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Should Silicon Valley Really Decide What Is and Isn’t Hate Speech? (opinion)

The internet is a bastion of free speech—but that’s not always a good thing.
By Susan J. Douglas

23/9/2016- Comedian Leslie Jones’ recent experiences in our digital environment—a barrage of viciously racist tweets and hackers posting her personal information and nude photos allegedly of her—are just the latest in the downward spiral of online hate speech, harassment and menace. And many women and people of color have really had enough. So here’s the thorny question: With the ongoing scourge of trolling and the damage it causes—take Jones’ simple and poignant tweet, “I’m in a personal hell. I didn’t do anything to deserve this … so hurt right now”—are Americans at a crossroads with the First Amendment? Because although 35 percent of respondents to a 2015 poll believed that hate speech was not protected by the First Amendment, it is.

Each new medium, starting with the printing press, has raised such questions. The First Amendment’s freedom of the press protections were a reaction to colonial policies, which required printers to be government licensed and subjected them to pre-publication censorship and libel laws that forbade colonists from criticizing British rule. Yet, we have rarely had totally unbridled freedom of expression. The Federal Communications Act of 1934 forbade “obscene, indecent, or profane” language on the radio— and later, TV—because broadcasts came into people’s homes without their ability to filter them. Harassing phone calls— calling repeatedly, using obscenity, issuing threats—are illegal, although the provisions in each state vary. Despite these exceptions, most speech is protected unless it is designed to cause “imminent lawless action.”

With the Internet, freedom of expression has been more firmly protected from the start. Congress’s effort to restrict “indecent” content (based on a media panic about the web being full of pornography) led to the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which was struck down in 1997. The Supreme Court reasoned that the internet was not as “invasive” as radio and TV, and that its multitude of sites constituted “vast democratic fora.” There are still federal and state laws prohibiting cyberstalking and cyber-harassment, typically focusing on repeated behavior by one person against another, and on threats to “kill, injure, harass and intimidate.” But what constitutes harassment can be vague, and some states only protect those 18 and under. The kind of group swarming Jones experienced is difficult: Which tweets legally count as harassment, and which are protected?

As of now, it’s Internet companies that determine how much hate speech, if any, circulates on their platforms. George Washington University Law professor Jeffrey Rosen, citing American legal tradition, argues that, with the exception of speech promoting imminent violence, no speech should be banned on the internet. Others, especially feminists, have argued that policing online hate speech is important because the majority of victims are women, making such activity discriminatory. Facebook censors posts and pages it deems inappropriate, and does not permit individuals “to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.” But Facebook’s choices can seem arbitrary, and it has come under harsh criticism for censoring nude photos, paintings and images of breastfeeding. Reddit has been the most libertarian, tolerating all kinds of hate and creepy speech, with Twitter, until recently, not far behind.

In the wake of the attacks on Jones, however, Twitter suspended multiple accounts, including that of Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who encouraged his followers to send Jones abusive Tweets, including ones comparing her to an ape. Twitter’s policies forbid harassment and direct or indirect threats of violence, yet many feel Twitter simply does not do enough. When Republican Evan Siegfried reported a tweet threatening to hunt him down because he wouldn’t support Trump, Twitter told him the tweet did not violate their terms of use. Must the government step in? These new technologies and the anonymity they enable raise difficult questions about how to define hate speech and what kinds should still be protected. Do we cling to free speech absolutism no matter what? Or is there a progressive alternative involving regulation and not just corporate whims? 
Susan J. Douglas is a professor of communications at the University of Michigan and an In These Times columnist. Her latest book is Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work is Done (2010).
© In These Times


US police to scan social media for violence alerts

Cardiff University project receives $800,000 grant from DoJ for algorithm that identifies cyber-hate

22/9/2016- Police in the US may soon be able to scan social media to predict outbreaks in hate crime, using a computer program being developed at Cardiff University. An $800,000 research project, funded by the US Department of Justice, was announced on the same day that the city of Charlotte, North Carolina declared a state of emergency when violent protests erupted after police shot dead a black man. An algorithm will automatically identify cyber-hate on Twitter in specific regions of the US and look for a relationship between online hate speech and offline hate crime.

Police in cities such as Los Angeles and Charlotte can then use the system to predict where hate crimes may be likely to take place in the wake of triggers, such as the Charlotte shooting, and intervene in a peaceful manner. This is the first time US authorities have turned to social media to try to identify and police real-world hate crimes. According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 293,800 non-fatal violent and property hate crime victimisations occurred in the US in 2012. That number has been rising, with anti-Muslim crimes alone spiking by 14 per cent in 2015, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Over the next three years, the new algorithm will analyse the language used in Tweets referring to events such as the US presidential election, map them to city districts and cross-reference this with reported hate crimes on the streets. “Say a black person was killed by police in the US — and that happens a lot more than it should — we will see biased Tweets coming out, using phrases like ‘They had it coming’ or ‘Get them out’,” said computer scientist Peter Burnap, who is co-leading the project at Cardiff University’s Social Data Science Lab. “It doesn’t always have to use derogatory words associated with racism: it could be much more nuanced, which is the major challenge in the project. We are using natural language processing to identify cyber hate in all its forms.”

Previous research from the Social Data Science Lab has already found that Twitter data can be used to identify geographic hotspots of crime in London where hate speech has occurred, but where hate crime has not been reported. Specifically, they studied the spread and reach of hate speech on Twitter following the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby by two British Muslims in 2013. Social scientist Matt Williams, the project’s second lead, said: “The insights provided by our work will help US localities to design policies to address specific hate crime issues unique to their jurisdiction and to tailor their services to the needs of victims, especially if those victims are [in] an emerging category of hate crime targets.” The city of Los Angeles will be the first test case for the project, as the Los Angeles Police Department previously used similar mathematical models to predict other areas of crime including theft, which have been shown to be successful in lowering crime rates.
© The Financial Times


FB Plans to Expand Program to Fight Against Online Hate-Speech

Online Civil Courage Initiative will offer advertising credits, marketing advice to a broader array of groups

21/9/2016- Facebook Inc. plans to broaden a program that gives free advertising to online activists who fight back against online hate speech, the latest expansion of tech-industry efforts to undermine internet propaganda from Islamist terrorists and far-right radicals. The social-networking company said Wednesday that its Berlin-based Online Civil Courage Initiative, founded in January, will expand from a pilot phase focused on Germany, France and the U.K. to offer advertising credits, money and marketing advice to a broader array of groups. Since its creation in January, the program has helped organizations that use Facebook to counteract hateful or extremist messages reach more than two million people with a total of €10,000 ($11,152) in advertising credits, the company said. Facebook has pledged €1 million in credits over two years.

Tech companies, think tanks, activists and governments are pouring resources into new ways to fight back against violent propaganda washing over the internet, including hate speech from groups like Islamist organizations and far-right radicals. The logic is that since such messages can never be blocked entirely, someone must argue against them, an approach called counter-narratives or counter-speech. “Censorship is not effective,” said Erin Saltman, program manager of Facebook’s Online Civil Courage Initiative, who also works with London-based think tank the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. “Conversations would start on mainstream platforms and migrate to less regulated, encrypted platforms.” Content removal is growing. Facebook said it has removed more than 38,000 pieces of content in the European Union in the second half of 2015 because of government requests, with the vast majority from France following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.

Twitter Inc. said in August that it had removed 235,000 terrorist-related accounts in the last six months, nearly double the prior period. But tech companies argue that it will always be possible to find similar material elsewhere online. Some Silicon Valley executives say they are also uncomfortable automatically removing posts since that could lead to a chilling effect on free speech. “Silencing a conversation doesn’t help win the argument,” one tech executive said. While government efforts to counteract propaganda have largely sputtered, private groups are taking up the initiative. Facebook later Wednesday is participating in an event in New York to highlight another initiative it has supported, in which college students come up with campaigns to counteract violent extremism. Other groups, are running experiments with companies including Alphabet Inc., Twitter and Facebook on ways to use the machinery of online advertising to counteract extremist messages.

The Online Civil Courage Initiative was in part a response to criticism by German politicians that extremists were using Facebook’s website to spread hatred against immigrants. The initiative aims to support nongovernmental organizations that counter hateful comments with democratic views—mounting things such as “like” attacks on pages rather than removing them. In the next year, Facebook plans to create a stand-alone website for the Civil Courage Initiative so that organizations can find information and marketing advice, Ms. Saltman said. The initiative will also publish “trend reports where we can keep our finger on the pulse a little more and keep activists updated with trends that are taking place so they can react more in time,” she said. Simone Rafael of Amadeu Antonio Foundation, a German anti-bigotry group, said the program’s goal is to strengthen communities that “stand up to a vocal minority of people who try to create the impression they were the majority.”
© The Wall Street Journal*


Netherlands: Social media overload: many discrimination complaints go unanswered

23/9/2016- The public prosecution department is unable to cope with all the complaints it has received about discrimination, and some 75% of reports never even reach its offices, according to research by RTL News. The department has pledged to look carefully at ‘all complaints about discrimination’ but most are set aside without being checked by department officials, the broadcaster’s researchers say. RTL found that between 2005 and 2013, police received an average of 416 complaints about discrimination a year. But only an average of 123 were actually passed on to the prosecution department. A spokeswoman for the department admitted the difficulties, saying the arrival of social media had made it easy to insult and threaten people.

‘We have to make choices,’ spokeswoman Gabrielle Hoppenbrouwers told RTL. The department’s guidelines are being amended to reflect the change, Hoppenbrouwers said. The Dutch human rights commission says it considers it worrying that so many complaints go unanswered at a time when young people are becoming less likely to register such issues. ‘Youngsters tend to think… you can’t do anything about racism, particularly on social media like Facebook and Twitter,’ said Adriana van Dooijeweert. ‘That worries me.’ Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher told RTL that all cases of discrimination hurt people deeply but that not every case can be prosecuted. ‘We are doing a lot and we are going to look if there is any more we can do,’ Asscher said.
© The Dutch News


Netherlands: AIVD calls for powers to monitor online chat messaging

19/9/2016- Intelligence chief Rob Bertholee has called on the cabinet to restrict the encryption of messages on chat services such as WhatsApp and Telegram. Bertholee told the Volkskrant that the Dutch security service AIVD needed to be able to ‘see into the communications of those who constitute a threat.’ In response to concerns of privacy campagaigners about giving the security services more access to personal data, Bertholee said: ‘I agree that protection of privacy is extremely important, but would people who hold privacy as their highest goal pursue it so enthusiastically if they’d been the victim of an attack?’ But Ronald Prins, of IT firm Fox-IT, warned that giving the security services access to data held by technology firms ran the risk of falling into the wrong hands.

‘The internet has gone dark for the AIVD and the service no longer has any overview of what information people are exchanging online,’ he told NOS. ‘American tech firms such as Apple and Facebook would have to build a back door into their security apparatus so that western security firms have the keys to get into those messages. That sounds like a good idea, but there is one very big risk: the keys could get into the wrong hands, such as the Russians and Chinese, who are constantly tapping our information.’ In an interview at the weekend, Bertholee warned that the terrorist threat in the Netherlands has ‘never been so high’, though he declined to give details of attacks that have been prevented or the number of people on the AIVD’s radar. He added said that staff from 30 European security services were holding daily meetings in the Netherlands to exchange information about terrorist suspects.
© The Dutch News


Australia: FB slammed over anti-Semitic 'Jewish remains' photo

Facebook has been accused of "enabling vicious Jewish hatred" after telling users an image depicting human remains on a shovel below the tag line "How to pick up Jewish chicks" did not breach its standards.

16/9/2016- Just days after back flipping on its decision to censor an iconic Vietnam War photo of a naked girl escaping a napalm bombing, the social media giant is again under fire over its handling of posts reported as offensive. In reply to complaints about the shovel image - which was widely shared, "liked" 21,000 times, and received more than 37,000 comments - Facebook said: "We reviewed the post you reported for displaying hate speech and found it doesn't violate our community standards." Under its community standards policy, Facebook says it "removes hate speech" that attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin and religious affiliation. "We allow humour, satire or social commentary related to these topics, and we believe that when people use their authentic identity, they are more responsible when they share this kind of commentary," the policy says.

The image was posted to a page attributed to a Queensland man late last month and shared 2280 times. It has now been removed but tens of thousands of comments, many of which are anti-Semitic, were still visible in the thread as late as Thursday. A Facebook spokesman said the image was removed for breaching community standards and that the company was still investigating. But 24 hours after being asked, the spokesman could still not say when the photo was taken down. Facebook could also not explain why only the photo was initially removed and not the entire thread - which is standard when a post is pulled. The thread itself showed people were still commenting on the image up to seven days after it was first reported.

One person told Fairfax Media that when he checked days after reporting the image to Facebook that it was still visible. "[It] certainly wasn't [removed] for a few days and only after they said there was no issue to begin with," he said. National Jewish human rights body, the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission, slammed Facebook's handling of the case. Chairman Dvir Abramovich said the "disturbing" post mocked Holocaust victims and "the vile comments that followed clearly violates its community standards". "Facebook should not be a hot-house and a cesspool of racism, xenophobia and bigotry, and should not allow its platform to be used by bigots to disseminate and propagate their toxic and hateful invective," he said. "By allowing such posts to stay for far too long, Facebook is enabling the flourishing of a vicious and bone-chilling Jewish hatred that is a cause for concern."

Last week Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was accused by a Norwegian newspaper of "abusing your power" over the censoring and removal of multiple copies of the 1972 image of Kim Phúc fleeing a napalm attack during the Vietnam War. But after a global outcry the social media goliath reversed its decision, saying it recognised the importance of the Pulitzer prize-winning photograph in documenting history. "Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal, so we have decided to reinstate the image on Facebook where we are aware it has been removed," it said in a statement.

The controversy over Facebook's handling of posts assessed against its community standards policy follows revelations the company's "trending" news topics were being curated by a team of editors. When Facebook overhauled the section last month, firing its editorial team and building an algorithm to manage trending topics, it promoted a fake story about an American newsreader and links to an article about footage of a man using a McDonald's chicken sandwich to masturbate with.
© The Sydney Morning Herald


Senior Facebook delegation in Israel to discuss ‘incitement’

11/9/2016- A senior delegation from Facebook is in Israel to “improve cooperation against incitement,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “The fight against terrorism is also being waged on the social networks, and a senior delegation from Facebook is currently in Israel. The goal here is to improve cooperation against incitement, the incitement to terror and murder, on the social network,” Netanyahu said Sunday during the weekly Cabinet meeting. “The Internet has brought considerable blessing to humanity, but folded within it – to our regret – is also a curse, because terrorists and inciters are using the internet to attack mankind. We are determined to fight these phenomena, and therefore I welcome the cooperation, or at least the desire for cooperation, that Facebook is showing, and we hope that these will lead to better results.” The delegation is scheduled to meet with government officials during its visit. Facebook has been accused by Israeli officials of turning a blind eye to violent messages encouraging attacks by individual Palestinians against Israelis.
© JTA News.


Norway: Facebook censors PM

9/9/2016- Facebook has deleted a post by the Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, in a row over the social media giant's decision to earlier emove an iconic photograph from the Vietnam war featuring a naked girl fleeing bombs. Sloberg, while commending Facebook's effort to stop violent or abusive content, voiced support in a post for Norway's largest newspaper, Aftenposten after its editor-in-chief criticised Facebook for removing the Pulitzer-prize winning photograph from one of its posts. The newspaper published a series of photographs that "changed the history of warfare". The 1972 picture by Nick Ut features nine-year old Kim Phuc running away, naked, from napalm bombs. Facebook asked the newspaper to remove or "pixelise" it because of her nudity. The newspaper refused and Facebook took down the post.

The newspaper then put the photograph on its front page on Friday (9 September), next to a Facebook logo. Aftenposten's editor-in-chief Espen Egil Hansen wrote on open letter to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, accusing the firm of censorship. While acknowledging Facebook's role in amplifying the newspaper's voice, Hansen wrote: "I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly." "I have to realise that you are restricting my room for exercising my editorial responsibility. This is what you and your subordinates are doing in this case," he added in the open letter, calling Zuckerberg the world's most powerful editor.

PM Solberg was one of the Norwegian politicians who shared the iconic image. “Facebook gets it wrong when they censor such images,” she wrote in her post, which also included the picture. “I say no to this type of censorship.” "I want my children and other children to grow up in a society where history is taught as it was. Where they can learn from historical events and mistakes," Solberg wrote. A few hours later the post on her profile was taken down. Later, the prime minister urged Facebook to review its editing policy. “While we recognise that this photo is iconic, it is difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others,” Facebook said in a statement.
© The EUobserver


The black metal origins of an anti-Muslim meme

8/9/2016- The recent arrest of a suspected neo-Nazi, Sean Creighton, 44, on a terrorism offence contained an interesting footnote. He allegedly possessed a badge with “burn your local mosque” written on it. This idea, to burn a local mosque, has appealed to neo-Nazis and Islamophobes in Europe and North America. The image, however, comes from the artwork of an obscure black metal band named Mogh, who released a live album in 2012. Mogh describes itself as a “Persian/Israeli/German extreme black metal project”. Its influences range from nihilism, the occult and the Orient. The band uses anti-Islamic imagery and symbolism in its album artwork and merchandise. The band has marketed itself as “anti-Islamlic black metal” on t-shirts bearing the “burn your local mosque” design. In spite of the above, the band were ‘shocked’ to learn that their artwork had been used to incite racial hatred.

In a statement, Mogh said: “It shocks us because of many reasons. Mogh is an international conceptual art and band which includes members from Germany, Syria, Iran, Bulgaria and Peru. Mogh philosophy believes in every person as a star regardless of its race and believes religion in any form steals that identical essence and makes you an systematic slave.” Mogh state they have lost family members in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution. Later variations of the “burn your local mosque” image had removed Mogh’s satanic logo. Social media accounts have used it as an Islamophobic call to arms. In New York, a venue closed after hosting a neo-Nazi music festival last May. A Twitter user posted photos from outside the venue, which included a neo-Nazi owed van covered in hate stickers. One such sticker included “burn your local mosque”.

Mark Bennett, 48, was jailed last July following a racially aggravated public order offence at a mosque in Bristol. Bennett and others had placed rashers of bacon on the door handles of the mosque. They had shouted racial abuse at a member of the mosque, thrown bacon sandwiches at the mosque, and tied a St George’s flag to the railings with the words “No Mosque”. A Facebook page, linked to Bennett, had posted the “burn your local mosque” image, with the caption “Fire in the hole..!!!” Two Instagram users in the United States have promoted “burn your local mosque” patches in recent months. Both posts encouraged individuals to message for further details. The user ‘houndsnhogs88’ promoted the patch a day after the terrorist attacks in Brussels. He captioned the post: “After much deliberation, I’m finally putting this on my vest #burnyourlocalmosque #JeSuisBruxelles #fuckIslam #stopIslam”.

On November 14, 2015, Patrick Keogan had allegedly made online threats against two Islamic centres. In one alleged Facebook post, Keogan included an image of a mosque in flames, captioned with the text “burn your local mosque”. His attorney argued that the allegations do not constitute “crimes of violence.” The judge, however, found probable cause to charge Keogan. Tell MAMA staff became aware of the image last year. On February 27, 2015, the Facebook page of the Sunderland North East Infidels had uploaded the image. In early 2016, Tell MAMA received numerous reports of social media accounts sharing the image. A Twitter account linked to the notorious troll John Nimmo had targeted Tell MAMA staff with this image in 2015. By April 2016, Tell MAMA reported that an individual had been arrested for posting this image online.

The “burn your local mosque” meme had built a European audience since at least 2014. On November 6, 2014, an online post in German promoted the “burn your local mosque” patches atop bullets. A reverse image search revealed the use of the image as an avatar on a Polish language forum that same year. Nor does this idea exist in a vacuum. It’s possible to buy patches which read ‘burn your local church’. In spite of its obscurity and niche genre, the imagery, while offensive, became, by accident, a means for racists to allegedly target Muslim communities.
© Tell Mama


South Africa: End the cyber-war on women (opinion)

Relentless sexist attacks are having a serious effect on women and their freedom.
By Gillian Schutte

4/9/2016- It seems the public turns a blind eye to the rampant sexist cyberbullying that invades social media. There is a limited response to the misogynistic assault to which women are subjected, although it is patently clear this cyberbullying is intrinsically bound up in sexism, racism and transphobism and that many times it also takes on sexually abusive dimensions. Cyber hate speech is often written off as innocuous - especially by people who aren’t subjected to its full force and who do not know how exhausting it is to deal with every day, nor how damaging it is to your psychological and emotional welfare.

I, along with thousands of other women, have been subjected to cyber abuse for many years. There is nothing new about it, although it is remarkable to me how many men are let off the hook for blatant abuse of women in full view of the public - human rights activists and feminists included. I have had openly violent and misogynistic commentary directed at me by well-known public figures, DA MPs and column writers, and yet seldom have Chapter Nine institutions or fellow activists jumped in and reprimanded the perpetrators, despite many of these remarks not being anything but hate speech.

Reporting these cases to the SA Human Rights Commission does not really help. Beyond compiling a report, the commission is unable to tackle this menace. Legal representation and investigation cost a fortune and could bear little fruit. It is an added abuse that the victim has to pay to protect herself from a syndrome she did not incite and over which she has no control. Two years back an article calling for people to hang me in the streets was published on a site created using WordPress - along with a picture showing me with a hangman and the word “Traitor” scrawled across my forehead.

I was appalled at this violence. I wrote to WordPress demanding that the death threat be removed as it put me and my family in danger. WordPress said it did not go against its code of conduct, although it clearly called for my murder, and displayed a picture of my face. At about the same time a man with a Voortrekker-style beard had been parked outside my house for a few days - the entire day - for no reason other than to write in a notebook every time one of us left the property. I reported the hate speech and the lurker to the police. They opened a case, but did not have the resources to do a full online investigation to track down the author of the website. The police patrolled past my house for a week and the man soon moved on.

We paid for private security for the next two months after a slew of death and rape threats hit my inbox, Twitter and Facebook feeds - some from as far afield as Canada, the US and Russia, but most of them from South Africa. Eventually our resources ran out and we had to end our security contract. Friends offered to accompany us on film shoots as security. The hate speech site was taken down only when a Facebook friend was shocked enough to start a campaign aimed at WordPress and mobilised many followers to send it letters of complaint.

After about 500 “take it down” requests, WordPress finally took down the death threat and the pictures of me and my family. The site had been up for 18 months by the time it acted. This person responsible had hidden behind a pseudonym - but in South Africa there seems to be no shame in open abuse and misogyny, even if you are a well-known public figure. I guess it passes as normal to call women, whose political ideology you do not agree with whores, ho’s, inbred nutters and dirty, even if you have followers who purport to uphold human rights. This is highly offensive and violent anti-woman language.

