French Law to Fine Social Media Platforms for Hate Speech

France’s National Assembly passed a law that will fine social media companies up to €1.25 million ($1.36 million) for failing to remove “manifestly illicit” hate-speech posts within 24 hours of notification. Companies can be fined up to 4 percent of their global annual revenue if the violations are “serious and repeated.” The law, which will take effect July 1, also gives France’s audiovisual regulator the right to audit these companies’ systems for removing content. Critics claim “pre-emptive censorship.” Continue reading French Law to Fine Social Media Platforms for Hate Speech

Appeals Court Agrees Internet Platforms Can Censor Content

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled unanimously that privately operated Internet platforms can censor content at will — a rebuke of the argument advanced in conservative circles that the platforms are bound by the First Amendment. The case in question was the YouTube channel of Prager University, a non-profit founded by radio host Dennis Prager. YouTube tagged dozens of PragerU’s videos as “inappropriate,” and stripped their advertising, which led the channel to file a lawsuit in 2017. Continue reading Appeals Court Agrees Internet Platforms Can Censor Content

TikTok Catapults to Level of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube

TikTok has exceeded 1.5 billion downloads — half of them in the past year — and, in the process, has become a genuine competitor of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Chinese AI firm ByteDance, owner of TikTok, is valued at $75 billion, one of the world’s most valuable startups. The company is reportedly looking into an IPO in Hong Kong in 2020. Now that it has commanded widespread attention, ByteDance is also under scrutiny over how it stores personal data and if it follows orders from the Chinese government to censor content. Continue reading TikTok Catapults to Level of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube

YouTube Takes Next Steps to Enforce Harassment Policies

YouTube has written guidelines to flag videos and comments that insult or demean others over race, gender or sexual orientation directed at anyone including private individuals, public officials and YouTube creators. The company will rely on “raters” to screen videos that have been flagged. YouTube earlier introduced policies to restrict exploitation of children, extremist content and hate speech, but those policies were scrutinized in June when a volatile situation arose between a commentator and a journalist. Continue reading YouTube Takes Next Steps to Enforce Harassment Policies

TikTok Intros Top 100 Video List, Pushes ‘Hotbed of Talent’

TikTok released its TikTok 100, the top videos in areas including beauty and style, sports, pets and dance trends. According to The New York Times, among the niche memes are #TikTokChecks (where users show off locations/objects as “markers of their identity”), VSCO girls (a “subculture consisting of scrunchies, Hydro Flasks and environmentalism”) and “walk a mile” (people creating high heels out of odd objects, to an Iggy Azalea riff. Among its successes, TikTok has made an impact on the music industry and played a role in the breakout success of Lil Nas X. Continue reading TikTok Intros Top 100 Video List, Pushes ‘Hotbed of Talent’

U.S. Investigates TikTok App Based on Security Concerns

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is conducting a national security review of Chinese company ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly, in November 2017, for $800 million to $1 billion. ByteDance merged Musical.ly, an app popular among teens for making karaoke videos, with its similar service TikTok. Over the past year, TikTok has been downloaded 750+ million times, and U.S. lawmakers are concerned about its growing influence. One source said the U.S. has evidence TikTok sends data to China. Continue reading U.S. Investigates TikTok App Based on Security Concerns

Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

For search engines such as Alphabet’s Google, their algorithms are the secret sauce that they claim gives the best results. Not all consumers agree with that, arguing that these algorithms filter their searches in a way that is tantamount to censorship. Now, a bipartisan group of legislators proposed the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, a law that would require search engines and platforms to provide an optional unfiltered search and force them to disclose the algorithms they use to rank searches. Continue reading Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

Netflix Seeks Growth Abroad, Bumps into Local Censorship

Streaming services have operated worldwide, largely untouched by local censorship laws. As Netflix expands, however, it’s starting to encounter local sensitivities. So far, the company has experienced the impact of local laws in Turkey, India and Saudi Arabia. In its 2018 annual report, among business risks, Netflix listed “censorship” and “the need to adapt our content and users interfaces for specific cultural and language differences.” But with subscriber growth plateaued at home, Netflix must seek expansion abroad. Continue reading Netflix Seeks Growth Abroad, Bumps into Local Censorship

