Connect with us

OTHER

WhatsApp, Twitter Show Resistance as Government’s Fight Against Fake News Targets Dissent

Published

on

whatsapp,-twitter-show-resistance-as-government’s-fight-against-fake-news-targets-dissent

Sandeep Ravindranath, an Indian filmmaker, posted his latest work to YouTube in May. The video, a nine-minute fictional drama with no dialogue titled Anthem for Kashmir, depicts a young political activist on the lam from authorities. Indian viewers likely picked up on its numerous references to alleged extrajudicial murders in the heavily militarised province, which India and Pakistan have contested for decades. In late June, YouTube sent Ravindranath a note saying a government entity had complained about the film. The details of the government notice were confidential, it said, but the company was taking Anthem for Kashmir offline in the country. The filmmaker wasn’t surprised. “People have been thrown into prison for just Facebook posts,” he says.

Kashmir has long been a sensitive subject in India, but other issues have also become electrified recently. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has grown more aggressive about rooting out cybercrimes and what it calls “fake news” on social media. Under Indian law, including rules issued in 2021, executives at companies that don’t comply with content removal requests could face jail time. Twice this year, Indian journalists have been arrested for online activities in cases that attracted international attention. The government has also moved to make Meta Platform’s WhatsApp hand over information about certain encrypted chats, citing public safety concerns.

India’s large and growing Internet base has magnified the government’s concerns about disinformation, hate speech, and other dangers online. However, critics say the recent moves are simply cover for cracking down on free speech and dissent. India’s first rules governing the Internet, passed more than a decade ago under a previous government after a major terrorist attack, were drafted in a “complicated, slapdash” process, says Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia policy director for the civil rights group Access Now. Even so, they were roughly in line with those in other large democracies. Chima, like other Internet watchdogs in India, says the official regulations are increasingly beside the point. “The government doesn’t follow its own rules,” he says. “The government doesn’t follow due process. The system is rotten to the core.”

See also  Elon Musk Tweets About Purchasing Manchester United Football Club

This creates serious difficulties for US social media giants, for which India is a critical market, and they’re putting up some resistance. WhatsApp sued in response to the requirements to turn over information. Twitter Inc. has yanked posts from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party politicians and accounts over hate-speech violations. The government has flooded Twitter with requests to remove tweets and accounts, and has raided Twitter’s office in New Delhi. In early July, Twitter filed a petition in an Indian court to challenge the removal orders.

Google’s YouTube is huge in India, where the site has more monthly users than Twitter has worldwide. (The most recent figure YouTube shared for the country, in 2020, was 325 million monthly viewers.) The video service has struggled to overcome the specific content moderation challenges of India, with its multiple languages and complicated politics.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Last year the Indian government sent YouTube 1,670 takedown requests, more than eight times as many as the US did, according to company disclosures. Google doesn’t report how often YouTube complies with such requests. “The anxiety the government has created is quite powerful,” says Pamela Philipose, a veteran editor in New Delhi and the author of Media’s Shifting Terrain, a book about Indian communications.

YouTube spokesperson Jack Malon declined to comment on Anthem for Kashmir. “We have clear policies for removal requests from governments around the world,” he said in a statement. “Where appropriate, we restrict or remove content in keeping with local laws and our Terms of Service after a thorough review.” India’s technology ministry replied in a statement that it was following due procedure, adding that Ravindranath didn’t show up to a meeting on the matter. He says he didn’t see how the meeting, which was scheduled after the video had been removed and would’ve required him to travel to Delhi, would be useful.

See also  No Intention of Shutting Facebook Down, Kenyan Ministers Say After Watchdog’s Ultimatum Over Hate Speech

Critics say provocative content that reinforces the political priorities of Modi’s government seem to be immune from scrutiny—for example, The Kashmir Files, a feature released this year that’s been criticised as Hindu nationalist propaganda. A lawsuit attempting unsuccessfully to stall the film’s release said it included “inflammatory scenes which are bound to cause communal violence.” A trailer for The Kashmir Files has been viewed more than 50 million times on YouTube.

India is less of an outlier than an indication of the approach many governments are taking toward Internet regulations, says Daphne Keller, director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center. She says the Modi government’s tactic of trying to stamp out encrypted messaging and social media posts under the guise of public safety and lawfulness could spread elsewhere. “We should consider it a canary in the coal mine for other faltering democracies,” Keller says. “Including our own.” —With Sankalp Phartiyal.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

OTHER

Facebook Bans Major US Anti-Vaccination Group Children’s Health Defense for Spreading Covid-19 Misinformation

Published

on

By

facebook-bans-major-us-anti-vaccination-group-children’s-health-defense-for-spreading-covid-19-misinformation

Facebook-owner Meta said Thursday it had kicked one of the most influential US anti-vaccination groups off the social media network for spreading Covid-19 misinformation. The Children’s Health Defense (CHD), which has been a critic of Covid vaccines, immediately accused Meta of stifling its free speech rights. “Facebook is acting here as a surrogate for the federal government’s crusade to silence all criticism of draconian government policies,” CHD founder Robert Kennedy Jr., nephew of late president John F. Kennedy, said in a press release.

