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Trump-Biden fracas shows how social media gets mired in fact-check battles – POLITICO

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Republicans and Democrats’ accusations of online deception are posing an increasingly no-win dilemma for the Silicon Valley companies caught in the middle.

The latest example is Twitter, which found itself stuck between the campaigns of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden this week as it tried to enforce a new policy of designating certain misleading content as “manipulated media.” But it’s unlikely to be the last, as Democrats escalate their demands for social media platforms to take action against online deception — while Republicans denounce any hint that the tech companies are censoring conservative speech.

Even the companies’ attempts to stay out of the political fray have drawn attacks from both ends of the political spectrum — as seen in Twitter’s much-criticized ban on campaign ads and Facebook’s policy of refusing to fact-check politicians’ statements.

“As companies increasingly insert themselves into making inherently subjective judgment calls, politicians are going to work the refs, and they’re also going to use those fights to draw attention,” said Jesse Blumenthal, who heads tech and innovation policy for the Koch-funded group Stand Together.

The latest kerfuffle took place Sunday, when Twitter slapped the “manipulated” tag on a video shared by Trump’s White House social media director, Dan Scavino. The video contained an incomplete quote from a campaign stop in which Biden appears to say that “we can only re-elect Donald Trump” — omitting his subsequent remark that a Trump victory is likely if Democrats attack each other during the primary.

The president retweeted the video to his 73.5 million followers Sunday amid a push by his campaign and advisers to portray Biden as senile. Branding it as manipulated media was Twitter’s first action to enforce a new policy of flagging — but not necessarily removing — content it deems deceptive.

Scavino’s tweet remained online as of Tuesday evening, but conservatives counterattacked, accusing Twitter of “manipulating the election” by striking down “political speech they don’t like.” So did Trump’s reelection campaign, which complained in a letter Monday from Chief Operating Officer Michael Glassner that Twitter was showing political favoritism by flagging a video that is “100% real, 100% authentic, 100% unedited.”

“It appears that many people employed by Big Tech corporations in Silicon Valley are assisting the Biden campaign by instituting a special ‘Biden protection rule’ that effectively censors and silences legitimate political speech Biden’s campaign and its supporters do not like,” Glassner wrote.

He then called on Twitter to prove its fairness by applying the same label to specific videos the Trump campaign contends unfairly criticize the president.

Twitter said its policy of denoting manipulated media does not apply to those videos or any other content posted before it went into force Thursday. The company acknowledged late Monday it had received the Trump campaign’s complaint and intends to respond.

Twitter declined to comment for this story. In a blog post last month, the company outlined its criteria for applying the manipulated media label and noted it would continue to reevaluate its approach based on feedback.

The episode showed how social media companies, which have faced criticism for refusing to referee deceptive claims, can also face criticism for making tough calls.

“When a platform decides to label certain content as deceptive, they’re signing up for some very difficult judgment calls about the substance of messages and videos, and the meaning of ‘deceptive,’ said Katy Bass, research director at Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute.

“They will also have to have the backbone to stand up to powerful politicians when they get mad about the platform’s decisions,” she added. “It’s very hard to tell whether Twitter can do either of these things effectively.”

Companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google have waded hesitantly into moderating political speech on their platforms — at times settling on policies that anger both ends of the political spectrum.

Twitter banned political ads last year in a move that CEO Jack Dorsey justified by saying politicians should earn, not buy, influence on its platform. But the policy was less clear-cut on handling cause-based ads, raising questions about how to determine when an issue becomes political.

Google and Facebook, meanwhile, took less restrictive approaches to political ads. Google limited how narrowly political campaigns could target their ads, a decision that angered Democrats and Republicans alike. Facebook opted to leave the most controversial aspects of its own ads policies largely intact.

And Facebook separately came under fire from Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, just last week for permitting the Trump campaign to post an ad that invoked the U.S. census to direct users to the campaign’s website. The social network ultimately removed the ad, saying it violated the company’s policies against census-related misinformation.

