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      YouTube under no obligation to host anti-vaccine advocate’s videos, court says

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 5 September, 2023 - 20:08

    YouTube under no obligation to host anti-vaccine advocate’s videos, court says

    Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto )

    A prominent anti-vaccine activist, Joseph Mercola, yesterday lost a lawsuit attempting to force YouTube to provide access to videos that were removed from the platform after YouTube banned his channels.

    Mercola had tried to argue that YouTube owed him more than $75,000 in damages for breaching its own user contract and denying him access to his videos. However, in an order dismissing Mercola's complaint, US magistrate judge Laurel Beeler wrote that according to the contract Mercola signed, YouTube was "under no obligation to host" Mercola's content after terminating his channel in 2021 "for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines by posting medical misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines."

    "The court found no breach because 'there is no provision in the Terms of Service that requires YouTube to maintain particular content' or be a 'storage site for users’ content,'" Beeler wrote.

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      Fake Pentagon “explosion” photo sows confusion on Twitter

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 23 May, 2023 - 21:01 · 1 minute

    A fake AI-generated image of an

    Enlarge / A fake AI-generated image of an "explosion" near the Pentagon that went viral on Twitter. (credit: Twitter)

    On Monday, a tweeted AI-generated image suggesting a large explosion at the Pentagon led to brief confusion, which included a reported small drop in the stock market. It originated from a verified Twitter account named "Bloomberg Feed," unaffiliated with the well-known Bloomberg media company, and was quickly exposed as a hoax. However, before it was debunked, large accounts such as Russia Today had already spread the misinformation, The Washington Post reported .

    The fake image depicted a large plume of black smoke alongside a building vaguely reminiscent of the Pentagon with the tweet "Large Explosion near The Pentagon Complex in Washington D.C. — Inital Report." Upon closer inspection, local authorities confirmed that the image was not an accurate representation of the Pentagon. Also, with blurry fence bars and building columns, it looks like a fairly sloppy AI-generated image created by a model like Stable Diffusion .

    Before Twitter suspended the false Bloomberg account, it had tweeted 224,000 times and reached fewer than 1,000 followers, according to the Post, but it's unclear who ran it or the motives behind sharing the false image. In addition to Bloomberg Feed, other accounts that shared the false report include “Walter Bloomberg” and “Breaking Market News," both unaffiliated with the real Bloomberg organization.

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      Rewarding accuracy gets people to spot more misinformation

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 10 March, 2023 - 23:22 · 1 minute

    a gavel hammers on a chat text bubble

    Enlarge (credit: Getty )

    Piecing together why so many people are willing to share misinformation online is a major focus among behavioral scientists. It's easy to think partisanship is driving it all—people will simply share things that make their side look good or their opponents look bad. But the reality is a bit more complicated. Studies have indicated that many people don't seem to carefully evaluate links for accuracy, and that partisanship may be secondary to the rush of getting a lot of likes on social media . Given that, it's not clear what induces users to stop sharing things that a small bit of checking would show to be untrue.

    So, a team of researchers tried the obvious: We'll give you money if you stop and evaluate a story's accuracy. The work shows that small payments and even minimal rewards boost the accuracy of people's evaluation of stories. Nearly all that effect comes from people recognizing stories that don't favor their political stance as factually accurate. While the cash boosted the accuracy of conservatives more, they were so far behind liberals in judging accuracy that the gap remains substantial.

    Money for accuracy

    The basic outline of the new experiments is pretty simple: get a bunch of people, ask them about their political leanings, and then show them a bunch of headlines as they would appear on a social media site such as Facebook. The headlines were rated based on their accuracy (i.e., whether they were true or misinformation) and whether they would be more favorable to liberals or conservatives.

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

      news.movim.eu / 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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      Reddit’s teach-the-controversy stance on COVID vaccines sparks wider protest

      Jon Brodkin · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 31 August, 2021 - 17:57

    Photo illustration with a hand holding a mobile phone and a Reddit logo in the background.

    Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images )

    Over 135 subreddits have gone dark this week in protest of Reddit's refusal to ban communities that spread misinformation about the COVID pandemic and vaccines.

    Subreddits that went private include two with 10 million or more subscribers, namely r/Futurology and r/TIFU. The PokemonGo community is one of 15 other subreddits with at least 1 million subscribers that went private; another 15 subreddits with at least 500,000 subscribers also went private. They're all listed in a post on " r/VaxxHappened " which has been coordinating opposition to Reddit management's stance on pandemic misinformation. More subreddits are being added as they join the protest.

    "Futurology has gone private to protest Reddit's inaction on COVID-19 misinformation," a message on that subreddit says. "Reddit won't enforce their policies against misinformation, brigading, and spamming. Misinformation subreddits such as NoNewNormal and r/conspiracy must be shut down. People are dying from misinformation."

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

      Kate Cox · news.movim.eu / 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 bans Holocaust denial amid rapid rise in “deceptive” content

      Kate Cox · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 12 October, 2020 - 18:48


    Enlarge / Facebook's Menlo Park, California, headquarters as seen in 2017. (credit: Jason Doiy | Getty Images )

    Facebook today is, once again, theoretically ramping up enforcement against hate speech, this time with a new policy prohibiting Holocaust denial on the platform.

    The change is due to a "well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally," Facebook executive Monika Bickert wrote in a corporate blog post today.

    The policy is a complete 180 for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who in a 2018 interview specifically described Holocaust denial as the kind of "deeply offensive" speech he nonetheless felt should be permitted on the platform. The next day, amid blowback, he "clarified" his position:

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      Facebook to pause all political advertising—after the election

      Kate Cox · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 8 October, 2020 - 18:26 · 1 minute


    Enlarge / Facebook's "voter information center" as seen in July 2020. (credit: Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images )

    It seems fair to say that, here in the United States, this is an election season unlike any other, with tensions running exceptionally high. Facebook, which through its collection of apps reaches the vast majority of the US population, has again launched a new slew of initiatives to mitigate the harm misinformation on its platforms can cause. Several of these measures are sound ideas, but unfortunately, two of its latest efforts once again amount to waiting until the horse has made it halfway around the world before you shut the barn door.

    Facebook explained yesterday in a corporate blog post what its Election Day efforts are going to look like on both Facebook and Instagram. The company has promised for months that it will run real-time fact-checking on and after November 3 to prevent any candidate from declaring victory before a race is actually called, and it showed what that process will look like.

    In that post, Facebook also said that although ads are "an important way to express voice," it plans to enact a temporary moratorium on "all social issue, electoral, or political ads in the US" after the polls close on November 3, to "reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse." That stance will put Facebook, at least for the time being, in like with Twitter's position on political ads.

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

      Kate Cox · news.movim.eu / 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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