I am not against women who make a living from selling sex - what I am against is the meaning these misogynists attach to the word “whore” and how they use it to demean women. These are the very same men who shout “xenophobia” loudest, while they practise dehumanising reductionism on women. It is no wonder they have this sense of entitlement when the public allows them to get away with this vile behaviour every time someone challenges their hold over the dominant discourse. The resounding silence after this type of abuse only encourages them. After my recent exposure of Judge Mabel Jansen’s racist utterances on my public Facebook page, I received a host of messages using the same language in ominous threats.

While hate speech and violence against women and girls are not a new syndrome, there certainly had been an upsurge in the use of internet platforms to perpetuate this hate. This is because perpetrators can remain anonymous while expanding their scope and impact. In South Africa, however, these haters do it in the open - they do not have to remain anonymous because they have tacit approval from a silent majority. All of the foregoing abusers know they can get away with hosting conversations in which women are called whores - and with making similar commentary themselves.

I have been battling cyber molestation from well-known figures and anonymous trolls for six years and I cannot fight it on my own. This is a real issue for women with voices - it is not a figment of our imaginations and not a “desperate need for attention”. Who wants daily death and rape threats and sexual or violent intimidation? Who wants their child to be called all manner of hurtful and disgusting things - or their husband’s “black c***” to be referred to as a reason for their being called a whore? Right now Twitter trolls are sending a slew of tweets linking me and black thinkers - and calling them monkeys and other dehumanising insults. It is an attack on blackness and black positive ideology. It is also an attack on women.

The aim of these trolls and bullies is to make sure that the social media space becomes an unpleasant and alienating experience. They engage in a pervasive assault on your psyche to shut down women who speak an anti-hegemonic language. This attack aims to shut down and intimidate voices that do not serve the dominant agenda. The methodology is intended to make sure you feel so violated and so invaded that you will eventually learn your place as a woman and shut up. It is brutal sexism and has a similar effect on the receiver as psychological battery.

Being abused in the open market space has a destabilising effect. Many girls who are victims of this type of abuse are not even sure if they are victims. They internalise the insults and begin to blame themselves. They lose confidence and question their sanity. But it is abuse and it is taken seriously in some countries where people speak about it, organise around it and recognise and name it for what it is. It is also something that victims cannot control alone. The onus of having to police your own social media accounts is like having to avoid going out so you won’t be raped, harassed or assaulted. It places the responsibility on the victim to remedy the situation. It blames the victim and overlooks the perpetrator. It empowers the perpetrators. They can be sure they have distracted you from your work in the hours you have to spend in complicated investigative and legal processes.

Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WordPress have to start taking this syndrome seriously and track and charge hate speech pushers. Not long ago Facebook allegedly removed multiple photos of women breast-feeding in public, but ignored complaints about racist, sexist and homophobic commentary. This is a war of the discourses and those of us who are seasoned activists will not back down. But the “battered activist” syndrome and cyber misogyny beg exposure. Cyber abuse and the sexual harassment of women in the marketplace are part of the same syndrome. Because they are largely ignored by the public, women are increasingly being alienated and intimidated out of these spaces. This is all part of the war against women and it should not be ignored.
Schutte is a founding member of Media for Justice, a social justice and media activist as well as a documentary film-maker.
© The Sunday Independent


UK: Kick It Out reveals large rise in reported football discrimination on social media

• Annual report shows 2.5% increase in reported incidents of discrimination
• Most significant figure is 18% rise in reported social media instances

6/9/2016- Incidents of discrimination in football are on the increase as abuse moves from the terraces to the internet, according to a report. Statistics released by the anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out for the 2015-16 season show the number of incidents reported to the group rose 2.5% year on year. The most significant rise concerned social media, with 194 incidents reported, an increase of 18% on 2014-15. Incidents involving supporters at grounds decreased by 16%. “We’ve noticed a shift whereby reported incidents are decreasing in stadiums, especially in the professional game, and social media is the place where supporters can post discriminatory language,” Kick it Out said. “It’s a change whereby abuse isn’t necessarily directed in person to someone’s face but the ease of social media means individuals can post instantly from behind a phone or keyboard.”

Compiled from incidents reported to the organisation, the Kick It Out survey has shown increases in discrimination each year since it was first published in 2012-13. The results of the latest study were released on the same day Kick It Out launched its “Call Full Time On Hate” initiative, which pushes for a unified effort from football bodies to eradicate prejudice and hate from the game. “Football has undoubtedly come a long way and made progress in tackling discrimination and making the game open to all. However, there’s vulnerability at this moment in time,” said the Kick It Out chair, Herman Ouseley. “As cutbacks have taken place across society, football has stepped up and led the way in terms of its community programmes, focusing on diversity, inclusion and equality using the power of football.

“It’s become a leader for this area but young people are vulnerable to the … increases in reported hate crimes and incidents. Education is one of the essential elements of tackling ignorance, bigotry and intolerance. Bringing people of all backgrounds together to play and participate in football activities provides the ideal environment to stimulate learning with and from each other about each other. “Kick It Out is intensifying its education work within football, including the professional sector, with a particular emphasis on football at grassroots.”

A social media incident was deemed to be content related in any way to football, including a post by someone who claimed to be a supporter of a particular club in the social media biography. As well as social media, there was also a significant increase in incidents involving players, managers and staff at a professional level, with 13 being reported. However, there was a 16% decrease in reports of incidents involving supporters and also a smaller decrease in incidents at a grassroots level. The rise in social media incidents will be a particular concern, given the situation of the Burnley striker Andre Gray, who has asked for a personal hearing over his Football Association misconduct charge for homophobic posts on Twitter in 2012. Speaking to the Guardian last month, Ouseley urged the game to do more to promote community cohesion in the face of a rising tide of hate speech and intolerance exacerbated by the Brexit debate.

“It has been noticeable for at least two and a half years that there has been a rise in what I would call intolerance,” he said. “That not only happens in the streets and in the playground but in higher levels of society. There is an underlying subliminal message that all came to the fore during the last few weeks with ‘We want our country back’ and so on.”
© The Guardian.


UK: Crime victims will be able to track their cases online

2/9/2016- Victims of crime will soon be able to upload CCTV footage and track investigations on the internet as Essex Police looks to expand its online services. The force is encouraging people to use its website to record non-emergency crime and lost or found property after suffering a series of cutbacks and closure of police stations earlier this year. The number of people reporting crime online in Essex has more than doubled in the last month. In July, 1,045 people used the reporting crime feature on compared with 428 the previous month – a 144 per cent increase. Amongst the types of crimes reported were cases of shoplifting, cycle theft, criminal damage, hare coursing, fraud and theft.

In July, 620 people reported minor crashes compared with 542 the previous month. Improvements to the website will continue throughout the year, which will mean users will be able to upload files including CCTV footage and photographs. People will also be able to register for an account, enabling them to track the progress of the investigation into their crime. Chief Inspector Justin Smith, Essex Police’s head of demand management, said: “This data shows more people are using the online service and the overwhelming majority of those who do are happy with the service they get. “Reporting non-emergency crime online is proving more effective and convenient for victims and the other services available, like information on where to report non-policing matters, gives us more time to fight crime.

“Eight out of ten adults across the UK have broadband access and two thirds of people use mobile phones and tablets to use the internet, so we have to cater for that demand. “For those people who don’t have access to the internet we are still contactable in person or over the phone. “The move to online reporting, and therefore subsequent reduction in demand on the 101 number, will also hopefully improve the service for those who are still contacting us by phone.” The site has access to online reporting services for non-emergency crime, minor traffic collisions, lost and found property, fraud, hate crime, potholes, abandoned cars, street lighting and noise nuisance issues. It also provides answers to frequently asked policing questions. Visit for further details.
© The Echo News


India: Increasing pendency of cyber crime cases, claims govt report

More and more cyber crime cases are piling up on investigators resulting in an increasing pendency of such investigations, according to the latest government report.

31/8/2016- While there were 8,032 cyber cases pending at the end of 2014, the number increased by 47%, touching 11,789 in December 2015. The report “Crime in India 2015” released on Tuesday showed that investigators had handled 19,423 cases in 2015, which included the pending cases from the previous year. It could clear only 7,634 cases last year, which is only 39.30% of the total cases it had investigated in 2015. In July, DH had reported that cyber crimes had witnessed an alarming 20.5% rise with Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka topping the list. There were 11,592 cyber crimes reported in 2015 compared to 9,622 the previous year. In 2013, 5,693 cases had been registered. According to the report prepared by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), charge sheets were filed in courts in 3,206 cases. The rate of chargesheeting was 46.8%, while 60.7% cases were pending.
Greed and financial gain were cited as the main reason behind cyber crime in as many as 3,855 cases. The motive behind other 1,110 cases was fraud and illegal gain. In around 1,200 cases, women were the victims — 606 cases related to using cyber instruments to insult the modesty of women, like posting defamatory pictures and writings and 588 related to sexual exploitation. There were 205 cases in which the motive was to incite hate crimes against communities, while there were 293 cases of blackmailing. Of the 8,121 people arrested, including four foreigners, 415 were “sexual freaks”, while 1,195 were neighbours, relatives or friends and 1,594 business competitors of the victims.
© The Deccan Herald


South Africa: Laws against online hate speech inadequate, Parliament hears

31/8/2016- More needs to be done in terms of the law to get social media companies to assist police in identifying perpetrators of online hate speech, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has told Parliament. SAJBD national director Wendy Kahn made a public submission to the Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications on Wednesday, which is hosting public hearings on the Film and Publications Amendment Bill. Kahn said perpetrators of online hate speech were taking refuge in hidden identities on Facebook and Twitter. Using an example from 2014, she said it had been difficult to lay charges against an individual, Phumza Zondi, who had threatened to "come after Jews" in a post on the board's Facebook page.

"You Jews think you are special just because the ANC keep bowing down to your demands," the post read. "Well wait and see... This time we are prepared and ready for you. We will ambush you in your homes and rape you and your cats and drive you to the sea." Kahn said the name was fake, and while Facebook was willing to assist in identifying the user's true identity, they first needed a court order from police. The board followed up with the SAPS Cyber Unit, which sent an order to Facebook directly. Two years on, they are still no closer to identifying the individual who made the post, and the Deputy Public Prosecutor declined to prosecute.

Protection of identities
"While the country's laws adequately address hate speech, the problem is the medium, in this case online, and the lack of provisions when perpetrators take refuge in hidden identities online," Kahn told the committee. "Facebook for instance will take the post down, but that doesn't help me. I can't take action if I don't know who the person is. "The issue is when there is protection of identities." Kahn told the committee that the officer they had approached at the local police station had asked them, "What is Facebook?", indicating the need for training. She said the bill should contain provisions that mandate international social media companies to assist the police when a user breaks the law of the country on the platform. The amendment bill currently suggests a fine of R150 000 for people found guilty of online discrimination.

'We just want to establish a procedure'
Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile van Damme asked Kahn to clarify the board's stance on criminal cases versus general cases. "When people break the law in the country, foreign social media companies should not protect them," Kahn said. "They are essentially giving them refuge. "In France, they have successfully forced organisations like Facebook, through legal means, to identify perpetrators. "It's complicated due to company law and global freedoms, but other countries have successfully managed to get this information from service providers, and with our current standing on racism laws, South Africa shouldn't be any different." Kahn said the US's Anti-Defamation League was willing to educate police and government officials in matters of online discrimination. "We just want to establish a procedure and a correct route for all South Africans in future situations."
© News 24


UPDATED: Facebook explains flip-flop on Jewish genocide post

30/8/2016- After declining to explain why it initially refused to remove an anti-Semitic post from the comments on an Alberta professor’s page, Facebook said it erred in allowing the screed to stay up and subsequently took it down. On Aug. 26, B’nai Brith Canada was notified about a photograph and adjoining paragraph that a Facebook user named Glen Davidson had posted in the comments section of University of Lethbridge professor Anthony Hall’s profile. The image – which Facebook first told B’nai Brith did not violate the company’s community standards but later removed without explanation – featured a man assaulting another man who appeared to be an Orthodox Jew. Beside the photo was a rant containing anti-Semitic slurs, Holocaust denial and calls to kill “all Jews… Every last one.” The paragraph, which is attributed to “Ben ‘Tel Aviv Terror’ Garrison,” begins: “There was never a ‘Holocaust’ but there should have been and, rest assured, there will be, as you serpentine kikes richly deserve one.” It refers to Jews as “greedy, hook-nosed kikes” and likens the Jewish People to “vermin” and “cockroaches.”

Representatives of the social media giant’s communications department told The CJN on Aug. 30 that it does not comment on specific decisions regarding its moderation of content. After The CJN published the initial version of this story on Aug. 30, a Facebook spokesperson issued an official statement, saying the post in question “was reviewed in error and was taken down as soon as we were able to investigate. Our team processes millions of reports each week and we sometimes get things wrong. We’re very sorry about the mistake.” A spokesperson for the Calgary police told The CJN that someone in Calgary filed a complaint about the Facebook post, but the file is being transferred to Lethbridge police for investigation. B’nai Brith spokesperson Marty York said Amanda Hohmann, national director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, contacted Facebook after learning about the post.

Two hours later, Facebook sent what York described as “a standard e-mail” saying the graphic did not violate the company’s community standards, the set of policies Facebook uses to regulate what it refers to on its company website as the “type of sharing [that is] is allowed on Facebook, and [the] type of content [that] may be reported to us and removed.” The same day, after receiving Facebook’s response, B’nai Brith filed a complaint with Lethbridge police about the anti-Semitic post. It also issued a news release detailing the content of the post and Facebook’s refusal to remove it, in addition to sending out an e-mail blast to some 30,000 B’nai Brith supporters and media outlets, and posting about the incident on its Facebook page. York said it’s incomprehensible that Facebook didn’t immediately regard the anti-Semitic post as a violation of its policies.

“It doesn’t make sense to us whatsoever how it could not be perceived at the outset as pure hate speech. This is probably the clearest, most obvious kind of anti-Semitism that one could possibly create… And yet Facebook allowed it to [remain online] until massive protests happened,” he said. Within hours of B’nai Brith’s campaign, Facebook deleted the inflammatory post from Hall’s page. York said Facebook never explained the apparent reversal of its decision. “Facebook has a reporting system that’s opaque and the mechanisms by which it operates are not clear to the public,” he said. B’nai Brith stressed that Hall himself did not post the graphic on his own wall, but that Hall has been known to use his academic credentials to deny the Holocaust and promote 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Separately, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said it asked the University of Lethbridge to take disciplinary action against Hall, a tenured professor in the school’s liberal education program, in early August. The request came after the Lethbridge Herald reported that the university was defending Hall’s right to promote conspiracy theories online, including the idea that Jewish Zionists are waging a war on Muslims through control of western media. CIJA’s director of communications, Martin Sampson, said the group has kept tabs on Hall ever since he espoused “rabidly anti-Israel views and advanced a number of anti-Semitic tropes” at a Calgary interfaith dialogue event two years ago. Sampson said the university hasn’t yet responded to CIJA’s request.


Microsoft Launches Tool to Report Hate Speech on Its Services

A new online form enables users to report threatening or abusive content found on its online communities and services.

30/8/2016- Microsoft has launched a new tool that alerts the Redmond, Wash., software giant when its users encounter hate speech on its consumer online services. A dedicated web form now allows users of the company's Skype, Xbox Live and other services to report the offending content. "Without question, the internet is overwhelmingly a force for good. We strive to provide services that are trustworthy, inclusive and used responsibly. Unfortunately, we know these services can also be used to advocate and perpetuate hate, prejudice and abuse," wrote Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft's chief online safety officer, in a blog post. "As part of our commitment to human rights, we seek to respect the broad range of users' fundamental rights, including the rights to free expression and access to information, without fear of encountering hate speech or abuse."

When a report is filed, staffers will evaluate the complaint, taking into consideration the context of the alleged hate speech and take action accordingly, said Beauchere. As a rule, the company said it blocks content that advocates hatred and violence on the basis of age, disability, gender, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. "Please note that not all content that you may find offensive is considered hate speech and, in reviewing your report, Microsoft may choose to take no action," Beauchere cautioned.  Acknowledging that her company may not always get it right when addressing violations of its terms of use, Beauchere announced Microsoft has also launched a separate multiservice reconsideration form. The tool allows customers to request that their content be reinstated if they feel it was erroneously disabled or taken down.

Recently, a Microsoft-sponsored survey conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance found that nearly four in 10 American teens had been subjected to cruel or abusive messages online. Objectionable remarks were often made about a teen's appearance (45 percent), their sexual orientation (27 percent), gender (25 percent) or ethnicity (24 percent). Microsoft isn't the only tech heavyweight that has pledged to combat online abuse. Google provides tools of its own to report threatening content. "Anyone using our Services to single someone out for malicious abuse, to threaten someone with serious harm, to sexualize a person in an unwanted way, or to harass in other ways may have the offending content removed or be permanently banned from using the Services," states the company's User Content and Conduct Policy. "In emergency situations, we may escalate imminent threats of serious harm to law enforcement."

Following a string of high-profile women leaving its platform after enduring harassment from some users, Twitter announced earlier this month that it was turning on its Quality Filter for all of its users. Twitter's Quality Filter technology, formerly reserved for celebrities, government officials and other public figures with "verified" accounts, analyzes various figures to weed out tweets from bots and other low-quality content, preventing them from appearing on users' timelines and other parts of the Twitter experience.
© E Week


Europe Net Neutrality Win Continues Global String of Victories for the Open Internet

30/8/2016- On Tuesday, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) published guidelines ensuring that the region’s internet users receive strong protections for open and non-discriminatory access to the internet. According to the guidelines (available here), internet user have the right to access and distribute information and content, use and provide applications and services, and use access devices of their choosing to connect with any other person, device or service on the network. The guidelines ensure that EU member countries will enact national Net Neutrality rules that are consistent across the region. BEREC published a draft of the guidelines in June followed by a six-week public consultation period during which more than 500,000 people commented, the vast majority supporting strong Net Neutrality protections. Today’s publication is a final step in the three-year process to adopt a Net Neutrality standard marked by broadband industry efforts to weaken the proposed rules. It supersedes a 2013 legislative proposal by the European Commission that left open loopholes for content discrimination and throttling by access providers.

Free Press Senior Director of Strategy Timothy Karr made the following statement:
“Internet users have fought and won Net Neutrality protections in India, South America and the United States. Europe’s decision today – heeding the advice of internet users who favor robust safeguards for the open internet – is an essential part of this global push to advance the online rights of everyone. “Europeans have good reason to celebrate today. But they must remain vigilant to ensure regulators enforce the rules keeping the best interests of internet users in mind. Online gatekeepers never give up. Despite last year’s Net Neutrality victory in the United States, telecommunications companies have spared no expense on efforts to bend the rules in their favor and weaken enforcement. “This victory is a credit to the sleeves-up outreach and organizing of groups like European Digital Rights, and Access Now, which helped mobilize the region’s overwhelming public response in support of Net Neutrality.”
© Free Press


USA: White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis Use Twitter With ‘Impunity

1/9/2016- White nationalists and self-identified Nazi sympathizers located mostly in the United States use Twitter with “relative impunity” and often have far more followers than militant Islamists, a study being released on Thursday found. Eighteen prominent white nationalist accounts examined in the study, including the American Nazi Party, have seen a sharp increase in Twitter followers to a total of more than 25,000, up from about 3,500 in 2012, according to the study by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism that was seen by Reuters.

The study’s findings contrast with declining influence on Twitter Inc’s service for Islamic State, also known as ISIS, amid crackdowns that have targeted the militant group, according to earlier research by report author J.M. Berger and the findings of other counter-extremism experts and government officials “White nationalists and Nazis outperformed ISIS in average friend and follower counts by a substantial margin,” the report said. “Nazis had a median follower count almost eight times greater than ISIS supporters, and a mean count more than 22 times greater.”

While Twitter has waged an aggressive campaign to suspend Islamic State users - the company said in an August blog post it had shut down 360,000 accounts for threatening or promoting what it defined as terrorist acts since the middle of 2015 - Berger said in his report that “white nationalists and Nazis operate with relative impunity.” Reuters was unable to independently verify the findings. Asked about the study, a Twitter spokesman referred to the company’s terms of service, which prohibit promoting terrorism, threatening abuse and “hateful conduct” such as attacking or threatening a person on the basis of race or ethnicity. The company relies heavily on users to report terms of service violations.

The report comes as Twitter faces scrutiny of its content removal policies. It has long been under pressure to crack down on Islamist fighters and their supporters, and the problem of harassment gained renewed attention in July after actress Leslie Jones briefly quit Twitter in the face of abusive comments. Berger said in an interview that Twitter and other companies such as Facebook Inc faced added difficulties in enforcing standards against white nationalist groups because they are less cohesive than Islamic State networks and present greater free speech complications. The data collected, which included analysis of tweets of selected accounts and their followers, represents a fraction of the white nationalist presence on Twitter and was insufficient to estimate the overall online size of the groups, the report said.

Accounts examined in the study possessed a strong affinity for U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, a prolific Twitter user who has been accused of retweeting accounts associated with white nationalism dozens of times. Three of the top 10 hashtags used most frequently by the data set of users studied were related to Trump, according to the report, entitled “Nazis vs. ISIS on Twitter.” Only #whitegenocide was more popular than Trump-related hashtags, the report said. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
© Reuters


USA: Click’d: Confronting Twitter’s harassment problem

27/8/2016- Racism had a moment on Vermont Twitter last week when Rep. Kiah Morris, D-Bennington, became the target of harassment on the social media platform. The offending tweet, which featured a caricature of a black person using obscene, racially-loaded language, took issue with Morris — one of only two black members of the Vermont House of Representatives — representing a predominantly white constituency ( The user who issued the tweet — @MaxBMisch, a self-described “#AltRight sh-tlord” whose Twitter feed is a stream of racist, antisemitic and misogynistic content — is emblematic of a segment of the Twitter community that actively seeks out opportunities to harass others, especially women and minority populations.

Typically, these users are angry, white men who use Twitter as a forum to exercise their impotent rage, lashing out against political correctness, multiculturalism and issues of race, gender, religion and sexuality. Even female Ghostbusters and black Human Torches are taken as an affront on their values. Exactly why these men feel compelled to attack others, often without provocation, is open for speculation. One motivator seems to be a perceived loss of identity and anxiety over the decline of white male hegemony. Another seems to be the belief that any gains made by women or minorities somehow diminishes their own worth. Certainly, Donald Trump’s campaign of demagoguery has, in no small part, helped to embolden these angry individuals. (Plus, some people just enjoy being jerks.)

To say Twitter has a harassment problem is an understatement. BuzzFeed reporter Charlie Warzel, in a recent piece about Twitter’s long, tortured history of user abuse, characterized it as “fundamental feature” of the platform ( The lengthy piece, which provides an insider perspective on why Twitter can’t (or won’t) get a handle on abuse, provides some excellent background on the situation. The TL;DR version: lagging growth and frequent personnel changes — as well as an overwhelmingly white, male and heterosexual leadership team that underestimates the impact of abuse — has created an optimal environment for harassment.

