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  It's a hard job being an algorithm...

Facebook gets in a censorship mess over whether news picture of Poland's marches are incendiary or newsworthy


Link Here 19th November 2017  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
poland nationalists marchOn 11th November, thousands of people marched in the streets of Warsaw, Poland, to celebrate the country's Independence Day. The march attracted massive numbers of people from the nationalist or far right end of the political spectrum.

The march proved very photogenic, with images showing the scale of the march and also the stylised symbology proved very powerful and thought provoking.

But the images caused problems for the likes of Facebook, on what should be censored and what should not.

Once could argue that the world needs to see what is going on amongst large segments of the population in Poland, and indeed across Europe. Perhaps if they see the popularity of the far right then maybe communities and politicians can be spurred into addressing some of the fundamental societal break downs leading to this mass movement.

On the other hand, there will be those that consider the images to be something that could attract and inspire others to join the cause.

But from just looking at news pictures, it would be hard to know what to think. And that dilemma is exactly what caused confusion amongst censors at Facebook.

Quartz (qz.com ) reports on a collection of such images, published on Facebook by a renowned photojournalist in Poland, that was taken down by the social media's content censors. Chris Niedenthal attended the march to practice his craft, not to participate, and posted his photos on Nov. 12, the day after the march. Facebook took them down. He posted them again the next day. Facebook took them down again on Nov. 14. Niedenthal himself was also blocked from Facebook for 24 hours. The author concludes that a legitimate professional journalist or photojournalist should not be 'punished' for doing his duty.

Facebook told Quartz that the photos, because they contained hate speech symbols, were taken down for violating the platform's community standards policy barring content that shows support for hate groups. The captions on the photos were neutral, so Facebook's moderators could not tell if the person posting them supported, opposed, or was indifferent about hate groups, a spokesperson said. Content shared that condemns or merely documents events can remain up. But that which is interpreted to show support for hate groups is banned and will be removed.

Eventually Facebook allowed the photos to remain on the platform. Facebook apologized for the error, in a message, and in a personal phone call.

 

  Homophobic sensitivities...

After banning gay film festival, Ankara officials have banned all gay events until further notice


Link Here 19th November 2017
pink life queerfest logo The governor's office of the Turkish capital Ankara has banned the public showing of all films, exhibitions and events related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, citing public sensitivities.

Starting from Nov. 18, 2017, any events such as LGBT cinema, theater performances, panels, interviews and exhibitions are banned until further notice in our province, the Ankara Governor's Office stated on Nov. 19.

The authorities in Ankara had banned the German gay film festival called Pink Lige QueerFext on Nov. 15, the day before it was due to start,.

Four movies by German directors were scheduled to be screened as part of the two-day festival, organized jointly by the German Embassy and the Pink Life QueerFest.

Festival organisers said the festival had been attacked on social media.

 

 Offsite Article: All's tickety boo at IPSO...


Link Here 19th November 2017
ipso 2016 logo Guest Blog: New member Nazir Afzal on his first Complaints Committee of the IPSO press complaints organisation

See article from ipso.co.uk

 

  Consulting with child abuse experts in the Vatican...

The BBFC attends a conference on child protection


Link Here 18th November 2017
child dignity in the digital world logo A conference took place in October 2017 in the Vatican in Rome called Child Dignity in the Digital World. The vent describes itself on its website:

This pioneering congress hosted by the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome sets a milestone in the international fight against digital sexual child abuse.

The invitation-only congress brings together distinguished academic experts, business leaders, leaders of civil society, high-level politicians and religious representatives from across the globe. This provides a historic opportunity to set the global agenda for the fight against online sexual child abuse and for child protection in the digital world.

The BBFC's Policy Director David Miles attended the conference and reported bacK

The agenda included presentations from some of the foremost academic researchers on the impact of pornography on children and young people. There was considerable overseas interest in Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act (DEA) and the BBFC's proposed regulatory role under it, with the DEA seen as a potential model for other countries to draw upon.

It was also noted that Miles will recommend following up with experts and country contacts once the BBFC is officially designated as the internet porn censor.

 

  Have I Got News for You...

BBC starts its fortnightly Complaints report service


Link Here 18th November 2017
BBC logoThe BBC has conceded to Ofcom's demand that Complaints Reports should be published each fortnight.

Perhaps as an indication of bad grace, the reports are buried away in a very obscure location on the BBC's website.

Anyway the first report reveals that:

Between 30 October and 12 November2017, BBC Audience Services (Stage 1) received a total of 5,529 complaints about programmes. 8,377 complaints in total were received at Stage 1.

Stage 1 is presumably just an unfiltered list of complaints. Stage 2 seems to be when complaints are selected for BBC investigation. There are further stages when complainants are not satisfied with the BBC response and want to take it further.

