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Internet platforms are (finally) cracking down on hate speech

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The Wild Wild Web ain't so wild anymore:

Within a 48-hour period this week, many of the world’s internet giants took steps that would have been unthinkable for them even months earlier. Reddit, which spent most of its life as a lawless free-for-all, banned thousands of forums for hate speech, including the largest pro-Trump forum on the internet.

Twitch — an Amazon-owned video-gaming platform not known for its political courage — suspended President Trump’s official account for “hateful conduct,” while YouTube purged a handful of notorious racists and punished a popular creator with a history of problematic videos. Facebook, under pressure from a growing advertiser boycott, took down a network of violent anti-government insurrectionists who had set up shop on its platform.

I'm sure the Covidiot-In-Chief will have some choice Tweets over this development, but it's been a long time coming. People who have limited their online experience to only Facebook and Twitter haven't felt the full force of racist and antisemitic trolls. Gamers in particular can be a nasty bunch, using intimidation and nastiness to help them win a stupid fricking game. And sometimes it gets genuinely frightening:

Amazon is Taking Advantage of Americans’ Pandemic Reliance on E-Commerce

Amazon Fulfillment Center

Amazon is taking advantage of homebound Americans’ reliance on e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic. As small businesses struggle to stay afloat, Amazon’s monopoly keeps on growing. During the week of April 19th, 2020 alone, Amazon saw 93 percent more consumer spending than it did during the same week in 2019; meanwhile, 100,000 small American businesses are estimated to have permanently closed since the pandemic started.

Will Big Tech Finally Answer for Bad Behavior?

Over the past 18 months we've seen tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon receive harsh criticisms for a myriad of ways their business practices harm consumers, competitors, and workers. We've seen Mark Zuckerberg testify in front of Congressional committees and heard pundits lament the bad behavior of big tech. Despite the consistent negative media attention directed at these mega companies, there has not been any significant punishment to encourage them to change their ways.

It's not real: Australia burning image goes viral

I had my suspicions the first time I saw this:

As wildfires continue to burn millions of acres of land in Australia, some social media users are misusing a digital visualization to draw attention to the disaster. One image published on Facebook on Jan. 5 claims to show a satellite view of Australia provided by a NASA satellite.

"Pray for us please," the user wrote alongside the image, which shows bright orange spots where fires are purportedly burning across the continent.

No doubt the fires in Australia are devastating, and may even push some species into extinction. But the proliferation of inaccurate images and news stories may be even more dangerous, if it pushes us to the point we can't believe anything that is reported. Definitely related:

Even Mark Zuckerberg thinks we need to regulate big tech

Mark Zuckerberg might be right...as hard as it is to say. Even he says that government needs to intervene and regulate the practices of big tech companies--even his own Facebook, and many others like Google and Amazon. These companies are not only taking advantage of our private data and using it without our consent, but they are also monopolizing the market and have gotten too big to regulate themselves. Zuckerberg wrote in the Washington Post, "“At our scale we’ll always make mistakes.”

Boomer blunders: Majority of fake news shared by older Facebook users

And big surprise, most of them were Trumpsters:

They found that Republicans and those who identified as “very conservative” tended to share the most news from questionable sources. But that tendency may have less to do with ideology and more to do with what those articles said: Users tend to share stories they agree with and the fake news sites were disproportionately pro-Trump, the authors said.

The study also found that prolific Facebook users were less likely to post such stories, lending credence to the theory that less active and experienced users may have more trouble discerning between fake and real news.

I have at least "irritated" many Facebook friends for correcting them when they post dubious stories, and more and more these days, it also involves posting dated (sometimes 7-8 years old) stories as if they're happening now. I don't relish that role, and I definitely don't relish having to address this issue:

Too big to regulate: Facebook's manipulation of Congressional review

Using opposition research to undermine government:

“At the same time that Facebook was publicly professing their desire to work with the committee to address these issues, they were paying a political opposition research firm to privately attempt to undermine that same committee’s credibility,” Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the panel, said in a statement. “It’s very concerning.”

The documents obtained by The New York Times provide a deeper look at Definers’ tactics to discredit Facebook’s critics. The Times reported on Wednesday that Definers also distributed research documents to reporters that cast the liberal donor George Soros as an unacknowledged force behind activists protesting Facebook, and helped publish articles criticizing Facebook’s rivals on what was designed to look like a typical conservative news site.

You almost have to be a professional conspiracy theorist to even understand the machinations involved. But that complexity might just be an integral part of the program, and not just a by-product. Because it introduces an element of uncertainty for lawmakers, especially those who have a few skeletons in their closet. They might be on the verge of a career-ending sudden release of damning information, if they push too hard on his royal majesty Mark Zuckerberg, who has mastered the art of strategic denialism:

Annapolis newspaper shooting reveals the dark side of Facebook

Sometimes a blast from the past is the last thing you need:

In what a judge called "rather bizarre" behavior, Ramos used Facebook to contact a woman he knew in high school and then sent her threatening emails, called her vulgar names and told her to kill herself, court documents and the article say. "If you're on Facebook, you've probably gotten a friend request or message from an old high school classmate you didn't quite remember," the article begins. "For one woman, that experience turned into a yearlong nightmare."

The article says Ramos contacted the woman and thanked her for being kind to him in high school. She wrote back, and they emailed. She suggested he see a counselor. Then, he lashed out at her. She "lived in fear for her safety for months," the article says.

I recently told a small group of people if they really wanted to use social media to advocate for a cause, they needed to let down their drawbridges. Make their posts public, so they can be shared and/or found in searches. And we discussed the positive and negative aspects of increased exposure. At one point I told them that "stranger danger" is a virtually non-existent threat, because most Internet trolls are basically cowards at heart, and stifling your advocacy is their main goal. This horrible incident does not change my views on that. She knew this guy from high school, he did not fit the classic definition of "stranger." And after he got in trouble over harassing her, he transferred his rage to the newspaper that told everybody else about his obsession:

How to bleed a bank account the NCGOP way

My, my. The following comment found its way to an unusual place. A place to promote an agenda through some bizarre sense of dialogue while simultaneously bleeding the bank accounts of the ideological and ignorant. North Carolina GOP’s Facebook page.

The NC GOP is a disgrace to North Carolina! You continually push for and pass unconstitutional laws that waste out tax dollars.

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