You thought FACEBOOK relies on free speech standards based on common law?

❝ Documents obtained by the New York Times show how the social giant’s international content moderation strategy is dictated by thousands of pages of PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets that “sometimes clumsily” tell thousands of moderators what to allow and what to delete. The revelation raises deep questions about the future of Facebook’s role in international discourse — especially in the wake of damaging revelations about how the platform allowed propaganda during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections…

❝ Facebook moderators who spoke to the Times under condition of anonymity said they felt hamstrung by the extraordinarily complex rule set, which forces them to make rapid decisions, sometimes using Google Translate, about fraught topics including terrorism and sectarian violence…

❝ The result, according to the Times, is that Facebook has become a “far more powerful arbiter of global speech than has been publicly recognized or acknowledged by the company itself.”

RTFA. Ain’t about to make you assured the Honchos are working for the common good or trying to match historical standards. But, then, 19th Century minds rely on 17th Century guidebooks written by a handful of English pimps to a colonial King. Or The Players Edition of the Rules of Golf.

Fake President is OK with censoring science

❝ National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea level rise and storm surge, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vow to Congress that his department is not censoring science.

The research for the first time projects the risks from rising seas and flooding at 118 coastal national park sites, including the National Mall, the original Jamestown settlement and the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Originally drafted in the summer of 2016 yet still not released to the public, the National Park Service report is intended to inform officials and the public about how to protect park resources and visitors from climate change.

❝ The 87-page report, which was written by a University of Colorado Boulder scientist, has been held up for at least 10 months, according to documents obtained by Reveal. The delay has prevented park managers from having access to the best data in situations such as reacting to hurricane forecasts, safeguarding artifacts from floodwaters or deciding where to locate new buildings.

The omissions reflect a broader crackdown on climate science at federal agencies, including removal of references to human impacts, since President Donald Trump took office. Trump previously called climate change a Chinese hoax, took steps to withdraw from an international agreement to cut greenhouse gases and moved toward reversing President Barack Obama’s policies to regulate power plant emissions.

Trump’s chumps are OK with censoring science. They fear this discipline almost as much as investigative journalism.

Trump’s “science cleansing” turns Fed websites into garbage farms

❝ Nearly a year into the Trump administration, mentions of climate change have been systematically removed, altered or played down on websites across the federal government, according to a report made public Wednesday.

The findings of the report, by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, an international coalition of researchers and activist groups, are in keeping with the policies of a president who has proudly pursued an agenda of repealing environmental regulations, opening protected lands and waters to oil and gas drilling, withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord, shrinking the boundaries of federal monuments, and appointing top officials who have questioned or denied the established science of human-caused climate change.

❝ The authors of the study said that the removal of the words “climate change” from government websites, and a widespread effort to delete or bury information on climate change programs, would quite likely have a detrimental impact…

❝ “Why are these federal agencies putting so much effort into ‘science cleansing’ instead of using time and resources to fulfill agency responsibilities, such as protecting the environment and advancing energy security?” they wrote.

Trump works very hard at fulfilling George Orwell’s predictions of sophistry and bald-faced lies. Without, of course, ever having read any of that author’s work. He simple-mindedly obeys the worst advocates of conservative censorship.

NJ worst in the US for racist jailtime. Ban book about it from prisons.


New Jersey bans book about racist NJ policies

❝ “At least two New Jersey state prisons have banned inmates from reading a highly praised book that links racial discrimination and mass incarceration.”

❝ “Michelle Alexander’s 2012 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is off limits to inmates as a matter of policy at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton and Southern State Correctional Facility in Delmont, according to documents provided in response to a public records request from the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU chapter plans to send a letter to state corrections officials on Monday demanding access to the book for inmates in the state, which the group said has the worst U.S. black-white incarceration disparity.

“The New Jim Crow chronicles how people of color are shut out of society by mass incarceration,” the letter states. “That the very prisoners who experience the worst racial disparity in incarceration in the country should be prohibited from reading a book whose precise purpose is to examine and educate about that disparity adds insult to injury.”

