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January 19, 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.

Google, Facebook and Amazon turn blind eye to anti-gay disinformation

OpenDemocracy | Jan 19, 2022

Company Listed: Facebook meta, Amazon, Google, Twitter, Youtube

Digital giants including Amazon, Google, Meta (formerly Facebook), Microsoft, PayPal, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia have failed to clamp down on anti-LGBTQ disinformation about so-called ‘conversion therapy’, a global monitoring group has found.

Two new reports by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) found that search results in languages other than English were much more likely to include disinformation and hate speech. One Wikipedia entry in Swahili compares homosexuality to child rape.

GPAHE, which is based in the US, also said that social media bans for those promoting ‘conversion therapy’ are “toothless”.

All but one of the companies listed above ignored openDemocracy’s requests for comment on these findings. Three (Meta, Twitter, YouTube) faced questions today from MPs in the UK about online safety and abuse.

‘Conversion therapy’ (also called ‘reparative therapy’ or ‘gay cure therapy’) refers to any therapeutic approach or view that assumes that one sexual orientation or gender identity is innately preferable to another, and attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity on that basis. In practice, this means changing people’s orientation or identity to cis gender heterosexuality.

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Big Tech Should Be Responsible for Tackling Online Abuse, Advocate Says

EpochTimes | Jan 18, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

An advocate says Big Tech should take the responsibility to curb abusive content on social media as they “make a heap of money” out of their sites.

It came after the federal government proposed the anti-trolling law, which will force social media platforms to take down offending posts and provide the identity of anonymous posters in some circumstances. However, if the social media company refuses to reveal the real identity of the accused user, it will be held liable for the defamatory comments.

Anti-trolling campaigner and journalist Erin Molan on Tuesday said people can “get absolutely annihilated and torn to shreds” by anonymous trolls, yet seeking help from the social media platforms themselves or law enforcement is “almost impossible.”

“The legislation just hasn’t existed until now… Social media is essentially a protected species in that space and have been for a very long time,” she told the Social Media and Online Safety Committee.

“They make a heap of money out of these platforms, an enormous amount of money… with that comes responsibility.”

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School had ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to ‘Pride harms children’ post, tribunal told

YahooNews | Jan 18. 2022

Company Listed: Twitter

A pastor who tweeted that Pride events were “harmful to children” has said he was forced to leave his job as a caretaker because the school he worked for had a “knee-jerk” reaction to the post.

Keith Waters, 55, claims his role at the Isle of Ely Primary School in Cambridgeshire where he was well-known to children and parents, became “untenable” after the comment in June 2019.

There were three complaints to the school, where his views were branded “extremist”, “abhorrent” and a “disgusting outburst on a very public platform”, but Mr Waters, who has been an evangelical church minister for up to 15 years, told an employment tribunal that his comments were in line with his conservative Christian beliefs.

Mr Waters, from Ely, who is claiming direct and indirect discrimination plus constructive dismissal, believes the school’s investigation of the complaints was flawed because it “applied things that were not to do with the tweet to me”.

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T&S Policies & Regulations

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

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Meta and Twitter want a review of Australian government's social media laws next year | Jan 18, 2022

Company Listed: Facebook meta, Twitter

Meta and Twitter have called for Australia's federal government to review the effectiveness of the country's digital platforms regulation in light of the passing of the Online Safety Act, along with anti-trolling and online privacy laws currently being under consideration.

Both tech giants made these demands in submissions to the Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety, with Twitter writing that the committee should conduct a review of the online safety space in Australia one-year from its initial report, which is due next month.

The Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety was established late last year to inquire into the practices of major technology companies and consider evidence relating to the impact social media platforms have on the mental health of Australians.

The committee's inquiry was approved by the federal government with the intention of building on the proposed social media legislation to "unmask trolls".

Twitter said the recent passing of the Online Safety Act and the government's federal probe only running for three months is not enough time to effectively implement digital platforms legislation.

"With the range of factors that need to considered to holistically advance online safety, we therefore ask for the timeline be extended for the Select Committee Inquiry into Social Media and Online Safety to allow for the effective introduction and implementation of the Online Safety Act 2021 (Cth) and to ensure meaningful consultation with the community," Twitter wrote to the committee.

