U.S. President Donald Trump escalated his war on social media companies, signing an executive order Thursday challenging the liability protections that have served as a bedrock for unfettered speech on the internet.
Still, the move appears to be more about politics than substance, as the president aims to rally supporters after he lashed out at Twitter for applying fact checks to two of his tweets.
Trump said the fact checks were “editorial decisions” by Twitter and amounted to political activism. He said it should cost those companies their protection from lawsuits for what is posted on their platforms.
Trump and his allies, who rely heavily on Twitter to verbally flog their foes, have long accused the tech giants in Silicon Valley of targeting conservatives on social media by fact-checking them or removing their posts.
“We’re fed up with it,” Trump said, claiming the order would uphold freedom of speech.
Technology industry groups disagreed, saying it would stifle innovation and speech on the internet. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce objected, “Regardless of the circumstances that led up to this, this is not how public policy is made in the United States.”
The order directs executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, to study whether they can place new regulations on the companies — though experts express doubts much can be done without an act of Congress.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement, “This debate is an important one. The Federal Communications Commission will carefully review any petition for rulemaking filed by the Department of Commerce.”
Companies such as Twitter and Facebook are granted liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act because they are treated as “platforms,” rather than “publishers,” which can face lawsuits over content.
Protections in new NAFTA
Similar protections are now embedded in the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico — and they were added at the U.S.’s insistence. Chapter 19 of the new NAFTA limits the legal liability of social media companies for what they post, and its inclusion in the deal came at the request of the U.S. administration led by Trump.
Article 19.17 of the NAFTA says the digital services shall not be held liable like publishers would for the content they carry — though the provision includes exemptions for things like protecting against crimes.
A similar executive order was previously considered by the administration but shelved over concerns it couldn’t pass legal muster and that it violated conservative principles on deregulation and free speech.
‘Clear political bias,’ says Trump campaign
“They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences,” Trump said of social media companies as he prepared to sign the order.
“There is no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction.”
Trump and his campaign reacted after Twitter added a warning phrase to two Trump tweets that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted “mail boxes will be robbed.” Under the tweets, there’s now a link reading, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” which guides users to a page with fact-checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.
Trump accused Twitter of interfering in the 2020 presidential election and declared “as president, I will not allow this to happen.” His campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said Twitter’s “clear political bias” had led the campaign to pull “all our advertising from Twitter months ago.”
In fact, Twitter banned political advertising last November.
Late Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally.”
Dorsey added: “This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth.’ Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves.”
On the other hand, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News his platform has “a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this.”
“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he said.
Critics call Trump move illegal
The president’s critics, meanwhile, scolded the platforms for allowing him to put forth false or misleading information that could confuse voters.
“Donald Trump’s order is plainly illegal,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat and advocate for internet freedoms. Trump is “desperately trying to steal for himself the power of the courts and Congress. … All for the ability to spread unfiltered lies.”
Trump’s proposal has multiple, serious legal problems and is unlikely to survive a challenge, according to Matt Schruers, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, a Washington-based organization that represents computer and internet companies.
It would also seem to be an assault on the same online freedom that enabled social media platforms to flourish in the first place — and made them such an effective microphone for Trump and other politicians.
“The irony that is lost here is that if these protections were to go away, social media services would be far more aggressive in moderating content and terminating accounts,” Schruers said. “Our vibrant public sphere of discussion would devolve into nothing more than pre-approved soundbites.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was “outrageous” that while Twitter had put a fact-check tag on Trump’s tweets asserting massive mail-in election fraud, it had not removed his tweets suggesting without evidence that a TV news host had murdered an aide years ago.
“Their business model is to make money at the expense of the truth and the facts that they know,” she said of social media giants, also mentioning Facebook. She said their goal is to avoid taxes “and they don’t want to be regulated, so they pander to the White House.”
The president and fellow conservatives have been claiming for years that Silicon Valley tech companies are biased against them. But there is no evidence for this — and while many executives and many employees of Twitter, Facebook and Google may lean liberal, the companies have stressed they have no business interest in favouring one political party over the other.