People who make racist rules always claim they aren’t racists. Conservatives and chickenshit moderates call that progress.

Fighting back and winning is progress.

White House Censors Press — Denies Briefing Access to New York Times, Politico, CNN

Trump’s view of a “Free Press”

❝ White House press secretary Sean Spicer excluded several major news outlets, including the New York Times and CNN, from an untelevised media briefing on Friday, hours after President Donald Trump assailed coverage of his administration.

❝ The White House invited members of the so-called press pool to attend the briefing, including representatives from the Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg News, Agence France-Presse and Hearst, which is serving as the daily representative for newspaper outlets. The White House then handpicked additional outlets to participate, including NBC News, CBS News, and ABC News — as well as conservative outlets like the Washington Times, America One, and Breitbart News Network.

Notably excluded were the New York Times, CNN, Politico, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed News and the BBC. Bloomberg News only learned that some outlets had been excluded moments before the briefing began. The Associated Press was invited but declined to participate, citing the exclusion of other organizations…

❝ Bloomberg editor in chief John Micklethwait said in a statement: “I don’t believe that the White House’s decision to exclude major news organizations is in the best interest of keeping the public informed, so in the future we will not participate in exclusionary briefings of the sort that happened today.”…

❝ Spicer holds a televised news briefing on most weekdays when the president isn’t traveling, but on Thursday evening, when it issued its daily guidance, the White House said Spicer would instead “gaggle” on Friday. The term is jargon for less formal briefings, usually held in Spicer’s office or aboard Air Force One, that aren’t televised…

Shortly before the gaggle, the White House asked news organizations to register for an “expanded pool” of reporters that would be admitted to cover it. The group granted access included all of the members of the so-called “protective pool” of journalists that routinely covers the president’s activities, including Bloomberg.

The New York Times and other outlets were turned away at the door to Spicer’s office.

❝ “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of the New York Times and the other news organizations.”

The previous record-holder as Republican crook – Richard Nixon – never went this far in trying to suppress the First Amendment. He fought with those who eventually uncovered all of his administration’s corruption and called the Press “his” enemy”. Trump takes the next step towards fascist rule by calling a Free Press an “enemy of the people”. The sort of declarative you would expect from someone who fears democracy, transparency.

I expect many voices to be raised from conservative to liberal, libertarian to progressive. It will be an interesting exercise picking out Republicans who claim to be constitutionalists – who will also stoop to bow before their leader and support his denial of access to news media.

Republicans end climate change the old-fashioned way — by censorship


…But I know what the Koch brothers say science is, and that’s good enough for me

❝ Remember when Scott Walker was a hot presidential prospect for about six minutes, and then he went to London and refused to venture a guess at whether evolution is real, and looked even more stupid than most Republicans while doing it? Well by golly, when it comes to other kinds of science, Walker is not confused at all. He knows, for instance, that climate change is a very controversial subject among people who are Koch Industries, so he’s made a concerted effort to make sure state policy is uncontaminated by too much science. That admirable decisiveness is showing, in the form of a state website that used to be about “Climate Change and Wisconsin´s Great Lakes,” but has now had every mention of “climate” — or for that matter, real science — carefully scrubbed away.

❝ As Scientific American reported way back in 2015, Walker has “moved to reduce the role of science in environmental policymaking and to silence discussion of controversial subjects, including climate change, by state employees.” He’s dismantled environmental regulations, and attempted to slash staff at the state Department of Natural Resources, getting rid of a third of its scientists and firing a bunch of the department’s “environmental educators,” because why would you waste state money on spreading liberal propaganda to innocent schoolchildren? And just like Rick Scott did in Florida, Wisconsin also tried to prohibit state workers from even saying the “C” word at all.

