Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryCensorship

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Twitter, man, business.

Will Musk’s Twitter Bid — Win or Lose — Damage Twitter’s Power?

Stirring the pot, Musk recently slammed current media’s marked disinterest in who teen sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s prominent clients were …

Just in: “Musk threatens to walk away from Twitter deal:” DETROIT (AP) — Elon Musk is threatening to walk away from his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter, accusing the company of refusing to give him information about its spam bot and fake accounts. Lawyers for the Tesla and SpaceX CEO made the threat in a letter to Twitter dated Monday, and Twitter disclosed it in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The letter says Musk has repeatedly asked for the information since May 9, about a month after his offer to buy the company, so he could evaluate how many of the company’s 229 million accounts are fake. Tom Krisher and Matt O’Brien , “Musk threatens…

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Social media censorship, political war between US president banning social networks. Tiny person on the laptop keyboard looking at the forbidden sign on the screen. Internet communication risk concept

New U.S. Disinformation Board on Hold Amid Flak From Both Sides

Most current controversies are not clear divisions between True and Untrue or Right and Wrong. Government would merely reinforce the Establishment

If you’d blinked, you’d have missed it: The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday paused a new and controversial board’s work on disinformation and accepted the resignation of its leader, capping weeks of concerns about impinging on free speech rights and at times frenzied conspiracy theories about the board itself… The Disinformation Governance Board’s director, Nina Jankowicz, wrote Wednesday that the board’s future was “uncertain,” according to a resignation letter obtained by The Associated Press. Nomaan Merchant and Amanda Seitz, “New ‘disinformation’ board paused amid free speech questions” at Associated Press (May 18, 2022) A recommendation as to whether the Board should continue will be offered, we are told, within 75 days. The Washington Post knows who to blame: “How…

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Business crisis manager stopping falling dominos from collapsing

Who Opposes Musk’s Proposed Twitter Takeover Deal?

Four groups to watch are Twitter employees, left-wing action coalitions, legacy media, and the European Union

First, the state of play: Elon Musk’s foray into buying Twitter remains on hold amid disputes about how much of Twitter is dominated by bot accounts. Musk believes that 20% of the accounts are spam. Spam bots on Twitter are automated accounts that can take actions like real humans, such as sending out tweets, following other users, as well as liking and retweeting other users’ posts. Such accounts can be programmed to try and drive traffic to a product or service as part of a commercial endeavor or spread content as part of a social or political influence operation. Tom Ozimek, “Musk Says Twitter Deal on Hold Over Spam Bots” at Epoch Times (May 13, 2022) That’s something Musk says…

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Close up of small caged colorful birds in pet store in morning sun

Can Elon Musk Really Stop Big Tech From Controlling Us?

We usually don’t realize how far it has already gone in efforts to control our thinking

Think it doesn’t control you? Andrew McDiarmid can offer you some examples of pervasive efforts to control our thinking: It appeared in Apple’s iPhone software update this year, when a “pregnant man” emoji was quietly added to keyboards. It’s seen in Google’s new (and currently stalled) “inclusive language” feature, which autocorrects gendered terms like “landlord,” “policeman” or “housewife.” Andrew McDiarmid, “Big Tech is subtly controlling our lives—and we need to fight back” at New York Post (May 7, 2022) Surely, almost nobody on the planet, apart from small pressure groups, had asked for a “pregnant man” emoji. The concept has nothing whatever to do with the serious problems many pregnant women face worldwide. Landlord? Again, many people worldwide face problems…

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Musk Offers Twitter $41 Billion, Exciting Free Speech Advocates

Will Musk succeed in his effort to "unlock" Twitter's free speech potential?

News has moved fast since it was revealed last week that Elon Musk purchased a 9.2% stake in Twitter. Since then, Musk was offered a seat on Twitter’s board, an offer he at first accepted, and then declined. Now, Musk has upped the ante by offering to buy Twitter for $41 billion. In his letter to the board, Musk referenced his desire to make Twitter “the platform for free speech around the globe,” and stated that he has the ability to “unlock” Twitter’s “extraordinary potential.” Here’s his full letter: Bret TaylorChairman of the Board, I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is…

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Pinterest Bans Climate Change “Misinformation”

Pinterest might be the first company to implement such a strict ban, but what if it's not the last?

Last week, Pinterest banned climate change misinformation from its platform, becoming the first major social media company to do so outright. The policy raises free speech concerns. Since not all scientists agree on the nature of climate change, what causes it, and what the solutions are, how is the issue to be discussed if alternate points of view are banned from public platforms? Pinterest is an image-sharing social media site, where users share ideas that they can “pin” to their own boards on everything from recipes to interior design to fashion. On April 6, Pinterest announced their new climate misinformation policy, aimed at “remov[ing] content that may harm the public’s well-being, safety or trust.” As of the policy announcement, any…

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Dorsey Talks Decentralization and Musk Buys Twitter Share

Will this be the upset many free speech advocates hope it could be?