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Democrats unveil bill to ban online ‘surveillance advertising’

The Verge | Jan 19, 2022

Company Listed: Facebook meta, Google

On Tuesday, Democrats introduced a new bill that would ban nearly all use of digital advertising targeting on ad markets hosted by platforms like Facebook, Google, and other data brokers.

The Banning Surveillance Advertising Act – sponsored by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) – prohibits digital advertisers from targeting any ads to users. It makes some small exceptions, like allowing for “broad” location-based targeting. Contextual advertising, like ads that are specifically matched to online content, would be allowed.

“The ‘surveillance advertising’ business model is premised on the unseemly collection and hoarding of personal data to enable ad targeting,” Eshoo, the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a Tuesday statement. “This pernicious practice allows online platforms to chase user engagement at great cost to our society, and it fuels disinformation, discrimination, voter suppression, privacy abuses, and so many other harms. The surveillance advertising business model is broken.”

If enacted, the bill would radically change Facebook and Google’s business models. For years, lawmakers have debated ways to regulate the tech industry on issues like privacy, disinformation, and content moderation. Eshoo and her co-sponsors argue that the tech industry’s current advertising models incentivize the spread of harmful content and encourage them to amplify damaging posts to keep users on their platforms.

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The Effect of Congressional Antitrust Legislation on Consumers

AmericanActionForum | Jan 19, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

Often, technology companies both operate platforms and act as market participants on those platforms. This dynamic has drawn the attention of some in Congress, and two bills—the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (“AICOA”) and Open App Markets Act—were recently introduced in the Senate to address concerns about self-preferencing by large technology firms to privilege their own products above those of competitors.

Among the self-preferencing behaviors with which Congress is concerned are Google search’s ability to return results for Google’s own apps or products, Amazon selling its AmazonBasics over its online store, and Apple offering its own applications through its app store. Some legislators have expressed concerns that, in these markets, dominant firms can leverage monopoly power in one market to harm competition in another. Despite the concerns about self-preferencing, however, these dynamics do not necessarily harm consumers. Indeed, the efficiencies of integration can often lead to consumer benefits, such as lower prices or the development of useful features.

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Snapchat Adds New Limits on Adults Seeking to Connect with Minors in the App

SocialMediaToday | Jan 19, 2022

Company Listed: Instagram, Snapchat

After Instagram added similar measures last year, Snapchat is now implementing new restrictions to limit adults from sending messages to users under the age of 18 in the app.

As reported by Axios, Snapchat is changing its "Quick Add" friend suggestion process so that it’s not possible for people to add users aged under 18 “unless there are a certain number of friends in common between the two users”. That won’t stop such connection completely, but it does add another barrier in the process, which could reduce harm.

The move is a logical and welcome step, which will help improve the security of youngsters in the app, but the impacts of such could be far more significant on Snap, which is predominantly used by younger people.

Indeed, Snapchat reported last year that around 20% of its total user base was aged under 18, with the majority of its audience being in the 13-24 year-old age bracket. That means that interaction between these age groups is likely a significant element of the Snap experience, and restricting such could have big impacts on overall usage, even if it does offer greater protection for minors.

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T&S Good News

Some of the good news in the T&S industry that leaders want to know

The Successful CISO: How to Build Stakeholder Trust | Jan 18, 2022

Company LIsted: Social Media

If we track the recent progress of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), there’s good reason to wonder if they are headed toward the visibility once reserved for CEOs, given how today’s dramatic security challenges have boosted their profile.

In a relatively short time, we’ve seen cybersecurity move from being an afterthought to become central to business operations. It really wasn’t until the very end of the millennium when the Melissa virus, coupled with the fear of Y2K disasters, launched “hacking” and data security into the public perception.

Since that time—a mere 20 years ago—we’ve seen a rapid evolution of the role of the CISO from a back-office controls and risk mitigation function to one of the most influential voices in the boardroom. CISOs are responsible for guarding against attacks that are not only costly in terms of revenue but also brand reputation.

In an era of rapid digital transformation, the role of the CISO has shifted to that of an “enabler,” helping companies securely move at the speed of the market. It’s not a stretch to assume that as the significance of the role continues to increase, so too will the public interest in the people holding these roles.

In fact, we’re already starting to see this shift as C