appearance of foreign support or inauthenticity (according to Facebook’s policies with its Purge 3.0 in the fall of 2018). 

Dr. Borysenko says she was banned from posting on Facebook for four days for linking to a New York Times article about prioritizing the vaccine which some people see as showing callousness toward the elderly (including me).  No, I don’t feel that way.  Vaccinating young grocery store workers before vaccinating me would indirectly protect me anyway.  So would vaccinating repair people who go into people’s homes and apartments to fix things (when you have to stay at home).

I reposted it on my own account and was greeted by an “add a donate button”.  No!  I am not the mouthpiece for other non-profits just for the sake of it.

Another point: Jessica Nemire has a story in HuffPost about what it is like to be quarantined in a city-supplied hotel in San Francisco. It’s not 100% clear, but apparently the author was allowed to take her laptop and some other stuff to the hotel and could get “work from home” done during strict quarantine. But I’d like to get more details. 

 Finally, Twitter explains its permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account today as a matter of implicit content (that is, likely intended meaning as would be understood by likely recipients as a signal for some specific act, likely to be destructive or illegal). 

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Significant changes to DMCA and Safe Harbor proposed; some talk about YouTube's policies on election misinfo resurface

 

Near Dumfries VA

Leonard French presents a discussion draft to “Reform the Digital Millennium Copyright Act”, by Tom Tillis (R-NC),

Users would have to provide identifying information when doing uploads, which hosts would have a fiduciary responsibility to protect.  Presumably this could be done once for all future uploads on a typical site (like for a Wordpress blog).  This would facilitate copyright claims made by the owner in the future.  It might also roll into the CASE Act, and facilitate rooting out copyright trolls trying to misuse the simplified claims process. 

There would be a “notice and stay down” feature.

There would be “black lists” for parties which file false DMCA claims.

The draft had included the CASE Act, which is now passed. French estimates it will take the Copyright Office at least six months to set up the small claims tribunal.

There have been reports on Twitter (I can’t confirm) that YouTube has doubled-down on election misinformation after yesterday.  It had already made that announcement Dec. 9 and I can’t see that it has changed.  But YouTube’s doing so might arguably have shut down discussion of various Trump frivolous lawsuits to disrupt January 6.  In theory, the public has a right to know about claims before any court, however silly. (The weakness of the Electoral Count Act of 1877 was rather surprising and disturbing.)  Some observers (including Tim Pool) believe the courts were too quick to dismiss suits for lack of standing without hearing any claims at all, leaving the public to wonder if anything really could have been missed. UPdate:  CNET explains this:  another block on "election fraud theories" was to start Jan 20 has been pushed up to today and will lead to community guidelines strikes (story on Alphabet-Google union). YouTube apparently announced this on Twitter here (4-post thread). 

Youtubers may want to know that they can put videos on the blockchain with Odysee.com.  I don’t know the details yet.   Chris Martenson used it after a couple of videos where he discussed Ivermectin for Covid were removed (I personally think they were scientifically valid and YT was wrong.) 

Facebook has banned Trump for the last two weeks, and Twitter suspended him based on deleting certain tweets.