From its launch in 2006, Twitter has held itself up as a champion of free speech. In the past, the company has thumbed its nose at dictators who want to censor their citizens. Both the Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter movements used Twitter to boost their message and attain a global, mainstream audience. But such freedom has a dark side. It also has allowed ISIL to post beheading videos and recruit members, white supremacists to spread their hate and trolls to viciously target celebrities, politicians, journalists and any other users who draw their ire. As Warzel notes, when pressed to address these problems, Twitter executives are ambivalent. They may denounce specific instances of harassment, but they have done little to improve conditions overall. The obvious deflection is that they’re not in the business of policing speech. Co-founder Biz Stone has previously brushed off criticisms stating, “Twitter is a communication utility, not a mediator of content.”

They can tell themselves that, but it doesn’t really scan. Verizon is also communication utility, but if women were called “stupid whores” every time they tried to make phone call or send a text message, Verizon certainly would do something about it. And that really is how bad it’s gotten. Many women can’t send a single tweet without receiving misogynistic attacks and threats of physical or sexual violence. In July, feminist writer Jessica Valenti took a break from the service after rape and death threats were directed at her five-year-old daughter ( Indeed, a number of recent high-profile incidents have forced Twitter to finally take harassment seriously — as if 2014’s GamerGate scandal wasn’t enough of a wakeup call (

Around the same time as Valenti’s departure, “Ghostbusters” star and “Saturday Night Live” cast member Leslie Jones also deleted her account after she was bombarded by an avalanche of racist and misogynist tweets ( In response, Twitter banned conservative troll and Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who led the attack on Jones. But banning one well-known bully hardly solves the problem. And, as Warzel points out, Twitter is much more responsive to celebrity complaints than those of regular users. CEO Jack Dorsey personally stepped in to mitigate the Jones incident and coax the actor back online, but I’m doubtful he’d do the same for the rest of us. (Online harassment of Jones, regrettably, has continued outside of Twitter. Hackers attacked her personal website Wednesday posting nude photos and racist images as well as photos of her passport and driver’s license.)

Earlier this year, the podcast “Just Not Sports” brought attention to the harassment of women on Twitter with a video of men reading misogynistic tweets to female sports journalists ( The video has been viewed more than 3.6 million times on YouTube. (If you’re not familiar with what online harassment looks like, this is a good place to start.) Twitter regards itself as a communication utility, but maybe it should look at itself more like a bar — a privately-owned public space where free speech is welcome, but where there is also an expectation of a certain level of decorum. People can be jerks in bars, but if someone starts shouting the N-word or the C-word, they’re gonna get 86’d real fast because, at the end of the day, it’s in the best interest of the bar owner to create an environment where people can enjoy both freedom and safety.

For his part, Dorsey has admitted Twitter has dropped the ball. “No one deserves to be the target of abuse on Twitter,” he told investors last month. “We haven’t been good enough at ensuring that’s the case, and we need to do better.” To that end, Twitter introduced several new features last week aimed at limiting harassment ( Essentially, the update extends existing verified user controls to all users, allowing them to only see notifications from accounts they follow. In addition, a new quality filter will weed out spam and bots. While this gives some control to users, it’s unlikely to do much to curb harassment since it doesn’t actually stop trolls from tweeting abusive content in the first place. Unfortunately, ignoring the problem does nothing to solve it.

In Vermont, we similarly prefer to ignore racism rather than address it. The attack on Rep. Morris is an unsettling reminder that racism exists in our quaint, green little utopia. We fancy ourselves a progressive lot — we were the first state to abolish slavery, right? — but much of that tranquility is the result of our homogeneity. It’s easy to be tolerant and open-minded when everyone around us is white, but when the status quo shifts, those values are put to the test and the results are often shocking and disappointing. We are confronted so infrequently with race issues that when we are, we discover we are ill-equipped confront them — especially casual racism, which can be more difficult to notice. Racist behavior is often downplayed, brushed off or somehow explained away with justifications like, “boys will be boys,” “telling it like it is,” “saying what we’re all thinking” or “just joking around.”

Examples abound:
Past racist behavior inside the Rutland Police Department alleged by former officer Andrew Todd resulted in a $975,000 settlement last year ( Over the course of his tenure at the RPD from 2003-11, Todd said he endured racial insults from his co-workers and witnessed instances of racial profiling. It’s worth noting here that the RPD has since taken deliberate steps to improve its culture so kudos to them.

Last December in St. Albans, Bellows Free Academy students faced a racist response from fellow students and members of the community for holding a rally against racism ( In this case, the mere act of raising awareness of racism was enough to set people off and compel them to waive Confederate flags in opposition.

Opposition to Rutland’s effort to welcome Syrian refugees has been fertile ground for bigoted and xenophobic rhetoric. When confronted with blatant examples of intolerance, some have waved it away, arguing that the real bigots are those calling out the bigotry.

Rutland-area filmmaker and musician Duane Carleton takes on homegrown intolerance in his upcoming documentary, “Divided by Diversity,” which tells the story of several black student athletes from the Bronx who faced backlash from local families in 2010 when they joined the boy’s varsity basketball team at Mount St. Joseph Academy ( The film paints a fair yet troubling portrait of privilege, entitlement and small-town racism not just in Rutland but around the state.

Rep. Morris, in a Facebook post following the Twitter incident, appealed to Vermonters to boldly confront racism and intolerance when we see it, stating:
When you allow drive-by harassment of locals on social media pages but do not speak out against it, you endorse this kind of behavior and discourse in our communities. Our right to live in a loving community does not end with someone else’s use of their First Amendment rights. Deny them the audience. Decry the hatred. You have an obligation to do so.”

Yes, we do. We cannot ignore racism. We cannot trivialize it, relativize it or accept bigoted attitudes as simply another perspective. On social media and in the real world, we need to be better and we need to call out racism where we see it. To do that, we must able to talk about it honestly; we must acknowledge racism exists here in Vermont and we must come together as a community to combat it.
© The Rutland Herald


US authorities investigate cyber-attack against Ghostbusters actress

US authorities have launched an investigation into the hacking of Leslie Jones' website and iCloud account after intimate photos of the actress were posted online.

27/8/2016- The Department of Homeland Security says it's looking into the breach. The star's personal information including her driving licence and passport were published on the site. An image of the dead Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe appeared in an apparent racist insult to the actress. Personal photos of Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones posing with stars including Rihanna, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West were also posted, before her Tumblr page was taken down. A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of Homeland Security, said: "The investigation is currently ongoing. In order to protect the integrity of the case, no further details are available at this time." The 48-year-old left Twitter briefly last month after she received racist messages. She was sent tweets blaming her for Aids and comparing her to a gorilla. She criticised the social media company for not doing enough to deal with online trolls.

Twitter announced a new "quality filter" earlier this week which is designed to allow users to deal with trolls and abusive posts more easily. Friends and fellow actors have come out in support of the star after the latest online abuse was posted. Friends and fellow actors have come out in support of the star after the latest online abuse was posted. Ghostbusters director Paul Feig called it "an absolute outrage" Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette warned people sharing explicit photos of Leslie Jones that they could be taken to court. Girls star Lena Dunham tweeted: "Let's turn our anger at trolls into love for Leslie Jones." Star of 2009 film Precious and Oscar nominee, Gabourey Sidibe, said she didn't understand how people could hate someone so much.And US presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, also tweeted her support.

Leslie Jones hasn't commented about the cyber-attack on social media. The actress was part of the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters this year. Over the past few weeks she's been working at the Olympic Games in Rio for US TV network NBC. In June, a man in America pleaded guilty to running a phishing campaign to steal private pictures and videos from film and TV stars. Edward Majerczyk, from Chicago, was arrested after police investigated the 2014 cyber-attack. Nude photos of more than 100 celebrities, including Rihanna and Jennifer Lawrence, were leaked online.
© BBC News


Headlines August 2016

Germany: How teenager used the dark web to buy gun for Munich mass murder

26/8/2016- Teenager Ali David Sonboly killed nine people and injured 21 during his rampage in Munich last month before shooting himself. Now an investigation by the Standard provides a disturbing insight into how the underground web enabled him to plot the attacks — and could be used by others to carry out more. Last December, seven months before he carried out the murders, Sonboly, 18, used the codename “Mauracher” to place a specific seven-line message requesting a Glock 17 pistol and 250 rounds of ammunition. He offered a price of 2,500 Euros but ended up paying almost 2,000 Euros more. The full extent of his use of the dark web was exposed in a lucky break for German police, as they investigated two separate attempts to use the underground network to ob-tain weapons, by a 62-year-old accountant and a student aged 17.

Armed police arrested a 31-year-old unemployed salesman in the town of Marburg after setting up a sting operation. He allegedly incriminated himself and revealed to undercover officers that he had supplied the Glock 17 pistol Sonboly used to cause the carnage. The arms seller allegedly told detectives he handed the Glock and 350 rounds of ammunition to Sonboly at meetings on May 20 and July 18, four days before the attack. There is no evidence Sonboly, a German-Iranian dual national, was linked to Islamic State or other Islamist terror groups. He had written what has been called a “manifesto of murder” after studying the actions of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian neo-Nazi who killed 77 in a bomb and gun attack five years ago. He had also suffered psychological problems and had been bullied at school, factors which the authorities say may have triggered his rampage on July 22.

Sonboly used the internet to carry out research into mass shootings and lure his victims to his chosen killing ground — a McDonald’s in north-west Munich. He shot at his victims in and outside the restaurant and continued the rampage in the nearby Olympia shopping centre, before shooting himself in the head. Seven of the victims were teenagers. Security agencies of Germany’s Western allies have been kept informed about the inquiry which followed — the information feeding into already rising concern about the use of illicit internet sites by terrorists and violent criminals. The dark net is utilised for a range of illegal purchases including drugs, child abuse images and arms. Users need to be adept at navigating its complex avenues while ensuring anonymity.

After the suicide bombings in Brussels last March, French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve called for greater control of websites “which are not indexed by traditional search engines and which run a large amount of data issued by criminal organisations including jihadists. Those who attack us use the dark net and encrypted messaging to get access to weapons to hit us”. When Sonboly bought his gun he used the encryption system PGP, making his purchase with Bitcoins. There is a strong possibility he bought a second weapon. Police are looking at claims that he was seen with another gun and his internet searches also included requests for .45 calibre ammunition, not needed for a 9mm Glock.

British security analyst Robert Emerson said: “If teenagers can get on it, so can many others involved in terrorism and organised crime. When guns are supplied to terrorists and robbers there is always a chance that it can be traced, networks dismantled. But there are serious obstacles if the deal is done through the dark net because the raison d’être for that market is secrecy. “It is also, of course, an international market on the web, and goods can be shipped anywhere — this is why we are likely to see increasing use of it by terrorists and criminals.” Despite the difficulties, British and German security agencies have successfully carried out a joint operation to uncover firearms trafficking involving the dark net.

In 2014 career criminal Alexander Mullings used a mobile from his Wandsworth jail cell to order Skorpion sub-machineguns from Germany. The supplier, who had been active in the underground internet market, turned out to be a student in the Bavarian city of Schweinfurt. At Luton crown court last year, Mullings was given a life sentence after being found guilty of conspiring to possess firearms with intent to endanger life. The German government maintains it has tight gun control laws, However, after the Munich shooting, interior minister Thomas de Maizière said further regulations could be brought in, and “in Europe, we want to make further progress with a common weapons policy. We have to look very carefully at where to make legal changes”. Mark Mastaglio, a fellow of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences and a forensic ballistic adviser to the UN, said: “The UK has the gold standard when it comes to deactivating guns. But although the laws are very strict in the UK, that is not the case in some places elsewhere and the dark net affects all. That is a serious problem.”
© The London Evening Standard


The dark web is a dangerous new frontier for those who try to keep terrorists at bay

A man has been arrested for allegedly supplying a gun to the teenager behind the recent Munich attack via the dark web - but the use of such websites can make tracking of weapons difficult
By Kim Sengupta

26/8/2016- The killing spree in Munich last month by an 18-year-old student caused shockwaves in Germany. There is now a breakthrough in the case with the arrest of the man who allegedly supplied the gun used to take the lives of nine people. The unfolding saga has provided disturbing insight into how the underground web – the dark net – was used to plan the murders and how it can be used to carry out future attacks. It was a stroke of luck that led detectives to a 31-year-old unemployed salesman in the town of Marburg who had allegedly procured the Glock 17 pistol for Ali David Sonboly, the young German-Iranian gunman. They had been looking at two different attempts to use the dark net to obtain weapons, one by a 62-year-old accountant, the other a 17-year-schoolboy – illicit transactions which in themselves illustrate the growing reach of the supposedly secret internet forum.

A “sting” operation was set up and it was while this was under way that the gun seller allegedly incriminated himself over the Munich massacre. He is said to have told undercover officers about handing over the Glock and 350 rounds of ammunition to Sonboly in two meetings: one on 20 May, the other on 18 July, four days before the shooting. The deaths resulting from that purchase was one of five acts of killing in Europe over 12 days, claimed by Isis. These have heightened fears of jihadist terror and added to recriminations over the West’s apparent inability to deal with the threat, as well as the supposed security threat posed by the waves of Muslim refugees coming to the Continent. Despite claims and counter-claims, no Islamist terrorist motive has emerged for Sonboly’s attack. He had written what has been described as a “manifesto of murder” after studying the actions of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian neo-nazi who killed 77 people five years ago. Sonboly had suffered psychological problems and had been regularly bullied in school, factors which the authorities say may have triggered his rampage.

It can be revealed that last December, seven months before he carried out the murders, Sonboly, using the name Mauracher, had placed a seven-line message requesting a Glock 17 pistol and 250 rounds of ammunition, for which he offered €2,500. He eventually ended up paying almost €2,000 more for them. Allied Western security agencies have been kept informed by the Germans about the inquiry which followed, the information augmenting concern about the use of illicit internet sites by terrorists and violent criminals. Following the suicide bombings in Brussels last March, the French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve had called for greater control of sites “which are not indexed by traditional search engines and which run a large amount of data issued by criminal organisations including jihadists… Those who attack us use the dark net and encrypted messaging to get access to weapons to hit us”.

Sonboly used the encryption system PGP, making his purchase with Bitcoins. There is a strong possibility that he bought a second weapon which has not been found. Police are looking at claims that he was seen with another gun and his internet searches had also included requests for .45 calibre ammunition, not needed for a 9mm Glock. The dark net is used for a range of highly-illegal purchases including drugs, child pornography and arms. Those using it need to be adept at navigating its complex avenues while ensuring anonymity. Sonboly was not considered to have technical expertise and German police say they do not know how he acquired the necessary skills. Neither can they explain how the teenager, whose sole income was a paper round, was able to get €4,350 for the pistol and ammunition. There are indications that he bought the Bitcoins last year when the price for the crypto-currency was much lower, showing further pre-planning and a degree of financial acumen.

Asked in the days following the Munich killings how Sonboly was able to use the underground market, Robert Heimberger, the head of the Bavaria forces criminal investigations branch responded: “I don’t know, I can’t get on the dark net myself, but I am noticing that many teenagers are actually able to get on it.” Robert Emerson, a British security analyst, said: “If teenagers can get on it, then so can many others involved in terrorism and organised crime. When guns are supplied to terrorists and robbers, there is always a chance that it can be traced, networks dismantled. But there are serious obstacles if the deal is done through the dark net because the raison d’etre for that market is secrecy. It is also an international market and goods can be shipped anywhere, this is why we are likely to see increasing use of it by terrorists and criminals.”

The Glock 17 Sonboly used had a certification mark from Slovakia. It had, at one stage, been decommissioned and used as a theatre prop. It was then reactivated before being sold to him. The Kalashnikov AK-47s used in the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris in January last year were also decommissioned and then converted back to fire live ammunition. The purchase however was not through the dark net and the supply chain was traced back to a shop, once again in Slovakia, in the west of the country. Despite the difficulties posed by the underground web market, British and German security agencies had successfully carried out a joint operation to uncover firearms trafficking involving the dark net. Two years ago Alexander Mullings, a career criminal, used a mobile phone from his cell in Wandsworth prison to order Skorpion sub-machine guns from Germany. The supplier, who had been active in the underground internet market, turned out to be a student at the Bavarian city of Schweinfurt.

The German government maintains it has tight gun control laws. However, in the aftermath of the shooting, interior minister Thomas de Maizière stated that further regulations may be brought in and that “in Europe, we want to make further progress with a common weapons policy.” “First we have to determine how the Munich perpetrator procured a weapon, then we have to look very carefully at where to make legal changes,” he said. Unlike Germany, private ownership of handguns is banned in Britain. Mark Mastaglio, a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences in London and a ballistic advisor to the UN, said: “The UK has the gold standard when it comes to deactivating guns. A lot of work has been done to get a common EU policy on this although I am not sure how we are left after Brexit. But, of course, the problem remains that although the laws are very strict in the UK, that is not the case in some places elsewhere and the dark net is something which affects all. That is a problem.”
© The Independent - Voices


Canada: “Kill All Jews Now” is an Acceptable Message, FB Says Or not?

Facebook has determined that a graphic explicitly calling for the genocide of all Jews “doesn’t violate [its] Community Standards.”

26/8/2016- The global social media giant made its determination in response to a complaint filed by B’nai Brith Canada. It took Facebook two hours to conclude that the post was acceptable, according to the company’s standards. The image, which was posted as a comment on the Facebook wall of University of Lethbridge Professor Anthony Hall, depicts a white man assaulting an Orthodox Jew, accompanied by a lengthy, violent antisemitic screed beside the photograph. It should be noted that Hall is well-known for using his academic credentials to deny the Holocaust and promote 9/11 conspiracy theories. The image is accompanied by this message: “There never was a ‘Holocaust’, but there should have been and, rest assured, there WILL be, as you serpentine kikes richly deserve one.” The image text ends with the entreaty “KILL ALL JEWS NOW! EVERY LAST ONE!”
B’nai Brith is outraged by the post and by Facebook’s refusal to remove it.

UPDATE: As of 3:15 PM ET on Friday August 26, B'nai Brith Canada has learned the image has been removed from Facebook. A screengrab of the image has been taken before its removal and can be viewed here.

“Antisemitism in all forms is rampant on social media, but this is the clearest, most obvious kind of antisemitism one could possibly create,” said Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith CEO. “The classification of this as antisemitic cannot be challenged, and the fact that this promotes violence towards Jews is beyond dispute. Regardless, Facebook has deemed it acceptable despite its ‘community standards’ containing clear provisions against hate speech. The Jewish community deserves no less protection or respect than any other when it comes to hate speech and threats of violence.” “Every year, upon publication of our Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, a contingent of detractors accuses us of saying the sky is falling, and that antisemitism does not exist in Canada,” said Amanda Hohmann, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “Content like this is proof positive that not only antisemitism of a genocidal nature exists in Canada, but the systems that are supposed to protect us from racist hate speech don’t consider hatred of Jews to be problematic.”
B’nai Brith has reported the post to Lethbridge Police Services.
© B’nai Brith Canada


Ireland: Black woman inundated with racist abuse while tweeting for @Ireland

Blogger and plus-size model forced to take a break from Ireland’s community Twitter account after being told to ‘return to your ancestral lands’ by trolls

23/8/2016- A black British woman who was chosen to tweet from the @ireland account for a week has been subjected to a barrage of racist abuse, forcing her to take a break from Twitter. Michelle Marie took over the account – which is curated by a different Twitter user in Ireland each week – on Monday. She introduced herself as a mother, blogger and plus-size model. Originally from Oxford in England, she wrote she had settled in Ireland and “it has my heart”. However, just hours after taking over the profile – which is followed by nearly 40,000 people – the abuse began. Marie responded by writing that being overweight “doesn’t mean I can’t be beautiful or worthy or happy” and described the impact body shaming had had on her mental health. However, that failed to stop the trolls abusing her because she was black. Marie received a lot of tweets of support, with many users urging her to report the abuse and block the users responsible.

James Hendicott, a Briton who had previously run the @Ireland account, said he hadn’t been trolled at the time and the treatment of Marie was “clearly racism”. By the end of the day the negative comments began to take their toll. She posted a statement saying that while she had expected “trolls, backlash and criticism” she had experienced “racism, sexism, fatophobia and homophobia to a degree I have never known.” After “8hrs of non-stop hate” she said she was hurt, shocked and appalled but promised she would try again tomorrow. Marie told the Guardian that the experience had been upsetting. “I’m saddened that such extreme racism and vitriol is still rife. I am fortunate that experiencing this level of hate is a rarity, but for too many it’s a daily reality,” she said. The @Ireland account was opened in 2012 and is run by Irish Central. Irish Central’s website says “as the Ireland of today is not confined to the island of Ireland, the varied voices of @Ireland come from Ireland and across the world.”
© The Guardian


Finland: Court throws out motion to close down anti-immigrant website MV-Lehti

A Helsinki district court has rejected a petition by police to shut down the anti-immigrant website MV-Lehti. However the court has sealed the arguments used in arriving at its decision.

19/8/2016- On Friday the Helsinki District Court overturned a petition by Helsinki police to shut down the MV-Lehti, an alternative news website that police suspect of disseminating false information and encouraging hate speech. The Helsinki police department called on the court to terminate online communications coming from a certain IP address owned by OVH Hosting Ltd, Net9 Ltd, and the sole trader NP Networking, and which is responsible for publishing MV-Lehti and Uber Uutiset, a sister site to MV-Lehti with similar content. The court did not disclose the arguments behind its decision.

Inaccuracies, distortions, suspected copyright infringements
Police had previously received dozens of criminal complaints about MV-Lehti. They determined that several of the site’s articles may have been inaccurate, distorted or fulfilled the criteria for copyright infringement. The inflammatory website was founded in 2014 by Spain-based Ilja Janitskin, who also owns a number of other websites. MV stands for "Mita vittua" (in English What the f***?) and the website became a talking point after publishing a series of vitriolic articles about migration and other subjects. The site gained a wider following in Finland since large numbers of asylum seekers began arriving in Europe and media began reporting on crimes committed by some of the new arrivals. The website’s articles were published without attribution, so none of the contributors were known. In July Finnish media reported that the both the MV-Lehti and Uber Uutiset websites were no longer available. At the time Janitskin had posted a notification on his Facebook page indicating that the site’s Finnish servers had been taken down and would be reinstated elsewhere in due course.
© YLE News


How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet

They’re turning the web into a cesspool of aggression and violence. What watching them is doing to the rest of us may be even worse
By Joel Stein

18/8/2016- This story is not a good idea. Not for society and certainly not for me. Because what trolls feed on is attention. And this little bit–these several thousand words–is like leaving bears a pan of baklava. It would be smarter to be cautious, because the Internet’s personality has changed. Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information. Now, if you need help improving your upload speeds the web is eager to help with technical details, but if you tell it you’re struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.

