Tuesday, October 26News That Matters

Tag: Freedom of Speech and Expression

Lawmakers See Path to Rein In Tech, but It Isn’t Smooth

Lawmakers See Path to Rein In Tech, but It Isn’t Smooth

Business
WASHINGTON — “Facebook and Big Tech are facing a Big Tobacco moment,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said this week when a whistle-blower testified about how the social media company’s products harmed teenagers.“I think that that’s an appropriate analogy,” Senator Cynthia Lummis, Republican of Wyoming, added later.The whistle-blower’s testimony, and the thousands of internal documents she shared with lawmakers, generated unusual bipartisan bonhomie in a divided Washington. Senators said it was time for Congress to coalesce around new regulations to rein in the company and perhaps the technology industry as a whole.But if what faces Big Tech is anything like what happened to Big Tobacco — a reckoning over the industry’s harms to society, and children in particular — wh...
Facebook Comments Can Get Media Firms Sued in Australia

Facebook Comments Can Get Media Firms Sued in Australia

Technology
Dylan Voller was already a polarizing figure in Australia when the disturbing, violent and demonstrably false accusations against him began to appear on Facebook.Mr. Voller had become famous overnight in 2016 after a television news exposé on the mistreatment of juveniles in the country’s criminal detention system broadcast a photograph of him, at age 17, hooded and strapped to a chair by guards. The image, likened by some to those of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, shocked many Australians, prompting a national investigation.Beneath articles about the investigation written by major Australian news outlets and posted to their Facebook pages, several commenters attacked Mr. Voller. Some made false accusations, including that Mr. Voller had raped an elderly woman and attacked a Salvati...
Germany Struggles to Stop Online Abuse Ahead of Election

Germany Struggles to Stop Online Abuse Ahead of Election

Technology
“We have zero tolerance for hate speech and support the aims of NetzDG,” Facebook said in a statement. Twitter, which received around 833,000 complaints and removed roughly 81,000 posts during the same period, said a majority of those posts did not fit the definition of illegal speech, but still violated the company’s terms of service.“Threats, abusive content and harassment all have the potential to silence individuals,” Twitter said in a statement. “However, regulation and legislation such as this also has the potential to chill free speech by emboldening regimes around the world to legislate as a way to stifle dissent and legitimate speech.”YouTube, which received around 312,000 complaints and removed around 48,000 pieces of content in the first six months of the year, declined to comme...
Meet the Freedom Phone, a Smartphone for Conservatives

Meet the Freedom Phone, a Smartphone for Conservatives

Technology
It was a pitch tuned for a politically polarized audience. Erik Finman, a 22-year-old who called himself the world’s youngest Bitcoin millionaire, posted a video on Twitter for a new kind of smartphone that he said would liberate Americans from their “Big Tech overlords.”His splashy video, posted in July, had stirring music, American flags and references to former Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Donald J. Trump. Conservative pundits hawked Mr. Finman’s Freedom Phone, and his video amassed 1.8 million views. Mr. Finman soon had thousands of orders for the $500 device.Then came the hard part: Building and delivering the phones. First, he received bad early reviews for a plan to simply put his software on a cheap Chinese phone. And then there was the unglamorous work of shipping phones, hiring...
Taliban Ramp Up on Social Media, Defying Bans by the Platforms

Taliban Ramp Up on Social Media, Defying Bans by the Platforms

Technology
Inside the companies, Facebook has in recent days activated an emergency response team to follow the situation in Afghanistan and assess the Taliban’s use of its products, including its messaging app WhatsApp, according to employees at the social network. Twitter and YouTube have tried to read between the lines of diplomatic cables from world leaders on whether the U.S. government would form a de facto relationship with the Taliban, employees participating in discussions at the companies said.Yet even when the companies have removed Taliban accounts, the bans have been porous. When Facebook this week blocked the WhatsApp account of Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, he distributed a new, still active WhatsApp account of another Taliban leader to journalists.Understand the Taliban Tak...
‘Historical Distortions’ Test South Korea’s Commitment to Free Speech

