2H 2017 & Q1 2018 Quick Links, Part 4: Censorship, Content Moderation


Spotlight on China

* NY Times: China’s Internet Censors Play a Tougher Game of Cat and Mouse

* Reuters: China’s Weibo looks to reward citizen censors with iPhones, tablets

* NY Times: 68 Things You Cannot Say on China’s Internet

* NY Times: China Blocks WhatsApp, Broadening Online Censorship

* Wired: Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens


* IMDB.com, Inc. v. Becerra, 3:16-cv-06535-VC (N.D. Cal. Feb . 20, 2018): “Applying the proper level of scrutiny, AB 1687 is clearly unconstitutional. The law on its face singles out specific, non-commercial content – age-related information – for differential treatment. As such, AB 1687 is constitutional only if it survives strict scrutiny…. even crediting the defendants’ assertion that there is some causal link between the availability of age information on IMDb.com and age discrimination, demonstrating a causal relationship, without more, is not enough to carry the state’s burden to justify a content based restriction on IMDb’s speech. Regulation of speech must be a last resort.”

* Daily Beast: How a billionaire can destroy a media company. One shocking tidbit: Backed by Thiel, Hulk Hogan’s lawyers uses expensive mock trials to identify that overweight women were most likely to award big damages in nonconsensual pornography cases.

* EFF: State Lawmakers Want to Block Pornography at the Expense of Your Free Speech, Privacy, and Hard-Earned Cash. The state model law, the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act,” is a horrible policy proposal

* ProPublica: Governors and Federal Agencies Are Blocking Nearly 1,300 Accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Related: EFF: When Tweets Are Governmental Business, Officials Don’t Get to Pick and Choose Who Gets To Receive, Comment On, And Reply to Them. That Goes For the President, Too

Rest of the World

* Vice: How Russia Polices Yandex, Its Most Popular Search Engine

* Perret v. Handshoe, 2018 WL 313093 (5th Cir. Jan. 5, 2018):

The district court found that it had removal jurisdiction under § 4103 of the SPEECH Act, which permits removal of state court actions to enforce foreign defamation judgments where “any plaintiff is a foreign state or a citizen or subject of a foreign state and any defendant is a citizen of a State.” Appellants argue that the district court’s finding is not supported by the record. We disagree for the reasons set forth below.

Appellants themselves filed affidavits into the record stating that Trout Point Lodge, Ltd. was a Canadian corporation operating only in Canada. The record likewise contained several documents, including an affidavit from Appellants’ former counsel, a transcript of the default judgment hearing in Nova Scotia, and various e-mails indicating that Handshoe was a Mississippi domiciliary operating his business in Mississippi. Because diversity under § 4103 exists where, as here, a plaintiff is a Canadian citizen and a defendant is a Mississippi citizen, we reject Appellants’ argument that the district court’s finding was not supported by the record.

* Offshore Journalism (June 2017): “public opinion in many democratic countries seems increasingly ready to accept measures in the digital universe that would have been unacceptable in the analog world: mandated edits, de-indexing and de-linking (e.g: limiting “circulation”) or outright forced cancellation, be it of provisional or permanent nature.”

* British Columbia (Attorney General) v. Brecknell, 2018 BCCA 5 (CanLII)

In the second place, in the Internet era it is formalistic and artificial to draw a distinction between physical and virtual presence. Corporate persons, as I have noted, can exist in more than one place at the same time. With respect, I do not think anything turns on whether the corporate person in the jurisdiction has a physical or only a virtual presence. To draw on and rely on such a distinction would defeat the purpose of the legislation and ignore the realities of modern day electronic commerce. Moreover, the current facts illustrate the doubtful relevance of the distinction. Craigslist’s virtual presence is closely connected to the circumstances of the alleged offence, because at least some elements of the alleged offence were facilitated by relying on the services Craigslist provides virtually. In terms of the alleged offence, any physical presence Craigslist may have in the jurisdiction is beside the point. A corporate entity’s physical presence may have nothing to do with the circumstances of an offence. In my view, it would be curious if the presence of a retail outlet which is totally unrelated to the acquisition of information sought by a production order would ground a jurisdiction that did not otherwise exist.