Last week, I wrote about the buzz around internet decentralization, especially as there appears to be talk at Twitter of moving in such a direction. The buzz continues, this time with vocal support from former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, coinciding with a bold financial move from Elon Musk. On April 2, Dorsey reminisced on Twitter about the early, decentralized days of the Internet, and said that centralization “really damaged the internet. I realize I’m partially to blame, and regret it.” The problems of social media platforms have been made clear in the past few years, specifically when it comes to data privacy and how to handle (or even define) harmful content while also respecting free speech. But there isn’t as much…

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Creative digital city background. Smart city, technology and innovation concept. Double exposure.

PayPal Pioneer: The Ways Big Tech Is Strangling Our Freedoms

The conveniences offered come at a price: We can be much more easily surveilled and controlled. And yes, they ARE doing it

In a continuing discussion with Bari Weiss, Paypal pioneer David Sacks warns hearers: BW: You have been making the case better than anyone else that, despite the fact that we live in a liberal democracy with a Bill of Rights and a Constitution and a First Amendment, whether most Americans are aware of it or not we also are living inside a soft version of a social credit system. So for the people who hear that and think: ‘That’s ridiculous. This isn’t China.’ I want you to make the case. DS: Let’s start by defining what a social credit system is. A social credit system is a system that pretends to give you civil liberties and freedom. It doesn’t overtly…

Web3 - Web3.0 - Semantic Web - New Iteration of the World Wide Web Through Decentralization Based on Blockchains

Could Decentralization Fix Twitter’s Censorship Problems?

Decentralization is not an automatic guarantee of internet freedom, but it may be a good first step

Twitter is considering decentralization according to a recent report from The New York Times. But what does decentralization mean, and how would it impact our experience with social media? Is this a solution to all the problems around censorship standards that Big Tech companies have faced in recent years? According to The New York Times, Twitter is following the early vision of a former employee named Blaine Cook by “funding an independent effort to build a so-called open protocol for social media. It is also weaving cryptocurrency into its app, and opening up to developers who want to build custom features for Twitter.” Kate Conger reports: Some skeptics believe Twitter is jumping on the web3 bandwagon, joining a trendy movement in tech to shift many…

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Meta Suspends Hate Speech Policy in Countries Near Russia

Hate speech and death threats against Russian and Belarusian political leaders and their militaries are temporarily allowed in twelve Eastern European countries

In a dramatic change of policy, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) will temporarily allow users of Facebook and Instagram in twelve countries to post hate speech and death threats directed toward Russian and Belarusian military personnel and political leaders within the context of the conflict in Ukraine. The change was first reported by Reuters on Thursday morning. A Meta spokesperson told Reuters, “As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.” Calls for violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko are…

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Futuristic portable device and many pictures.

YouTube Suspends News Show for Reporting on Misinformation

The show's host has accused YouTube of failing to "distinguish between misinformation and reporting"

Last week, YouTube suspended a popular daily news show from The Hill for including in its reporting footage of former President Donald Trump repeating the claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him, a claim that violates YouTube’s policies on misinformation. The co-hosts of the show have criticized the suspension, arguing that the policy, as enforced, is a threat to journalism on YouTube. One of the co-hosts posted about it on Twitter: Robby Soave and Ryan Grim co-host Rising, a daily morning news show for The Hill, one of the country’s leading political newspapers. Last week, they discovered that their channel had been temporarily suspended based on two videos that the show posted that had violated YouTube’s policies. The…

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Personal social credit score. Machine Learning analytics identify person technology,Artificial intelligence no privacy security camera technology concept. Software ui analytics and recognition people.

Is an AI-Driven Social Control System Emerging in America?

The gradual merger of Big Tech and Big Government is worthy of close analysis

Readers may assume that a “social credit system” where government monitors a citizen’s every move and assigns a score or takes action, could only happen in China. But increasingly, governments can monitor a citizen’s every move in North America too. Technology policy analyst Kara Fredericks explains: As Canada demonstrated, Western governments and tech companies are mobilizing to cut off mainstream citizens from public life and constrain their private lives. Actions like protesting government overreach, expressing “anti-authority” ideologies, or even sharing “disinformation” on social media may now be classified as terrorism… In the United States, the increasingly oppressive collaboration between public and private entities is not enforced at the barrel of a gun. It arises from an ideological symbiosis between tech…

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Young man putting goods on counter in supermarket

Government Mulls Money That Can Only Be Spent on Approved Items

Programmable digital currency restricts citizens’ freedoms for “socially beneficial outcomes”

A story from mid-last year reveals a creepy side to digital currency: “The Bank of England has called on ministers to decide whether a central bank digital currency should be ‘programmable’, ultimately giving ‘the issuer control over “how it is spent by the recipient”: Tom Mutton, a director at the Bank of England, said during a conference on Monday that programming could become a key feature of any future central bank digital currency, in which the money would be programmed to be released only when something happened. He said: “You could introduce programmability – what happens if one of the participants in a transaction puts a restriction on [future use of the money]? “There could be some socially beneficial outcomes…

