Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Face recognition and personal identification technologies in street surveillance cameras, law enforcement control.

Canada Orders Facial Recognition App to Cease and Desist

Your face is likely already stored in this app's database

In February, Canada released the findings of a year-long investigation into the US-based facial recognition app, Clearview AI. The investigation declared Clearview’s actions illegal within Canada and ordered the company to cease operations within the country and to remove all Canadian citizens from its database. “What Clearview does is mass surveillance, and it is illegal,” said Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien. So what is Clearview AI? And why has it raised the ire of our neighbors to the North? Clearview AI, Inc. Clearview AI is a facial recognition company marketed primarily to law enforcement agencies. It boasts a database of over 3 billion facial images “scraped” from public sources online such as news articles and social media sites. In other…

Texas State Capitol Rotunda
Texas State Capitol Rotunda

Texas Senate Passes Bill Prohibiting Big Tech Censorship

The bill seeks to reign in Big Tech power and protect the principle of free speech for Texas citizens

Last week, the Texas Senate passed a measure that would prohibit large social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from censoring political and religious viewpoints of Texas citizens. The bill now awaits a vote in the Texas House. Senate Bill 12 was introduced in March by State Senator Bryan Hughes. Titled “Relating to the censorship of users’ expressions by an interactive computer service,” the bill would not only prohibit censorship, but would require social media companies to disclose their moderation policies, publish reports about any blocked content, and create a legal route for people to appeal any censoring or deplatforming decisions. Social media companies currently enjoy legal protections against lawsuit under Section 230 of the U.S. Code, which on the…

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red vs orange

Parler vs. Amazon: Amazon Strikes Back!

Amazon is trying to avoid a state lawsuit through a hardball legal maneuver
Parler, an alternative social networking site, has been in a fierce legal battle with AWS/Amazon since it was removed from Amazon's platforms on January 10. Read More ›
Heritage-Building
Heritage Building

Influential Think Tank Declines Big Tech Donations

The Heritage Foundation declined six-figure donations from Big Tech companies Facebook and Google in 2020, citing repeated censorship of conservative views

News website Axios obtained letters signed by Heritage Foundation‘s departing President Kay Coles James (pictured), addressed to the CEOs of both Facebook and Google in October 2020, explaining why Heritage felt compelled to decline the six-figure contributions from the companies. “We cannot in good conscience take money from a company that repeatedly, and blatantly, suppresses conservative speech on your platforms,” reads the letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.  A similar statement is made in the letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.  Heritage declined $225,000 from Google, and returned $150,000 that came from Facebook. The Heritage Foundation made several accusations against the companies in its letters, including: that Facebook suppressed their reach by blocking referral traffic; that Facebook targeted Heritage with third-party fact-checkers; and that Google…

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Social Media Censorship

Texas Joins Fight Against Big Tech Censorship

Nearly two dozen states have proposed similar legislation in response to the increase of online censorship during the 2020 election period

Last week, Texas joined the growing pushback against Big Tech censorship when Governor Greg Abbott announced his support for a Texas bill that would prohibit the online censorship of political and religious viewpoints. “Silencing conservative views is un-American, it’s un-Texan and it’s about to be illegal in Texas,” Abbott wrote on Twitter last week ahead of a Friday press conference. Speaking alongside Abbott at the press conference was the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Bryan Hughes. Both figures made strong statements about free speech, the current threat of Big Tech, and their understanding of Texas’s role in this national struggle. “Texas is standing against big tech political censorship,” Abbott said. “We’re not going to allow it in the Lone Star State.”…

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Reflections of buildings in the window of other buildings on Skyscrapers in Seattle Washington

Parler Drops Federal Suit; Now Suing Amazon in Washington State

Amazon, which was, according to Parler’s suit, about to sign an agreement with rival Twitter when it suddenly cut Parler’s services, may find Washington's state court a tougher sell

Recently, Amazon Web Services suddenly cut servers to social media site Parler, leaving it scrambling offline for a month. Parler, now back on line, has been suing Amazon in federal court. However, the social media site has abruptly changed tactics, according to a Hill report. It has dropped the federal suit. It is now suing Amazon in Washington State instead. It’s possible that Parler’s choice of venue in which to sue was motivated by the fact that Amazon is Seattle-based. Seattle passed a law in 1999 against viewpoint discrimination: “Seattle’s sweeping ban on discrimination based on political ideology doesn’t just apply to employment or public accommodations. It also includes a “Fair Contracting Practices Ordinance” banning discrimination in contracting.” (Mind Matters…

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Legal law concept image, scales of justice

Finally, Someone Is Seriously Suing Twitter

Twitter is now being sued in Canada because Canada does not offer the protections accorded to the social medium that it has enjoyed in the United States

Last week, a Canadian judge ruled that the Supreme Court of British Columbia has the right to hear the claims of Canadian billionaire philanthropist Frank Giustra against Twitter about the defamation he says he was subjected to on its platform. Giustra filed a lawsuit against Twitter in April 2019 in the Canadian province of British Columbia, claiming that he was the target of defamatory posts that harmed his reputation and community standing. According to his claim, people began making politically-motivated, false accusations against him via Twitter in 2015, ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The posts allege that Giustra was involved in “Pizzagate,” a conspiracy theory according to which the Democrats were operating a child sex trafficking ring out…

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Blue bird

Twitter Twitted Over Clumsy Political Censorship

Getting the algorithm to censor users can backfire and sometimes the results are funny

I once wrote an online forum system called Areopagus. It had a simple “bad words” (profanities, etc.) filter. It looked for common bad words and common variations of those words and automatically prevented any post containing those words or their variations from being posted. This is called “mechanical censorship” and, on its own, it is nothing new. Some users came up with cleverer variations of the bad words than the filter was set for and then moderators had to spot and remove the posts. During the recent presidential election campaign, Twitter has taken mechanical censorship to new levels. Instead of censoring ways of speaking, Twitter has decided to censor specific ideas and thoughts. Automatic censorship of ideas is a problematic…

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Twitter handle with care

What’s the Main Thing We Should Learn from the Big Twitter Hack?

