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February 18, 2022 T&S Newsletter

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T&S Early Warning News

Get ahead of new stories that are impacting the T&S industry.

Social media giants are 'profiting from abuse' in pet cruelty videos, charity warns after video of footballer Kurt Zouma kicking his cat went viral

DailyMail | Feb 18, 2022

Company Listed: TikTok, Facebook Meta

Cats Protection claims platforms such as TikTok and Facebook are 'normalising abuse' by allowing the publication of harmful content as entertainment.

It comes after millions of Britons were horrified by a video of West Ham footballer Kurt Zouma kicking his cat.

The charity said some videos can be amusing and harmless, but others show 'very real pet abuse'.

It cited TikTok hosting thousands of videos of users putting sellotape on a cat's feet to film their distressed reaction, donning masks to film a petrified response or forcing ears into tight headbands.

Nicky Trevorrow, of Cats Protection, said: 'Animals are not here for our entertainment...The level of psychological trauma and extreme stress being inflicted on them is vast.'

She added: 'The more users are exposed to this type of content, the more they are desensitized to increasingly worse forms of animal abuse.'

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Teenage boy sentenced after harassing BBC reporter Aileen Moynagh

BBC News | Feb 17, 2022

Company Listed: Twitter, Facebook Meta

In September 2021, the 17-year-old admitted harassing BBC News NI's Aileen Moynagh over a five-month period.

The boy, who has a range of complex disorders, cannot be identified because of his age.

After the sentencing, Ms Moynagh said: "Today marks the end of a long and difficult journey."

"I've waited for this day and dreaded it in equal measure because, regardless of the outcome, there are no winners," she added.

The Dublin teenager appeared at the city's Children's Court on Thursday.

The court previously heard he had an "obsessive crush" on the Belfast-based journalist and was previously cautioned for similar approaches to RTÉ journalists.

The offences took place on dates between October 2020 and February last year.

The court heard the teenager had used up to 40 aliases on the internet and had been barred from Twitter about 150 times.

During Garda (Irish police) interviews, he admitted he had an obsessive compulsive interest in some female journalists.

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Twitter opens access to anti-abuse tool for millions of users

Branequity | Feb 17, 2022

Company Listed: Twitter

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Defunding disinformation

Cosmos Magazine | Feb 18, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media, Google and Facebook Meta

There are a variety of motives for people to peddle misinformation. The Russian government put disinformation to work as part of their expansionist geopolitical aims. The Chinese Communist Party uses it to further entrench their political authority and grow their global influence. Professional influence operators do so as guns for hire on behalf of business and industry, ranging from oil to tobacco to big pharma and many others. Trolls on platforms such as 4chan often do it in service of pure nihilism.

But by far the most common and compelling motivation to spread online disinformation is profit, and it’s led the world to a veritable disinformation crisis.

The biggest global companies are those who provide the machinery to capture and monetise audience attention at scale. Today’s internet is powered by businesses that capture and profit from “clicks and eyeballs”.

Who provides the money for this machine? Sometimes, audiences are monetised through merchandise sales or solicitation of direct donations. Most often, the cash comes from advertising. Advertisers subsidise the web to the tune of more than US$400 billion ($556 billion) a year in digital ad spend. They pay into a complex ecosystem dominated by two outsized ad tech platforms – Google and Facebook (which each take a sizable commission) – and their money ultimately makes its way to content creators and publishers on the open web.

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YouTube to Update Sharing Features to Prevent Videos With Misinformation From Going Viral

TechTimes | Feb 17 ,2022

Company Listed: Youtube

On Feb. 16, YouTube outlined its new plans to tackle misinformation on the platform. Stopping misinformation before it goes viral, addressing misinformation in languages other than English, and limiting cross-platform sharing of misinformation are the three areas of focus, according to YouTube's chief product officer, Neal Mohan. YouTube's attention to cross-platform sharing would limit views of videos that are seen as problematic under the platform's current misinformation guidelines

The video streaming company says adjustments to its recommendation system have reduced the consumption of these borderline videos, but traffic from other sites embedding and linking to these videos remains a problem.

The possible fixes include disabling the share button on the platform or breaking links to videos that have already been suppressed on YouTube.

Warnings that a video could include misinformation are another possible fix and something that the platform employs for graphic and age-restricted content.

In order to stop misinformation from spreading, YouTube is considering larger and more knowledgeable teams and partnerships with non-governmental organizations and local experts.

The platform may also add new labels to videos on emerging, fast-developing topics like natural disasters.

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T&S Policies & Regulations

Regulatory news and policy decisions impacting the T&S ecosystem.

Compare and review T&S Policies for dozens of companies here

Sex for rent' ads to be banned in Online Safety Bill

BBC News | Feb 17, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

Offering housing in exchange for sexual favours is already against the law.

But there has only been one prosecution under current legislation, despite claims the practice is on the rise.

The government says it will bring in new laws to curb "sex for rent" ads as part of its Online Safety Bill, which aims to crack down social media abuse and harmful content.

Minister for Safeguarding Rachel Maclean said the bill will "capture user-to-user sites, where the majority of 'sex for rent' advertising takes place".

A list of offences to be made a priority in the legislation, published earlier this month, includes "controlling, causing or inciting prostitution for gain". Sex for rent will be further tackled in the bill by placing "a duty on certain companies to take action in respect to 'content that is harmful to adults'", Maclean says, in a written answer to a question from Labour MP Barry Sheerman.

One student who had fled an abusive home and had nowhere to live, said she felt she had no other option but to agree to the arrangement.

In response to that investigation, then-Justice Secretary David Lidington said "sex for rent" deals were already a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Crown Prosecution Service guidance was updated to reflect this in January 2019.

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The censorious Online Safety Bill baffles liberal Tories

NewstatesMan | Feb 18, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

Nadine Dorries and Priti Patel want to fix the internet. It certainly needs fixing — no one who has spent more than five minutes online in the last few years could have missed the problems of misinformation, radicalisation, abuse and electoral interference.

The internet enables more serious crimes, too: despite Kwasi Kwarteng’s protestations earlier this month that online fraud isn’t a “day-to-day” crime, it devastates the finances and lives of thousands of Brits every year. The internet also enables the illegal drugs trade and the distribution of images of child sexual exploitation.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the government is seeking to pass its Online Safety Bill. We should, at an absolute minimum, expect the same rights and protection online as we do in the offline world. Given the current global backlash against Big Tech, there are very few people indeed who would say that governments should do absolutely nothing to regulate the internet.

But the Online Safety Bill is a curious beast. It is a grab bag of policies, some of which have now outlasted multiple prime ministers. It includes a requirement for age verification for pornographic content, first passed under David Cameron, then introduced (and quietly shelved) under Theresa May, and now coming back to parliament under Boris Johnson.