The BBC the identifies programmes receiving more than 100 complaints, in this report:

  • Have I Got News For You , BBC One 03/11/2017, 234 complaints
  • Strictly Come Dancing, BBC One 04/11/2017, 206 complaints

The BBC then listed 11 Stage 2 investigations that resulted in 9 complaints that were not upheld and 2 that were partially or fully upheld:

 

 Offsite Article: The injustice of extreme penalties handed out by kangaroo courts of PC hardliners...


Link Here 18th November 2017
Spiked logo Now universities police speech off campus. Watch what you say on Facebook: your Uni might be watching. By Andrew Tettenborn

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 Offsite Article: Robbing the poor to give to the elite...


Link Here 18th November 2017  full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians
Spiked logo The petty prohibitionism of minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland. By Rob Lyons

See article from spiked-online.com

 

  Failing politicians love fake news, they think it is something to blame their failure on...

And the EU loves fake news a lot! And so it is setting up a new censorship body to find even more of it


Link Here 17th November 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states
EU flagThe European Union is in the process of creating an authority to monitor and censor so-called fake news. It is setting up a High-Level 'Expert' Group. The EU is currently consulting media professionals and the public to decide what powers to give to this EU body, which is to begin operation next spring.

The World Socialist Web Site has its own colourful view on the intentions of the body, but I don't suppose it is too far from the truth:

An examination of the EU's announcement shows that it is preparing mass state censorship aimed not at false information, but at news reports or political views that encourage popular opposition to the European ruling class.

It aims to create conditions where unelected authorities control what people can read or say online.

 EU Vice-President Frans Timmermans explained the move in ominous tersm

We live in an era where the flow of information and misinformation has become almost overwhelming. The EU's task is to protect its citizens from fake news and to manage the information they receive.

According to an EU press release, the EU Commission, another unelected body, will select the High-Level Expert Group, which is to start in January 2018 and will work over several months. It will discuss possible future actions to strengthen citizens' access to reliable and verified information and prevent the spread of disinformation online.

Who will decide what views are verified, who is reliable and whose views are disinformation to be deleted from Facebook or removed from Google search results? The EU, of course.

 

  Endorsed as Politically Correct...

Twitter redefines its 'verified' tick qualifications to exclude the politically incorrect


Link Here 17th November 2017  full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs
twitter verified logoTwitter announced yesterday that it would begin removing verification badges for famous tweeters that it does not approve of. Not for what is tweeted, but for offline behaviour Twitter does not like.

The key phrase in Twitter's policy update is this one: Reasons for removal may reflect behaviors on and off Twitter. Before yesterday, the rules explicitly applied only to behavior on Twitter. From now on, holders of verified badges will be held accountable for their behavior in the real world as well. Twitter has promised further information about the new censorship policy in due course.

Many questions remain unanswered. What will the company's review consist of? How will it examine users' offline behavior? Will it simply respond to reports, or will it actively look for violations? Will it handle the work with its existing team, or will it expand its trust and safety team?

Twitter has immediately rescinded blue tick verification from accounts belonging to far-right activists, including Jason Kessler, a US white supremacist, and Tommy Robinson, founder of the English Defence League.

 

  Sexist, degrading, and objectifying...

ASA recommends banned Godwin Smith shoe advert


Link Here 17th November 2017

godwin smith fancy a pair campaignAds for Goodwin Smith Shoes seen in August 2017:

  • a. An email included the claim Fancy a pair? and was accompanied by an image of three women wearing just knickers, with one woman's breasts exposed, the second covering her chest with her arm with her nipple exposed and the third posed in front of the others holding a pair of shoes over her chest. Above the image was the company tag line Bucking good shoes.

  • b. The company's own website www.goodwinsmith.co.uk, included the claim Fancy a pair? and was accompanied by an image of two women who were topless, wearing only knickers and covering their breasts with shoes.

  • c. A Facebook post seen on their own page included the text Watch the explicit campaign video on Youtube now accompanied by an image of three woman wearing just knickers, two women covered their breasts with shoes and the third covered her breasts with her arm.

  • d. A Facebook post seen on their own page included the text Watch the full [no under 18] version on Youtube now and featured the not suitable for under 18s emoji. Underneath was a still image of a video that featured a woman wearing black underwear on her knees in front of a fully clothed man who was holding a plastic machine which released paper money notes in quick succession at her face.

  • e. An email titled WE DID WARN YOU, which included the not suitable for under 18s emoji, showed an image of three women and three men. One of the women was topless and wore a saxophone around her neck. A second woman wore just a pair of knickers, high heels and a foam finger. She was pressed against a man and was slightly bent over showing her bare buttocks. The three men were fully clothed. Above the image was the company tag line Bucking good shoes.