The people who relish this online freedom are called trolls, a term that originally came from a fishing method online thieves use to find victims. It quickly morphed to refer to the monsters who hide in darkness and threaten people. Internet trolls have a manifesto of sorts, which states they are doing it for the “lulz,” or laughs. What trolls do for the lulz ranges from clever pranks to harassment to violent threats. There’s also doxxing–publishing personal data, such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts–and swatting, calling in an emergency to a victim’s house so the SWAT team busts in. When victims do not experience lulz, trolls tell them they have no sense of humor. Trolls are turning social media and comment boards into a giant locker room in a teen movie, with towel-snapping racial epithets and misogyny.

They’ve been steadily upping their game. In 2011, trolls descended on Facebook memorial pages of recently deceased users to mock their deaths. In 2012, after feminist Anita Sarkeesian started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a series of YouTube videos chronicling misogyny in video games, she received bomb threats at speaking engagements, doxxing threats, rape threats and an unwanted starring role in a video game called Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian. In June of this year, Jonathan Weisman, the deputy Washington editor of the New York Times, quit Twitter, on which he had nearly 35,000 followers, after a barrage of anti-Semitic messages. At the end of July, feminist writer Jessica Valenti said she was leaving social media after receiving a rape threat against her daughter, who is 5 years old.

A Pew Research Center survey published two years ago found that 70% of 18-to-24-year-olds who use the Internet had experienced harassment, and 26% of women that age said they’d been stalked online. This is exactly what trolls want. A 2014 study published in the psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences found that the approximately 5% of Internet users who self-identified as trolls scored extremely high in the dark tetrad of personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism and, especially, sadism. But maybe that’s just people who call themselves trolls. And maybe they do only a small percentage of the actual trolling. “Trolls are portrayed as aberrational and antithetical to how normal people converse with each other. And that could not be further from the truth,” says Whitney Phillips, a literature professor at Mercer University and the author of This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. “These are mostly normal people who do things that seem fun at the time that have huge implications. You want to say this is the bad guys, but it’s a problem of us.”

A lot of people enjoy the kind of trolling that illuminates the gullibility of the powerful and their willingness to respond. One of the best is Congressman Steve Smith, a Tea Party Republican representing Georgia’s 15th District, which doesn’t exist. For nearly three years Smith has spewed over-the-top conservative blather on Twitter, luring Senator Claire McCaskill, Christiane Amanpour and Rosie O’Donnell into arguments. Surprisingly, the guy behind the GOP-mocking prank, Jeffrey Marty, isn’t a liberal but a Donald Trump supporter angry at the Republican elite, furious at Hillary Clinton and unhappy with Black Lives Matter. A 40-year-old dad and lawyer who lives outside Tampa, he says he has become addicted to the attention. “I was totally ruined when I started this. My ex-wife and I had just separated. She decided to start a new, more exciting life without me,” he says. Then his best friend, who he used to do pranks with as a kid, killed himself. Now he’s got an illness that’s keeping him home.

Marty says his trolling has been empowering. “Let’s say I wrote a letter to the New York Times saying I didn’t like your article about Trump. They throw it in the shredder. On Twitter I communicate directly with the writers. It’s a breakdown of all the institutions,” he says. “I really do think this stuff matters in the election. I have 1.5 million views of my tweets every 28 days. It’s a much bigger audience than I would have gotten if I called people up and said, ‘Did you ever consider Trump for President?'” Trolling is, overtly, a political fight. Liberals do indeed troll–sex-advice columnist Dan Savage used his followers to make Googling former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s last name a blunt lesson in the hygienic challenges of anal sex; the hunter who killed Cecil the lion got it really bad.

But trolling has become the main tool of the alt-right, an Internet-grown reactionary movement that works for men’s rights and against immigration and may have used the computer from Weird Science to fabricate Donald Trump. Not only does Trump share their attitudes, but he’s got mad trolling skills: he doxxed Republican primary opponent Senator Lindsey Graham by giving out his cell-phone number on TV and indirectly got his Twitter followers to attack GOP political strategist Cheri Jacobus so severely that her lawyers sent him a cease-and-desist order.

The alt-right’s favorite insult is to call men who don’t hate feminism “cucks,” as in “cuckold.” Republicans who don’t like Trump are “cuckservatives.” Men who don’t see how feminists are secretly controlling them haven’t “taken the red pill,” a reference to the truth-revealing drug in The Matrix. They derisively call their adversaries “social-justice warriors” and believe that liberal interest groups purposely exploit their weakness to gain pity, which allows them to control the levers of power. Trolling is the alt-right’s version of political activism, and its ranks view any attempt to take it away as a denial of democracy.

In this new culture war, the battle isn’t just over homosexuality, abortion, rap lyrics, drugs or how to greet people at Christmastime. It’s expanded to anything and everything: video games, clothing ads, even remaking a mediocre comedy from the 1980s. In July, trolls who had long been furious that the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters starred four women instead of men harassed the film’s black co-star Leslie Jones so badly on Twitter with racist and sexist threats–including a widely copied photo of her at the film’s premiere that someone splattered semen on–that she considered quitting the service. “I was in my apartment by myself, and I felt trapped,” Jones says. “When you’re reading all these gay and racial slurs, it was like, I can’t fight y’all. I didn’t know what to do. Do you call the police? Then they got my email, and they started sending me threats that they were going to cut off my head and stuff they do to ‘N words.’ It’s not done to express an opinion, it’s done to scare you.”

Because of Jones’ harassment, alt-right leader Milo Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from Twitter. (He is also an editor at Breitbart News, the conservative website whose executive chairman, Stephen Bannon, was hired Aug. 17 to run the Trump campaign.) The service said Yiannopoulos, a critic of the new Ghostbusters who called Jones a “black dude” in a tweet, marshaled many of his more than 300,000 followers to harass her. He not only denies this but says being responsible for your fans is a ridiculous standard. He also thinks Jones is faking hurt for political purposes. “She is one of the stars of a Hollywood blockbuster,” he says. “It takes a certain personality to get there. It’s a politically aware, highly intelligent star using this to get ahead. I think it’s very sad that feminism has turned very successful women into professional victims.”

A gay, 31-year-old Brit with frosted hair, Yiannopoulos has been speaking at college campuses on his Dangerous Faggot tour. He says trolling is a direct response to being told by the left what not to say and what kinds of video games not to play. “Human nature has a need for mischief. We want to thumb our nose at authority and be individuals,” he says. “Trump might not win this election. I might not turn into the media figure I want to. But the space we’re making for others to be bolder in their speech is some of the most important work being done today. The trolls are the only people telling the truth.”

The alt-right was galvanized by Gamergate, a 2014 controversy in which trolls tried to drive critics of misogyny in video games away from their virtual man cave. “In the mid-2000s, Internet culture felt very separate from pop culture,” says Katie Notopoulos, who reports on the web as an editor at BuzzFeed and co-host of the Internet Explorer podcast. “This small group of people are trying to stand their ground that the Internet is dark and scary, and they’re trying to scare people off. There’s such a culture of viciously making fun of each other on their message boards that they have this very thick skin. They’re all trained up.”

Andrew Auernheimer, who calls himself Weev online, is probably the biggest troll in history. He served just over a year in prison for identity fraud and conspiracy. When he was released in 2014, he left the U.S., mostly bouncing around Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Since then he has worked to post anti–Planned Parenthood videos and flooded thousands of university printers in America with instructions to print swastikas–a symbol tattooed on his chest. When I asked if I could fly out and interview him, he agreed, though he warned that he “might not be coming ashore for a while, but we can probably pass close enough to land to have you meet us somewhere in the Adriatic or Ionian.” His email signature: “Eternally your servant in the escalation of entropy and eschaton.”

While we planned my trip to “a pretty remote location,” he told me that he no longer does interviews for free and that his rate was two bitcoins (about $1,100) per hour. That’s when one of us started trolling the other, though I’m not sure which:

From: Joel Stein
To: Andrew Auernheimer
I totally understand your position. But TIME, and all the major media outlets, won’t pay people who we interview. There’s a bunch of reasons for that, but I’m sure you know them.

Thanks anyway,

From: Andrew Auernheimer
To: Joel Stein
I find it hilarious that after your people have stolen years of my life at gunpoint and bulldozed my home, you still expect me to work for free in your interests.
You people belong in a f-cking oven.

From: Joel Stein
To: Andrew Auernheimer

For a guy who doesn’t want to be interviewed for free, you’re giving me a lot of good quotes!

In a later blog post about our emails, Weev clarified that TIME is “trying to destroy white civilization” and that we should “open up your Jew wallets and dump out some of the f-cking geld you’ve stolen from us goys, because what other incentive could I possibly have to work with your poisonous publication?” I found it comforting that the rate for a neo-Nazi to compromise his ideology is just two bitcoins. Expressing socially unacceptable views like Weev’s is becoming more socially acceptable. Sure, just like there are tiny, weird bookstores where you can buy neo-Nazi pamphlets, there are also tiny, weird white-supremacist sites on the web. But some of the contributors on those sites now go to places like 8chan or 4chan, which have a more diverse crowd of meme creators, gamers, anime lovers and porn enthusiasts. Once accepted there, they move on to Reddit, the ninth most visited site in the U.S., on which users can post links to online articles and comment on them anonymously. Reddit believes in unalloyed free speech; the site only eliminated the comment boards “jailbait,” “creepshots” and “beatingwomen” for legal reasons.

But last summer, Reddit banned five more discussion groups for being distasteful. The one with the largest user base, more than 150,000 subscribers, was “fatpeoplehate.” It was a particularly active community that reveled in finding photos of overweight people looking happy, almost all women, and adding mean captions. Reddit users would then post these images all over the targets’ Facebook pages along with anywhere else on the Internet they could. “What you see on Reddit that is visible is at least 10 times worse behind the scenes,” says Dan McComas, a former Reddit employee. “Imagine two users posting about incest and taking that conversation to their private messages, and that’s where the really terrible things happen. That’s where we saw child porn and abuse and had to do all of our work with law enforcement.”

Jessica Moreno, McComas’ wife, pushed for getting rid of “fatpeoplehate” when she was the company’s head of community. This was not a popular decision with users who really dislike people with a high body mass index. She and her husband had their home address posted online along with suggestions on how to attack them. Eventually they had a police watch on their house. They’ve since moved. Moreno has blurred their house on Google maps and expunged nearly all photos of herself online.

During her time at Reddit, some users who were part of a group that mails secret Santa gifts to one another complained to Moreno that they didn’t want to participate because the person assigned to them made racist or sexist comments on the site. Since these people posted their real names, addresses, ages, jobs and other details for the gifting program, Moreno learned a good deal about them. “The idea of the basement dweller drinking Mountain Dew and eating Doritos isn’t accurate,” she says. “They would be a doctor, a lawyer, an inspirational speaker, a kindergarten teacher. They’d send lovely gifts and be a normal person.” These are real people you might know, Moreno says. There’s no real-life indicator. “It’s more complex than just being good or bad. It’s not all men either; women do take part in it.” The couple quit their jobs and started Imzy, a cruelty-free Reddit. They believe that saving a community is nearly impossible once mores have been established, and that sites like Reddit are permanently lost to the trolls.

When sites are overrun by trolls, they drown out the voices of women, ethnic and religious minorities, gays–anyone who might feel vulnerable. Young people in these groups assume trolling is a normal part of life online and therefore self-censor. An anonymous poll of the writers at TIME found that 80% had avoided discussing a particular topic because they feared the online response. The same percentage consider online harassment a regular part of their jobs. Nearly half the women on staff have considered quitting journalism because of hatred they’ve faced online, although none of the men had. Their comments included “I’ve been raged at with religious slurs, had people track down my parents and call them at home, had my body parts inquired about.” Another wrote, “I’ve had the usual online trolls call me horrible names and say I am biased and stupid and deserve to be raped. I don’t think men realize how normal that is for women on the Internet.”

The alt-right argues that if you can’t handle opprobrium, you should just turn off your computer. But that’s arguing against self-expression, something antithetical to the original values of the Internet. “The question is: How do you stop people from being a–holes not to their face?” says Sam Altman, a venture capitalist who invested early in Reddit and ran the company for eight days in 2014 after one of its many PR crises. “This is exactly what happened when people talked badly about public figures. Now everyone on the Internet is a public figure. The problem is that not everyone can deal with that.” Altman declared on June 15 that he would quit Twitter and his 171,000 followers, saying, “I feel worse after using Twitter … my brain gets polluted here.”

Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Del Harvey, struggles with how to allow criticism but curb abuse. “Categorically to say that all content you don’t like receiving is harassment would be such a broad brush it wouldn’t leave us much content,” she says. Harvey is not her real name, which she gave up long ago when she became a professional troll, posing as underage girls (and occasionally boys) to entrap pedophiles as an administrator for the website Perverted-Justice and later for NBC’s To Catch a Predator. Citing the role of Twitter during the Arab Spring, she says that anonymity has given voice to the oppressed, but that women and minorities are more vulnerable to attacks by the anonymous.

But even those in the alt-right who claim they are “unf-ckwithable” aren’t really. At some point, everyone, no matter how desensitized by their online experience, is liable to get freaked out by a big enough or cruel enough threat. Still, people have vastly different levels of sensitivity. A white male journalist who covers the Middle East might blow off death threats, but a teenage blogger might not be prepared to be told to kill herself because of her “disgusting acne.”

Which are exactly the kinds of messages Em Ford, 27, was receiving en masse last year on her YouTube tutorials on how to cover pimples with makeup. Men claimed to be furious about her physical “trickery,” forcing her to block hundreds of users each week. This year, Ford made a documentary for the BBC called Troll Hunters in which she interviewed online abusers and victims, including a soccer referee who had rape threats posted next to photos of his young daughter on her way home from school. What Ford learned was that the trolls didn’t really hate their victims. “It’s not about the target. If they get blocked, they say, ‘That’s cool,’ and move on to the next person,” she says. Trolls don’t hate people as much as they love the game of hating people.

Troll culture might be affecting the way nontrolls treat one another. A yet-to-be-published study by University of California, Irvine, professor Zeev Kain showed that when people were exposed to reports of good deeds on Facebook, they were 10% more likely to report doing good deeds that day. But the opposite is likely occurring as well. “One can see discourse norms shifting online, and they’re probably linked to behavior norms,” says Susan Benesch, founder of the Dangerous Speech Project and faculty associate at Harvard’s Internet and Society center. “When people think it’s increasingly O.K. to describe a group of people as subhuman or vermin, those same people are likely to think that it’s O.K. to hurt those people.”

As more trolling occurs, many victims are finding laws insufficient and local police untrained. “Where we run into the problem is the social-media platforms are very hesitant to step on someone’s First Amendment rights,” says Mike Bires, a senior police officer in Southern California who co-founded, a tool for cops to fight on-line crime and use social media to work with their communities. “If they feel like someone’s life is in danger, Twitter and Snapchat are very receptive. But when it comes to someone harassing you online, getting the social-media companies to act can be very frustrating.” Until police are fully caught up, he recommends that victims go to the officer who runs the force’s social-media department.

One counter-trolling strategy now being employed on social media is to flood the victims of abuse with kindness. That’s how many Twitter users have tried to blunt racist and body-shaming attacks on U.S. women’s gymnastics star Gabby Douglas and Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno during the Summer Olympics in Rio. In 2005, after Emily May co-founded Hollaback!, which posts photos of men who harass women on the street in order to shame them (some might call this trolling), she got a torrent of misogynistic messages. “At first, I thought it was funny. We were making enough impact that these losers were spending their time calling us ‘cunts’ and ‘whores’ and ‘carpet munchers,'” she says. “Long-term exposure to it, though, I found myself not being so active on Twitter and being cautious about what I was saying online. It’s still harassment in public space. It’s just the Internet instead of the street.” This summer May created Heartmob, an app to let people report trolling and receive messages of support from others.

Though everyone knows not to feed the trolls, that can be challenging to the type of people used to expressing their opinions. Writer Lindy West has written about her abortion, hatred of rape jokes and her body image–all of which generated a flood of angry messages. When her father Paul died, a troll quickly started a fake Twitter account called PawWestDonezo, (“donezo” is slang for “done”) with a photo of her dad and the bio “embarrassed father of an idiot.” West reacted by writing about it. Then she heard from her troll, who apologized, explaining that he wasn’t happy with his life and was angry at her for being so pleased with hers.

West says that even though she’s been toughened by all the abuse, she is thinking of writing for TV, where she’s more insulated from online feedback. “I feel genuine fear a lot. Someone threw a rock through my car window the other day, and my immediate thought was it’s someone from the Internet,” she says. “Finally we have a platform that’s democratizing and we can make ourselves heard, and then you’re harassed for advocating for yourself, and that shuts you down again.”

I’ve been a columnist long enough that I got calloused to abuse via threats sent over the U.S. mail. I’m a straight white male, so the trolling is pretty tame, my vulnerabilities less obvious. My only repeat troll is Megan Koester, who has been attacking me on Twitter for a little over two years. Mostly, she just tells me how bad my writing is, always calling me “disgraced former journalist Joel Stein.” Last year, while I was at a restaurant opening, she tweeted that she was there too and that she wanted to take “my one-sided feud with him to the next level.” She followed this immediately with a tweet that said, “Meet me outside Clifton’s in 15 minutes. I wanna kick your ass.” Which shook me a tiny bit. A month later, she tweeted that I should meet her outside a supermarket I often go to: “I’m gonna buy some Ahi poke with EBT and then kick your ass.”

I sent a tweet to Koester asking if I could buy her lunch, figuring she’d say no or, far worse, say yes and bring a switchblade or brass knuckles, since I have no knowledge of feuding outside of West Side Story. Her email back agreeing to meet me was warm and funny. Though she also sent me the script of a short movie she had written. I saw Koester standing outside the restaurant. She was tiny–5 ft. 2 in., with dark hair, wearing black jeans and a Spy magazine T-shirt. She ordered a seitan sandwich, and after I asked the waiter about his life, she looked at me in horror. “Are you a people person?” she asked. As a 32-year-old freelance writer for who has never had a full-time job, she lives on a combination of sporadic paychecks and food stamps. My career success seemed, quite correctly, unjust. And I was constantly bragging about it in my column and on Twitter. “You just extruded smarminess that I found off-putting. It’s clear I’m just projecting. The things I hate about you are the things I hate about myself,” she said.

As a feminist stand-up comic with more than 26,000 Twitter followers, Koester has been trolled more than I have. One guy was so furious that she made fun of a 1970s celebrity at an autograph session that he tweeted he was going to rape her and wanted her to die afterward. “So you’d think I’d have some sympathy,” she said about trolling me. “But I never felt bad. I found that column so vile that I thought you didn’t deserve sympathy.” When I suggested we order wine, she told me she’s a recently recovered alcoholic who was drunk at the restaurant opening when she threatened to beat me up. I asked why she didn’t actually walk up to me that afternoon and, even if she didn’t punch me, at least tell me off. She looked at me like I was an idiot. “Why would I do that?” she said. “The Internet is the realm of the coward. These are people who are all sound and no fury.”

Maybe. But maybe, in the information age, sound is as destructive as fury.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story included a reference to Asperger’s Syndrome in an inappropriate context. It has been removed. Additionally, an incorrect description of Megan Koester has been removed.
© Time


Twitter Announces Tools That Seem Intended To Curb Harassment

The changes come one week after a BuzzFeed News investigation into Twitter’s decadelong failure to stop abuse.

18/8/2016- Today, Twitter announced two product features that seem intended to help users handle abuse on the platform. The features come one week after BuzzFeed News reported on Twitter’s decade long problem with harassment thanks to what company insiders past and present describe as inaction and organizational disarray. In a company blog post, Twitter revealed it will begin rolling out a setting that will allow users to limit notifications on desktop and mobile to only the accounts they follow. Alongside this feature, the company is also introducing a quality filter. Here’s how Twitter describes it:
The filter can improve the quality of Tweets you see by using a variety of signals, such as account origin and behavior. Turning it on filters lower-quality content, like duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated, from your notifications and other parts of your Twitter experience. It does not filter content from people you follow or accounts you’ve recently interacted with – and depending on your preferences, you can turn it on or off in your notifications settings.

Both of these features are similar to the quality filter and notifications settings that have been available to verified users for a while now. The update is an attempt to standardize the experience between verified and non-verified accounts. While the quality filter seems to be designed to stop spammers and pop-up troll accounts, it is unclear how effective the filter will be at ending targeted harassment at an individual by non-spam actors. The features also only seem to address harassment by limiting what users will see in their feeds when they’re logged on. The settings don’t appear to prevent someone from tweeting abusive things. As of now, there appear to be no changes to Twitter’s abuse reporting system or any plans to address how Twitter responds to abuse.
© Buzzfeed


Twitter suspends 360,000 accounts for terrorist/hate ties

The social network has suspended 235,000 in last six months alone, with rate of daily suspensions up 80%

18/8/2016- Twitter continues to fight to keep terrorist groups and sympathizers from using its service. The social network announced today that in the last six months it has suspended 235,000 accounts for violating its policies related to the promotion of terrorism. In February, Twitter reported that it had suspended 125,000 accounts since mid-2015 for terrorist-related reasons. That means Twitter has suspended 360,000 accounts since the middle of last year. "Since that [February] announcement, the world has witnessed a further wave of deadly, abhorrent terror attacks across the globe," the company wrote in a blog post. "We strongly condemn these acts and remain committed to eliminating the promotion of violence or terrorism on our platform."

Twitter also reported that daily suspensions are up more than 80% since last year, with spikes in suspensions immediately following terrorist attacks. "Our response time for suspending reported accounts, the amount of time these accounts are on Twitter, and the number of followers they accumulate have all decreased dramatically," the company said. "As noted by numerous third parties, our efforts continue to drive meaningful results, including a significant shift in this type of activity off of Twitter." There has been increasing focus on trying to keep terrorist groups, whether it's ISIS or homegrown white supremacists, from using social networks like Twitter and Facebook to communicate, call for attacks and to recruit new members. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton even raised the issue during her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last month. "We will disrupt their efforts online to reach and radicalize young people in our country. It won't be easy or quick, but make no mistake - we will prevail," Clinton said.