Meta spokesperson Aaron Simpson told AFP that the group’s accounts at Facebook and Instagram were shuttered on Wednesday. The ban came after repeated violations of Meta’s misinformation rules.

CHD said its social media accounts were followed by hundreds of thousands of people, and claimed the action by Meta came as a surprise.

In a release, the group shared a screen capture showing messages stating the accounts were suspended for violating Meta policies regarding “misinformation that could lead to real world harm.”

CHD contended that the ban could be related to a lawsuit it filed against Meta accusing the tech giant of infringing free speech rights by relying on US Centers for Disease Control regarding what Covid-19 information is scientifically backed.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

The anti-vaccine group has appealed a lower court ruling against it in the litigation, according to legal filings.

In other news, US teens have left Facebook in droves over the past seven years, preferring to spend time at video-sharing venues YouTube and TikTok, according to a Pew Research Center survey data out Wednesday. TikTok has “emerged as a top social media platform for US teens” while Google-run

See also  Snapchat and Other Social Media Platforms Offer Parental Control Features, but Do They Offer Enough Safety?

YouTube “stands out as the most common platform used by teens,” the report’s authors wrote.Pew’s data comes as Facebook-owner Meta is in a battle with TikTok for social media primacy, trying to keep the maximum number of users as part of its multi-billion-dollar ad-driven business.

The report said some 95 percent of the teens surveyed said they use YouTube, compared with 67 percent saying they are TikTok users.Just 32 percent of teens surveyed said they log on to Facebook — a big drop from the 71 percent who reported being users during a similar survey some seven years ago


Advertisement
free widgets for website
Continue Reading

OTHER

Elon Musk Said to Target Advertising Tech Firms in Twitter Suit Over Takeover Deal

Published

on

By

elon-musk-said-to-target-advertising-tech-firms-in-twitter-suit-over-takeover-deal

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who is attempting to walk away from his deal to acquire Twitter, is seeking documents from advertising technology firms as part of his quest to gain more information on bot and spam accounts on Twitter, according to filings in a Delaware court on Thursday. Twitter has sued the Tesla chief executive, who has accused Twitter of hiding information about how it calculates the percentage of bots on the service, for attempting to walk away from the $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,50,900 crore) agreement. A trial is scheduled for October 17.

Musk’s lawyers have subpoenaed both Integral Ad Science (IAS) and DoubleVerify for any documents or communications on their involvement in reviewing accounts or participation in any audit of Twitter’s user base.

IAS and DoubleVerify, which are both based in New York, use technology to independently verify that digital ads are viewed by real people. Advertisers use the services to ensure the ads they pay for are seen by potential customers and not automated bots.

Twitter, IAS and DoubleVerify did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In response to a tweet by a user who questioned how Twitter audits its service and also linked to a Reuters story on Musk targeting the ad firms, Musk tweeted: “Those are the questions that Twitter is doing everything possible to avoid answering …”

Advertisement
free widgets for website

In a countersuit earlier this month, Musk claimed that Twitter’s monetizable daily active users are 65 million lower than what the company has touted. Twitter has said it stands by its disclosures.

See also  Former Twitter Employee Convicted of Spying for Saudi Arabia, Accessing Private User Data

The metric measures users who log onto Twitter through the website or apps that are able to serve ads or used paid products like subscriptions, according to Twitter filings.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


Continue Reading

OTHER

Snap Said to Shut Down Development of Pixy Flying Selfie Drone Camera: Report

Published

on

By

snap-said-to-shut-down-development-of-pixy-flying-selfie-drone-camera:-report

Snapchat parent Snap will stop future development of its Pixy flying selfie drone, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. Pixy, which costs $230 (roughly Rs. 18.300), will continue to be sold in its current iteration, according to the report.

The news comes nearly four months after the Santa Monica, California-based company launched the pocket-sized Pixy camera, which can fly a few feet above its user to take photos and videos.

Snap declined to comment on the report.

Rising costs and other economic woes have forced companies to curb their marketing spend, hurting ad-reliant online companies such as Snap, Facebook-parent Meta, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Last month, Snap had warned of “incredibly challenging conditions” due to the current economic turmoil and increasing competition after reporting disappointing results.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

The company, which is reeling from privacy changes made to Apple’s iPhone, had also said it would significantly slow hiring, invest in its advertising business and find new sources of revenue as part of its belt-tightening efforts.

On Monday, Snap said it had reached 1 million subscribers for its Snapchat premium subscription, after launching the service in June as a new source of revenue.

Social media companies including SnapTwitter, and Meta Platforms, which all earn the majority of revenue from selling digital advertising, are facing a weakening ad market due to record-high inflation causing brands to reign in their marketing spending.

Snap’s shares dropped 25 percent last month after disappointing second quarter earnings, as it suffered from weaker advertising demand than Wall Street had expected. Chief Executive Evan Spiegel said the company would work to speed up revenue growth, in part through new sources of revenue.

See also  Tinder Introduces 'Festival Mode' in India, Helps Connect Festival Attendees

© Thomson Reuters 2022

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Continue Reading

Trending