  • f. A Youtube video appearing on Goodwin Smith's channel, titled FANCY A PAIR? (EXPLICIT VERSION) AW17. Before the video played, text appeared which stated Sign in to confirm your age. This video may be inappropriate for some users. The video contained three women and three men. For the duration of the video, the men remained fully clothed. In some scenes, the three women wore black lingerie and in others they were topless, wearing nude thongs and high heels. Throughout the ad the women were dancing and interacting with the men. One shot featured a topless woman with the phrase FANCY A PAIR? written on the screen. Other scenes included: a woman on her knees facing a man who was using a machine to shoot paper money notes into the woman's face; a topless woman serving a man a drink; and men shaking up a bottle of liquid, then spraying it across the room.

Nine complainants challenged whether the ads were offensive because they were sexist, objectifying women, and degrading to women.

Redfoot Shoes Ltd t/a Goodwin Smith said that the campaign had attempted to portray a fantasy concept in which the men were portrayed as being confident; this was not meant to degrade women. They also said that their typical consumer was men aged between 22 and 45 years, with an interest in sport and other luxury brands associated with clothing and lifestyle. The ads had been formulated specifically for potential consumers within their target demographic, therefore they felt the platforms used to promote the campaign would only been seen by consumers who had actively chosen to receive or view the content. They provided evidence of the impact of their social media posts and stated that some of their most popular posts featured photographs of women in provocative poses. Based on this history, they believed they provided a marketing campaign that would be well received by their customers. They also informed us that there were two versions of the video and the version featuring the women topless came with a warning of the explicit content.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA considered that a number of scenes in ad (f), such as the opening shot of a topless blonde woman with the phrase FANCY A PAIR? shown on screen and the shot with a woman in her underwear on all fours with the product on her back, were sexually suggestive and that for most of the video the women danced in a seductive manner.

We considered that in the ads the men were portrayed in a manner viewers were likely to interpret to mean that they were successful, suave and aspirational. For example, during ad (f) they were smartly dressed and well groomed, were consistently seen to be confidently interacting with the women, and had their names appearing on-screen with aspirational character descriptions, such as the ladies man[sic], the baller and the rebel. In contrast, we considered the women to have been portrayed in a subservient position -- for example, throughout the video the men remained fully clothed, whereas the women wore either only a nude coloured thong or a lingerie set. Scenes included one shot in which a woman was seen serving a man alcohol whilst just wearing a thong and in another in which a woman was on her knees facing a man who was using a machine to shoot banknotes into her face. We considered the general content of ad (f), and those scenes in ad (f) in particular, to be both sexually suggestive and degrading to women, and therefore likely to cause serious offence.

Goodwin Smith acknowledged that the ad was explicit and stated they had highlighted this feature of the campaign in ads (c)--(e) using phrases such as We did warn you accompanied by the not suitable for under 18s emoji and Watch the explicit campaign video on Youtube now. We considered ads (a)--(e) were similar in style to ad (f) -- for example, the ads included images such as two women in their underwear covering their breasts with the shoes. We considered that topless and lingerie-clad women were irrelevant to the shoes being advertised and that the general tone of the ads was also both sexually suggestive and degrading to women. We did not think that the warnings provided were sufficient to counter the likely offence caused by the scenes in the ad.

Because the ads were sexist, degrading to women, and objectifying women, we considered that they were likely to cause serious and widespread offence, including to Goodwin Smith's potential customer base. We concluded they were therefore in breach of the Code.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Goodwin Smith to ensure that in the future their ads were socially responsible and that they did not objectify women.

 

  More EU censorship legislation for the benefit of multinational companies...

The European Union enacts new regulation enabling the blocking of websites without judicial oversight


Link Here 16th November 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states
EU flagThe European Union voted on November 14, to pass the new internet censorship regulation nominally in the name of consumer protection. But of course censorship often hides behind consumer protection, eg the UK's upcoming internet porn ban is enacted in the name of protecting under 18 internet consumers.

The new EU-wide law gives extra power to national consumer protection agencies, but which also contains a vaguely worded clause that also grants them the power to block and take down websites without judicial oversight.

Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda said in a speech in the European Parliament Plenary during a last ditch effort to amend the law:

The new law establishes overreaching Internet blocking measures that are neither proportionate nor suitable for the goal of protecting consumers and come without mandatory judicial oversight,

According to the new rules, national consumer protection authorities can order any unspecified third party to block access to websites without requiring judicial authorization, Reda added later in the day on her blog .

This new law is an EU regulation and not a directive, meaning its obligatory for all EU states.

The new law proposal started out with good intentions, but sometimes in the spring of 2017, the proposed regulation received a series of amendments that watered down some consumer protections but kept intact the provisions that ensured national consumer protection agencies can go after and block or take down websites.