Content Moderation and the Internet Companies’ Fight Against Objectionable Content

* WSJ: ACLU Will No Longer Defend Hate Groups Protesting With Firearms

* Washington Post: How the alt-right got kicked offline after Charlottesville — from Uber to Google

* EFF: Fighting Neo-Nazis and the Future of Free Expression

* Washington Post: Silicon Valley escalates its war on white supremacy despite free speech concerns

* NY Times: This Was the Alt-Right’s Favorite Chat App. Then Came Charlottesville.

* Vanity Fair: Can Silicon Valley Disrupt Its Neo-Nazi Problem?

* Bloomberg: Google Begins Biggest Crackdown on Extremist YouTube Videos

* YouTube: An update on our commitment to fight violent extremist content online

* Glenn Greenwald: Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments

* CloudFlare: Why We Terminated Daily Stormer

* NY Times: How Hate Groups Forced Online Platforms to Reveal Their True Nature

* NY Times: YouTube Removes Videos Showing Atrocities in Syria

* NY Times: After Charlottesville, Even Dating Apps Are Cracking Down on Hate

* Techdirt: Nazis, The Internet, Policing Content And Free Speech

* Slate: Twitter Is Rethinking Everything. At Last.

* Techdirt: Once Again, Rather Than Deleting Terrorist Propaganda, YouTube Deletes Evidence Of War Crimes

* Wired: How Bored Panda Survived Facebook’s Clickbait Purge

* NY Times: Reddit Limits Noxious Content by Giving Trolls Fewer Places to Gather

* Vice: The Reddit Moderator Getting a PhD in Online Moderation

* Boing Boing: Film of U.S. Army destroying Nuremberg swastika violates YouTube’s policy on hate speech

* NY Times: Hacks That Help: Using Tech to Fight Child Exploitation

* Google: Working together to combat terrorists online

* Business Insider: Google Shopping bans searches for ‘water guns’ and ‘Guns N Roses’ — but you can still look for ‘bombs’ and ‘poison’

* CNBC: Facebook shuts down 1 million accounts per day but can’t stop all ‘threat actors,’ security chief says

* Quartz: These simple design tricks can help diminish hate speech online

* Cyberleagle: Towards a filtered internet: the European Commission’s automated prior restraint machine

* Reuters: Social media companies accelerate removals of online hate speech: EU

* The Atlantic: Content moderators review the the dark side of the internet. They don’t escape unscathed

* Wang v. Weiner, 2017 WL 4250523 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 21, 2017):

Plaintiff does not dispute that the LinkedIn User Agreement authorizes Defendants to remove user content at the company’s discretion. Rather, Plaintiff asserts that the alleged post was published on LinkedIn for approximately twelve minutes until it was removed, and reasserts that it should have remained visible to the public and Plaintiff’s social network contacts. Plaintiff does not explain how this allegation constitutes a violation of the ECPA nor does Plaintiff point to any provision in the User Agreement that says comments must be kept public if they have been published at any point. Thus, the Court finds that Plaintiff has also failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted on the remaining claim under the ECPA.

* EFF: 10+ Years of Activists Silenced: Internet Intermediaries’ Long History of Censorship

* BuzzFeed: How PragerU Is Winning The Right-Wing Culture War Without Donald Trump

* NY Times: New Foils for the Right: Google and Facebook

* New Yorker: Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet

* NY Times: As Google Fights Fake News, Voices on the Margins Raise Alarm

* Cracked: 6 Totally Stupid Things Twitter Will Ban You For Doing

* BuzzFeed: Internal Emails Show Twitter Struggled To Interpret Its Own Verification Rules While Hunting Trolls

* Wired: Trump’s Twitter Takedown Reveals Another Tech Blind Spot

* NY Times: The ‘Alt-Right’ Created a Parallel Internet. It’s an Unholy Mess.

* Wired: Social Media Is Reshaping Sex Work—But Also Threatening It

* Vanity Fair: “Just An Ass-Backward Tech Company”: How Twitter Lost The Internet War.

* The Guardian: ‘Fiction is outperforming reality’: how YouTube’s algorithm distorts truth: “YouTube was six times more likely to recommend videos that aided Trump than his adversary. YouTube presumably never programmed its algorithm to benefit one candidate over another. But based on this evidence, at least, that is exactly what happened.”

* Cracked: I Was A Human Search Engine In The Days Before Google. Every time you mock Google for having a corporate agenda, read this.