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January 27, 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.

YouTube Bars Right-Wing Media Personality Dan Bongino

The New York Times | Jan 26, 2022

Company listed: Youtube

YouTube said on Wednesday that it had terminated accounts associated with Dan Bongino, a popular right-wing radio and Fox News host, nearly two weeks after it first suspended his channel for violating its Covid-19 misinformation policy.

A former New York City police officer and Secret Service agent turned pundit, Mr. Bongino is a vocal critic of vaccine mandates. His posts are consistently among the most read on Facebook. On YouTube, his main Dan Bongino channel had 882,000 subscribers, according to Social Blade, a social media analytics firm.

In a statement on Wednesday, YouTube said one of Mr. Bongino’s accounts had been issued a weeklong suspension on Jan. 14 after he posted a video saying cloth and surgical masks were useless in stopping the spread of Covid — a false claim that violated the company’s misinformation policy.

Last Thursday, before the seven-day suspension had elapsed, a second account associated with Mr. Bongino posted another video that repeated his claim about the efficacy of masks. This again violated the misinformation policy and broke Google’s terms of service for trying to circumvent the original suspension by posting content on a separate channel.

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Outrageous Animated TikTok Ad Shows Pregnant Woman Getting Pushed Off Balcony

PopCrush | Jan 26, 2022

Company Listed: TikTok

A series of bizarre-at-best, offensive-at-worst animated ads for a solitaire phone game are making the rounds on TikTok — and boy, oh boy, do we have questions.

The ads are for a game called Solitaire Home Design, which was created by a company called Betta Games.

Based on the game's app store description, Solitaire Home Design is about two protagonists named Lori and Eddie who take on the daunting challenge of renovating an island. Players are supposedly tasked to help design the place by playing rounds of solitaire (yes, the card game) to move the story along

It's billed as lighthearted, colorful fun and mentally stimulating, but the game's incredibly weird, even morbid ads on TikTok tell a much darker story.

In one particularly mind-boggling ad, two Pixar-esque cartoon women get into an argument while on a balcony. One of them is pregnant, and she is violently pushed to the ground where her water breaks in a clear reference to pregnancy loss.

A second scene shows the woman who was pushed off the balcony moving into an abandoned, derelict home in the middle of a snowstorm. Playing rounds of the card game are supposed to help fix up the house by earning supplies and items such as roofing. Spoiler alert: The character seemingly freezes to death before that can happen.

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Spotify agrees to remove Neil Young's music following Joe Rogan vaccine misinformation complaints

USAToday | Jan 27, 2022

Company Listed: Spotify

Spotify said Wednesday it is working on removing rock legend Neil Young's music from the platform in response to his claims it spreads COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.

Young wrote an open letter on Monday to his manager Frank Gironda and Tom Corson, co-chairman and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. Records, demanding his classic collection of songs be pulled due to the disinformation and specifically called out Spotify's popular podcast host Joe Rogan.

"I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” Young said. "They can have (Joe) Rogan or Young. Not both."

Two days later, Spotify obliged.

"We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators," a Spotify spokesperson said in a statement to USA TODAY Wednesday. "We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon."

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Misinformation on Social Media in India Is Causing Tension Among Families

TeenVouge | Jan 27, 2022

Company Listed: Facebook Meta

On a sunny, cool Sunday last November, protestors gathered at an intersection in Menlo Park, California, outside the headquarters of the company recently renamed Meta. Families chanted “Facebook, Hatebook!” and “Facebook enables genocide!” They carried the American and Indian flags, waving them as cars honked in solidarity at the busy intersection.

Among the signs in the crowd: “Facebook is accomplice to the killings of Muslims in India” and “Facebook, your complicity in enabling Hindutva results in physical violence against Muslims, Dalits, Farmers, Activists.”

The protests, which were held nationwide, were organized to call out content-moderation policies on Facebook and WhatsApp, which Meta owns. Leaked documents obtained by the Associated Press found that Facebook “was selective in curbing hate speech, misinformation, and inflammatory posts” in India, allowing anti-Muslim rhetoric supported by the party of hard-line Hindu-nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi to proliferate. The U.S. protests were held by a coalition of organizations, including the Indian American Muslim Council.

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Twitter Suspended 44K Accounts for Promoting Terrorism, Violent Orgs in First Half of 2021

NewsWeek | Jan 26, 2022

Company Listed: Twitter

In the first six months of 2021, Twitter suspended 44,974 individual accounts for promoting terrorism or violent organizations, according to the social media platform's new transparency report.

Of those accounts, 93 percent were "proactively identified and actioned," the report said.

Twitter began releasing so-called transparency reports in 2012 to give insights on certain data regarding the platform. This newest update, covering January 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, also documented millions of tweet removals.

The company's guidelines on violent organizations prohibit users from promoting terrorism and violent extremism. Certain criteria set by Twitter must be met in order for a collective to be classified as either a violent extremist group or organization, and a given group's actions both on and off the platform are considered in Twitter's assessment, according to the policy.

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Removing online misinformation may do more harm than good, report claims

SiliconRepublic | Jan 27, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

As social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook look to crack down on misinformation on their platforms, a leading group of UK scientists has made an unconventional suggestion: that removing online misinformation may do more harm than good.

Events such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the US Capitol riots last January flung online misinformation into the sphere of public debate, with many agreeing that misleading or inaccurate info, deliberate or otherwise, should be removed from public platforms.

Last month, Meta removed six disinformation networks on its platform, including some that propagated false claims and conspiracy theories around the origin of Covid-19.

However, scientists at the Royal Society in the UK have investigated the phenomenon of online misinformation and concluded that “censoring or removing inaccurate, misleading and false content is not a silver bullet and may undermine the scientific process and public trust”.

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T&S Policies & Regulations

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

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Twitter receives record number of gov’t requests to remove posts

Alijazeera | Jan 26, 2022

Company Listed: Twitter

Twitter has said governments made requests to remove content from a record number of accounts between January and June last year, with 95 percent of the demands coming from five countries.

The social media platform said o