Presumably multinational companies had been lobbying for new weapons n their battle against copyright infringement. For instance, the new law gives national consumer protection agencies the legal power to inquire and obtain information about domain owners from registrars and Internet Service Providers.

Besides the website blocking clause, authorities will also be able to request information from banks to detect the identity of the responsible trader, to freeze assets, and to carry out mystery shopping to check geographical discrimination or after-sales conditions.

 

  X-Files Season 4 Episode 2 mutated...

Following up on a censored version shown on Netflix


Link Here 16th November 2017
The X Files: Season 4 DVD The X-files Season 4 Episode 2:  Home is a 1996 USA Sci-Fi mystery TV episode by Kim Manners.
Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Tucker Smallwood. BBFC link IMDb

I have revisited the first 9 series of X-Files. They were shown in widescreen recently on on Netflix, but Netflix showed the audio censored network version of the highly controversial episode from Season 4 called Home. This features inbred mutant like creatures burying an infant (a product of incest) at the start of the episode.

The baby's cries and distress as it is buried alive are clearly missing, thus conveying that it is being buried dead instead of alive. The original cries of distress had stirred American TV censors into muting the audio for future releases.

I investigated further and have confirmed that all Region 1 DVD releases are censored as well as all-region Blu ray releases to date. Only the older UK PAL R2 DVD shows the full version, giving the viewer the option of playing the episode with or without the baby's screams!

Also any buyer of the re-mastered Blu-ray set should be warned to only buy the 2nd release. The 1st release showed some mastering errors in Season 8, described as 'crushing of dark colours'. Stockists offered replacement discs to purchasers of the 1st issue from new corrected stock. See also details mastering errors at xfilesvault.com

 

  'Outrage' at Greggs sausage roll nativity...

God rest you merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay. Remember Greggs and savour...cream horn on Christmas day


Link Here 16th November 2017

greggs nativiyThe bakery chain Greggs has apologised for offending Christians with a nativity scene advert that replaces Jesus with a sausage roll.

Greggs released the image to promote its £24 advent calendar. Its decision to use an image depicting the three wise men gathering round a crib containing a sausage roll sparked criticism from a few Twitter users and religious groups.

The chief executive of the Freedom Association, a rightwing campaign group, claimed the advert was sick and that the retailer would never dare insult other religions.

The Rev Mark Edwards, of St Matthew's church in Dinnington and St Cuthbert's church in Brunswick, said Greggs had been disrespectful. He told the Chronicle:

It goes beyond just commercialism, it's showing a total disregard and disrespect towards one of the greatest stories ever told, and I think people of all faiths will be offended by this.

Daniel Webster, a spokesperson for the Evangelical Alliance, said:

Putting a sausage roll in the manger of a nativity scene seems to be manufacturing a scandal to sell baked goods and neglecting the real scandal of Christmas. Every year some company creates a Christmas controversy for commercial gain; it seems to get earlier each year.

 

  Distressing censorship...

ASA bans Royal Mail bank raid video advert from post watershed video on demand


Link Here 15th November 2017

royal mail heist video A paid-for video ad on Twitter and a Video On Demand (VOD) ad for Royal Mail:

a. The video ad on Twitter, seen on 27 July 2017, featured a scene with customers and staff in a bank. A short while later a gang of men in balaclavas with baseball bats entered the bank and shouted, This is a robbery. The staff and customers in the bank were made to get on their knees with their hands held up and were threatened with the baseball bats. One female member of staff was grabbed repeatedly by the shoulder and the wrist and asked her full name and date of birth by one of the assailants. Other customers were asked similar questions about their personal identity, passwords and log-in details, while a member of the gang appeared to type the information on a hand-held electronic tablet. One customer offered a gang member money to which he said, We don't want your money. Throughout the scene the members of the public, which included a child, were shouted at aggressively by the assailants, appeared scared and some were crying. One gang member asked another, Got it? they replied, Got it all, after which the gang left the bank. On-screen text stated Your identity is now your most valuable possession. Text at the end of the ad stated, LET'S BEAT IDENTITY FRAUD followed by text that stated Visit our ID Fraud Centre for help and advice, accompanied by the Royal Mail logo and the text, The future in safe hands.

b. The VOD ad, seen on ITV Player on 9 August 2017 at approximately 9.00 pm during an episode of Coronation Street, was the same as ad (a).

Seven complainants challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were likely to cause fear and distress without justifiable reason, particularly for those who had been victims of violence, and whether ad (b) was inappropriately placed at a time when children could have been viewing.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA noted that Royal Mail had sought and followed advice regarding the ad's placement from Clearcast and CAP's Copy Advice team, and acknowledged that the ad had not been shown on VOD before 9 pm. We concluded therefore, that it was unlikely that children had seen ad (b).