❝ And then there’s that website. Urban Milwaukee columnist James Rowen details how the DNR’s website has been purged of any science whatsoever, changing a page that had actually been a pretty decent introduction to how climate change is affecting the Great Lakes into a couple of paragraphs of shrugging and saying, gosh, we dunno…

RTFA. In case you need your understanding of Republican politics dragged away from the nuances of Trump’s flirtation with fascism. Neocons haven’t disappeared. They still don’t win primaries. They still retain control of states outside the Confederacy via reliance on gerrymandering and anti-voting regulations. Yes, they also get a bump in their national power from the Idiocracy perpetuated by the TweetFührer.

Facebook decides whether Palestinian editors can publish — or not

Facebook is deciding how the media should do its job again, even though CEO Mark Zuckerberg has insisted it’s “not a media company.” This time, two Palestinian news organizations say one of their Facebook pages, and the personal accounts of seven editors and executives, were suspended, al Jazeera reported. This prevented them from accessing their organizations’ Facebook pages, which collectively have 11 million “likes.”

The news organizations allege that the suspensions were the result of an agreement Facebook struck with Israel earlier this month to monitor incitement to violence on the platform. Facebook says it was a mistake with the way it handles accounts that have been flagged for review.

❝ Facebook reinstated the accounts over the weekend (Sept. 24) and apologized…Blah, blah, blah.

I think it was a warning on behalf of the Netanyahu government.

I contributed – a while back – to a Facebook site that averages 5 million hits a week – that was periodically shutdown, blocked or otherwise had access limited because it was critical of Israel’s apartheid policies. None of this surprises me.

❝ The system has caused outrage before, as was the case recently in Norway, when it removed posts with a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph — the “napalm girl” of the Vietnam war — because it depicted a child’s nude form. Facebook reversed its position after Norway’s prime minister got involved.

Corporate politics, today, ain’t especially different from the class history of corporate politics. The reach is global, focused or broad in effect. Only the industries and sophistication have changed. Or not.

Facebook censored the historic “Napalm girl” photo — why is anyone surprised?


Click to enlargeAP Photo/Nick Ut

❝ If you were to pick a handful of images that changed how people think about war, Nick Ut’s most famous photograph would surely be among them. The image of 9-year-old Kim Phuc running from napalm — her skin burning, her clothes burned away — defined the horrors of the Vietnam War.

❝ Norwegian author Tom Egeland had the lasting power of Ut’s work in mind when he shared the photo to Facebook weeks ago. But when Facebook’s moderators saw the Pulitzer Prize-winning image, they saw not its documentary significance or its impact on the world, but a violation of the site’s nudity policy.

Facebook’s moderators removed the photograph from Egeland’s page, along with its accompanying text. His account was suspended for 24 hours after he shared an interview with Phuc criticizing Facebook’s decision to censor this image, he said. But that was just the beginning of the incredible outrage at Facebook that has swept across Norway in recent days, becoming the subject of an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg from Norway’s largest newspaper, and rising all the way up to the country’s prime minister.

❝ After initially defending its decision to remove the photograph, Facebook decided to “reinstate” the image on Friday afternoon, according to a written statement from a Facebook spokeswoman. “We recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time,” the statement reads. “Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal.”…

Corporate hogwash.

❝ While Zuckerberg recently said that Facebook is “a tech company, not a media company,” this incident highlights just how much control the platform can wield over what media its users do (and don’t) see.

Espen Egil Hansen, the editor of Aftenposten — Norway’s largest paper — called Zuckerberg the “world’s most powerful editor” in an open letter to Zuckerberg protesting Facebook’s censorship of the photo, which was published on Friday morning.

“I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly,” he wrote.

❝ The outrage in Norway escalated when Prime Minister Erna Solberg posted the image to her own Facebook page on Friday, after the publication of Aftenposten’s letter. “Facebook gets it wrong when they censor such pictures. It limits the freedom of speech,” she wrote in an accompanying statement that was translated by Reuters. “I say yes to healthy, open and free debate — online and wherever else we go. But I say no to this form of censorship.”

