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Trump threatens to remove ‘shield’ protecting social-media giants from liability for online content

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters about an executive order regarding social media companies as Attorney General Bill Barr listens, in the Oval Office of the White House, on May 28, 2020.

JONATHAN ERNST/Reuters

President Donald Trump escalated his feud with Silicon Valley Thursday, accusing tech giants of censorship and issuing an executive order threatening to end the legal protections that shield social-media companies from being liable for content published on their platforms.

Legal experts say Mr. Trump’s executive order, which essentially asks federal U.S. agencies to start policing the content-moderation policies of major tech firms, is likely unenforceable and will inevitably spark court challenges. But the move intensified a political backlash over the growing powers of tech giants that has drawn bipartisan support heading into a presidential election.

The executive order was issued just days after Twitter decided for the first time to fact-check the President. The social-media network flagged a series of Mr. Trump’s tweets that alleged that California’s plans to expand mail-in ballots for the November presidential election would encourage voter fraud.

Twitter drew fire for posting an alert about those tweets while refusing to flag a separate series of Mr. Trump’s tweets promoting a conspiracy theory that MSNBC host and former congressman Joe Scarborough had been involved in the death of a political staffer. The muddled response and the President’s backlash have highlighted the challenges that social-media companies face in policing political speech, particularly that of Mr. Trump, who has more than 80 million followers on Twitter.

The dispute between Mr. Trump and Twitter also highlighted a growing schism among social-media companies about how far they should go to police political speech.

In an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he disagreed with Twitter’s decision to fact-check Mr. Trump. “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he said.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey shot back on Thursday to defend his company’s decision. “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally,” he wrote on Twitter. “And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make. This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth.’ “

The President’s executive order targets the broad protections that internet companies enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that gives websites the right to police their platforms, but also prevents them from being held responsible for content posted by users.

President Donald Trump said he will introduce legislation that may scrap or weaken a law that has long protected internet companies, including Twitter and Facebook. Reuters

Supporters of the law argue it has been instrumental in encouraging the growth of the U.S. tech industry by protecting small start-ups from costly lawsuits. But as companies such as Google and Facebook have grown into international behemoths, those protections have increasingly alarmed politicians on both sides of the aisle. Republicans argue the law gives companies a licence to censor conservative voices, while Democrats fear it has allowed tech giants to avoid responsibility for the spread of misinformation and hate speech.

The law has been the focus of several recent congressional inquiries and, in February, Attorney-General William Barr told a meeting of the Justice Department, which is conducting its own investigation of tech firms, that the Section 230 provisions should be re-examined.

“Currently social-media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they’re a neutral platform, which they’re not,” Mr. Trump said Thursday. “They have a shield, they can do what they want. They have a shield. They’re not going to have that shield.”

The executive order calls on federal agencies to review their spending on social-media ads and asks the Federal Communications Commission, the telecommunications watchdog, to issue new regulations with a narrower interpretation of the law.

But legal scholars say the President lacks the power to order changes to a law passed by Congress and can’t force federal agencies to comply with requests.

“There’s actually very little of substance in the executive order,” said Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman. “But that never was the point. Like everything else the Trump administration is done, it’s far more about the atmospherics than it is about actually improving our country.”

The order also raises questions about the tech companies’ First Amendment rights, which protect individuals and companies from government censorship. And experts warn Mr. Trump’s order could help reaffirm the power of major companies such as Facebook and Google, which have the resources to comply with complex federal regulations, while harming smaller competitors.

But the executive order still has the power to send a message to Silicon Valley that there is a growing political will to curb their powers. “I think it does this signalling in an effective way to the businesses in Silicon Valley and to the supporters of the President. And maybe that’s the ultimate goal here.” said University of Buffalo law professor Mark Bartholomew.

