Tag Archives: Social Media

To achieve press freedom, we must rewrite journalism

It is time to liberate our media systems from the political and economic forces that have long subtly controlled them

By Dan Hind.  Published 4-30-2021 by openDemocracy

Monday will mark World Press Freedom Day. It’s a moment to celebrate the work that journalism does in holding power to account. It’s also a moment to raise awareness of the dangers facing journalists in many countries. At least 1,400 journalists have been killed for doing their job in the three decades since the first World Freedom Day in 1991. Many of those were killed by their own governments, or by organised crime groups linked to political elites. This year’s coverage will focus on this violence, and on the culture of fear it is intended to promote. And this is right and proper. As long as people can’t go to work without fear of violent retribution there is a pressing need to bear witness. Continue reading

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‘What Is Going On Here?’ Alarm as Document Reveals USPS Is Monitoring Social Media Posts

“What possible justification could there be for USPS running this kind of social-media surveillance program?”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-23-2021

Photo: SidewaysSarah/flickr/CC

An internal government bulletin obtained by Yahoo News this week revealed that the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service is monitoring social media posts as part of a surveillance operation known as iCOP, a secretive program that sparked alarm among rights groups and civil liberties advocates.

The sensitive bulletin concerns the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) recent surveillance of Facebook, Parler, and Telegram posts related to the March 20 World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, anti-coronavirus lockdown and anti-vaccine demonstrations organized by far-right groups. Continue reading

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Privacy Champions Urge Passage of ‘Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale’ Act

“Intelligence and law enforcement agencies must come to understand that the American people are off limits to warrantless mass surveillance, no matter how it is done.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-21-2021

Phpto: Microsiervos/flickr/CC

Federal agencies have taken advantage of legal loopholes to collect massive amounts of personal information from cell phone and internet users without congressional or judicial authorization for years, but that practice is being challenged by a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers who introduced legislation on Wednesday that would prevent the U.S. government from buying individuals’ information from data brokers without a court order.

Led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a group of 20 senators introduced the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act (pdf) in the upper chamber of Congress. Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) also unveiled an equivalent bill in the House. Continue reading

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What public school students are allowed to say on social media may be about to change

Student speech in public schools has less protection than speech by adults in the community at large. Noam Galai/Getty Images

Scott F. Johnson, Concord Law School

After a high school cheerleader in Pennsylvania dropped a series of F-bombs about her school in a Snapchat post over a weekend in the spring of 2017, she was suspended from the cheerleading team and sued the school district, claiming the suspension violated her First Amendment rights.

Social media has an ever-growing presence in students’ daily lives. As a result, schools are increasingly faced with the question of whether they can discipline students for remarks made online about school or school officials. The answer is not entirely clear because of different court decisions in different judicial districts.

The United States Supreme Court agreed in January to hear the Pennsylvania school’s district’s case, and its decision may provide some clarity on the issue. Continue reading

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Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business

Amid a 2018 Turkish military campaign, Facebook ultimately sided with Turkey’s demand to block the page of a mostly Kurdish militia. “I am fine with this,” Sandberg wrote.

By Jack Gillum and Justin Elliott.  Published 2-24-2021 by ProPublica

Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

As Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria in early 2018, Facebook’s top executives faced a political dilemma.

Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted. Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the group, known as the YPG, even if doing so added to the perception that the company too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments? Continue reading

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‘This Is Not a Game’: Internet Defenders Warn Against Gutting of Section 230—Key Law for Online Speech

“Section 230 is one of the most important laws protecting freedom of expression and human rights in the digital age.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-27-2021

Protect Net Neutrality rally, San Francisco 2017. Photo: Credo Action/Wikimedia Commons/CC

A coalition of internet defenders on Wednesday cautioned lawmakers against responding to this month’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by making “uncareful changes” to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that could “profoundly alter the state of digital free speech and human rights.”

The warning came in a letter to members of Congress and the Biden-Harris administration from a diverse collection of over 70 groups representing issues such as racial justice, sex workers, digital rights, and global human rights. Signatories include Common Cause, Fight for the Future, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Wikimedia Foundation. Continue reading

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Trump lost the election, but he won the online disinformation war

Social media platforms have allowed US conservatives to delegitimise the election and sow mistrust of democracy.

By Peter Geoghegan. Published 11-9-2020 by openDemocracy

Screenshot: WNCT

In late August, roughly five weeks before Americans went to the polls, a story appeared in The New York Times reporting new data about the reach of fringe US conservative outlets on Facebook. The numbers were staggering.

Posts by far-right news site Breitbart had been shared three times as often as posts from the official pages of every Democratic member of the US senate combined in the previous 30 days. Conservative firebrand Ben Shapiro had chalked up 56 million interactions, more than the main pages of ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post and NPR put together. Continue reading

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Watchdog Fights Back as Facebook Attempts to Shut Down Research Exposing ‘Political Disinformation’ in Ad Practices

“Rather than combat the rampant disinformation and hate on its platform, Facebook has decided to go after the people who are helping voters understand who is trying to influence their votes.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-26-2020

In response to Facebook’s attempt to cancel a NYU research project that has been collecting data about the company’s ad-targeting practices, Common Cause has launched a petition imploring the social media giant to “shut down disinformation on their platform—instead of trying to shut down the advocates and academics who are trying to expose it.” (Photo: Legal Loop)

In response to Facebook’s attempt to shut down a New York University research project that has been collecting data about the social media corporation’s ad-targeting practices, progressive advocacy group Common Cause has launched a petition drive imploring the technology behemoth to “let the program continue and instead shut down the rampant disinformation on the platform.”

After researchers at the NYU Ad Observatory recruited more than 6,500 volunteers to collect data about the ads Facebook shows them by using a specially designed browser extension, the social media giant informed the university in a mid-October letter that the project violates the site’s rules against bulk data collection, according to reporting from The Hill late last week. Continue reading

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FCC Head and Internet’s Most Hated Man Ajit Pai Just Vowed to Kill First Amendment Rights Online

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has vowed to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Act on President Trump’s orders in a move that threatens to curb what’s left of Americans’ first amendment rights online.

By Raul Diego.  Published 10-16-2020 by MintPress News

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Citing “censorship outcry” from the three branches of government, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced yesterday via tweet the agency’s intention to move forward with regulation of social media by looking to modify Section 230 of the Communications Act, which protects the likes of Facebook and Twitter from the parts of the U.S. code that opens publishers to legal challenges over the content posted to their platforms, which inevitably puts content creators, themselves, in the cross hairs of the legal system without the benefit of their first amendment rights.  Continue reading

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Accused Kenosha killer Kyle Rittenhouse plans to sue Joe Biden for libel, lawyers say

Rittenhouse attorney Lin Wood announced that he intends to sue the former vice president and his campaign on behalf of his teenage client.

By Elias Marat. Published 10-1-2020 by The Mind Unleashed

The lawyer representing Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse plans to sue Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his campaign for libel after the nominee shared a video that suggested the 17-year-old accused murderer is a white supremacist.

Speaking to Fox News on Wednesday, Rittenhouse attorney Lin Wood announced that he intends to sue the former vice president and his campaign on behalf of his teenaged client, hours after Biden posted a 50-second video to Twitter.

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