‘Get the facts’
The companies are gearing up to combat misinformation around the November elections. Twitter and Facebook have begun rolling out dozens of new rules to avoid a repeat of the false postings about the candidates and the voting process that marred the 2016 election.
The coronavirus pandemic has escalated the platforms’ response, leading them to take actions against politicians — a move they’ve long resisted — who make misleading claims about the virus.
Last month, Twitter introduced a “Get the Facts” label to direct social media users to news articles from trusted outlets next to tweets containing misleading or disputed information about the virus.
Even as he and his supporters complain of bias on the platform, Trump has used Twitter to build a potent and vocal online following. The president’s account currently has more than 80 million followers.
Trump’s success on social media suggests that his proposal may be more about politics than any interest in regulation, according to Rutgers University media professor John Pavlik, who studies the impact of technology on society and government.
Pavlik said that by trying to intimidate the platforms now, he’s seeking to control how the 2020 campaign plays out online and “about appealing to his base.”
Victoria police respond to social media posts alleging sexual assault at tattoo parlour – CityNews Vancouver
VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Police in Victoria are asking possible victims of sexual abuse involving a local tattoo artist to contact their Special Victims Unit.
No charges have been recommended, but Carne Tattoo posted a message online Monday confirming an artist was let go for his “betrayal of young women” and references an incident dating back to 2019.
Other social media posts indicate the alleged abuse was initially reported in 2019.
After seeing reports on social media, Victoria Police ask anyone who might have experienced “sexualized violence” during tattoo appointments to get in touch.
“We want everyone in those threads who have experienced sexualized violence to know that if you report what you’ve experienced to our Special Victims Unit detectives, you will be listened to, you will be treated with respect, and you will be believed,” reads a statement from police.
“If you do think that you may want to consider a criminal process, it is important to know that for potential future court processes, it is best that you provide your statement to the police prior to speaking to any media outlets or posting details of your story publicly on social media. This is to ensure that your statement belongs to you and you only.”
The Instagram account of a man identified as the artist has been taken down.
To speak to a detective, call the non-emergency line at 250-995-7654 and select extension 1 for the report desk. Or, reach out to the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre at 250-383-3232, if you aren’t sure about getting in touch with police.
Editor’s note: The screenshots in this article have been edited to hide the name of the tattoo artist because he has not been charged.
New book echoes conference on classics, media theory | Cornell Chronicle – Cornell Chronicle
A new edited volume, “Classics and Media Theory,” features participants from a Cornell media studies conference exploring the interactions between media and antiquity.
The book, in the Oxford University Press “Classical Presences” series, gathers expert analysis from scholars engaging with myriad aspects of classical Greece and Rome, with a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives from fields including classical literature, art history, cultural studies, film studies, media theory and media history.
The contributors include Verity Platt, professor of classics and the history of art and visual studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Revolving around issues of philosophy, cultural history, literature, aesthetics and epistemology, the volume highlights interactions between classical studies and media theory, why they matter and how they can be developed further. The book also explores the implications of the study of media for the study of culture, including the processes of cultural production and reception; and it encourages scholarly attention to media in the study of Greco-Roman antiquity.
The volume highlights several emergent fields within media studies ranging from cultural techniques to media archaeology; the persistence of Greco-Roman paradigms across different strands of media theory; and the conceptual underpinnings of cultural practices in the transformation of ancient Greece and Rome into “classics.”
Platt has joined researcher Till Heilmann and media studies professor Jens Schroeter of the University of Bonn, and the book’s editor, Pantelis Michelakis, reader in classics at the University of Bristol, to establish a network for the study of media and the premodern.
All participated in the international conference “Siren Echoes: Sound, Image, and the Media of Antiquity,” presented by the Media Studies Initiative on campus in November 2019.
Themes and topics at the two-day conference included “Antiquity in Media Theory,” “Sounds of the Anthropocene,” “Media Pathologies,” “Genealogies of the Image,” “Sacred Resonances” and “Image, Medium and Light.” The event “was a huge success,” said Jeremy Braddock, associate professor of English.