We acknowledged that identity fraud was a growing problem and it was important that steps were taken to inform the general public about how serious it was and how they could protect themselves. While we understood that the scenario of a bank robbery was chosen to emphasise the seriousness of the crime, we noted that this was not among the common scenarios in which identity fraud was perpetrated. As a result, we considered that consumers would not be able to clearly see from the ad how they could protect themselves, for example by avoiding certain actions that could make them potentially vulnerable to identity fraud. We noted the ads' reference to the Royal Mail's ID fraud centre, but it did not appear until the very end of the ad, during which time the scenario was presented without explanation or context.

Furthermore, because the setting of the ad was recognisable and showed ordinary people, including a child, being shouted at aggressively by criminals, lying on the floor and trying to hide behind furniture, and looking visibly frightened, the impact was heightened and there was an added sense of threat. Because of this, we considered it to be reminiscent of other crimes or situations that people may have experienced that extends beyond the bank robbery depicted and therefore could trigger negative emotions for those who had been victims of violence. We did not consider that the use of baseball bats made the ad less violent than if knives and guns had been used, as the bats were often shown held in a threatening manner by the criminals or positioned next to customers heads.

We understood Royal Mail and ITV's view that the ad served to highlight a serious and growing crime and to assist customers to find information to protect themselves. We noted from the results of the test sample of viewers that the ad may have increased ID fraud awareness for those who had seen it. We also noted that Royal Mail had amended the Twitter ad so that a warning appeared accompanying the video and that they did not intend to use the ad again. However, we considered that the overall presentation of the ads, as seen by the complainants, was excessively threatening and distressing to the extent that it overshadowed the message the ad intended to convey. We concluded the ad was likely to cause fear and distress to viewers, in particular to victims of violence, without a justifiable reason.

We told Royal Mail to ensure that in future their ads did not cause fear or distress without justifiable reason.

 

  Ofcom threatened to light Gunpowder under the BBC's arse...

The BBC set to start producing viewer complaint figures once a fortnight


Link Here 15th November 2017

BBC logoThe BBC is to publish detailed information about the complaints it receives from viewers after Ofcom , the TV censor, demanded that the corporation become more transparent.

Under new rules the BBC will have to reveal the number of complaints it receives every fortnight, identify the shows that received more than 100 complaints, and explain the editorial issues raised by the complaints and whether they were upheld.

Ofcom's demand has prompted an angry response from the BBC, which initially fought against publishing the figures amid concerns that it would be expensive and time-consuming.

The BBC is expected to publish the first wave of information about complaints under the new system within the next few days.

 

  Freedom On the Net 2017...

Freedom house reports on the international emergence of new censorship trends such as employing social media discussion manipulators


Link Here 15th November 2017

freedom on the net 2017 Governments around the world are dramatically increasing their efforts to manipulate information on social media, threatening the notion of the internet as a liberating technology, according to Freedom on the Net 201 7 , the latest edition of the annual country-by-country assessment of online freedom, released today by Freedom House.

Online manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 18 countries over the past year, including the United States, damaging citizens' ability to choose their leaders based on factual news and authentic debate. The content manipulation contributed to a seventh consecutive year of overall decline in internet freedom, along with a rise in disruptions to mobile internet service and increases in physical and technical attacks on human rights defenders and independent media.

"The use of paid commentators and political bots to spread government propaganda was pioneered by China and Russia but has now gone global," said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. "The effects of these rapidly spreading techniques on democracy and civic activism are potentially devastating."

"Governments are now using social media to suppress dissent and advance an antidemocratic agenda," said Sanja Kelly, director of the Freedom on the Net project. "Not only is this manipulation difficult to detect, it is more difficult to combat than other types of censorship, such as website blocking, because it's dispersed and because of the sheer number of people and bots deployed to do it."

"The fabrication of grassroots support for government policies on social media creates a closed loop in which the regime essentially endorses itself, leaving independent groups and ordinary citizens on the outside," Kelly said.

Freedom on the Net 2017 assesses internet freedom in 65 countries, accounting for 87 percent of internet users worldwide. The report primarily focuses on developments that occurred between June 2016 and May 2017, although some more recent events are included as well.

Governments in a total of 30 countries deployed some form of manipulation to distort online information, up from 23 the previous year. Paid commentators, trolls, bots, false news sites, and propaganda outlets were among the techniques used by leaders to inflate their popular support and essentially endorse themselves.

In the Philippines, members of a "keyboard army" are tasked with amplifying the impression of widespread support of the government's brutal crackdown on the drug trade. Meanwhile, in Turkey, reportedly 6,000 people have been enlisted by the ruling party to counter government opponents on social media.