Social media, including sites like YouTube and instant messaging service Telegram, have been used for years. Those sites are fighting back, too. Facebook previously reported that it has suspended accounts it found were associated with radicalized groups. Today, Twitter noted that it not only is suspending accounts, but is making it harder for those suspended to return to the platform. "We have expanded the teams that review reports around the clock, along with their tools and language capabilities," Twitter said. "We also collaborate with other social platforms, sharing information and best practices for identifying terrorist content... Finally, we continue to work with law enforcement entities seeking assistance with investigations to prevent or prosecute terror attacks."
© Computer World


Skype and WhatsApp face tougher EU privacy rules

16/8/2016- The EU wants to extend privacy rules to cover calls and messages sent over the internet, subjecting services such as WhatsApp and Skype to much greater regulation. Tech and telecom industries last month called for the EU to scrap the rules, contained in the Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications, known as the e-privacy directive. Telecom companies have long complained that web-based competitors such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook - which offer communications services Skype, WhatsApp and Hangouts - enjoy an advantage because they are allowed to make money from traffic and location data, which telecoms operators are not allowed to keep. Scrapping the rules would encourage innovation and drive growth and social opportunities, telecoms lobby group GSM Association had said. Instead, the European Commission intends to bring in everyone under the same rules.

According to UK newspaper the Financial Times, the EU executive’s move is an attempt to rein in American companies that dominate the sector, undercutting EU telecoms providers. Whether the rules will strengthen consumers’ privacy is open for debate. Some internet companies offer end-to-end encryption on their services. Facebook, which uses full-scale encryption on WhatsApp, said in its response to the Commission's public consultation that extending the rules to online messaging services would mean they could in effect "no longer be able to guarantee the security and confidentiality of the communication through encryption". They send the new regime would allow governments the option of restricting the confidentiality right for national security purposes. The commission is due to make an initial announcement in September and present detailed plans for legislative review later this year.
© The EUobserver


UK: 289 Islamophobic tweets were sent every hour in July

In total 215,246 Islamophobic tweets were sent from English-speaking accounts in July

18/8/2016- The number of times anti-Islamic insults are used on Twitter is rising month-by-month, a new report reveals. Analysis of the social media site found 215,246 Islamophobic tweets were sent in July this year – a staggering 289 every hour. Spikes in offensive language correlated with acts of terrorism, with the largest number of abusive tweets sent the day after the devastating Nice attack, the research says. Researchers at the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the Demos think tank, said identifying tweets that were hateful, derogatory and anti-Islamic was “a formidable challenge”. They first collected all tweets that contained one of a list of terms that could be used in an anti-Islamic way, including ‘Jihadi’ and ‘Terrorist.’ Most are too offensive to be published. Between 29 February and 2 August, 34 million tweets meeting the criteria were collected, but most were not anti-Islamic or hateful.

Algorithms were built and used to identify Islamophobic context within a tweet. For example, classifiers were built to separate tweets referring to Islamist terrorism from other forms of terrorism and then distinguish between messages attacking Muslim communities in the context of terrorism, from those defending the communities. The researchers found many of the tweets, which were identified as derogatory and anti-Islamic, included specific references to recent acts of violence and attacked entire Muslim communities in the context of terrorism. The largest of the spikes within July was the day following the Nice terrorist attack, with 21,190 tweets on 15 July. Not far behind, was the day after the shooting of police officers in Dallas on 8 July, when 11,320 Islamophobic tweets were sent. The 17 July was the next worst date, with 10,610 Islamophobic tweets sent the day after the attempted military coup in Turkey, followed by the end of Ramadan on 5 July, with 9,220 tweets.

The day of an IS attack on a church in Normandy on 26 July, 8,950 upsetting tweets were posted, according to the study. The think tank has been monitoring Islamophobic activity on the social network since March and said July recorded the highest volume of derogatory tweets of any month yet. It found an average of 4,972 Islamophobic tweets were sent a day since March. Demos geo-located locate many of the tweets collected and found Islamophobic tweets originating in every EU member state. As only tweets in English were recorded, the majority were traced to English speaking countries. However outside the UK significant concentrations were identified in the Netherlands, France and Germany. In December 2015, Twitter updated its policies to explicitly ban "hateful conduct" for the first time. The move has been followed-by agreements with officials in the EU – as well as Facebook and YouTube – to remove hate speech from their networks.

"Our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others," a Twitter spokesperson told the BBC. "We are continuing to invest heavily in improving our tools and enforcement systems to better allow us to identify and take faster action on abuse as it's happening and prevent repeat offenders."
© Wired UK


Scotland Yard to use civilian volunteer ‘thought police’ to help combat social media hate crime

Original posted on the Independent website not to be found there anymore
By Adam Lusher

14/8/2016- Scotland Yard is to recruit civilian volunteers to help police social media in a new £1.7 million online hate crime unit. The volunteers – already dubbed a “thought police” by critics – will seek out and challenge social media abuse and report it to a new police “online hate crime hub”. Documents outlining how the scheme will work appear to suggest that the use of social media savvy volunteers will help address the problem that: “The police response to online hate crime is inconsistent, primarily because police officers are not equipped to tackle it.” A report by the London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), which will help fund the scheme, has said: “A key element is the community hub, which will work with and support community volunteers to identify, report and challenge online hate material. “This requires full time capacity to recruit, train and manage a group of community volunteers, who are skilled in the use of social media and able to both identify and appropriately respond to inappropriate content to build the counter-narrative.”

The report suggests using the anti-racist organisation Stop Hate UK to provide the volunteers, because of its previous experience and ability to “effect speedy mobilisation in London.” The two-year pilot scheme will cost a total of £1,730,000, with the bulk of the funding coming from MOPAC and the Metropolitan Police, supported by £453,756 from the Home Office in the form of a Police Innovation Fund Grant. The initiative comes after a spike in racism following the EU referendum that saw a 57 per cent increase in hate crime reported to the police and included social media users receiving such messages as “go home black b*tch – we voted leave, time to make Britain great again by getting rid of u blacks, Asians and immigrants.”

Prominent figures also received abuse, including the Remain-supporting black London MP David Lammy who called police after reportedly receiving a death threat via social media. In one message he was reportedly told “I hope your kids get cancer and die” and “I wish you the same fate as that b*tch got stab” – a reference to the Labour MP Jo Cox who was killed during the referendum campaign. The online hate crime hub also comes after John Nimmo, 28, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, was told last month that he faces jail for sending threatening emails to the MP Luciana Berger showing a picture of a large knife and telling her “watch your back Jewish scum”. The scheme is also being piloted after a report by the Tell Mama organisation – which had been due to be unveiled by Ms Cox before she was killed – found that social media was being used as a platform for calls for violence against Muslims.

Tell Mama said it had received reports of 364 “flagrant” incidents of online hate speech, harassment and threats in 2015 and said these amounted to “only a small fraction of the anti-Muslim hate on social media platforms.” But the online hate crime hub, which will be led by a Detective Inspector with the help of four other Scotland Yard detectives, has already been criticised by freedom of speech campaigners as a form of “thought police.” The Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told the Mail on Sunday: “We want more police on the street, not thought police. “Online bullying is an increasingly serious problem, but police should not be proactively seeking cases like these and turning themselves into chatroom moderators. “With such measures, even if well intentioned, there is a real danger of undermining our very precious freedom of speech.”

Andrew Allison, from the Freedom Association libertarian group, added: “There’s a risk of online vigilantism, where people who are offended by the least thing will have a licence to report it to the police.” Critics also pointed to cases where the Police appear to have been heavy-handed in dealing with online comments. In one of the more spectacular examples, in 2010 Paul Chambers was arrested under the Terrorism Act and convicted of sending a menacing message after joking on twitter that he would blow an airport “sky high” if it remained closed by heavy snowfall and stopped him travelling to see his girlfriend. It took Mr Chambers two years and an appeal to the High Court before his conviction was quashed.
© The Truth Seeker


UK: The 'yellowface' Snapchat filter is nothing new

Several reputable studies have concluded that the ethnic group that suffers the highest rates of unreported racist hate crime in Britain is East Asians. When the butt of the joke is dehumanised in this way, it’s only a matter of time before that butt gets kicked
By Daniel York

12/8/2016- Snapchat is being defensive about its “anime” filter which is (rightly, in my opinion) being called out as an example of “yellowface”. Yellowface is of course nothing new and neither is the defensiveness around it. People tend to dig their heels in about yellowface a lot. Indeed, I’ve argued previously that yellowface is the last acceptable bastion of racist caricature and racial appropriation. Like blackface and brownface, there are two basic forms of yellowface. There is the type that enables actors (nearly always of Caucasian descent) to portray characters who are supposed to be East Asian. Some of these actors have even been nominated for awards for dressing up in exotic costumes and perfecting stilted hybrid accents. This type of “performance yellowface” completely perpetuates the notion that actors of Caucasian descent are inherently more talented, more intelligent, more nuanced and more skilful practitioners of the thespian arts – an utterly ludicrous premise which has had to be (and continues to be) fought very hard.

After all, let us not forget that once upon a time women were not allowed on the stage either and were portrayed by young men. If anyone seriously wants to try and posit the argument that men playing women is somehow preferable to watching the likes of Judi Dench, Halle Berry or Juliet Binoche in action then good luck with that one. The other type of yellowface – the Snapchat variety – is obviously meant to be fun but also points up and exaggerates certain perceived ethnic “traits” which enforce stereotypes and are used to ridicule and dehumanise. It encourages people to pull back their eyes into thin slants, pronounce their l’s as r’s and force their teeth to protrude in the guise of the “comedy oriental” a la Mickey Rooney in the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

It is of course entirely false. Many, many East Asians have very large eyes, there is no greater occurrence of buckteeth in certain racial groups and, as for the r’s and l’s, let’s face it, there are sounds in all “foreign” languages that the majority of English speakers will struggle with hopelessly. But the whole point of yellowface is it reinforces a certain perceived cultural superiority: you can’t speak our language perfectly so you’re obviously a bit strange (even though you probably speak our language with far more command and dexterity than most of us would ever have yours). Both types of yellowface render people of East Asian descent as invisible ciphers with no personality or individual characteristics. Like blackface or brownface, they reinforce White Western Caucasian as the supreme “norm”; the default setting to which every other type of ethnicity is at best a quirky exotic counterpoint and, at worst, some form of hateful deviation, to be scorned, dominated and kept in its place lest it claim some form of parity in the wider “Caucasian” world.

If anyone reading feels this in any way over-sensitive it might be worth googling some Nazi caricatures of Jews in the 1930s. I’m sure that was all good fun back in the day but we all know how that ended up. It’s also worth remembering that several reputable studies have concluded that the ethnic group that suffers the highest rates of unreported racist hate crime in Britain is East Asians. Traditionally the most unassertive and disparate racial group lacking any kind of media voice or presence, this is really no coincidence. When the butt of the joke is dehumanised in this way, it’s only a matter of time before that butt gets kicked. It’s sometimes argued that this kind of ridicule cuts both ways and is a basic component of humour that goes on in all cultures – but a recent Chinese detergent advert featuring a black man being “washed” Chinese rightly attracted mass social media disapproval. Interestingly, the one East Asian country where you can find regular racist caricatures of white people is...North Korea.

Any other ways we want to emulate the Democratic People’s Republic? Then start caring about racial caricatures in Snapchat filters.
© The Independent - Voices


Pakistan: Cyber crime bill passed in National Assembly

The Prevention of Electronic Crime Bill 2015 was passed in the national assembly with majority vote on Thursday.

11/8/2016- The senate has already approved the cyber crime bill with 50 amendments in July 29 this year. Minister of State of Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rehman had presented this bill earlier this year. The law envisages 14-year imprisonment and a Rs 5million fine for cyber terrorism, seven-year imprisonment each for campaigning against innocent people on the internet, spreading hate material on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and sect, or taking part in child pornography. The bill awaits signatures by President Mamnoon Hussain after which it will become a law. The bill has been criticised by the civil society members and rights groups for putting curbs on freedom of expression.

14-year jail, Rs5m fine for cyber terrorism
The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2016 envisages a 14-year imprisonment and Rs5 million for cyber terrorism, and seven-year imprisonment each for campaigning against innocent people on the internet, spreading hate material on the basis of ethnicity, religion and sect or taking part in child pornography, which can also entail a Rs500,000 fine. A special court will be formed for investigation into cyber crimes in consultation with the high court. The law will also apply to expatriates and electronic gadgets will be accepted as evidence in a special court. The bill will criminalise cyber-terrorism with punishment of up to 14 years in prison and Rs5 million in penalties. Similarly, child pornography will carry sentences of up to seven years in jail and Rs5 million, with the crimes being non-bailable offences. The bill also aims to criminalise terrorism on the internet, or raising of funds for terrorist acts online, with sentences of up to seven years in prison.

Under the law, terrorism, electronic fraud, exaggeration of forgery, crimes, hate speeches, pornographic materials about children, illegal access of data (hacking) as well as interference with data and information system (DOS and DDOS attacks) specialised cyber-related electronic forgery and electronic fraud etc would be punishable acts. It will also apply on the people who are engaged in anti-state activities online from their safe havens in other countries. Illegal use of internet data will cost three-year jail terms and Rs1 million fine. The same penalties are proposed for tampering with mobile phones. Data of internet providers will not be shared without court orders. The cyber crime law will not be applied on the print and electronic media. Foreign countries will be accessed to arrest those engaged in anti-state activities from there.
© Geo TV


Brazilian Olympians face organized racist attacks online

'They choose the victims,' says head of Rio's cybercrime unit — and the motive may surprise you

7/8/2016- You can hear the open-air gymnasium long before you see it; the thwacks of bodies in white judo gis hitting the mat. The gym, nestled between downtown and a nearby favela, is Brazil. The competitors of all ages are black, white, brown. Everyone is equal. At least that's what Brazilian world judo champion Rafaela Silva thought until she competed in the London Olympics. Silva was favoured to win a medal, but lost unexpectedly. And if that wasn't bad enough‚ as soon as she went online, she got another punch in the gut. On Twitter, on Facebook, hundreds of people on social media were hurling racist abuse at her. "I was very sad because I had lost the fight," Silva says. "So I walked to my room, I found all those insults on social media, they were criticizing me, calling me monkey, so I got really, really upset. I thought about leaving judo." Brazilian police say racist cyberattacks — especially against high-profile black women — are becoming more common

'They want to become famous'
Alessandro Thiers, the head of Rio's cybercrime unit, recently announced his officers caught those behind a racist cyberattack against a famous black journalist. It's not random racists at work here, he says. The attacks are co-ordinated by groups led by so-called administrators. "They choose the victims and they tell those in the group to act," Thiers said. "So they organize themselves in several states, chose a target ... then people from various states attack the victim." Police say most of the perpetrators are young and middle-class, and their motive often has little to do with white supremacy. "They want to become famous," Thiers says. "In fact, they are just spoiled kids."  Saying shocking things about well-known figures is an easy and often risk-free way to get the notoriety they seek, says Jurema Werneck, one of the founders of the Rio-based NGO Criola. And with the Olympics in their backyard, she fears they will now get a bigger platform. "We are not talking about fake profiles," she says. "Their profiles on the Internet are true ... they're not disguising themselves."

Werneck helps organize campaigns to stop the attacks‚ like a recent one in which Criola activists would find the perpetrators online and shame them by putting up billboards with their pictures near their home or work. She says if her small NGO can find the attackers‚ why can't police? "We find these racists easily. The police can do it too; they have more tools," Werneck says. "They're not doing a good job yet." For Silva, preparing for the Games now involves more than just practising holds and throws. She went to see a psychologist to help her deal with the hate she's bound to get online. "It has helped make me stronger and want to keep going," she says. This time, she knows what to expect. But being prepared, she says, doesn't make it any easier.
© CBC News


Facebook's walls of hate: Sickening abuse plastered online tells minorities to LEAVE UK

Sickening racist abuse regularly posted by warped trolls on Facebook — worsened since the Brexit vote — depicts ethnic minorities as "scum", "rapists" and "terrorists" and orders them to leave the UK, Daily Star Online has found.

7/8/2016- The UK voted to leave the EU in June. But last year net migration to the UK rose to around 333,000 — the second-highest figure ever. Since the vote, a Daily Star Online investigation has found — have suffered shocking abuse online. And social media has represented these minorities as threats to national security and criminals for years, it has emerged. It comes days after , including access to Heathrow Airport. Sick trolls and far right groups — including the English Defence League and Britain First — disseminate online hate and hostility, particularly after major global terror attacks like Brussels 2016. The investigation found hundreds of instances of anti-Muslim hate alone on Facebook, calling Muslims "terrorists", "rapists", claiming Muslim women are national security threats, ordering Muslims to be deported and posts referring to a "war" between Muslims and "us".

The offenders included far right groups, such as the English Brotherhood, but also twisted fantasists determined to spread hate. Shockingly, even councillors' posts were found to be slurs. Cllr Tim Paul Hicks, who represents UKIP on Shepshed Town Council in Leicestershire, is under investigation after allegedly making a series of anti-Muslim Facebook posts. He is accused of putting up a spate of racist images between July 10 and July 20 before the account was taken down five days later. One chilling picture allegedly showed a grenade with the caption: "Hotline to Allah. Pull pin, hold to ear, then wait for dial code." Accompanying the picture was a message saying: "ISIS HQ want to chat to you about Suicide Bomber Training School. Apparently, you missed a lesson." Another post showed tiara placed on top of a full burka and read: "Miss Saudi Arabia". There was also an image of a dog wearing a towel as a veil. Cllr Hick refused to comment on the allegations.

A spokesman from Progressive Leicestershire, a liberal political group, said of the posts: "They don't belong in 21st century Britain. They never have. I find it appalling." Birmingham City University carried out the harrowing research. Dr Imran Awan, associate professor in criminology at Birmingham City University, said: "The types of abuse and hate speech against Muslim communities on Facebook uncovered real problematic associations with Muslims being deemed as terrorists and rapists. "Muslim women wearing the veil are used as an example of a security threat. Muslims are viewed in the lens of security and war. This is particularly relevant for the far-right who are using English history and patriotism as a means to stoke up anti-Islamic hate with the use of a war analogy. "For example, after posting an image about eating British breakfast, a comment posted by one of the users, was: ‘For every sausage eaten or rasher of bacon we should chop of a Muslims head’. "The worry is that such comments could lead to actual offline violence and clearly groups such as this, are using Facebook to promote racial tensions and disharmony."

A spokesman from Facebook said the social media site does not tolerate direct attacks on race, ethnicity or religion. He added the site allows users to report any comment they feel is offensive and that Facebook does remove any content which is inappropriate. A spokesman from The Association of Chief Police Officers said: "We understand that hate material can damage community cohesion and create fear, so the police want to work alongside communities and the internet industry to reduce the harm caused by hate on the internet."
© The Daily Star


Europe's Radical Right Is Flourishing On Social Media

Far-right politics in Germany, France, and the U.K. flourished amid ongoing fears over migrants, terrorism and economic instability

3/8/2016- Anxious citizens across Europe are continuing to flock to their countries’ far-right fringes, posing an unprecedented challenge to established political parties throughout the region. Amid ongoing fears of migrants, terrorism and weakening job markets, support for radical right-wing parties in Europe is growing rapidly, a social media analysis by Vocativ shows. Long banished to the obscure corners of political life, resurgent populist groups in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom now boast more Facebook fans than their mainstream counterparts and have grown at a faster pace. For our analysis, we looked exclusively at the number of Facebook fans who identify as hailing from the home country of each party examined. Vocativ then tracked the growth of these online communities over the course of a year where immigrants, ISIS-inspired massacres, and national referendums dominated the consciousness of the continent.

In Germany, Europe’s leading destination for asylum seekers, fans of the ultra-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party more than doubled to 240,000 between July 19, 2015 and July 31, 2016. By contrast, the country’s Christian Democratic Union, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Social Democratic Party grew by only 17 percent (to 84,000) and 29 percent (to 87,600), respectively. The Facebook page of France’s National Front, which is led by Marine Le Pen, saw an uptick of 57 percent in the last year, to more than 290,000 fans—four times as many as the 70,000 on the page of President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party. And in the United Kingdom, Britain First grew its Facebook community by 45 percent, topping the left-leaning Labour Party and the Eurosceptic UK Independence Party.

Events in each of these countries over the last year—coupled with looming concerns over the political stability of the E.U.—have helped to further fuel the populist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim sentiment that underpin Europe’s rightward tilt. German anger over migrants and refugees reached a fever pitch in January when foreigners were accused of carrying out a string of sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. Terror-weary France has been battered by a series of Islamist-inspired attacks, including the deadly truck rampage in Nice last month that left more than 80 people dead. Meanwhile, Britain’s referendum on whether to break from the E.U., which passed narrowly in June, pushed nationalism and economic fears to forefront of public life. Just how well some of these groups fare politically will soon be tested. Germany holds regional elections next month. France’s presidential election will take place in April and May of 2017.
© Vocativ


USA: Neo-Nazi Hacker Distributes Racist Fliers Calling for the Death of Children

For the second time in a year, neo-Nazi hacker Andrew "weev" Auernheimer appears to have targeted flaws in printer networks to distribute racist fliers. This time, he's calling for the killing of children.

3/8/2016- Andrew Auernheimer, the notorious neo-Nazi black hat computer hacker better known as “weev,” claims to have targeted 50,000 printers across the country to distribute hate-filled fliers that call for the killing of black and Jewish children. “I unequivocally support the killing of children,” Auernheimer wrote in the flier. “I believe that our enemies need such a level of atrocity inflicted upon them and their homes that they are afraid to ever threaten the white race with genocide again.” He continued: “We will not relent until far after their daughters are raped in front of them. We will not relent until far after the eyes of their sons are gouged out before them. We will not relent until the cries of their infants are silenced by boots stomping on their brains out onto payment.”

It is unclear what prompted the flier, though Dylann Roof, who will soon face trial for allegedly murdering nine black people during a church service in Charleston, S.C., in June 2015, seems to have been a motivation. “I am thank thankful for his personal sacrifice of his life and future for white children,” Auernheimer wrote. “In honor of Dylann Roof, I will be growing out a bowl cut in solidarity for his trial.”

Auernheimer also praises Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in separate attacks Oslo, Norway and at a nearby children’s summer camp as a political statement against immigration in 2011. Auernheimer describes Breivik as a Nordic warrior, comparing him to the protagonist in the poem Volundarkvida, where the main character kills the sons of his captor and rapes his daughter after being imprisoned. Like the protagonist of the poem, Auernheimer served a brief stint in prison after he was convicted of one count of identity fraud and one count of conspiracy to access a computer without authorization after exposing a flaw in AT&T security which allowed the e-mail addresses of iPad users to be revealed. Breivik seems to be a fascination of Auernheimer’s. Responding to Breivik’s appeal to receive internet access while he’s incarcerated, Auernheimber created the hashtag “#BreivikOnline” to draw attention to Breivik’s inability to go online.

