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      YouTuber must pay $40K in attorneys’ fees for daft “reverse censorship” suit / ArsTechnica · Friday, 10 March, 2023 - 20:24

    YouTuber must pay $40K in attorneys’ fees for daft “reverse censorship” suit

    Enlarge (credit: picture alliance / Contributor | picture alliance )

    A YouTuber, Marshall Daniels—who has posted far-right-leaning videos under the name “Young Pharaoh” since 2015—tried to argue that YouTube violated his First Amendment rights by removing two videos discussing George Floyd and COVID-19. Years later, Daniels now owes YouTube nearly $40,000 in attorney fees for filing a frivolous lawsuit against YouTube owner Alphabet, Inc.

    A United States magistrate judge in California, Virginia K. DeMarchi, ordered Daniels to pay YouTube $38,576 for asserting a First Amendment claim that “clearly lacked merit and was frivolous from the outset.” YouTube said this represents a conservative estimate and likely an underestimate of fees paid defending against the meritless claim.

    In his defense, Daniels never argued that the fees Alphabet was seeking were excessive or could be burdensome. In making this rare decision in favor of the defendant Alphabet, DeMarchi had to consider Daniels’ financial circumstances. In his court filings, Daniels described himself as “a fledgling individual consumer,” but also told the court that he made more than $180,000 in the year before he filed his complaint. DeMarchi ruled that the fees would not be a burden to Daniels.

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      Facebook eyes “Election Commission” in possible bid to shed political scrutiny

      Tim De Chant · / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 26 August, 2021 - 18:24


    Enlarge / Facebook's voter information center for the 2020 election in the US. (credit: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg )

    Facebook may finally be acknowledging that it’s handling of elections around the world has been less than stellar. And this time, its response may amount to more than just another apology from Mark Zuckerberg.

    The social media company is considering creating an “election commission” that would guide it on election-related issues around the world, according to a report in The New York Times . The commission would advise Facebook on everything from disinformation to political advertising, and if implemented, it could be a boon for the company’s public relations. The commission would ideally also take some heat off CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who reportedly doesn't want to be the "sole decision maker on political content," the Times reports.

    A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on this story when contacted by Ars.

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      Twitter and Facebook roll back some misinformation prevention measures

      Jim Salter · / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 17 December, 2020 - 20:45 · 1 minute

    Logos for Twitter and Facebook have been photoshopped onto a hand-operated fire alarm.

    Enlarge / Ever notice that nobody talks about the procedure to replace the glass, after the emergency is over? (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images )

    With the worst of a storm of misinformation—and disinformation—about the 2020 US presidential election behind us, both Facebook and Twitter are relaxing some emergency measures put in place to limit its spread.

    Twitter brings back one-click retweets

    The most obvious changes taking place are on Twitter, which is getting rid of a measure it put in place in October to encourage quote tweeting (QT) instead of simple retweeting (RT). The intent was to encourage users to add thoughtful commentary and perhaps to actually read original content prior to amplifying it based on a headline alone.

    Our goal with prompting QTs (instead of Retweets) was to encourage more thoughtful amplification. We don’t believe that this happened, in practice. The use of Quote Tweets increased, but 45% of them included single-word affirmations and 70% had less than 25 characters. The increase in Quote Tweets was also offset by an overall 20% decrease in sharing through both Retweets and Quote Tweets. Considering this, we'll no longer prompt Quote Tweets from the Retweet icon.

    Twitter verification is coming back in 2021

    The company is also relaunching its somewhat-controversial verification process—the measure by which one gets a blue checkmark next to one's username on each tweet. The company put the verification process on hold in November 2017, acknowledging issues with perception of verified accounts as endorsed by Twitter. Since then, already-verified accounts have kept the blue check, but few if any new accounts—even those meeting earlier criteria for verification—have been accepted.

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      Iran behind supposed “Proud Boys” voter-intimidation emails, Feds allege

      Kate Cox · / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 22 October, 2020 - 19:59

    A man in a suit speaks in front of a Justice Department logo.

    Enlarge / FBI Director Chrisopher Wray speaking at a press conference in Washington, DC, on October 7. (credit: Jim Watson | AFP | Bloomberg | Getty Images )

    We now have less than two weeks to go before the federal voting deadline on November 3, and basically everything is, as many expected, hitting the fan at once. Now, intelligence officials and lawmakers are all but begging Americans to be less credulous with what they see and hear online amid new allegations that actors from Iran emailed individual voter-intimidation efforts.

    Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray joined forces at a hastily announced press conference Wednesday night to issue a warning that foreign actors "have taken specific actions to influence public opinion relating to our elections." Specifically, Ratcliffe said, actors from Iran and Russia, separately, had obtained "some voter registration information" and were using it "to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos, and undermine your confidence in American democracy."

    Ratcliffe was referring to an email campaign that started earlier this week, when some voters in Florida, Arizona, and Alaska started receiving threatening messages .

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      Facebook, Twitter limit controversial story about Joe Biden’s son

      Kate Cox · / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 14 October, 2020 - 22:36

    Facebook, Twitter limit controversial story about Joe Biden’s son

    Enlarge (credit: Thomas Trutschel / Getty Images )

    Facebook and Twitter today are facing criticism from all sides after taking rare action to suppress an apparent attempt at blatant disinformation being spread three weeks before the election.

    Both social media platforms are deprecating or outright blocking the sharing of a link to a story the New York Post published this morning about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Although Twitter and Facebook have both acted in the past to deplatform fringe actors, today's action marks one of the extremely rare times either has taken action against a story from a relatively mainstream outlet.

    The story

    The story at the root of all the drama appears to be an attempt to duplicate the effect the Comey memo had on the 2016 presidential election by suggesting there's a scandal in the Biden camp. The New York Post claimed to have received copies of emails that were obtained from a laptop that Biden's son Hunter dropped off at a Delaware computer repair shop in 2019. These emails, which the Post called a "smoking gun," allegedly indicate that Hunter Biden connected his father with Ukrainian energy firm Burisma in 2014.

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      Facebook needs to enforce misinfo rules against Trump, Biden campaign says

      Kate Cox · / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 29 September, 2020 - 21:38

    The Facebook app displayed on the screen of an iPhone.

    Enlarge / The Facebook app displayed on the screen of an iPhone. (credit: Fabian Sommer | picture alliance | Getty Images )

    After being implicated in massive voter-interference campaigns in 2016, Facebook promised this time would be better. The company changed its policies and swore up and down that it would work hard to mitigate the spread of misinformation and support Americans' rights to get out and vote this fall. But with five weeks to go before Election Day—and early voting already underway in some states—critics allege Facebook is not keeping up with the challenge.

    The latest person to accuse Facebook of failing to manage misinformation is the Democratic candidate for president, former Vice President Joe Biden. The Biden campaign said in a letter to Facebook ( PDF ) last night that the company is not only failing to take long-promised additional actions, but is in fact regressing in how well it handles falsehoods.

    "Facebook's continued promise of future action is serving as nothing more than an excuse for inaction," Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon wrote. "Millions of people are voting. Meanwhile, your platform is the nation's foremost propagator of disinformation about the voting process."

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