Most governments targeted public opinion within their own borders, but others sought to expand their interests abroad--exemplified by a Russian disinformation campaign to influence the American election. Fake news and aggressive trolling of journalists both during and after the presidential election contributed to a score decline in the United States' otherwise generally free environment.

Governments in at least 14 countries actually restricted internet freedom in a bid to address content manipulation. Ukrainian authorities, for example, blocked Russia-based services, including the country's most widely used social network and search engine, after Russian agents flooded social media with fabricated stories advancing the Kremlin's narrative.

"When trying to combat online manipulation from abroad, it is important for countries not to overreach," Kelly said. "The solution to manipulation and disinformation lies not in censoring websites but in teaching citizens how to detect fake news and commentary. Democracies should ensure that the source of political advertising online is at least as transparent online as it is offline."

For the third consecutive year, China was the world's worst abuser of internet freedom, followed by Syria and Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, the government shut down mobile networks for nearly two months as part of a state of emergency declared in October 2016 amid large-scale antigovernment protests.

Less than one-quarter of the world's internet users reside in countries where the internet is designated Free, meaning there are no major obstacles to access, onerous restrictions on content, or serious violations of user rights in the form of unchecked surveillance or unjust repercussions for legitimate speech.

Key Findings

  • Governments manipulated social media to undermine democracy : Governments in 30 countries of the 65 countries assessed attempted to control online discussions. The practice has become significantly more widespread and technically sophisticated over last few years.

  • State censors targeted mobile connectivity : An increasing number of governments have restricted mobile internet service for political or security reasons. Half of all internet shutdowns in the past year were specific to mobile connectivity, with most others affecting mobile and fixed-line service simultaneously. Most mobile shutdowns occurred in areas populated with ethnic or religious minorities such as Tibetan areas in China and Oromo areas in Ethiopia.

  • More governments restricted live video : As live video gained popularity with the emergence of platforms like Facebook Live, and Snapchat's Live Stories internet users faced restrictions or attacks for live streaming in at least nine countries, often to prevent streaming of antigovernment protests. Countries likes Belarus disrupted mobile connectivity to prevent livestreamed images from reaching mass audience.

  • Technical attacks against news outlets, opposition, and rights defenders increased: Cyberattacks against government critics were documented in 34 out of 65 countries. Many governments took additional steps to restrict encryption, leaving citizens further exposed.

  • New restrictions on virtual private networks (VPNs) : 14 countries now restrict tools used to circumvent censorship in some form and six countries introduced new restrictions, either legal bans or technical blocks on VPN websites or network traffic.

  • Physical attacks against netizens and online journalists expanded dramatically : The number of countries that featured physical reprisals for online speech increased by 50 percent over the past year--from 20 to 30 of the countries assessed. In eight countries, people were murdered for their online expression. In Jordan, a Christian cartoonist was murdered for mocking Islamist militants' vision of heaven, while in Myanmar, a journalist was murdered after posting on Facebook notes that alleged corruption.

Since June 2016, 32 of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net saw internet freedom deteriorate. Most notable declines were documented in Ukraine, Egypt, and Turkey.

 

  Can PC really dictate the words that people use?...

The Runnymede Trust proposes a new meaning for the word 'Islamophobia'


Link Here 15th November 2017
islamaphobia still a challengeThe Runnymede Trust is a campaign group seeking racial equality in the UK. It describes its approach as:

In order to effectively overcome racial inequality in our society, we believe that our democratic dialogue, policy, and practice, should all be based on reliable evidence from rigorous research and thorough analysis.

The group has just issued a report on a range of issues that it gathers together under the title of Islamophobia. It notes that the term has a wide range of meanings but proposes a new and more tightly defined pair of definitions:

  • Short definition: Islamophobia is anti-Muslim racism.
  • Longer definition: Islamophobia is any distinction, exclusion, or restriction towards, or preference against, Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslims) that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

It is interesting to consider the concept of massively changing the meaning of a word to suit the purposes of a political campaign group. The meaning of words belong to the people that use them, not to the dictates of a political campaign group.

Political correctness tries to impose a lot of 'correct' terms for people, or groups of people. But language has a lot of defences against unnatural imposition. Words can be intonated to add 'quotes' to imply ironic usage. Also out of place words prompt the listener to ask 'why was that unexpected formal word being used'? What are they getting at?. Perhaps it could mean a telling off for previous wrong speak in the conversation, or perhaps it is a warning that PC sensitive issues would be best avoided.

And of course if a formally imposed polite word eventually becomes the norm it loses the politeness of formality, and can then be used in a disparaging way, and so we have to start work evolving a new polite word.

So if political correctness demands that the word 'Islamophobia' is used as an accusation of racism, then surely the word will forever be  used in quotes to show that people consider this an accusation too far. And of course it is not beyond the wit of man to dream up a few new words to replace it, maybe even a more positive term meaning reasonable criticism of Islam.