Source: – The Globe and Mail

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Premier League star Zaha racially abused on social media – CNN International

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Ahead of a game in the English Premier League on Sunday, Zaha wrote on Twitter, “Woke up to this today,” then showed what he had been sent by a user who appeared to be a fan of Palace’s opponent in Sunday’s match, Aston Villa.
“You better not score tomorrow you black c**t. Or I’ll come to your house dressed as a ghost,” the person wrote.
There was an accompanying image of the Ku Klux Klan and a cereal box named, “c**n flakes.”
Crystal Palace called the abuse “an absolute disgrace” on Twitter and said it “should not be happening.”
Aston Villa then retweeted the London club’s statement, vowing to issue a lifetime ban to the individual who posted the abuse.
“We deplore the disgusting racist messages sent to @wilfriedzaha. We condemn all forms of racial discrimination and stand with @CPFC,” the club based in Birmingham, central England, wrote.
“We are working with the police in investigating this extremely serious matter and when the culprit is identified AVFC will issue a lifetime ban.”
Later that day, the West Midlands Police announced on Twitter that it had made an arrest — of an individual whose lifetime ban could be very long indeed.
“We were alerted to a series of racist messages sent to a footballer today and after looking into them and conducting checks, we have arrested a boy. The 12-year-old from #Solihull has been taken to custody. Thanks to everyone who raised it. Racism won’t be tolerated,” the police force tweeted.

Premier League statement

The Premier League, widely considered the most watched football league in the world, also condemned the actions of the offender.
“This behaviour is completely unacceptable and the Premier League stands alongside @wilfriedzaha in opposing this, and discrimination in any form. There is #NoRoomForRacism, anywhere,” it tweeted.
“We will continue to support players, managers, coaches and their family members who receive serious discriminatory online abuse. Through our dedicated reporting system we can take immediate action on cases like this.”
Late last month, the league launched the system that would “enable players, managers and coaches to notify” it “of serious discriminatory abuse” received via direct messages on social media platforms.
“Each case will be reviewed, reported to the relevant social media company, investigated and legal action taken where appropriate,” said the league.
Speaking before the Villa game, Palace manager Roy Hodgson said the actions of the individual were “cowardly” and “despicable.” He praised Zaha for going public.
“It is very saddening on the day of a game that a player wakes up to this cowardly and despicable abuse,” Hodgson told Sky.
“I think it is right that Wilf made people aware of it. I don’t think it is something he should keep quiet about.
“I think it is very good that our club, Aston Villa and the Premier League are doing everything they can to find out who this despicable individual is and one can only hope that they will get identified and they will get called to account and they will pay for these actions.
“There is literally no excuse. There is no excuse at all.”

Past instances

Zaha was racially abused last year and said he received death threats after winning a penalty for Palace against Arsenal in October 2018.
The head of Kick It Out, which according to its Twitter handle has “campaigned for equality since 1993,” told CNN in February that he believed racism in sport is “worse now than it was five years ago.”
“Football is very different to what it was in the 1970s, racism is not the endemic thing that it was in the 1970s,” said Sanjay Bhandari. “Over a 40, 50 year period? We’ve definitely [made progress]. But it’s worse than it was five years ago, and it’s worse than it was seven years ago.”
Kick It Out said Sunday on Twitter: “We are extremely disappointed that Wilf Zaha has once again been the subject of targeted racial abuse.”
“Those who continue to select professional sports people in this way, need to be brought to justice and face the strongest consequences.”

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After issuing social media plea, Saint John, N.B., woman still waiting for live kidney donor – Globalnews.ca

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A Saint John woman who made a social media plea last year for someone to donate a kidney to her is still waiting and hoping.

Kara Phinney was born with small kidneys. She said her health has been pretty good since childhood, despite numerous medical appointments and constant bloodwork.

“I’m working two jobs, so, I mean, I’m doing okay,” said the 26-year-old.

“You have your good and bad days.”

A bad day can include extreme fatigue, among other things.

Read more:
Stranger aims to help Edmontonian find urgently needed kidney donor

Phinney has been on home dialysis for more than year. It runs nine hours per day. She said she does it at night and sleeps through the majority of it, but it does wake her up if she inadvertently rolls over on the tubing.

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Phinney’s mother, Patti, went through a lengthy testing process to become a potential donor for her daughter, but was rejected.