Andrew Anglin, the founder of The Daily Stormer website that refers to non-whites as “hordes" and Jewish people as “Bloodthirsty Jew Pigs,” also published a blog yesterday mirroring Auernheimer’s demand for Breivik to have internet access. This is not the first time Auernheimer has faxed violent, hate-filled fliers. Earlier this year, he blasted unprotected printers at colleges, universities, and unprotected office networks across the country with swastika adorned fliers promoting an anti-Semitic message.
© The Southern Poverty Law Center


Instagram Will Feature a Hate Filter to Stop Harassment

Instagram is said to work on bringing a hate filter to stop harassment to the social networking platform. What it means is that soon enough, users can start filtering their comment stream and also be able to turn off comments on their posts. This tool should provide ways to stop cyber bullying.

1/8/2016- Online harassment is a recurring issue in our day and age. Anyone with access to the internet for longer than a week has undoubtedly personally experienced or seen how others get bullied over the web. Instagram should be a fun, friendly environment, but problems like these do arise as much as anyone tries to combat them. Instagram already has general policies created to flag specific offensive words or phrases. However, the new feature will allow users to take matters into their own hands and control their account content as they wish. The hate filter to stop harassment works in a simple way. Instagram account holders will be able to change their settings so that they can filter the comments they receive and, if they rather, completely turn off other’s ability to post comments on their account. This way, all users can individually set up their account in such a way that personally offensive content gets ignored.

The new feature is set to arrive on high-profile accounts first, but all users will see the changes in the upcoming months. High-volume accounts can bring the social networking service a great deal of valuable feedback in a shorter period of time. The post-by-post comment filter should roll out to all accounts soon enough. According to the Pew Research Center, about 60 percent of internet users have seen someone being called offensive names. Other 53 percent of users have witnessed to efforts made by some individuals to embarrass someone else. Around 25 percent of web users have seen someone being physically threatened, and some 24 percent have seen someone continuously being harassed for a prolonged period of time. Furthermore, approximately 27 percent of internet users have personally been called offensive names, and 8 percent of them have been physically threatened or even stalked.

These worrying statistics call for more policies and efforts to put an end to online harassment. It is moves like Instagram’s and other networking websites that raise awareness of a serious issue that must be addressed further on.
© The Next Digit


Anti-Semitic hatred is now part of daily life for Jews online

No-one does anything to stop it
By Stephen Pollard

31/7/2016- Not so long ago, the likes of John Nimmo would be living in well deserved obscurity. Nimmo is a misogynist racist who has a penchant for sending threatening messages to women. Before the internet and the advent of social media, he would doubtless have festered alone in his South Shields bedroom and his hate would have been shared only with whichever other losers he happened to speak to. But in our digital age, Nimmo can make contact with pretty much anyone at the touch of a button. Two years ago he did exactly that to Labour MP Stella Creasy and feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, sending them abusive tweets and getting an eight week prison sentence for doing so. Now he is at it again, this time sending anti-Semitic death threats to the Liverpool Labour MP Luciana Berger. She would, he told her, “get it like Jo Cox”. He warned her: “watch your back Jewish scum, regards your friend the Nazi”, along with a picture of a large knife.

Ms Berger told the court where Nimmo is being tried that his words caused her “great fear and anguish”. She said the tweets left her in a state of “huge distress” and “caused me to feel physically sick being threatened in such a way.” I imagine that you are shocked to read about such behaviour. No decent person could fail to be. But Ms Berger won’t have been. I certainly wasn’t. Nor will any prominent Jew. Not because the behaviour is in any way acceptable. Rather, because it is so run-of-the-mill. Ms Berger receives anti-Semitic abuse every day. In spades. Indeed, you will not find a single prominent Jew with a Twitter or Facebook account who does not regularly receive anti-Semitic abuse. When I wake up and check my Twitter feed it rarely contains fewer than ten anti-Semitic messages. More often than not it’s far more. Another 20 or so come during an average day. And that’s after I have blocked over 300 different tweeters – a number that increases every day.

Some even amuse me, such as the recent claim that I “lead British Zionists with their propaganda to enable them to control UK.” Another tweet informed the world: “Pollard is the chief protagonist of Zionist supremacism in UK. He controls MSM.” MSM is an acronym for mainstream media – which means I apparently control all British media. Which would be really useful, if it were true. Sadly, I can’t even control my own kids. Some are threatening. One notorious anti-Semite that I had previously blocked started informing her followers that I was in the habit of ringing her voicemail and had left abusive messages threatening to rape her. She also posted a tweet suggesting that someone “pop” me off. In my experience, the police have been entirely useless. Last year I had to explain what Twitter was to two PCs from the Met who had been sent to talk to me about a threat I had reported. Though they had heard of it, they had no real idea what it was.

This is an epidemic of hate. And with the odd exception, such as the clear death threat to Ms Berger, nothing is done about it. Certainly not by Twitter. I have given up reporting the culprits, since not once has Twitter taken any action against them. Free speech, innit? But one thing puzzles me. Have the likes of Nimmo always been with us, and has social media simply given them a tool and a voice they didn’t have before? Or has social media itself raised the temperature and itself caused much of the epidemic? For most of my 51 years, anti-Semitism was something I encountered only fitfully; the odd unthinking throwaway remark or “joke”. Certainly nothing that would give me pause for thought. But the past few years have been different. I have not gone a day without encountering it. As a journalist, I have reported the spate of such comments from Labour members with astonishment that anti-Semitism can have entered the language of a mainstream party, however marginally.

My hunch is that it has always been there, but we simply never heard it. In the years after the Second World War, no one voiced anti-Semitism, even if it lay buried deep within their psyche. Even Jewish jokes were rarely told in polite company. But as memories faded and the Holocaust grew further away, social wariness of Jew-hate dissipated. History then reasserted itself. It’s not called the longest hatred for nothing. And the kind of anti-Semitism that once remained private, behind closed doors, now has the megaphone of social media. And that, we surely know, is not going anywhere.
Stephen Pollard is editor of the Jewish Chronicle
© The Telegraph


UK:Far right targets Muslim women in Facebook hate campaigns

In hundreds of postings Islamophobes spread hate speech to foster violence against UK's Muslims.

28/7/2016- Islamophobes are targeting Muslim women in online hate campaigns, according to a new study. A Birmingham City University study examined hundreds of Facebook pages, posts and comments as part of an extensive survey of the spread of anti-Islam hate speech online, including those associated with far right groups Britain First and the English Defence league. They found 500 instances of Islamophobic abuse, in which Muslims were branded terrorists and rapists, alleged to be waging "war" on non-Muslims, and in which calls made for Muslims to be deported, as part of a campaign to "incite violence and prejudicial action." Women wearing Islamic dress are branded a "security threat." There is evidence of the hatred spilling into attacks and real life abuse, with a 326% surge in Islamophobic incidents recorded last year, and more than half of the victims women.

Researcher Imran Awan said that the recent murder of MP Jo Cox and the surge of racist attacks in the wake of the Brexit vote showed the urgency of tackling online hate speech. "What is has shown is that the far right and those with links and sympathies with the far right were using Facebook and social media to in effect portray Muslims in a very bad and negative fashion," Awan said. "After Brexit people have felt much more empowered and confident to come and target Muslims and others in racist hate attacks. This was all playing on social media but no one looked at it. If Facebook had been monitoring this racism, then I'm not saying they could have stopped the racist attacks, but it certainly could have given them an insight into the racist people using their platforms." Online abuse surged after events such as the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamic extremists in 2013, or the sex abuse cases in Rotherham, according to the study.

It found that 80% of the abuse was carried out by men, who singled out Muslim women for attacks, with 76 posts portraying women wearing the niqab or hijab as a "security threat." The next most frequent form of abuse called for Muslims to be deported, with 62 instances recorded. It identifies five kinds of online Islamophobe, from the 'producers' and 'distributers' seeking to create "a climate of fear, anti-Muslim hate and online hostility," to the 'opportunists' who will spread anti-Muslim hate speech in response to a specific incident, such as atrocities committed by terrorist group Isis. Also responsible are 'deceptives', who will concoct rumours and false stories to whip up Islamophobic hatred, such as the rumour Muslims wanted to ban cartoon character Peppa Pig, and 'fantasists', who fantasise about Islamophobic violence and make direct threats against Muslim communities.
On Tuesday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the launch of a campaign to combat hate crime in the UK, with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to review the way hate crimes are reported and investigated by police in England and Wales. It comes with more than 6,000 hate crimes recorded by police in the wake of the 23 June EU Referendum. The Muslim Council of Britain recorded 100 crimes in the weekend after the referendum. Islamophobia monitoring group Tell MAMA found a 326 increase in Islamophobic incidents last year, with Muslim women "disproportionately targeted by cowardly hatemongers." "We have known that visible Muslim women are the ones targeted at a street level, but what we also have seen in Tell MAMA, is the way that Muslim women who are using social media platforms, are targeted for misogynistic and anti-Muslim speech.

In particular, there is a mix of sexualisation and anti-Muslim abuse that is intertwined which also hints at perceptions and attitudes towards women in our society," said Tell MAMA director Fiyaz Mughal. "We are also aware from our work in Tell MAMA, that the perpetrators age range has dropped significantly from 15-35 to 13-18 showing that anti-Muslim hate in particular is drawing in and building a younger audience which is daunting for the future. We need to redouble our efforts if we are to have social cohesion in our society and we also need to ensure that women feel protected and confident enough to report in such hate incidents."

Facebook needs to do more to tackle race hatred
Facebook recently signed up to a new European Union code of conduct obliging it to remove hate speech from its European sites within 24 hours. Awan said that UK authorities and Facebook needed to do more to combat the problem. "I think police have a really tough job in the sense that in my understanding it is like finding a needle in a virtual haystack, and they are not clued up enough. I don't think they have enough training to look at social media posts, police need to be trained on what to look at," he said. A College of Policing spokesman said: ""We are working with the Crown Prosecution Service, partners and police forces to raise awareness and improve the policing response to hate crime. This will ensure offenders can be bought to justice and evidence of their hostility can be used to support enhanced sentencing. "The College has developed training for police forces to issue to officers and staff and published Authorised Professional Practice, which is national guidance, for those responding to hate crime.

"In addition, more than £500,000 has been awarded to the University of Sussex and the Metropolitan Police through the Police Knowledge Fund to pilot a study that will examine the relationship between discussions of hate crime on social media and data relating to hate crime that has been recorded by police. The fund allows officers to develop their skills, build their knowledge and expertise about what works in policing and crime reduction, and put it into practice." Facebook says that it will not tolerate content that directly attacks other directly based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition, and its policies try to strike the right balance between giving people the freedom to express themselves and maintaining a safe and trusted environment. It said it has rules and tools people can use to report content that they find offensive. IBTimes UK has contacted Facebook for comment.
© The International Business Times - UK


Headlines July 2016

Wikileaks denies anti-Semitism over (((echoes))) tweet

If any one form of discriminatory social media expression has been on the rise in recent months, it’s been anti-Semitism.

24/7/2016-The Donald Trump presidential campaign’s well-documented white nationalist and Neo-Nazi following continues to bring such hatred to the forefront. Trump himself had even retweeted things from members of the “white genocide” movement, and in June, the campaign tweeted out an anti-Semitic meme that originated from the alt-right fever swamps of social media. On Saturday, a completely different organization seemed to dip its toes in those waters, too. Wikileaks started tweeting about (((echoes))), and it’s generated a great amount of controversy. It’s one of the increasingly well-known methods of harassment used by anti-Jewish racists on Twitter, which has exploded into wider visibility in recent months¯tweeting at Jews, and bracketing their names with two or three parentheses on either side.

It’s intended both as a signal to other anti-Semites and neo-Nazis, to highlight the target’s Jewish heritage (or perceived Jewish heritage, since racists aren’t always the sharpest or most concerned with accuracy), and track them on social media, making it even easier for other anti-Semites to join in on the abuse. After the phenomenon became more widely discussed in the media, many Jews and non-Jews alike began self-applying the parentheses on Twitter names, in a show of anti-racist solidarity. That’s where Wikileaks comes in. On Saturday, amid the group’s high-profile dump of thousands and thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee, its Twitter account said something very suggestive about its critics. The tweet has since been deleted, going against Wikileaks' perceived notion of radical transparency. Nevertheless, screenshotters never forget.

It’s not exactly the most coherent tweet, but the thrust is nonetheless pretty clear: Wikileaks accused most of its critics of having the (((echoes))) brackets around their names, as well as “black-rimmed glasses,” statements that many interpreted, plainly enough, as “most of our critics are Jews.” The Wikileaks account subsequently tweeted some explana-tions of what the offending tweet meant, suggesting that “neo-liberal castle creepers” had appropriated the racist-turned-anti-racist solidarity gesture, turning it into “a tribalist designator for establishment climbers.” A clarifying tweet also misspelled “gesture” as “jesture,” which further stoked accusations of witting anti-Semitism. Wikileaks ultimately defended the decision to delete the tweets, saying they’d been intentionally misconstrued by “pro-Clinton hacks and neo-Nazis.” It’s also been maintaining a pretty aggressive public relations posture regarding these latest leaks. It threatened MSNBC host Joy Reid for tweeting that she planned to discuss an “affinity” between the group and the Russian government on her show, saying “our lawyers will monitor your program.”

So, again, not the best tone for a group dedicated to prying open closed organizations, regardless of their desires. It also responded to an article by Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, investigating alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin, accusing him of “weird priority” for focusing on the method of the correspondences' release rather than the data dump itself. Wikileaks has also accused Twitter as well as Facebook of censoring information about the DNC emails, highlighting DNC email-related posts that were flagged as “unsafe.” Facebook CSO Alex Stamos subsequently stated on Twitter that the problem had been “fixed,” however, and there’s no shortage of Facebook links out there directing people straight to the leaked materials. Twitter similarly denied the allegations in a tweet from its public relations account.

The Wikileaks brouhaha wasn’t the only instance this weekend of a controversial, perceived piece of anti-Semitism on Twitter getting immediately rolled back and explained away. The Trump campaign landed in yet another such situation on Sunday morning, when General Mike Flynn¯once considered by Trump for his vice presidential selection¯retweeted someone who accused “Jews” of misleading people about the origins of the DNC email leak. Flynn has since apologized, saying he only meant to retweet a link to an embedded CNN article about the leak.
© The Daily Dot


Leslie Jones: 'Hate speech isn't freedom of speech'

Leslie Jones insists she didn't leave Twitter when she was subjected to racist messages, she just signed out "to deal with what was going on".

22/7/2016- Leslie Jones was stunned by the injustice of being targeted by a gang of Twitter trolls. The actress took a break from the micro-blogging site this week after being bombarded with highly-offensive and racist messages online surrounding the release of her new movie, an all-female reboot of 1984 classic Ghostbusters. Appearing on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Thursday night (21Jul16), Leslie admitted that while she has experienced bullying before during her career, it was the amount of comments she was receiving that caused her to take action. "What’s scary is that the insults that hurt me, unfortunately I’m used to the insults, that’s unfortunate, but what scared me was the injustice of a gang of people jumping against you for such a sick cause," she said. "I mean, everybody has an opinion and it all comes at you at one time, they really believe in what they believe in, and it’s so mean. Like, it’s so gross and mean and unnecessary."

Leslie made the decision to retweet some of the most hateful messages to show people the nature of the vitriol. After that, many people accused her of preventing them from having freedom of speech, but the actress powerfully exclaimed: "Hey, hate speech and freedom of speech - two different things." After revealing the nature of her cyber bullying, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey got in touch to offer his help to Leslie in dealing with the haters. But Leslie admits it was much easier convincing Facebook to step in than Twitter. However, she is now hopeful that by making a stand, she has raised awareness that this type of bullying does go on - and it needs to be stopped. "So it was just one of those things, I was like, ‘OK, so if I hadn’t said anything, nobody would have ever known about this. All those people still would have an account," she mused.

Leslie also used the interview to insist that her absence from Twitter was always meant to be temporary. In fact, the actress laughed that she was stunned by the headlines announcing she had quit the site. "I didn’t leave Twitter. I didn’t leave - I just signed out because I wanted to deal with what was going on. And then I went to bed, woke up the next morning and I was like, 'They said I left Twitter! I didn’t leave!'" she said.
© The Belfast Telegraph


Russia: Moscow Police Report 86% Rise in Online Hate Crime

19/7/2016- The Moscow police have recorded an 86 percent rise in online extremism in the first half of 2016, compared to the same period last year, the Interfax news agency reported. Anatoly Yakunin, the head of Moscow's Interior Ministry announced that all forms of extremist crimes had risen 25 percent in the first half of the year but that the 86 percent rise in online extremism caused particular concern. Yakunin told journalists in March that combating extremism would be the Moscow police’s highest priority in 2016. Deputy head of Russia’s Interior Ministry, Vladimir Markov in March explained that nationwide rises in extremist crime do not represent a worsening in the situation, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. “In fact the situation has become more stable” he said. Markov put the rise in extremist crime down to “new crimes concerning online extremism coming into force, as well as increased police surveillance online and increased competency of police officers and investigators in this field.”
© The Moscow Times


UK: Jewish groups join campaign to battle online hatred

The initiative has gained the support of key community groups who fight against anti-Semitism

19/7/2016- Key community bodies have joined a campaign to tackle online hatred, including anti-Semitism. ‘Reclaim the Internet’ is an initiative to fight against abuse on the web, launched by Labour MP Yvette Cooper during a conference on Monday. It has gained the backing of the Community Security Trust, after 159 cases of anti-Semitic incidents on social media were reported to the them in the last year. Speaking to Jewish News, CST said they were “very happy to lend our expertise at its opening panel event.” The social media organisations are moving in the right direction, but overall the responses remain inconsistent and inadequate, especially regarding mass campaigns against individuals. CST reminds anyone encountering anti-Semitism online, to please report it.” The initiative has also been backed by the Holocaust Educational Trust. Karen Pollock, Chief Executive, said it is “proud to support #reclaimtheinternet.”

All too often, social media is used to spread all forms of hate, including antisemitism – as we are all too familiar with. The internet can be a huge force for good, bringing people together across the world, and it is our duty to speak out and stamp out the type of vindictive behaviour that fosters intolerance in society. ” Campaign Against Antisemitism commented: “It’s vital that Jewish people feel safe from anti-Semitism online. Victimising and bullying Jewish people either offline or on the Internet has a deeply negative effect on both the individual targeted and the wider community. Zero tolerance of anti-Semitism needs to be more than just a slogan, and must apply across the board in the form of action taken against abusers.

Anti-Semitic hatred is rampant on the Internet and though the police response leaves much to be desired, it is the Director of Public Prosecutions who is ultimately not taking the necessary action to stop it. Our teams are working hard to invert this problematic status quo.” Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger was among high profile figures supporting the new campaign. The Liverpool Wavertree MP has been regularly targeted with anti-Semitic abuse.
© The Jewish News UK


Netherlands: Facebook temporarily shuts down nationalist page, with 252,000 likes

19/7/2016- Facebook closed down the Netherlands’ biggest far-right supporters’ page for a time, the NRC said on Tuesday. The page, Nederland mijn Vaderland (the Netherlands, my fatherland) had 252,000 likes and was taken offline on Saturday, the paper said. It was back up and running on Tuesday afternoon. The page was launched in 2004 on Hyves, a Dutch social media network which has since closed down. Thomas van Elst, one of the page’s four moderators, told the NRC that Facebook had not given a reason for closing down the page. He said the page’s supporters ‘want to keep the Netherlands as it is,’ and that immigration, refugees and the EU were popular topics. Another of the page’s moderators was behind a call earlier this year to ‘wave goodbye’ to Sylvana Simons, the black television presenter who campaigns against racism and the character of Zwarte Piet, the NRC said. Between March and June, three other nationalist Facebook communities were taken offline with combined likes of 200,000. A fourth website, campaigning against racist stereotyping, has also been removed.
© The Dutch News


US government allowed to plead in Facebook data case

19/7/2016- The US government can take part in a case against Facebook on data transfer from Europe to the US, the Irish high court said on Tuesday (19 July). The case was brought by Austrian activist Max Schrems. It was formally opened last October after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) struck down an EU-US data protection agreement known as Safe Harbour. It will determine whether European internet users' data is sufficiently protected from US surveillance. The court's decision will allow the US government to defend its legis-lation before the ECJ. “The United States has a significant and bona fide interest in the outcome of these proceedings”, said high court judge Brian McGovern. He explained that "the imposition of restrictions on the transfer of such data would have potentially considerable adverse effects on EU-US commerce and could affect US companies significantly”. Schrems said in statement that the US participation in the lawsuit showed that he had "hit them from a relevant angle". “The US can largely ignore the political critique on US mass surveillance, but it cannot ignore the economic relevance of EU-US data flows," he said. The court's decision comes a week after the European Commission launched a new data protection agreement with the US called Privacy Shield. The commission said the deal provides new guarantees that Europeans' privacy will be better protected. But Schrems said it did not address concerns raised by the ECJ when it struck down Safe Harbour. 

The commission "knows it will sink sooner or later," he said about Privacy Shield.
© The EUobserver


USA: Man charged with assault after homophobic Periscope rant leads to arrest

A Detroit man was charged on Sunday after he was accused of hurling gay slurs and pointing a gun at another man, then posting a video of the incident on social media.

17/7/2016- Stephen Drake Edwards, 20, who turned himself into police Saturday after posting an apology on Periscope, was charged by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office with felonious assault, carrying a concealed weapon in a motor vehicle, and felony firearm. Edwards was driving his car around 3 p.m. Tuesday on the 22000 block of Lyndon and yelling threatening and derogatory remarks while pointing a weapon at a 23-year-old man as he walked down the street, prosecutors said. “The remarks made by Edwards were derogatory statements referring to the victim's sexual orientation. The victim was able to get away from Edwards,” the Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement. Edwards posted the incident on Twitter. An investigation by Detroit police led to the identification of Edwards.

In the video, a man believed to be Edwards was in a car and using gay slurs when he called out to the victim as he left a store. When the victim approached the vehicle, Edwards pointed a gun at the victim and told him to take off his pants. He did not fire the weapon in the Twitter video, and no one was injured. The video, which was originally reported by BLAC Detroit magazine, ended shortly afterward. Later, on Periscope as @Binswanson, Edwards posted a 48-minute video in which he says he would have killed the victim if he had taken off his pants. On Saturday, Edwards turned himself into police. Before that, he posted to his Periscope account what he called “APOLOGIES to LBGT COMMUNITY.” In the four minute video, he said he is the one in the video hurling the gay slurs and pointing the gun, but said “physically it wasn’t me. I was intoxicated.” “I apologize though. I got my whole family looking at me. I don’t even know why I did it. I’m going to go turn myself in,” he says while recording the video from the passenger side of a moving vehicle.
© The Detroit News


Homemaking with Nazis: The Bizarre Domestic Underbelly of Race Hate Websites

By Alex Blake

14/7/2016- What do you picture when you hear the word ‘racist’? Maybe a jackbooted skinhead marching with Nazi flag in tow? Or perhaps an old granddad who sits you on his knee and tells you about the time he first took a swing at someone of a different race? How about...a wholesome stay-at-home mum about to bake a fresh batch of cakes for you and your friends? Granted, the latter isn’t what most people would imagine. But then most people have probably never delved into the weird world of Nazi homemaking advice. Racists like pie and tidy dining rooms too, you know. To explore the mind of a homemaker with malice on the mind, we’re going to be stopping off at two of the internet’s largest hate sites: Stormfront and Vanguard News Network. With hundreds of thousands of members between them (and many more lurking guests besides), these are the places to be if you want to vent about that slightly Arabic-looking guy who looked at your daughter funny. Like a BNP voter's front room, but online.