‘Historical Distortions’ Test South Korea’s Commitment to Free Speech

Technology
SEOUL — In the history of South Korea’s fight for democracy, the 1980 uprising in Gwangju stands out as one of the proudest moments. Thousands of ordinary citizens took to the streets to protest a military dictatorship, and hundreds were shot down by security forces. The bloody incident has been sanctified in textbooks as the “Gwangju Democratization Movement.”Right-wing extremists, however, have offered an alternative, highly inflammatory view of what happened: Gwangju, they say, was not a heroic sacrifice for democracy, but a “riot” instigated by North Korean communists who had infiltrated the protest movement.Such conspiracy theories, which few historians take seriously, have been spreading quickly in South Korea, where a political divide — rooted in the country’s torturous and often vi...
Trump Lawsuits Against Facebook, YouTube and Twitter Face First Amendment Hurdles

Trump Lawsuits Against Facebook, YouTube and Twitter Face First Amendment Hurdles

Technology
Justice Byron R. White, who was often hostile to the news media, wrote in a concurring opinion that an unregulated and unruly press is better than the alternative of government control.“Of course, the press is not always accurate, or even responsible, and may not present full and fair debate on important public issues,” he wrote. “But the balance struck by the First Amendment with respect to the press is that society must take the risk that occasionally debate on vital matters will not be comprehensive and that all viewpoints may not be expressed.”Less than two weeks ago, Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the Federal District Court in Tallahassee blocked another Florida law, this one enacted in May and animated by some of the same ideas rejected by the Supreme Court in 1974. The law would impose f...
She Protested on a Medal Podium. Will the Olympics Ban That?

She Protested on a Medal Podium. Will the Olympics Ban That?

Sports
The American hammer throw athlete Gwen Berry, a contender for a medal at the Summer Olympics, has already raised her fist on a medal podium at a competition, and at the selection meet for the U.S. Olympic track team she turned away as the national anthem was played, drawing worldwide attention and debate.U.S. Olympic officials, bowing to a surge of athlete activism, are fine with that. The International Olympic Committee, however, is not.With the July 23 opening of the Tokyo Games nearing, American and international Olympic officials are disputing where to draw the line for protests as athletes across the sports world, however contentious the issue has become, leverage their power and influence to promote social and political causes.A number of athletes are signaling the possibility of tes...
George Stranahan, Benefactor of Physicists and Bar Flies, Dies at 89

George Stranahan, Benefactor of Physicists and Bar Flies, Dies at 89

Technology
Mr. Stranahan graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 1953, and in 1961 he received his Ph.D. from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University).He began working as a professor at Michigan State in 1965, but had a more meaningful experience teaching high schoolers in the area. He later created two charter schools, for students from kindergarten through eighth grade, in and around Aspen.Mr. Stranahan’s first two marriages ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, Patti, and his daughter Molly, from his first marriage, he is survived by three other children from that marriage, Patrick, Stuart and Brie Stranahan; a son from his third marriage, Ben; a brother, Michael; a sister, Mary Stranahan; and nine grandchildren. Another son from his first marriag...
Scholarly Groups Condemn Laws Limiting Teaching on Race

Scholarly Groups Condemn Laws Limiting Teaching on Race

LifeStyle
A coalition of more than six dozen scholarly and educational groups have signed onto a statement decrying the spread of proposed legislation limiting classroom discussion of race, racism and other so-called “divisive concepts,” calling such laws an infringement on “the right of faculty to teach and of students to learn” and a broader threat to civic life.“The clear goal of these efforts is to suppress teaching and learning about the role of racism in the history of the United States,” says the statement, whose signatories include the American Historical Association, the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers.“The ideal of informed citizenship necessitates an educated public,” the statement continues. “Educators must provide an accurate view of...