Yes, Twitter got control of its platform back but not before its credibility in security matters was significantly weakened

As we reported at the time, on July 15, hackers gained control of a number of Twitter “Blue Checkmark” accounts. Twitter hands out Blue Checkmarks to accounts that exert heavy influence and have verified identities. That status permits many parody accounts to operate without generating confusion over who is really tweeting, the account or the parody. In any case, on Twitter, the Blue Checkmarks have quite a bit of power. They get access to analytics on their posts so they can measure (and manipulate) their engagement with their followers. Many influencers look for “Blue Checkmark” status to see if an account is worth engaging with. Twitter even allows the “Blue Checkmarks” to filter their conversations so as to limit them…

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Check mark on shield, Security, safe, privacy or other Security concept background, Data Protection Concept, Technology Background

Hackers Seize Popular Twitter Accounts for Giant Bitcoin Scam

Scammers have gained access to a number of high-profile Twitter accounts, including those of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Kanye West, and Elon Musk

Today, hackers gained control of a number of Twitter accounts, and used them to scam people out of their Bitcoin money. As we have reported before, the security within Bitcoin actually seems to facilitate scams. In the current ripoff, scammers have gained access to a number of high-profile Twitter accounts, including those of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Kanye West, and Elon Musk. Their usual line is that they are seeking matching donations to a good cause. So if the user sends Bitcoin to a certain wallet address, the high-profile Twitter account will send a matching donation. However, the wallet address (and the promised match) are both frauds, and the money goes straight into the scammers’ pockets. It is unclear how…

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iron chain and castle on the silk national flag of Hong Kong with beautiful folds, the concept of a ban on tourism, political repression, crime, violation of the rights and freedoms of citizens

Hong Kong: Tech Companies Face Serious Ethical Decisions

As Hong Kong is transformed into a police state, Western companies, faced with demands for snitching on users, are rethinking cozy relationships with China

The semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong is no longer semi-autonomous, at least in practice. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), circumventing Hong Kong’s parliament and courts, passed the Hong Kong National Security Law on June 30 that effectively abolishes the “one country, two systems” regime outlined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The law was passed one day before the anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China (July 1, 1997), in time to quash any pro-democracy candidates who would likely win in the September elections. Although the CCP justifies its moves from the Hong Kong Basic Law and claims that Hong Kong will maintain autonomy, in practice, it has already arrested dissidents and formed a secretive agency called the Office…

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Grey Wolf (Canis lupus) Between Trees Looks Up and to Right Winter - captive animal

The Age of the Wolf Warrior: China’s Post-Pandemic Strategy

The younger diplomats take their cue from a Chinese Rambo-style movie and the rewritten history they learned at school

While countries around the world have been dealing with the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), China has claimed disputed areas in the South China Sea, taken over the Hong Kong government, and flown planes over Taiwan. One result was a standoff between warships from the U.S., Australia, and China. A 2016 international tribunal in The Hague ruled that China has no legal sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. China, saying that the ruling was void, claims areas that are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Japan. The Chinese Liberation Army has also increased the number of troops at its border with India (the Line of Actual Control) disputed since the Sino-Indian war in 1962 (below…

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A Scientist’s Nightmare: Doxxed on Twitter

The surprisingly good news is that online riots may be hurting the Twitter brand
The market for senseless outrage is not as large as expected and the online riots may actually be hurting the Twitter brand. Many sources say that Twitter has been losing accounts for years. Read More ›
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How Did Twitter Become a “Virus of the Mind”?

A libertarian law professor reflects on the poisonous atmosphere and proposed remedies

Using engineering terminology, he makes the point that, whereas the blogosphere has been a loosely coupled system where craziness in one venue had little impact on another, new social media are tightly coupled systems, prone to maximal disruption

Read More ›
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5: AI Can Fight Hate Speech!

AI can carry out its programmers’ biases and that’s all
Putting these kinds of decisions in the hands of software programs is not likely to promote vigorous and healthy debate. Read More ›
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Series of drawn human faces

No, Twitter Is Not the New Awful

It’s the Old Awful back for more. It’s the Town Without Pity we all tried to get away from
We need to decide: Is Twitter the telephone company (a communications platform), the newspaper (a publisher), or interconnected private gossip klatsches where anyone can say whatever they want, whatever ensues? Read More ›
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Retro robots

Does Democracy Demand a War on Twitterbots?

A key concern is that citizens could be induced to vote for a demagogue by Twitterbots spreading fake news.
Underlying much of the angst about the political impact of bots is a basic premise: Most of us need help thinking for ourselves and protection from the many bad influences that we are not able to recognize, the way our betters can. Read More ›
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Twitter doesn’t just seem out of control

It actually is.
Social media may be changing the world more than we think. And we may need some social leadership in fighting back against Twitter mobs. It probably won’t emerge from within because bullies are usually cowards. Read More ›
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The New Politically Correct Chatbot Was Worse?

If you are a human being who talks to people for a living, don’t quit your job
Within 16 hours, the Microsoft team had to shut down their chatbot Tay. With assistance from so many online sources, Tay’s ability to be nasty exceeded that of any individual human. And as for her replacement, Zo, who would never repeat those mistakes… Read More ›