Solberg’s post, along with the statement, then disappeared. A spokesman for the prime minister’s office confirmed that she “did not remove it” herself from her own page — instead, Facebook deleted it.

❝ She later reposted the image — censoring Phuc’s entire body with a large black box — and called on Facebook to reconsider its policies. She paired the censored version of Ut’s work with several other censored versions of iconic photos, writing, “What Facebook does by removing images of this kind, good as the intentions may be, is to edit our common history.”

❝ Aftenposten ran its direct address letter to Zuckerberg on the front page of its paper. “I am writing this letter to inform you that I shall not comply with your requirement to remove a documentary photography from the Vietnam war made by Nick Ut. Not today, and not in the future,” Hansen, the paper’s editor, wrote.

“The media have a responsibility to consider publication in every single case. This may be a heavy responsibility. Each editor must weigh the pros and cons,” Hansen wrote. “This right and duty, which all editors in the world have, should not be undermined by algorithms encoded in your office in California.”

After more bullshit, Facebook finally relented.

RTFA and you’ll bump into all the rationales Facebook editors offered up to excuse and continue their censorship. Eventually, you can read their attempt to excuse their actions. It reads like a press release from any government, any corporate behemoth, trying to excuse a self-serving attempt to control access to history, to politics, to the freedom of individuals to decide what they wish to see and read.

That’s what it comes down to.

Don’t kid yourself about geeks being liberal or tech entrepreneurs automatically having the best interests of the world at heart. The breed has no corner on the market for kindness, care or concern – for either individual rights or the end of the world. Dollar$ govern the system. Don’t count on Harvard dropouts to be less likely to harbor bigotry and reactionary foolishness than any less-educated populist idjit.

Of course that includes the head of Facebook, the corporation. Ultimately, Mark Zuckerberg sets the standards of the company he started.

Republican draft platform claims Pr0n is a public health crisis

Republican sex

Want another sign that the Republican Party is, shall we say, a bit out of touch with much of America? Look no further than the Republican party’s latest platform draft. Among the provisions? A declaration that porn is a “public health crisis.”

If that language sounds familiar to you, it’s likely because you’re remembering a Utah resolution that was signed this past spring. Like the GOP’s party platform, it also wrung its hands over the supposed evils of the adult industry, blaming it for an assorted grab bag of sexual woes — Teen sexting! Campus sexual assault! Unhappy marriages! And so on! — and rallying the masses for a culture war.

As the RNC platform draft indicates, the national Republicans are only too happy to amplify the idea that, even if it’s technically protected as free speech, porn should be derided as something destroying our hearts, minds, and genitals. Except there’s just one problem: whatever issues porn might be to blame for, they’re just one small part of our national crisis of sex education — a crisis the Republicans are largely responsible for

…To the extent that porn is harmful, it’s often because it’s the only source of sexual information and education that many people tend to get. Yes, it might be a terrible idea to get basic sex education from titles like Jizz Biz and Bound Teens. If we, as a nation, were more comfortable teaching kids about the basics of sex (and maybe offering some lessons on media literacy, to boot), we wouldn’t have to worry so much about the crazy ideas that kids are getting from PornHub.

But you’re unlikely to hear that harsh bit of truth from groups like Concerned Women for America, which helped to pen the anti-porn language, because the very people who fret over what porn is doing to our children are also determined to keep honest, comprehensive sex education away from them. That “public health crisis” they’re lamenting? They created it, lighting a massive bonfire in celebration of sexual ignorance — and then, when it all got out of hand, placing the blame on pornographers…

Any excuse for censorship is good enough for the Republican Party. Using religious morality as their watchword – as ever – the GOP will lump 19th Century fear of nekkid people in with the normal range of sexuality and sexual orientation humans are capable of. As they do – further on into their so-called platform. They bring in discredited theological brainwashing courses as a “response” to civil rights for the broad LGBT community.

And they’re gathering in Cleveland to nominate Donald Trump as their candidate for president. Har.