Political speech often exists in the gray space between fact and fiction, and that remains true in the digital realm. Campaigns have long sought to spin the facts to favor their candidate. But social media allows that reality to happen on a broader scale and often with less accountability. The 2016 election brought that into sharp focus after it was revealed that Russian trolls had exploited social media to spread disinformation, as part of a Kremlin-directed effort that U.S. intelligence agencies have said was intended to help Trump win.

That experience has prompted some critics to assert that social media companies do not go far enough to combat political misinformation and should be subject to greater oversight.

“The platforms are largely lawless and will do anything that boosts their bottom line — democracy is a second concern at best,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. Chester argues the Federal Election Commission should impose rules requiring “fairness and honesty” online.

“If we continue to allow Facebook, Google and Twitter to permit political groups to falsely scream there’s a ‘fire’ online, we will set the stage for a dystopian democracy where nothing can ever be trusted,” he said.

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Pitt Meadows city council uses new social media use guidelines to speak out against divisive online activity – Maple Ridge News

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The City of Pitt Meadows staff put forward a new report to council during their online meeting Tuesday (June 2) outlining a new social media use policy.

Director of corporate services, Stephanie St. Jean, who presented the report, said staff made a revision to the policy to make it more concise and provide it with a ‘more positive tone.’

“What remains is a straightforward framework intended to guide council’s use of social media,” she said.

Council used the discussion of the report to point out how difficult it can be to sit as an elected official in the age of digital harassment, and pointed out how important it was to rise above the fray with their own use of the various platforms in order to set an example.

READ MORE: Pitt Meadows council’s social media policy blasted

Councillor Anena Simpson pointed out the majority of her interactions with the public online have been perfectly pleasant.

“Ninety-nine per cent of our community plays fair and they fight fair, even when there’s challenges,” she said.

“There’s of course always a very small number who don’t,” she added. “Who are aggressive and intentionally want to harm others and this is a real shame and the costs are very, very high for this as it affects those who want to be involved in our civic engagement.”

Coun. Bob Meachen agreed with his colleague and pointed out some of the hurdles he has had to face as a first time councillor.

“I took on the role of councillor to help my community… and I expected to become recipient of some criticism and that’s all fair.

“I welcome the feedback of this community and even criticism that perhaps goes against something I’ve agreed to…but what I don’t appreciate are some of the inflammatory and misleading statements that are aimed at – frankly – hurting me personally.”

Meachen said he tries to comport himself online as he does in person and expressed hope the new policy would encourage his colleagues and their critics to take the higher road.

“We’re only here to manage what we can manage on a personal level and I think that this new policy certainly helps us get there, and makes it clear as to what the policy of this council is.”

READ MORE: Spouses not in Pitt Meadows social media policy

Coun. Nicole MacDonald went into the dual nature of social media.

“It really is a double-edged sword,” she said.

“So much good is done through social media these days… it’s such an effective means of communication for us to inform the community what’s going on.”

“However it can also be a tool of toxicity, negativity, bullying, misinformation, lies and defamation.

She shared some of the negative experiences she has had to deal with since running for election in 2018.

Her character, integrity, and business and family have all been attacked, she said.

“I’ve received anonymous and threatening emails, I’ve had lies spread by a handful of people on public social media sites, and [I’ve had] my character maligned with lies and name-calling on an anonymous website.

“But I have not once engaged back and I believe this is important to share with the public.

“I signed up for this, and like I have in previous roles in my life, I have a thick skin.”

MacDonald said she is more worried about future prospective councillors being turned off the role.

“I don’t want it to deter others to from running and being a part of local government and standing up.”

To close the discussion, Mayor Dingwall weighed in on the matter.

“It is OK to provide critical and fair comments and to voice complete disagreement to a decision or a position, but in the age of social media it is easy to cross way over the line from critical and fair comment to bullying, harassment and defamation.

“Unfortunately a very small handful continue to be mean-spirited and spiteful with a relentless onslaught of negative or inaccurate misinformation that appears intent on hurting myself or my reputation, my colleagues or the good work this council is doing.”

Dingwall said he has blocked some individuals from his personal social media accounts.

“I’m choosing not to invest precious and positive energy worrying what they think of me or their negativity.

