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Facebook removes Proud Boys pages for "hate speech"
Several members of the far-right group were recently arrested after getting into a fight with protesters in New York City.
- The Proud Boys is a far-right group of "Western chauvinists" that have been linked to multiple instances of politically motivated violence, including clashes with the leftist group Antifa.
- Facebook suggested the pages trafficked in "organized hate speech."
- The bans come several months after multiple media platforms removed pages belonging to Alex Jones, another popular far-right figure.
Facebook has banned accounts and pages associated with the Proud Boys, a far-right group of self-described "Western chauvinists," for trafficking in "organized hate speech."
Thank you those who've submitted info regarding the violent incident which took place on 10-12-18 in the UES. As we further the investigation, we urge additional victims/complainants/witnesses to come forward. If you have info, call CrimeStoppers, 800-577-TIPS pic.twitter.com/amUhGvCJLg
— Chief Dermot F. Shea (@NYPDDetectives) October 15, 2018
The "purge" of far-right voices from social media
Facebook's removal of Proud Boys pages comes about three months after it banned pages belonging to Alex Jones and his far-right website Infowars. Jones also had pages removed from YouTube, Apple, LinkedIn, Spotify and other platforms.
Jones and some other far-right figures branded the bans as censorship—a purge of conservative voices by the liberal media.
Meanwhile, Facebook said that Jones, and now the Proud Boys, had violated its policies and was therefore subject to being removed from its platform. In any case, Facebook is a publicly traded company that's under no obligation whatsoever to provide unencumbered free speech rights to anyone.
What's interesting is that Facebook has long made it a point to portray itself as a basically editorially neutral tech company, "not a media company," as CEO Mark Zuckerberg once said. The motivation behind this classification is that Facebook can deflect responsibility from making tough editorial decisions if it's only considered to be a neutral tech platform.
But in recent months, the company has been increasingly exercising its publisher discretion—both in highly publicized cases like the Alex Jones bans and in court.
In a 2018 lawsuit against Facebook, an app startup alleged that Facebook developed a "malicious and fraudulent scheme" to weaponize users' data and force rival companies out of business. Sonal Mehta, a lawyer for Facebook, suggested that Facebook is like traditional media companies, a characterization that doesn't quite fit with past descriptions from company spokespeople.
"The publisher discretion is a free speech right irrespective of what technological means is used. A newspaper has a publisher function whether they are doing it on their website, in a printed copy or through the news alerts."
"Deepfakes" and "cheap fakes" are becoming strikingly convincing — even ones generated on freely available apps.
- A writer named Magdalene Visaggio recently used FaceApp and Airbrush to generate convincing portraits of early U.S. presidents.
- "Deepfake" technology has improved drastically in recent years, and some countries are already experiencing how it can weaponized for political purposes.
- It's currently unknown whether it'll be possible to develop technology that can quickly and accurately determine whether a given video is real or fake.
The future of deepfakes<p>In 2018, Gabon's president Ali Bongo had been out of the country for months receiving medical treatment. After Bongo hadn't been seen in public for months, rumors began swirling about his condition. Some suggested Bongo might even be dead. In response, Bongo's administration released a video that seemed to show the president addressing the nation.</p><p>But the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=324528215059254" target="_blank">video</a> is strange, appearing choppy and blurry in parts. After political opponents declared the video to be a deepfake, Gabon's military attempted an unsuccessful coup. What's striking about the story is that, to this day, experts in the field of deepfakes can't conclusively verify whether the video was real. </p><p>The uncertainty and confusion generated by deepfakes poses a "global problem," according to a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/is-seeing-still-believing-the-deepfake-challenge-to-truth-in-politics/#cancel" target="_blank">2020 report from The Brookings Institution</a>. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense released some of the first tools able to successfully detect deepfake videos. The problem, however, is that deepfake technology keeps improving, meaning forensic approaches may forever be one step behind the most sophisticated forms of deepfakes. </p><p>As the 2020 report noted, even if the private sector or governments create technology to identify deepfakes, they will:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"...operate more slowly than the generation of these fakes, allowing false representations to dominate the media landscape for days or even weeks. "A lie can go halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on," warns David Doermann, the director of the Artificial Intelligence Institute at the University of Buffalo. And if defensive methods yield results short of certainty, as many will, technology companies will be hesitant to label the likely misrepresentations as fakes."</p>
Context is everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of new behaviours into daily routines, like physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand sanitizing. Meanwhile, many old behaviours such as attending events, eating out and seeing friends have been put on hold.
A new study looks at how images of coffee's origins affect the perception of its premiumness and quality.
- Images can affect how people perceive the quality of a product.
- In a new study, researchers show using virtual reality that images of farms positively influence the subjects' experience of coffee.
- The results provide insights on the psychology and power of marketing.