 

  PC seems to be fermenting division and intolerance...

US college bans a performance of Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan


Link Here 15th November 2017
The Good Person Of Szechwan Bosses of Knox College in Illinois have banned a student play in the name of political correctness. A few easily offended students had whinged about a performance of Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan, saying that it was too white and racially insensitive.

Peter Bailley, a Knox College spokesman said that campus leaders are proud of the open dialog between our students and faculty.

The play, which is about a Chinese sex worker who seeks to do good deeds, drew complaints that it stereotypes Asian women and that it engages in whitewashing because whites would be cast in nonwhite roles.

The Knox Student newspaper editorial board calling the play racist and the department very white ... like many departments at Knox. The editorial continued:

The theatre department ... needs to acknowledge that they are coming from a place of privilege and prejudice. They need to listen to their students when they voice their concerns about not only the plays the department produces, but interactions with insensitive faculty and problematic syllabi,

[I can now see where the US counter campaign is coming from with its posters proclaiming simply: It's OK to be white].

 

 Offsite Article: Way too little, way too late...


Link Here 15th November 2017  full story: Fake News...Declining respect for the authorities is blamed on 'fake' news
Facebook logo Facebook's factcheckers say effort is failing, (and that Facebook should be hiring armies of well paid journalists to combat 'fake news')

See article from theguardian.com

 

  Fake accusations...

More failing politicians clutch at straws blaming their unpopularity on 'fake news' rather than their own failures


Link Here 14th November 2017
Theresa MayTheresa May has made a speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet saying that fake news and Russian propaganda are threatening the international order. She said:

It is seeking to weaponise information. Deploying its state-run media organisations to plant fake stories and photo-shopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the west and undermine our institutions.

The UK did not want to return to the Cold War, or to be in a state of perpetual confrontation but the UK would have to act to protect the interests of the UK, Europe and rest of the world if Russia continues on its current path.

May did not say whether she was concerned with Russian intervention in any UK democratic processes, but Ben Bradshaw, a leading Labour MP, is among those to have called for a judge-led inquiry into the possibility that Moscow tried to influence the result of the Brexit referendum.

Russia has been accused of running troll factories that disseminate fake news and divisive posts on social media. It emerged on Monday that a Russian bot account was one of those that shared a viral image that claimed a Muslim woman ignored victims of the Westminster terror attack as she walked across the bridge.

Surely declining wealth and poor economic prospects are a more likely root cause of public discontent rather than a little trivial propaganda.

 

 Obituary: Jeremy Hutchinson...

Barrister who notably defended Lady Chatterley's Love in precedent setting obscenity trial


Link Here 14th November 2017
"Lady Chatterley's Lover" Trial: Regina Versus Penguin Books, Ltd. For a quarter of a century, from 1960 until 1985, Jeremy Hutchinson, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, who has died aged 102, was the finest silk in practice at the criminal bar. He defended Lady Chatterley , Fanny Hill and Christine Keeler (Keeler in the flesh), the atom spy George Blake, and then Brian Roberts, the editor of the Daily Telegraph, and later the journalist Duncan Campbell in two cases that led to reform of the Official Secrets Act.

He added a service to the arts by ending the cultural vandalism of Mary Whitehouse, whose attempt in 1982 to prosecute the National Theatre for staging Howard Brenton's The Romans in Britain collapsed after his (and the Old Bailey's) most remarkable cross-examination.

... see an excellent article from theguardian.com outlining some of Hutchinson major successes.

 

 Offsite Article: Should Content Featuring Sexual Predators Be Removed?...


Link Here 14th November 2017
Louie - Season 1 DVD And who decides how much collateral damage should be inflicted on innocent associates and investors?

See article from newsweek.com

 

  Australian puppets dance for their Chinese masters...

Chinese pressure, or fear of Chinese pressure, gets an Australian book dropped by Australian publishers


Link Here 13th November 2017

Silencing Dissent: How the Australian government is controlling public opinion and stifling debate The leading book publisher in Australia, Allen & Unwin, has dropped a book about the influence of China's Communist Party in Australia's domestic affairs, due to censorship pressure from China, or maybe from  the fear of Chinese action against the publisher..

In a decision likened to the recent decision by Cambridge University Press to restrict access to sensitive China-related articles, the release of the forthcoming book, Clive Hamilton's Silent Invasion: How China is Turning Australia into a Puppet State was shelved by the publisher over concerns about potential legal action by China.

The author and a prominent Australian academic, said the decision by Allen & Unwin demonstrated the extent of the shadow cast by Beijing.

It is believed to be the first time that a publisher has suspended publication of a book in a Western market because of fears of potential pressure from Beijing.