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Freedom Convoy 2022 sign

No-Buy Lists Are the Next Big Thing After Debanking

When a big online financial service like PayPal works closely with government to monitor citizens, it is violating its founding ideals

Yesterday, Jonathan Bartlett was writing about the way banks were becoming political in terms of who they are choosing to do business with, otherwise known as debanking. Another trend to watch for is no-buy lists, according to former PayPal COO David Sacks: When I helped create PayPal in 1999, it was in furtherance of a revolutionary idea. No longer would ordinary people be dependent on large financial institutions to start a business. Our democratized payment system caught fire and grew exponentially with millions of users who appreciated its ease and simplicity. Traditional banks were too slow and bureaucratic to adapt. Instead, the revolution we spawned two decades ago inspired new startups like Ally, Chime, Square, and Stripe, which have further…

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2022 Beijing Olympics: Politicizing the Olympic Games

One columnist wrote that unlike the 2008 games, the 2022 games “carries a distinct sense of foreboding.”

Despite admonitions to not “politicalize the games,” Beijing’s opening ceremonies for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games conveyed a political message to the world. Politics has always been part of the Olympic Games. The impetus behind the modern Olympic Games, as conceived by William Penny Brookes and Pierre baron de Coubertin, was to use sports for promoting peace among nations, an inherently political agenda. Decisions on whether dignitaries will attend or who lights the torch are intentional on the part of the visiting and hosting countries, particularly since the first televised Games in 1960. Therefore, when the Chinese Olympic Committee chose first-time Olympic athlete Dinigeer Yilamujiang, also spelled Dilnigar Ilhamjan,* a twenty-year-old cross-country skier of Uyghur heritage, the country was…

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Fact Checkers Stifle Story on Government-Funded Crack Pipes

When official sources contradict each other, who has the authority to decide what is misinformation and what is not?

A Facebook fact-checking group censored a report released this week that the Biden Administration is providing grants that would fund the distribution of crack pipes to the addicted, labeling it as containing “partly false information” and burying any posts containing the report in users’ news feeds. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is operating a $30 million grant program for harm reduction, a strategy to combat drug addiction that seeks “to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of behavior associated with alcohol and other substance use.” Perhaps the best known harm reduction tactic has been the exchange or distribution of clean needles to the addicted. Now, it would…

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It’s Time for a Public Conversation About Social Media Companies

A company whose platform is built on the backs of content creators owes some responsibilities to those creators

Amid the ongoing cancel culture that is rampant among social media companies, there is a large undercurrent of people who say things like, “These are private companies, and they can do what they want.” The idea behind this is that social media companies do not owe you their product, and that is not of harm to you, the consumer. Especially since you are not paying for their product, why should they have to listen to you? To see why this thinking is flawed, we need to think back to the history of these platforms and what is needed to make them work. Why is anyone on Facebook or Twitter at all? Because that is where everyone else is. To be…

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Social media concept.

New York Senate Tries To Shut Down Misinformation on Social Media

The introduction of the bill raises concerns about government's intrusion into the freedom of speech online

In December, a bill was presented in the New York State Senate that would attempt to hold social media companies responsible for their role in circulating incitements to violence, incitements to self-harm, and misinformation.  Introduced by Democratic/Working Families Party Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, the legislation would empower the state’s Attorney General to bring an action against any social media company that allows for the circulation of content that incites violence or that “includes a false statement of fact or fraudulent medical theory…”. No person, by conduct either unlawful in itself or unreasonable under all the circumstances, shall knowingly or recklessly create, maintain or contribute to a condition in New York state that endangers the safety or health of the public through…

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Surveillance and Silence at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

Why are countries instructing their Olympic athletes to use burner phones?

In a previous article, I looked at the security issues with the MY2022 app, the official app for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, and the app that everyone who attends must download. The app has two key vulnerabilities that leave user data exposed when sending information over WiFi.* Aside from these vulnerabilities, the University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab found a list of censored keywords in the app’s code, as well as the capability to report someone who has sent politically contentious content over the messaging service. The keyword feature does not seem to be active, but as Jeffrey Knockel, author of the Citizen Lab report, told the New York Times, they could censor content with “the flip of a switch.” This is one…

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Portrait of guy on blue neon light digital interface background. Young man with beard. Censored concept.

Royal Society: Don’t Censor Misinformation; It Makes Things Worse

While others demand crackdowns on “fake news,” the Society reminds us that the history of science is one of error correction

A leading science organization, the Royal Society (Britain’s equivalent of the National Academy of Sciences), has put out a report discouraging social media censorship, with special reference to the COVID-19 pandemic: The Royal Society, the U.K.’s academy of sciences, published a study of online scientific and health misinformation Wednesday, investigating its root causes and brainstorming possible solutions. The scientists concluded that censoring content deemed to be misinformation is often harmful and antithetical to the principles of scientific inquiry… The report found that online censorship risked pushing misinformation underground and off of major social media platforms, where it is less likely to be exposed to countervailing opinions. Censorship also risks removing or suppressing content that may be true or helpful to…