Stormfront (and Where to Find the World's Greatest Cheese)
The first stop on our magical mystery tour is Stormfront, the world’s largest hate site with over 300,000 registered users. Its members past and present have included such luminaries in the white nationalist world as former Ku Klux Klan leader (and Stormfront founder) Don Black, Holocaust denier, former Congressman and KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, as well as your run-of-the-mill neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other race hate types. As you'd imagine, much of the content on Stormfront is made up of posts eulogising dead Nazis, attacking minorities, discussing race 'science' and lamenting (or celebrating) current events and the way of the world. However, tucked away among the vitriol and hate there is a side of the website that you wonder might be there accidentally: homemaking advice.

What brand of beans should one stock their pantry to prepare for the imminent global race war? Where can you buy energy-efficient lightbulbs from non-Jewish-owned businesses? Do any Stormfront members offer plumbing services so I can have a nice white Nazi come fix my leaky pipes? These are the sorts of threads that populate Stormfront's homemaking section. A common theme is what to do when the world flips over and everyone joins gangs and paints themselves like in Mad Max. Obviously stockpiling white-friendly food is must (no tacos please). Beans, pasta, powdered milk and tinned vegetables are all in. But the forum’s (even more) weird edges can’t be hidden for long. You know you’ve found a gem when you see a thread titled ‘The World’s Greatest Cheese Resource’ in a Neo-Nazi forum, and it does not disappoint. After the original poster links to, user Jeremy miller chimes in: “Mother’s milk is used in Europe”. OK.

That really gets user Kostadina going. “Sounds like a creepy feminist performance art thing to do,” they opine. “I see nothing about “Europe” but a lot about JEW YORK. Which I am not reproducing here. The Village Voice even thinks it's disgusting, which says a lot.” “This should be a product the White pride enterprises could make for our own consumption so that we are not always having to buy this product from the enemy,” says Defend Out Homeland, helpfully. “We make our own dairy products from goat milk. This way we avoid the enemy,” agrees Tenaj. With the Great Cheese Villain duly avoided, our Aryan friends retire to chew on white-approved gorgonzola, or something. But in all seriousness, when even a discussion on the virtues of fromage quickly descends into talk of ‘the enemy’ and ‘JEW YORK’, you know we’re dealing with people in a constant state of paranoia, enemies everywhere they look.

And what better way to thwart these enemies? By raising your kids the ol’ fashioned (racial) way – after all, in the words of convicted murderer and racist hero David Lane, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” (AKA the ‘Fourteen Words’). To further this aim, user Keelan has a bright idea: “I’ve been kicking around ideas for a European Heritage Coloring Book for Children.” You know, like Dora the Explorer, except with no Hispanic people. Aside from the attempted racist humour (“Make sure you leave out the brown crayons!”, says ADAMANT), most posters in the thread are delighted. “This is a beautiful idea and I for one would like to know when I can order STACKS of these books for my grandchildren”, gushes BeautynBrains1488. “This is a wonderous idea!”, comments RebelGirl91, before getting to the clincher: “I don't have any kids, but I'd save this for when I do have some… we need to start teaching our children at young age!” A fear for the future, as reflected in the Fourteen Words, is an overwhelming driving force for white nationalists the world over. They see a world of changing demographics and they panic. When your mind is so worried for later generations, you do what you can to teach them what you believe, so your ideas don’t die with you.

VNN (and the History of the Sausage)
VNN (tagline: ‘No Jews. Just right’) is the younger, brasher, uglier brother of Stormfront, run by the chronically unpleasant Alex Lindner. While the Stormfront mods put up a weak show of being a family-friendly civil rights for whites website, VNN is the proud thug who flies a swastika flag from his bedroom window. Speaking of which, unlike on Stormfront, Nazi flags are permitted on VNN, as are the vilest racial epithets. Repugnant it might be, but VNN does have unintentional comedy moments of its own. Alongside beauties like ‘#1 Coconut Oil Thread’ (as opposed to all those other inferior coconut oil threads) and ‘The Mysterious Origins of a Food That's Always Been Funny: The Sausage’ lies the curiously-confessional title ‘I Eat Ruffle Chips Smothered in BBQ Sauce’. Where Stormfront is somewhat practical, VNN is just odd.

In a thread discussing food waste in America, user Nate Richards comments insightfully: “…most of what I eat comes from the salvation army. You don't have to sign up at this one, it’s not a ‘food box’ handout based on income. Anyone can come load up on this stuff… You can barter these to non-whites and mental defectives.” So thoughtful! User Crowe followed up by ruminating on the five year old peanuts he just ate: “They weren't as crunchy as fresh ones, but it didn't make me sick or give me the shits.” He was having a merry old time until user James Dovery popped up with: “One of thee most cancerous molds [sic] grows on peanuts.” Crowe didn’t post again in that thread.

“The most important decision a woman makes in life is who she lets get on top of her.”
But as any self-respecting white nationalist will tell you, schools are merely propaganda centres teaching anti-white lies. Better to homeschool your kids, and what better teacher is there than Alex Lindner himself? Here’s what he has to say about homeschooling girls: “The most important decision a woman makes in life is who she lets get on top of her.” Please, Alex, do go on. And go on he does. He recommends teaching girls a (true) story of a man who tore his scrotum on a piece of machinery and then stapled it together again. Apparently, this aptly demonstrates the “incredible intensity and impersonality of the male sexual drive”. But that’s not all: “draw out the lessons of his self-surgery and eventual reporting to a formally qualified surgeon for better repair - as these highlight the strengths and weakeness [sic] of masculine toughness.” Truly, a lesson for us all (but mostly girls, we assume).

Why do these homemaking forums exist? What can they tell us about the racist community?
Your initial reaction to these threads was probably along the lines of a big fat ‘WTF’. I know mine was. Nazis are thugs, right? So why are they interested in discussing cheese-making and insulating their lofts? To the average Joe raised on the Nazi caricature, this all seems very odd, even a little disorientating. It’s certainly not what we’ve come to expect from such racist malcontents. But if we’re to combat the pervasive spread of far-right ideas, we need to move beyond the concept of the cartoon-cutout racist, the one with the goosestep and stiff Nazi salute. That simply doesn’t reflect the reality. These people are not going to B&Q or Mumsnet for their advice; they’re frequenting a race hate website. That’s because, to them, racism is more than a simple idea that they can compartmentalise in their brain and forget about; it's a way of life. This is their community, as it were.

Reinforcing that, a survey of Stormfront's women-only forum by Tammy Castle PhD and Meagan Chevalier found that most women posters used the sub-forum as a form of social media, to connect with other women who share their views. More broadly, Don Black himself has stated that he uses Stormfront to reach like-minded people whom he otherwise would not be able to contact. Certainly the combination of increased reach and anonymity afforded by the internet is a strong force that binds people whose views are not normally popular within polite society. When you’re so despised by the world around you, you learn to distrust it. You stop consuming any kind of mainstream media (run by Jews, they say), you stop associating with those who find your views objectionable, and you retreat into the only community that welcomes you – other racists.

That’s one reason why, for all our efforts to counter it, racism is still alive and well. The people who go to Stormfront and VNN seeking homemaking advice are happy being outsiders – it’s their identity. They go online to ask for help in what seems like an inappropriate place because, in actuality, it’s the most appropriate place, because it’s the one place that they can associate with likeminded people. This is important to understand, because not every racist wears Klan robes. They’re university lecturers, politicians and historians. They’re the friendly neighbour whose political beliefs are only revealed after he murders an MP. As the Brexit aftermath has shown, racism is alive and well in the UK when most of us thought it moribund. If we’re only on the lookout for the swastika-wearing skinhead, we’ll miss half the people out to divide, not unite, our beautifully diverse communities.

Not every racist is as easy to identify as Curtis Allgier or Bryon Widner. But understanding the ties that bind them together – including discussions of cheese and homeschooling – can help us fight them more effectively.
© Gizmodo UK


UK: Xenophobia on Twitter: tracking abuse in the wake of Brexit

More than 250,000 tweets were sent from the UK referring to migration or migrants between June 22 and 30. But what does the data really show?
By Carl Miller

13/7/2016- June 23, 2016 is a day many of us will remember with either a smile or shiver. But the political battle wasn’t just fought in television studios, tub-thumping speeches and a blizzard of leaflets – the EU referendum also dominated the digital world. Politics is changing. Our political lives are moving online, from the noble, generous and high-minded to the vicious and terrible. Social media is a crucial new political battleground, alive with all the arguments and disputes the referendum provoked, and now still raging in the aftermath of the decision itself. At Demos we’ve spent months looking at the digital side of politics for Channel 4, with particular interest in how it related to migrants and minority groups. As referendum day approached, we were determined to get a clear understanding of what was happening on the world’s most open social network: Twitter. How were people using it to express support and solidarity for migrants and religious and ethnic minorities? And how were they using it to attack them?

Immigration formed a massive part of the Leave campaign, both on social media, and on the ground. More than 250,000 tweets were sent from the UK referring to migration or migrants between June 22 and 30. As it became clear that we were actually going to leave the EU, discussion about immigration soared. Much of this was simply people trying to come to terms with what Brexit actually meant. However, over roughly the same period, about 16,000 Tweets appeared using a term or hashtag associated with xenophobia. Most of these, over 10,000 actually did so to voice support for migrants and take on xenophobic hate. However 5,000 were xenophobic and formed a lingering, sinister background in the run-up to the referendum and in the days after. Unfortunately, xenophobia doesn’t stay within the boundaries of social media.

The police reported a 42 per cent increase in allegations of hate crime in the week after the referendum result, with more than 3,000 allegations made – the worst on record. Twitter was also a place where people made public the abuse and hate that they had received, often on the street. Two significant hashtags rose in the days after Brexit: #safetypin and #postrefracism. Of almost 100,000 Tweets sent using these hashtags over the seven days after the referendum we judged 2,400 to be sharing accounts of abuse. Placed on a map, they are spread right across the UK. Big numbers can often hide what they’re actually counting. Underneath the statistics, maps and graphs are thousands of shocking human stories. These little red dots, all too often, represented a tragedy of bigotry and hatred, reportedly happening on Britain’s streets.

This is significant. Twitter is now a place not just for the haters but also the victims. It’s a place used by people who suffer abuse to make sure that they don’t suffer in isolation. On social media, people can make public victimisation that is inherently and horribly intimate. Thanks to Twitter victims can shout as loudly as their abusers, and that’s a good thing. Politics is often nasty. It’s where ideas, world-views and even basic ideas of right and wrong clash with each other. As a liberal, you hope that as this happens the good ideas win out over bad ones; but some kind of conflict is, itself, inevitable – that’s part of the point of politics. But the EU referendum has been an entirely different political animal. Rather than resolve a political dispute and create a new consensus, society feels more divided than ever.
Carl Miller is research director at the centre for the analysis of social media, Demos.
© Wired UK


Poland: Auschwitz museum prohibits Pokémon Go play on its grounds

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is not buying into the Pokémon Go craze.

13/7/2016- On Tuesday, the Holocaust memorial site tweeted that it will not allow visitors to play the new smartphone game because it is “disrespectful on many levels.” New York magazine first reported Tuesday that some users of the Nintendo game, which allows players to capture its animated creatures on their phones at outdoor sites and buildings with the help of phone GPS systems, were playing at Auschwitz. Others soon took to Twitter to report finding Pokémon at the popular memorial in Oswiecim, Poland, but their screenshots of game activity did not match the normal look of the game. The game has not been officially released in Europe. On Tuesday, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt went on Twitter to call for the museum’s visitors to refrain from playing.

The same day, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., also issued a statement condemning playing the game on its grounds. The Washington Post reported that the museum contains three different “PokéStops” — real-life sites where players can redeem in-game items. “Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism,” Andrew Hollinger, the museum’s communications director, told the Post. “We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”

Since its release last week, Pokémon Go has become the most popular mobile game in U.S. history, with over 20 million daily users. The stock of its parent company, Nintendo, rose 23 percent on Monday. New York magazine reported that playing the game at other sites — such as Ground Zero in New York City, near a North Carolina statue of a Confederate general and at the site of multiple African-American mural memorials in Brooklyn — has also caused controversy. The game’s developer, Niantic, ran into similar trouble last year when one of its games, Ingress, allowed players to battle for control over real-life locations that happened to include multiple former concentration camps such as Auschwitz, Dachau and Sachsenhausen.
© JTA News.


German cops raid online anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers

Police seize dozens of computers owned by members of neo-Nazi Facebook group who posted xenophobic, racist messages

13/7/2016- German police on Wednesday launched nationwide raids targeting social media users who posted racial hatred, including anti-Semitism, on Facebook and other online networks. Police swooped down on the homes of some 60 suspects across 14 of Germany’s 16 states, the BKA federal crime bureau said, in a crackdown on “verbal radicalism” and related criminal offences. No arrests were made, but computer equipment, cameras and smartphones were seized in the first-ever such mass raids targeting online hate crime. Most of the suspects allegedly belonged to a neo-Nazi Facebook group whose users had posted xenophobic, anti-Semitic or other far-right messages. The posts included messages denying or relativizing the Holocaust, celebrating aspects of National Socialism and using Nazi symbolism, and calling for attacks on refugees and politicians.

BKA chief Holger Muench said police were taking a “clear stance against hate and incitement on the internet,” which had increased amid the refugee crisis and was poisoning public discourse. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that “violence, including verbal violence, in any form and in any context” was “unacceptable.” He said there are “moral principles offline and online” and stressed that “criminal law applies on the internet.” Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that pressure on internet giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to find and block hate speech had grown. “First steps have been taken,” he said, “but they are nowhere near sufficient.”

Facebook pledged in September to fight a surge in racism on its German-language network, as Europe’s biggest economy became the top destination for refugees, triggering a backlash from the far right. The US social media network said it would encourage “counter speech” and step up monitoring of anti-foreigner commentary. Users have accused the company of double standards for cracking down swifter and harder on nudity and sexual content than on hate-mongering. Last week, the families of 5 US citizens killed in Israel sued Facebook for $1 billion claiming the social media site had allowed terror group Hamas to incite violence.


Germany: Underground ‘hacktivists’ in Berlin are connecting refugees to free Wi-Fi

9/7/2016- On a warm afternoon in early June, Mohammed Mossli was sitting in a trendy café in Berlin. The café, with its raw wooden countertops, craft sodas and fashionable young men and women typing away at laptops, was far from the sniper fire and rubble of Aleppo, Syria, Mossli’s hometown, which he describes as “only dust and ashes.” Still, Mossli, who is 21, tall, thin and prone to smile, seemed at ease as he rolled a cigarette and kidded around with one of his new friends: Philipp Borgers.  Borgers is a German software developer and member of the “hacktivist” group Freifunk, a community of hackers, programmers and free network activists across Germany attempting to spread “mesh networking,” an ad hoc wireless network technology that allows computers and devices to connect directly to one another without passing through any centralized authority or organization.

Refugees Offline
A hacktivist and a refugee might seem like an unlikely pair, but in a city with 40,000 refugees, this collision of worlds is increasingly common. And for Mossli, becoming involved with the city’s tech community has helped make Berlin a new home: Back in Syria, he had been in his second semester of studies for a computer science degree at Aleppo University. That is until the Bashar al-Assad regime started detaining some of his classmates. “Sometimes, they arrested people right in the exam room,” he says. “Just because of your last name or because someone in your class was at a protest, it’s enough reason for them to arrest you.” Afraid he could be next, Mossli fled Syria and, like thousands of others from his war-torn country, made his way to Germany, where he has been living for the past 10 months. Mossli’s parents are still in Aleppo, and his only connection to them is WhatsApp messages and, when the internet in Aleppo is working, brief Skype calls. That’s why Mossli has come to treasure something many of us take for granted: a Wi-Fi connection.

In Berlin, finding Wi-Fi can be as difficult as divining for water: A law known as Störerhaftung makes the owner of a Wi-Fi network liable for any illegal downloads or illicit activity using that connection, discouraging many businesses from providing free networks. Beyond legal restrictions, a lack of investment from the German government has also created technological limitations, says Borgers. “There is a refugee crisis,” he says. “But there is also an infrastructure crisis. Germany is far behind other countries when it comes to internet connection.” The combination of restrictive legislation and a lack of technological infrastructure has made it difficult for many of Berlin’s 149 refugee shelters to provide Wi-Fi to their residents. In one shelter where Mossli stayed, he says there was no Wi-Fi and just four computers for 400 residents. “I never even tried to use them,” he says.

Although every shelter in Berlin must adhere to strict standards of hygiene, security, fire safety and food preparation, internet access is not mandatory. Yet for many refugees, access to the internet is the only way to communicate with their families and one another, or navigate the complexities of a foreign country. “This was something we could do something about,” says Borgers of Freifunk. “So we decided to help.”

Freifunk expands access
Elektra Wagenrad is one of Freifunk’s oldest members. She says mesh networking and groups like Freifunk are in many ways an evolution of the anarchist spirit that has long permeated Berlin. Mesh networking involves setting up routers or “nodes” in public places (often church steeples or radio towers) to allow one computer or device to connect to every other in the network. Once in the mesh network, a computer can share its internet connection with any others in range. “If one node fails, the connection will find a different route,” says Wagenrad. “The network can heal itself.” Berlin’s Freifunk network has 617 nodes, with somewhere from 3,000 to 5,000 users, the group estimates. Freifunk holds meetings every Wednesday night inside c-base, a huge underground space in the shadow of the Berlin TV Tower filled with ’80s video game memorabilia, 3-D printers, dozens of computers and a space station airlock: Legend has it that c-base is a spaceship that landed in Berlin some 4.5 billion years ago.

The group’s work with refugees in Berlin began in 2012, when refugees were occupying Oranienplatz, a public square in the Kreuzberg district, to demand better treatment. The occupation had no information technology infrastructure, and so Freifunkers decided to get the refugees internet. In December 2013, Freifunk connected its first refugee shelter, the Gerhart Hauptmann School. As the refugee crisis grew in 2014 and more shelters began opening, Freifunk expanded its network. It has connected more than 30 shelters in Berlin and more than 200 across Germany.

David Achuo, 24, is a Freifunk alumnus. He learned about mesh networking from Wagenrad, who has started giving workshops for refugees. Achuo is a refugee from Cameroon, where he was no stranger to online activism. During the country’s elections in 2011, Achuo created a website in support of the opposition People’s Action Party. When the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement party discovered the website, Achuo says it made him a target: On election day, he was stabbed at a polling station 11 times. “It’s just God that saved me,” he says, pulling up his shirt to reveal deep scars on his chest. Achuo fled to Germany and has spent the last four years at a shelter in Potsdam, about an hour outside of Berlin, waiting for his asylum application to be processed. Thanks to Freifunk, he was able to provide refugees in the shelter with free Wi-Fi.

Achuo also runs an internet café inside the shelter set up by Refugees Emancipation, a nonprofit organization that runs internet cafés in shelters in Potsdam and Berlin. The organization’s founder and director, Chu Eben, is also a Cameroonian refugee: He arrived in Germany in 1998 and was put in a former military bunker in what used to be East Germany. Eben says he felt completely isolated from the rest of society. Then the internet came along. “My friends in Africa called me and asked me for my email address,” he says. “I didn’t know how to tell them I’d never used a computer.” He decided to do something about it. He connected with some University of Potsdam students, who got him online and eventually helped him raise the funds to launch Refugees Emancipation and it’s first refugee camp internet café. Now the organization runs eight more across Potsdam and Berlin. “Coming together in the cafés breaks the isolation. It builds a direct connection with civil society, between refugees and can allow us to create a political platform.”

Civil disobedience
Freifunk too has a political dimension: It operates without government authorization. As Theresa Züger, a researcher at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, puts it, “It’s a very productive kind of civil disobedience. It’s not just disruptive but also empowering. It’s citizens taking politics in their own hands and doing it in a very positive way.” Recently, both groups worked together. In October 2015, Freifunk worked with Chaos Computer Club, another hacker collective in Germany, to launch a fundraiser for Refugees Emancipation. They not only beat their  ambitious target of 67,000 euros (about $74,000) but also received 2.5 tons of hardware from one of Berlin’s district councils.

In June of this year, Eben celebrated the launch of his organization’s newest internet café inside a shelter on Heinrich-Mann-Allee in Potsdam. At the opening, Eben smiled and proudly showed off the 20 new computers to a group of refugees, social workers and journalists. Achuo was there also, talking politics with Fadir Sujaa, a Syrian refugee who will be running the café. The room was filled with children from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and other countries, excitedly clicking away on the machines. On the wall behind them, a simple phrase was written in English, Arabic, German and Farsi: “Internet access is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.”
© Newsweek


USA: Twitter Refuses to Ban Obscene Image of Police Execution

8/7/2016- Despite the efforts of Twitter users to report a graphic tweet depicting the execution of a police office, Twitter has not taken action against the tweet or the user who published it. “[I don’t give a f—k] it’s time for the police n they families to start feelin the pain we feel,” wrote user @Marcel_TNG, alongside an image of a black-clad executioner graphically slitting the throat of a police officer, in an apparent response to the deadly ambush in Dallas that left five officers dead. Offended users have attempted to report the obscene tweet, and the account responsible for it, but as of Friday afternoon the tweet remains with a disclaimer that the image “may contain sensitive material,” an indication that the social media company had reviewed the image and allowed it to remain online. Twitter recently suspended the account of provocative commentator Milo Yiannopolous for criticizing Islam.
© Heatstreet


UK: Arsenal ban fan indefinitely for discriminatory social media posts

Arsenal have indefinitely banned a fan for “offensive and inappropriate” tweets posted online.

8/7/2016- The Gunners were alerted to the discriminatory tweets by Kick It Out – which praised the club for their actions – and a copy of the letter sent to the unnamed fan has since been posted on social media. Arsenal have confirmed that the letter is genuine and warned other supporters that similar bans await anyone else posting discriminatory messages online.  Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, has been running a social media campaign called ‘Klick It Out’ as it looks to curb the sharp rise in online discrimination. “The tweets were brought to our attention by Kick It Out and our position is that we do not tolerate discriminatory language or behaviour of any description,” an Arsenal spokesman told Press Association Sport. “We work closely with Kick It Out to monitor these things and we identified him as being a previous member of Arsenal which is how we located his details. The message is zero tolerance against discriminatory behaviour. It is good to get that message out there.”