We as Australians living in a free society should not allow ourselves to be bullied into silence by an autocratic foreign power, Professor Hamilton told ABC News.

In a statement, Allen & Unwin said it decided to delay publication following extensive legal advice. Clive was unwilling to delay publication and requested the return of his rights, as he is entitled to do, it said. We continue to wish him the best of luck with the book.

 

  Strange Adventures from Darkest PC Land...

Chidren's daycare centre get into trouble of the reading of a Pippi Longstocking story in a Swedish library


Link Here 13th November 2017
Pippi in the South Seas A Swedish daycare centre's trip to the local library in Borås took an unexpected turn recently and ended in a police report being filled over racial agitation.

According to GT, Expressen, the daycare children were listening to a CD of various Pippi Longstocking stories when another library user became 'offended' by the description of Pippi's father as a 'Negro king' and ludicrously filed a formal complaint with police. It was noted that there were children of various ethnic backgrounds among the daycare group.

The head of the daycare institute, Marie Gerdin, described the incident as "sad" and said she had assumed that the library materials were appropriate for children.

After the police report was referred to the chancellor of justice, it was sensibly determined that there would be no further action.

The first four Pippi books were published between 1945 and 1948 and in addition to the description of Pippi's father as a "Negro king", the titular character is also at times referred to as a "Negro princess". The title was earned in the originals when Pippi's father proved a hit amongst natives during an adventure in the South Seas. English translations have 'translated' the father's title to the 'fat white chief' and refer to Pippi as the 'fat white chief's daughter'.

 

 Offsite Article: BBFC Podcast Episode 75: Do the Right Thing...


Link Here 13th November 2017
Criterion Collection: Do the Right Thing DVD The BBFC talks about classification issues and the change from 18 to 15.

See article from bbfc.co.uk

 

  Twas the night before Puntmas...

When some Christians were stirred, claiming twas blasphemy that they'd heard


Link Here 12th November 2017
puntmas Australia's advert censor has dismissed a swath of complaints about supposedly offensive Sportsbet adverts that some felt denigrated Christians.

A Sportsbet advertising campaign which used the word Puntmas to describe the racing season has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Bureau following complaints of blasphemy.

The ads feature four men at the racetrack, humming and singing Christmas carols, with a voiceover promoting a new feature of the betting app which allows users to cancel their bets. They end with an appearance from former sprinter Ben Johnson who featured in an earlier ad for the bookmaker which was banned for making light of drug use .

The Advertising Standards Board received a number of complaints, many of which took issue with the association of Christmas and gambling. For them to use it in a gambling ad reaches new lows in the gambling industry, one complaint read.

Regrettably, we live in an era where it has become acceptable to denigrate our Christian heritage, another said. This advertisement deliberately tries to associate gambling with the spirit of Christmas. No doubt gambling will ruin Christmas for many families this year. I find this ad to be in very poor taste.

One person said it was beyond offensive to associate betting with one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, while another said they especially don't want my children to recognise the tune and start to relate Christmas and gambling.

In its response, Sportsbet rejected that the ads in any way discriminated against or vilified any section of the community on account of religion.

The Advertising Standards Board sided with Sportsbet, dismissing the complaints. In its determination, it said many members of the community consider Christmas as a cultural holiday more so than a religious one. [Though] Christmas has significant meaning to some, the use of 'Puntmas' in the context of a promotion of a gambling product may be considered tasteless but such a connection of words does not denigrate Christianity or Christians, the ASB said.

 

  Theatre censors...

Israel shuts down the Palestinian National Theatre


Link Here 12th November 2017
aplestine national theatre logoOn 27 September 2017, Israeli authorities shut down the el-Hakawati Theatre (also known as the Palestinian National Theatre), preventing the holding of a cultural event, which included concerts by three music groups, on the grounds that it was sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, reported Quds Press .

Authorities hung a notice on the theatre door that said: Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan ordered the closure of the Hakawati theatre after receiving information about a cultural event entitled Arabs expelled from their homes in 1948 and 1967 , under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.

Awad Salameh, member of the Jerusalem District of Fatah, said that authorities are oppressing Palestinians in Jerusalem and preventing them from establishing any cultural and educational artistic activity. He said they always raise the argument that the activity is under the auspices of the Palestinian National Authority, reported Alhaya .

The three music groups scheduled to perform at the September 2017 event were The Mount of Olives Folklore Band, Jerusalem Folklore Band and Riwaq Folklore Band.

 

 Offsite Article: Facebook consider robin red 'breast' Christmas card to be adult content...


Link Here 12th November 2017  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
robin red breast If Facebook are going to mess around with people's livelihoods with shoddy algorithms, then they should at least set up an appeal system that they actually respond to

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

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