“All in all it was quite a disappointment, thinking you’re going to give her this gift and it’s not going to happen,” Patti Phinney said.

“And then, you know, what’s the next phase?”

Just over a year ago, Kara posted a plea on Facebook asking for someone to donate a kidney to her. She said it was shared thousands of times, and got another round of shares when it popped up as a memory on her profile.

She said she turned to social media to help raise awareness about the need for donations, both for herself and others.

“I don’t really tell people about it,” Kara said of her condition.

“A lot of people found out from it because you don’t really see that I’m sick. It looks like everything is fine, but it’s not.”






6:19
Emergency goalie David Ayres supports Green Shirt Day organ donation campaign


Emergency goalie David Ayres supports Green Shirt Day organ donation campaign

Interim Health Services Manager of the Multi-Organ Transplant Program (MOTP) of Atlantic Canada Shelby Kennedy said social media is becoming a more common way for people seeking organs to try to find someone willing to make a live donation.

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However, she cautioned that some posts include too much personal information, which could be misused.

Kennedy said she sees merit in the use of social media, but stressed that it needs to be done safely.

“So we’re trying to work with recipient and donor sides to make that more of an option if that’s the route that you choose to go to try to get a transplant,” Kennedy said.

“We’ve seen some successes across Canada with those, but we have not seen it happen here in Atlantic Canada.”

Read more:
Nova Scotia’s presumed consent law for organ donation to go into effect on Jan. 18

MOTP performs all transplants for Atlantic Canadians in Halifax. Kennedy said there have been nine kidney transplants on New Brunswick residents in 2020, including two live donations.

She admits that’s about half the usual figure for this time of year, but the numbers were impacted by COVID-19-related cancellations of all transplants for more than six weeks.

The Phinneys are hopeful New Brunswick follows Nova Scotia’s lead in enacting a presumed consent law, which will require people to opt out of donating organs, rather than opting in.

That Nova Scotia law comes into effect in January.

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Read more:
Nova Scotia’s presumed consent law for organ donation to go into effect on Jan. 18

“I think it’s going to help a lot of people,” Kara said.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Patti. “And I think they’re going to have to encourage doctors and specialists to come to Halifax to be able to perform (these surgeries).”

Kara’s brother-in-law is now being tested to see if he could donate to her. He went through testing once before, but the tests expired and had to be redone.

As she seeks a live donor, Kara is not on the wait list for a kidney from a deceased person. She said people on the wait list have to drop everything and rush to the hospital once they get the call that a kidney is available for them.

As long as she stays reasonably healthy, she said, she’ll continue to aim for a live donor.

“You get stressful some days,” she said. “I think if you overthink about it, is when it gets a little more stressful and frustrating.

“And it is frustrating, you know. It’s a wait.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Packed, Maskless Great White Show Reminds Social Media of Band’s Tragic Concert Past – Variety

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Unsafe concert conditions seem to know no genre boundaries in the mid-pandemic era. Two weekends ago, it was country artists Chase Rice and Chris Janson stirring outrage when they proudly posted videos of themselves playing to packed crowds of fans with no masks in sight. Last weekend, it was hip-hop star DaBaby in the hot seat for playing a show in a large, packed nightclub where his unmasked female fans were literally reaching out and grabbing him.

Now the attention has turned to veteran hard-rock band Great White, which performed an outdoor show Thursday night for a general admission audience in North Dakota, many of whom posted videos giving no indication of even a single mask in the crowd, with fans jammed together, and even shirtless in some instances.

As the lack of protocols at the show came up for scorn on social media, it was not lost on many commenters that, if there is any band that might want to avoid being mentioned in the same breath as “unsafe concert conditions,” it’s Great White,

“Great White doing a precaution-free concert right now is like if Great White were to do a precaution-free concert right now,” jabbed writer Evie Nagy — one of countless references Twitter users made to the 2003 tragedy in which 100 people were killed and 230 more injured in a pyrotechnic-related fire at a Great White show in Rhode Island.