Michelakis, a Greek literature and classical theater scholar, organized a similar conference in Bristol, which also provided content for the book.
“Although the ancient world has played an important role in media theory, especially in scholarship on orality and literacy, ‘media studies’ tends to be associated with the technologies of the industrial and computer age,” Platt said.
There are many scholars at Cornell who focus on “modes of transmission, communication and reproduction in the premodern world and later cultural reception,” she said, “all of which can be put into fruitful dialogue with scholars focused on more contemporary issues.”
A second Cornell conference, “Media Objects,” planned for March 2020, was to feature content ranging from film screenings and internet art to architectural installations, exhibitions and digital collections.
Postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conference will be staged during the 2020-21 academic year as a series of virtual panels, lectures and related events, Braddock said, with plans to culminate in an event in fall 2021 at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. A follow-up to “Siren Echoes” in spring 2021 is also a possibility, Platt said.
Pop Smoke's social media posts led suspects to L.A. home, say police – CBC.ca
Authorities believe rising rapper Pop Smoke was shot and killed during a Los Angeles home-invasion robbery in February after his social media posts led five suspects to the house he was renting, police said after detectives arrested the group Thursday morning.
Los Angeles police had initially discounted a robbery theory in the days after the 20-year-old rapper’s death Feb. 19 at a home in the Hollywood Hills. Pop Smoke’s legal name is Bashar Barakah Jackson.
Capt. Jonathan Tippet, who oversees the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division, said three men and two teenage boys likely went to the home because they knew Pop Smoke was there from social media posts.
They stole items from the home, though Tippet said he could not divulge what was taken. The teens were 15 and 17 years old.
“We believe that it was a robbery. Initially we didn’t really have the evidence but then we discovered some other evidence that showed this was likely a home invasion gone bad,” Tippet told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The five suspects were arrested Thursday morning as detectives served several search warrants in Los Angeles. All are believed to be members of a South Los Angeles gang, which Tippet would not name, and at least some of them are believed to be linked to the 2019 homicide of an 18-year-old man when a fight escalated into a shooting outside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
The three men were identified as Jaquan Murphy, 21, Corey Walker, 19, and Keandre D. Rodgers, 18, all of Los Angeles. Walker and Rodgers were arrested on suspicion of murder and Murphy was held on suspicion of attempted murder, police said. The men were being held in lieu of $1 million bail apiece.
The 15-year-old and the 17-year-old also were booked on suspicion of murder. It wasn’t immediately known whether any of those arrested had attorneys.
Pop Smoke and his entourage staying at the home are not believed to be associated with the gang, Tippet said. No one else was shot during the incident.
The Los Angeles Times reported in February that the rapper had posted pictures of him posing by an infinity pool in the home’s backyard, as well as a picture of the Los Angeles skyline from what was likely the house’s backyard. In another post, Pop Smoke or a member of his entourage put a picture of a gift bag tagged with the Hollywood Hills address and a different photo showed him posing by a Range Rover in a spot where the home’s address was partly visible in the background.
“It’s our belief that [the home-invasion robbery] was based on some of the social media” posts, Tippet said. “It’s based on the fact that he was posting his information may have contributed to knowing where to find him.”
The home where the shooting occurred is owned by Edwin Arroyave and his wife Teddi Mellencamp, daughter of Rock & Roll Hall-of-Famer John Mellencamp and a star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Teddi Mellencamp previously said on Instagram that the couple had been notified of the shooting at their rental property but knew no more than what they had seen in media reports.
Pop Smoke arrived on the rap scene in 2018 and broke out with Welcome to the Party, a gangsta anthem with boasts about shootings, killings and drugs that became a huge sensation, and prompted Nicki Minaj to drop a verse on a remix.
Earlier this year, Pop Smoke released the mixtape Meet the Woo 2, which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart. It was the follow up to his first official release, Meet the Woo. The rapper also had the popular hit Gatti with Travis Scott and Jackboys and the track Dior.
His major label debut album, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon, was executive produced by 50 Cent. It was released posthumously last Friday to mostly positive reviews and features appearances from popular artists including Future, DaBaby and Quavo.
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