TikTok Draws Concerns of U.S. Lawmakers, Growth Slows

Chinese short video app TikTok has had a total of 1.45 billion installs since debuting two years ago. It’s been installed 564 million times this year, and parent company ByteDance is considered the world’s largest startup, with a valuation of $75 million according to CB Insights. But, according to Sensor Tower data, Q3 2019 is the first quarter TikTok has seen a slowdown of user downloads, 4 percent from last year, to 177 million first-time users. U.S. lawmakers want to know if the app is a national security risk. Continue reading TikTok Draws Concerns of U.S. Lawmakers, Growth Slows

Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Gaming company Activision Blizzard suspended an eSports player who, during a live broadcast, expressed his support for the pro-democracy protest movement in Hong Kong. Professional “Hearthstone” player Chung Ng Wai has been suspended for a year and forced to give up $10,000 in prize money. The move led to a significant backlash from gamers and politicians via social media and online forums. The public relations dilemma is similar to what played out this week following NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s support of free speech, which led to the decision by China’s state-run television not to broadcast two NBA games. Continue reading Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Landmark Privacy Case: EU Court Rules in Favor of Google

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that Google will not be required to apply “right to be forgotten” rules globally. Based on the landmark privacy case, the tech giant will only need to remove links to sensitive personal data and disputed search results in Europe, after it receives approved takedown requests. The case was initiated in France in 2015 when privacy watchdog CNIL ordered Google to remove certain search results globally under “right to be forgotten” laws. Google refused and took the case to the French Council of State, which eventually turned to the CJEU.  Continue reading Landmark Privacy Case: EU Court Rules in Favor of Google

CASE Act’s Copyright Enforcement Draws Mixed Response

In July, a bipartisan group from the Senate Judiciary Committee reintroduced the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, by which the U.S. Copyright Office will create a three-person Copyright Claims Board that will supervise a ‘small claims-style’ system for damages. The Copyright Alliance and the Graphic Artists Guild approved the move, which allows a copyright owner whose content was used without permission to claim for damages up to $15,000 for each work and $30,000 in total. However, some groups are opposing the Act and question the cost of such an approach. Continue reading CASE Act’s Copyright Enforcement Draws Mixed Response

Proposed Law Would Make Media Platforms Liable for Posts

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) introduced legislation to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to hold big tech companies such as Facebook and YouTube liable for content published on their platforms. Tech companies now have protection under Section 230 from being found liable for what users post. Known as the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, the proposed legislation has sparked backlash from both sides of the aisle. According to Hawley’s office, his bill is aimed to limit political bias. Continue reading Proposed Law Would Make Media Platforms Liable for Posts

Trade War with China Could Impact Hollywood’s Box Office

In the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, Hollywood is feeling the impact, as the Beijing-based government has begun to limit Hollywood’s ability to sell its entertainment products. Four people who do business in China or closely follow its relations with Hollywood are commenting to the press on the worsening relationship. China, currently the world’s second-largest film market, requires government approval for film distribution. “I don’t want to use the words ‘total freeze,’ but it’s real,” said SK Global head and “Crazy Rich Asians” producer John Penotti. “They’re not saying it officially, but the industry is operating as if it’s close to a total shutdown.”

Continue reading Trade War with China Could Impact Hollywood’s Box Office

Facebook Seeks to Stop Russian Disinformation Campaigns

Facebook deleted nearly 500 pages and accounts after discovering two disinformation campaigns linked to Russia. Employees of Sputnik, a Russian government-controlled agency, were linked to many of the pages that use innocuous independent news pages on sports, travel and weather to mask their disinformation. The pages, which were targeted largely at users in Europe and Central Asia, make clear that Russian-government linked groups continue their efforts to use Facebook as a means of spreading misinformation. Continue reading Facebook Seeks to Stop Russian Disinformation Campaigns

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