“I’m investing my energy where it needs to be as the mayor of this wonderful city. There is much more for this council to accomplish and I know our focus is on the community and leaving it in a better position for generations to come.”



ronan.p.odoherty@blackpress.ca

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LA Galaxy to meet with Katai after wife's social media posts – TSN

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LOS ANGELES — The LA Galaxy will meet with new Serbian winger Aleksandar Katai on Thursday to discuss a series of alarming social media posts by his wife.

Tea Katai made the since-deleted posts on her Instagram story this week, the Galaxy confirmed Wednesday night in a statement that called the posts “racist and violent.”

The team says its meeting with Katai will “determine next steps.”

Tea Katai’s posts included a profane call, written in Serbian, to “kill” protesters. Another called protesters “disgusting cattle,” also in Serbian.

The 29-year-old Katai joined the Galaxy in December after spending his first two MLS seasons with the Chicago Fire. He has made nine appearances for Serbia’s national team, including three last year in Euro 2020 qualifying matches.

“The LA Galaxy strongly condemned the social posts and requested their immediate removal,” the statement continued. “The LA Galaxy stands firmly against racism of any kind, including that which suggests violence or seeks to demean the efforts of those in pursuit of racial equality. The LA Galaxy stand with communities of colour, and especially the Black community, in the protests and fight against systemic racism, social inequality, bigotry and violence.”

Katai signed with the Galaxy as a free agent on Dec. 31. He scored 18 goals in 62 appearances over the previous two seasons for the Fire, who acquired him from Alavés in Spain’s La Liga.

Katai got off to an impressive start to his MLS career with 12 league goals in his debut season for the Fire, but his production slumped last year, leading Chicago to decline its team option for 2020.

He spent the first eight years of his pro career in Europe, including 69 games with Serbian powerhouse Red Star Belgrade.

Katai started the first two games of the current MLS season for the Galaxy, who expected him to become a key part of their attack alongside Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and Cristian Pavón.

MLS play was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but several Galaxy players returned to the club’s training complex two weeks ago to begin individual workouts and rehabilitation.

MLS and its players’ union agreed to a six-year labour contract on Wednesday. The teams are expected to return to competition with a five-week tournament in Florida this summer.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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LA Galaxy to meet with Katai after wife’s racist social media posts – Sportsnet.ca

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LOS ANGELES — The LA Galaxy will meet with new Serbian winger Aleksandar Katai on Thursday to discuss a series of alarming social media posts by his wife.

Tea Katai made the since-deleted posts on her Instagram story this week, the Galaxy confirmed Wednesday night in a statement that called the posts “racist and violent.”

The team says its meeting with Katai will “determine next steps.”

Tea Katai’s posts included a profane call, written in Serbian, to “kill” protesters. Another called protesters “disgusting cattle,” also in Serbian.

The 29-year-old Katai joined the Galaxy in December after spending his first two MLS seasons with the Chicago Fire. He has made nine appearances for Serbia’s national team, including three last year in Euro 2020 qualifying matches.

“The LA Galaxy strongly condemned the social posts and requested their immediate removal,” the statement continued. “The LA Galaxy stands firmly against racism of any kind, including that which suggests violence or seeks to demean the efforts of those in pursuit of racial equality. The LA Galaxy stand with communities of colour, and especially the Black community, in the protests and fight against systemic racism, social inequality, bigotry and violence.”

Katai signed with the Galaxy as a free agent on Dec. 31. He scored 18 goals in 62 appearances over the previous two seasons for the Fire, who acquired him from Alaves in Spain’s La Liga.

Katai got off to an impressive start to his MLS career with 12 league goals in his debut season for the Fire, but his production slumped last year, leading Chicago to decline its team option for 2020.

He spent the first eight years of his pro career in Europe, including 69 games with Serbian powerhouse Red Star Belgrade.

Katai started the first two games of the current MLS season for the Galaxy, who expected him to become a key part of their attack alongside Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Cristian Pavon.

MLS play was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but several Galaxy players returned to the club’s training complex two weeks ago to begin individual workouts and rehabilitation.

MLS and its players’ union agreed to a six-year labour contract on Wednesday. The teams are expected to return to competition with a five-week tournament in Florida this summer.

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