In the tradition of Rice and Janson posting photos and videos of their caution-to-the-wind packed crowds, it was Great White singer Mitch Malloy himself who posted the most circulated video from the show.

[embedded content]

Late Saturday night, the group issued a statement that emphasized that emphasized that the show went well while saying they consider themselves “far from perfect” and offering an apology “to those who disagree with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement.”

“We understand that there are some people who are upset that we performed this show, during this trying time,” the group said. “We assure you that we worked with the Promoter. North Dakota’s government recommends masks be worn, however, we are not in a position to enforce the laws. We have had the luxury of hindsight and we would like to apologize to those who disagree with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement. The Promoter and staff were nothing but professional and assured us of the safety precautions. Our intent was simply to perform our gig, outside, in a welcoming, small town. We value the health and safety of each and every one of our fans, as well as our American and global community. We are far from perfect.”

The group’s statement did not specify what safety precautions the promoter assured them about.

One difference between the show performed by Great White in North Dakota and the controversial gigs by Rice, Janson and DaBaby is that there wasn’t even the promise of social distancing Thursday, as organizers said ahead of time that none would be enforced or even encouraged.

“We do not have restrictions, believe it or not, we don’t have any,” event coordinator April Getz told the local Dickinson Press in touting the city’s “First On First: Dickinson Summer Nights” programming last month. (Grand White was the only act of national renown announced for the series.) ““I guess it’s one of the first events this year that didn’t get canceled and was approved by the city; we’re all very, very excited about it… It’s one of those things where if people feel comfortable coming down and mixing and mingling, that’s their personal choice. We’re leaving it up to everybody that chooses to attend.”

Although they were in the minority, there were some on social media defending Dickinson’s and the band’s right to put on shows with no coronavirus-related restrictions and fans’ right to attend.

“People are INSANE about masks right now,” wrote one Twitter user. “People are actually looking for pictures around the country of people not wearing masks to get pissed about. If you’re mad people in North Dakota at a Great White concert aren’t wearing masks, get out of the house and get a hobby.”

The version of the band that played Thursday in North Dakota has three members who have been with the group since the 1980s, along with lead singer Mitch Malloy, who joined in 2018. It is not to be confused with “Jack Russell’s Great White,” a spinoff group started by original singer Russell in 2011.

Russell is probably hoping no one associates him with this version of Great White or the North Dakota show, judging from recent omments he made strongly favoring the use of masks.

“There’s no need to be out [in public places],” Russell said in an interview with Austria’s Mulatschag that was found and publicized by Blabbermouth. “People don’t take it seriously — they don’t take the virus seriously. It’s sad. …It’s no small wonder that when you open all these places up, ‘Gee, the numbers [of coronavirus cases] rose up.’ It’s, like, what did you think was gonna happen? It’s, like, ‘I took my mask off and I got COVID.’ Well, what a big surprise that is.” Russell added, “If you don’t wanna help yourself, help everybody else. ‘Well, it’s my right. It’s my human right.’ Well, look, dude, you’ve gotta pay for your car to get smogged, you’ve gotta have a seat belt, you have a driver’s license, you have to have a license to be born, you have to have a marriage license. I mean, so you have to wear a mask for a while so you don’t die. What’s the problem?”

The version of Great White fronted by Malloy doesn’t have any other dates listed on its tour schedule before August 7, when it is booked for Riverfest FM in Fort Madison, Iowa, billed as “Southeast Iowa’s largest rock and roll festival.” That five-day festival in four weeks is “absolutely happening,” according to posts on the fest’s Facebook page. “With all of the uncertainty, it would have been easy to throw in the towel on this year,” Riverfest said, “but we firmly believe that ‘If we rock it, they will come’ and boy, do we have a line-up that is prepared to do just that!”

North Dakota has not been ravaged by COVID-19 as much as other states have, largely by virtue of a mostly rural population. Nonetheless, the state has seen rapid recent upticks. As of Saturday, North Dakota’s Department of Health reported 623 active cases, double the number from just 10 days earlier. Ninety of those cases were being newly reported Saturday. Earlier in the week, the state’s total case count was reported at 4,070.

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