It is believed the Klick It Out campaign has helped lead to 11 bans handed out by clubs to supporters during 2015-16 – and Anna Jonsson, Kick It Out’s reporting officer, commended the decision taken by Arsenal. “We welcome the strong action taken by Arsenal Football Club following reports of social media discrimination by a small number of supporters,” she said in a statement released to Press Association Sport. “As a third-party reporting bureau who brought the discriminatory posts to the attention of the club, we do not have the authority to impose stadium bans or other sanctions on supporters, but instead rely on clubs to implement punishment as they see fit. “Social media discrimination within football has significantly increased and the reason we’re running our ‘Klick It Out’ campaign is to raise awareness of online discrimination and how people can report such incidents. We encourage supporters to report any discrimination they see. “It’s credit to Arsenal in this case for taking action and sending out a message to supporters that discrimination of any kind won’t be tolerated.”
© Breaking News Ireland


UK: Facebook group in Yeovil calls time on 'casual racism'

7/7/2016- A Yeovil-based Facebook group with more than 15,700 members has been forced to declare it is "no place for racism". Administrators of the group have become concerned about what has been dubbed "casual racism" in Yeovil Real News, a group with 15,707 members. The warning has come after a thread about car insurance turned into a clash of racially-charged views. A young driver - whose profile identifies him as being Polish - casually asked on Wednesday (July 5): "Best insurance company for a young driver?" But the following day one member of the group posted: "There must be a good one back in Poland?". Other members of the group were quick to criticise the racially charged comment with one saying: "Any need for that comment?" The woman behind the remark said: "Yeah I live in town and I have Polish drunks outside my window every day and every night and me and you pay for them. Do you want an up-to-date video?"

Again users were quick to retaliate to the apparently abusive comments with one saying: "Doesn't mean you can react like that, you need not treat every other Polish person the same." Another said: "So just because one Polish drunk is outside your window every night you need to treat every other Polish person the same?" Not restricting their comments to Polish people the controversial user said: "No no no, not just one! Come and live my life here and then you'll know what you're talking about. In this town there are Romanians, Turkish, Bengalis, Polish. Not racist, your eyes will be opened." But others said the comments were "unneeded", and "disgusting". The user retaliated again with: "Basically you all love the Polish, I'm OK with that, you threw it all on me." One user commented: "He's a young lad who just passed his driving test and you attacked him." Another said, "but what has this lad done that was so wrong to you? Feel free to explain please?" with one more saying, "If you don't agree with a young lad asking for some advice why comment?"

Eventually group administrators stepped in to bring an end to the heated debate and removed the controversial user from the group entirely. The exchange is one of several racially-harged rows to erupt on social media since the result of last month's EU referendum. A discovery of a new mosque on Sherborne Road by a resident who had not seen planning notices prompted a similarly heated discussion as did comments on an incident in Yeovil in which a man had been repeatedly punched and kicked in a racially aggravated assault. That discussion was eventually closed with the administrator saying: "The level of racist and frankly disgusting comments on this thread is disgraceful. Perhaps people should start behaving like decent moral human beings before engaging on a social media forum. Comments closed due to total rude and moronic bigots."

In a subsequent post, one of the administrators warned users who wished to express what could be interpreted as racist remarks in the private group that these could be made public. The post by one of the page's administrators read: "After previous threads have been closed due to nasty racist behaviour, I am forewarning you all. If you wish to comment with racist comments and you deem it acceptable on a public forum, then do not be surprised if your name and comment appear in print or elsewhere on social media. There is no place for racism or any other kind of bigot behaviour in society." The discussion comes soon after it was revealed reports of hate crime in Avon and Somerset has more than doubled after Britain voted to leave the EU. Churches in Yeovil have called for compassion in the wake of the vote with neighbourly love stressed by Adam Dyer of St John's Church and Yeovil Community Church.
© Somerset Live


UK: Tory MP says social media firms should stop abuse or pay for policing

Former culture secretary Maria Miller says companies should face levy if they fail to do more to tackle online abuse

7/7/2016- A senior Tory MP is calling for a levy on social media companies to pay for the policing of online abuse if they fail to do more to tackle the crimes taking place on their platforms. Maria Miller, who was at the forefront of creating a new law against revenge porn, said: “We need to start the dialogue, to say to them: ‘What more can you be doing to tackle the scale of the problem?’ because there is a desperate need for action. If necessary after that we need to put a levy on those organisations to pay for the policing of this. “The police are telling me they cannot cope with the scale of the crime that is being carried out online, in particular online abuse, whether that is image-based sexual abuse, or whether that is homophobic or transphobic hate crime online. They cannot deal with the scale of it and in other similar situations it has become necessary to talk to the organisations where the crime is being generated to establish how they can start to foot the bill.”

Football clubs and sporting venues are some of the private organisations that pay a fee to the police to provide security at their events – an example Miller believes could be used in discussions with social media companies. “We have to look at the law to strengthen the sanctions that are available and we also have to turn a very sharp spotlight on to the platforms to show up those that are not taking this seriously,” she said. Miller used the Commons debate on Thursday to call for the government to set out specific laws to tackle online abuse. She called for better training for police officers and zero tolerance for hate crime online and offline. MPs in the debate spoke of receiving a torrent of online abuse, from being called Nazis to getting rape threats. They called for more action from social media companies and for the government to recognise the problem and stamp out abusive behaviour on the internet.

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, an SNP frontbencher, said the abuse aimed at her was “sickening filth”. She said: “In the past 14 months I have been called a Nazi, received messages which have called for me to be shot as a traitor … and strangers have attacked my father. Some of the dreadful things I have had said to me are not worthy of the status and statute of this chamber. My husband sees these messages, my children have to read this garbage and my staff are required to read it.” She added: “Social media and publishing platforms must accept this is a serious issue and do more to address it.”

Liz McInnes, the Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton, condemned “the apparent lack of coherent policy” among social media companies to combat online trolls and hate speech. She told of how, during the referendum debate, one user tweeted her: “We will see what you say when an immigrant rapes you or one of your kids”, which Twitter said did not violate its rules. McInnes said she had contacted Facebook about a comment aimed at a fellow MP which read: “She looks like a f-ing mutant and should be burned at the stake,” and she said Facebook had replied saying: “It doesn’t violate our community standards.” Recent research has shown an increasing amount of discriminatory abuse, particularly aimed at minority groups.

Miller intends to bring forward amendments to the government’s digital economy bill, which was published on Wednesday, to help police more easily bring prosecutions. She is calling for the government to create a proper strategy to tackle online abuse. “We have got a very real problem with online abuse in this country,” she said. “What we need is a strategy to deal with it and the government has so far taken a piecemeal approach. The scale of criminal activity that is going on is completely unmanageable. We can’t turn a blind eye to it any longer. And I think it is starting to spill over into the face-to-face world.” Miller cited the rise in hate crime in the last week as potentially being linked to the levels of online abuse being perpetrated unchecked. “It would be interesting to know how much work is being done to understand whether there is a relationship between the increases in hate crime that we are seeing on our streets and the amount of hate crime that is perpetrated online. We cannot separate the two worlds,” she said.

In March a senior police officer told the Guardian the law needed to change to enable police forces to better tackle the scale of online abuse, which was threatening to overwhelm law enforcement.
© The Guardian.


Denmark: Euro 2016 France-Iceland game hijacked by racist right-wing party

7/7/2016- The Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ) has condemned the unauthorised use of a photograph of an Icelandic player on a race-related image published by a Danish far-right nationalist political party. The image shows Iceland captain Aron Einar Gunnarsson with the Iceland team alongside a picture of several members of the French team, with the caption “Share if you think ‘France’ should be playing in the African Nations Cup”. The image is a propaganda tool of the Party of the Danes, a far-right nationalist party which won less than 1% of votes in the 2013 municipal elections in Denmark. KSÍ has posted a statement on its website condemning the image, which openly suggests that the French team is somehow African and does not belong in Europe. Iceland was knocked out of Euro 2016 by France on Sunday.

“Football is a force for unity,” reads the statement. “Fans of all nations and backgrounds unite. The common interest of a large chunk of the human race in the sport of football which we so love brings people together. We use sport to bring people together, not split them apart.” “Among the joy and pride brought by the wonderful achievements of the Icelandic national team at Euro 2016, it is horrible to see abuses of the type perpetrated by the Party of the Danes.” “Forces of division have no place in the football movement, and football authorities in Europe have fought hard against racism in the sport. This battle is far from over and KSÍ is committed to taking part in combating racism with all its might”. “Iceland gained the respect of the world during the Euro 2016 finals thanks to their positive conduct and KSÍ completely dissociates itself from hate propaganda of this kind.”

The Party of the Danes posted the controversial image on their Facebook page on Monday, the day after France knocked Iceland out of Euro 2016, with a message asking people to submit their e-mail address “if you also do not believe that Europe and Denmark should be transformed into an African backyard”. KSÍ has said that they will be requesting that the image be immediately taken down.

As of now, the Danish party has yet to remove the post from its site, garnering nearly 700 shares and more than 800 reactions...
© The Iceland Monitor


South Africa Opposed UN Resolution On Internet Access

6/7/2016- South Africa recently opposed a human rights council resolution that calls on governments to ensure access to the Internet and recognizes that the right to freedom of expression extends online. Contrary to many media reports, South Africa did not vote against the resolution itself; the resolution was passed by consensus on 30 June, meaning that no official vote was recorded. 53 countries, including Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia sponsored the resolution. Prior to its passage, South Africa had voted in favour of an amendment submitted by China and Russia that would have deleted text ensuring people's access to internet. South Africa also supported another Russian amendment to remove any references to freedom of expression. These amendments, considered hostile by the resolution sponsors, were defeated.

In explaining her concerns with the resolution, South African Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ncumisa Pamella Notutela claimed that the resolution was calling for an absolute right to freedom of expression online, which runs counter to provisions against hate speech and racism within South African law. She stated that "incitement of hatred is problematic in the context where we are having our domestic debates on racism and the criminalisation thereof. The exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression is not absolute and carries with it duties and responsibilities for rights' holders ... The draft resolution omits key provisions on the permissible limitations and prohibition of hate speech under international human rights law." She also said that the resolution made no reference to hate speech and cyber bullying.

But the resolution references the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which do allow for limitations on the freedom of expression. South Africa is a party to both covenants. Additionally, the resolution calls for "combating advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination or violence on the Internet, including by promoting tolerance and dialogue". Since no country called for an officially recorded vote, the resolution automatically passed by consensus. With its passage, the Human Rights Council now officially recognises that people have a right to Internet access and online freedom of expression. However, the resolution was non-binding meaning that no country is obligated to follow through with providing these rights. 
© All Africa


Facebook Pushes Back Against Israeli Claims of Incitement Against Jews

3/7/2016- Facebook is doing its share to remove abusive content from the social network, it said on Sunday in an apparent rejection of Israeli allegations that it was uncooperative in stemming messages that might spur Palestinian violence. Beset by a 10-month-old surge in Palestinian street attacks, Israel says that Facebook has been used to perpetuate such bloodshed and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightist government is drafting legislation to enable it to order social media sites to remove postings deemed threatening.  Ramping up the pressure, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Saturday accused Facebook of “sabotaging” Israeli police efforts by not cooperating with inquiries about potential suspects in the occupied West Bank and by “set(ting) a very high bar for removing inciteful content and posts.”

Facebook did not respond directly to Erdan’s criticism, but said in a statement that it conferred closely with Israel. “We work regularly with safety organizations and policymakers around the world, including Israel, to ensure that people know how to make safe use of Facebook. There is no room for content that promotes violence, direct threats, terrorist or hate speeches on our platform,” the statement said. It appeared to place an onus on Israeli authorities, as with any other users, to flag offensive content to Facebook monitors. “We have a set of community standards designed to help people understand what’s allowed on Facebook, and we call on people to use our report if they find content they believe violates these rules, so that we can examine each case and take quick action,” the statement said.

Erdan, who urged Israelis to “flood” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with demands for a policy change, expanded on the Netanyahu government’s complaint in remarks published on Sunday. Of 74 “especially inciting and extremist posts” Israel had brought to Facebook’s attention, 24 were removed, Erdan told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, adding that jurisdiction was an issue. “The big problem is in Judea and Samaria, because Facebook does not recognize Israeli control there and is not prepared to turn over information,” Erdan said, using a biblical term for the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 war and where the Palestinians, with international support, seek statehood. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called on social media companies to curb pre-emptively content deemed by Israel to be a security threat. “We want the companies not to approve and to themsel-ves remove posts by terrorist groups and incitement to terrorism without us having to flag each individual post, in just the same manner, for example, that they today do not allow posts and pages with child pornography,” she told Israel’s Army Radio.

Citing sources familiar with the technology, Reuters reported last month that Facebook and other Internet companies have begun using automation to remove Islamic State videos and other extremist content from their sites.
© Reuters


Facebook allowed to collect data on non-users in Belgium

1/7/2016- An appeals court in Belgium earlier this week ruled in favour of allowing Facebook to amass data on people in the country who are not registered users of the social media giant. The ruling reverses a previous court decision that had imposed a tracking ban on Facebook following revelations it was collecting information on non-Facebook users and others who were not logged into their accounts. “Belgian courts don’t have international jurisdiction over Facebook Ireland, where the data concerning Europe is processed,” said the appeals court. But Belgium's privacy watchdog, the Commission for the Protection of Privacy, said the latest ruling means a Belgian resident will be unable to "obtain the protection of his private life through the courts and tribunals when it concerns foreign actors".

The head of the watchdog, Willem Debeuckelaere, said Belgians "remain exposed to massive violations of their privacy". Facebook places special cookies on people's computers without their permission. The small files track the internet activity of logged-out users as well as those that had opted out of being tracked. University researchers in Belgium had revealed the privacy breaches in a report published last year. They found Facebook uses its social plugins, such as the 'like' button, to monitor the activity. The button has been placed on health and government sites. The US tech giant, for its part, says the cookies are needed for security reasons. "We are pleased with the court’s decision and look forward to bringing all our services back online for people in Belgium," said Facebook in a statement.
© The EUobserver


Hello Racist Exposes Racism, Challenges Cultural Sensitivity

1/7/2016- While there are many who believe that America has become too sensitive, or that America is becoming too politically correct, there are those, like Paris, that sensitivity, be it about race, religion, sexuality, or other concerns come from a place that is real. The 12, 346 members and growing daily, of the HelloRacist Facebook community not only agree, but continue to expose racism on a daily basis and to share as much encouragement as possible. Being able to interview the anonymous founder of HelloRacist, was an opportunity to understand why a platform like HelloRacist continues to be necessary today.

The tagline of Hello Racist is Expose a Racist, why do you feel this is necessary in today’s time?
In today’s society, as a country, in the past 50-100 years, we have obviously come pretty far in terms of giving all races and people equal rights and respect. However, in reality, there are still so many people and segments of society who are still stuck in a place where, for whatever reason, be it hate, ignorance, how they were raised, where they live, etc., racism is still acceptable behavior. It’s still systematically a part of some people’s cultures, lives, and mindset. And when we are dealing with a problem where people are still engaging in racist behavior in a very open way that is widely understood and known to be wrong. The solution is that to change this behavior people need to be confronted with their actions, the reality of what they are doing and behavior they are engaging in, to make them fully understand and appreciate that what they are doing is wrong, and to make them stop. The confrontation is the lynch-pin to facilitate change when it can be achieved.

Exposing racists is so important in today’s time though not just to try and change people. But because there are still a surprising number of people who are racist who really shouldn’t be because of who they are and what they do professionally. Who, if they are racist, they have the potential to ruin people’s lives when they let their racial biases and prejudices creep in and affect their professional decisions and judgments in ways that are completely incomprehensible and illegal. And that really shouldn’t happen in today’s society. I’m speaking about people who serve society in roles as police officers, teachers, public officials, doctors, bankers, realtors, judges, CEO’s, and others. It’s very critical information to understand if people filling important roles in society are racist and are making decisions and judgments that affect people of all races. The site operates as a public service announcement in that regard. These types of people need to be outed and fired/removed.

Some people say that we live in a time where there seems to be too much sensitivity, anything can be misinterpreted, do you believe that your site can help to propel this cultural sensitivity?
I don’t know. Maybe. I think there is some truth to people’s complaints that society can be a bit too sensitive about certain issues or too politically correct. Truth be told some people are overly sensitive to issues that have very little relevance to the majority society. However, in most cases, I feel like sensitivity, be it about race, religion, sexuality, or other concerns comes from a place that is real. I.e., people are truthfully offended and feel disrespected. It’s just difficult to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to really feel and understand where that is coming from.

I think what makes things worse though is that most people when faced with sensitivity or criticism from others, they get defensive and/or “double down” and attempt to minimize or trivialize others concerns or their own conduct. When what they really should do is acknowledge the issue, try and understand the other person’s perspective, and if it’s appropriate just apologize or move on. We all have the prerogative to say and do things that can be construed as being insensitive and offensive if that is how we really feel. And we also have an equal right to be offended. However, my hope is that if and when are put in these situations we can be more “real” about these situations. I would hope that does that more so than just propel sensitivity.

Through your website and facebook page, you have exposed a lot of direct racism, has there been a problem with some of these people challenging your platform?
Not really. Most of the legal threats I get are hilarious.

How does a platform like Hello Racist truly make a difference rather than just being a place for people to vent?
I think when some people are confronted and called out about their racism, it actually does change them. They become ashamed and embarrassed. But they learn not to do it again. People learn to be racist. And I like to believe that most people at heart don’t really believe in racism or subscribe to it. They just are because that’s what they learned to do and were never told not to or confronted by anyone to tell them that it’s wrong. I think it also makes a difference because what we’ve also seen is that there are people who are truly racist to the core and will never change. And often they joined gangs and subscribe to very violent groups who I think are real threats to commit violent acts. So people learn and are warned about truly dangerous and racist individuals and can hopefully avoid them

Why do you choose to remain anonymous?
Running a site like, you are inevitably going to receive threats. Legal threats. Threats of violence. Some are laughable. Some are very real and concerning. To the extent possible, I’d like to keep these threats out of other aspects of my life. Being anonymous allows me do that.
© The Huffington Post


Kenya: State to double penalties for cyber crimes in proposed law

29/6/2016- Persons using the Internet to spread hate, hack into a protected computer system or intercept communication face a penalty of up to Sh20 million or 20 years jail or both in a proposed law. This is double the Sh10 million or 10-year jail term under section 25 of the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act 2013, for unauthorised access to a computer system with an intent to commit a crime. The draft Computer and Cybercrimes Bill 2016 seeks to align the law to advanced forensic procedures when investigating rising cases of cybercrimes estimated to cost economies tens of billions of shillings a year. Crimes such as bank fraud, money laundering, hate speech, theft of identity and child pornography are increasingly being committed online, underlining the prioritisation of the bill by the government. Others are unauthorised access to a protected computer system, phishing, botnets and, cyber-stalking and bullying.

“We have extensively consulted and we are still going to consult the public, but we are talking of a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and Sh20 million fine,” ICT Cabinet secretary Joseph Mucheru said yesterday. “Some countries have gone for life imprisonment (for unauthorised access to a protected computer system), like in Uganda. Here, we have taken into account the severity (of the offence). The key thing is we are taking it extremely serious and we record these things.” State actors will, however, still have to obtain a court order to access information during investigations. “In this bill, we are still protecting your data and privacy, but there is a clear process on how the law enforcement agencies access any record or information that they require in their investigations,” Mucheru said.

The draft bill borrows from Budapest Convention on Cybercrime – an international treaty to ensure harmony in national laws on cybercrimes effected in July 2004. The USA, Japan, Australia and South Africa are some of the parties to the convention. Further input came from Council of Europe’s Cybercrime division as the state eyes international co-operation in obtaining cross-border help during investigations, collecting evidence and ensuring preservation of traffic data. The new bill has been necessitated by alleged attempts by 77 Chinese nationals to build a cyber command centre in the posh Runda estate in December 2014 and hacking of 103 government websites in January 2012. Inter-agency team from the ICT ministry, the Central Bank, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Communications Authority, ICT Authority, National Police and National Intelligence Service has drafted the bill in a process that started last October.
© The Kenya Star


Germany: Online hate speech, conspiracy theories boom

Online abuse and far-right propaganda have increased dramatically in the past 18 months, a new study shows. Social media giants have committed to the government taskforce, but there is still much to be done.

29/6/2016- Online racist abuse and hate speech have exploded in Germany in the past 18 months, a new report by the anti-racism foundation Antonio Amadeu Stiftung (AAS) has found, with calls for violence against refugees, false stories and rumors about their crimes, and neo-Nazi slogans (often disguised to avoid litigation) all on the rise. The 22-page report, released this week, also found a connection not only with the increase in violence against refugees and refugee homes, but also with an increase in "conspiracy-ideology" attacks on politicians, journalists and volunteers helping refugees. The report found that social media was acting as a powerful amplifier for abuse. "The monitoring report reveals that the agitation is intensifying in the social media," AAS chairwoman Anetta Kahane said in a statement. "The dimensions of hate reach from racist agitation, celebrating the reports of attacks on refugees and arson attacks on asylum homes up to agitation against volunteers who help refugees, journalists, administrators, and politicians."

Skepticism about politics on the rise
There has also been an increase in agitation from across the political spectrum against authorities, the media,and NGOs, according to the foundation - as well as a growing mistrust of the mainstream media and politicians. "On the social web we are observing the building up of a dangerous front from different political spectrums, but which are increasingly finding a common denominator, and that is 'hate against the system'," Kahane said. "What is noticeable: the longer that agitation on the Internet against refugees continues, the more often one finds conspiracy-ideological statements. Politicians become 'traitors,' journalists are defamed as 'lying press' and supporters from civil society are described as 'dirty leftist do-gooders'. The report was produced to coincide with Tuesday's release of the latest federal intelligence agency (BfV) report on politically motivated crime in Germany, which noted a 42-percent rise in acts of far-right violence in 2015.

Aping respectability
The AAS also detected a more insidious trend - websites set up by far-right groups to appeal specifically to the middle classes. AAS found some 300 "no to refugee homes" Facebook profiles, which, they argued, were designed to appeal to "concerned citizens," by using local information and consciously unprofessional design to attract people with fears and concerns about planned refugee homes. This, they said, was generating support for the populist right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD). "There are a number of signs, but you have to look at these pages more closely," said Johannes Baldauf, one of the authors of the report. "A good sign is always - what kind of language is used there. Are there words like 'system press,' do they claim that you can't believe the press, or that politicians are all corrupt." Another sign used by such profiles, he said, was links to sources that are not credible. Often, Baldauf argued, it's clear that more extremist organizations are behind such sites. "If the NPD [far-right National Democratic Party] says something like, 'we're against refugees,' then it's very clear for people - that's a taboo," he said. "But if someone else comes along and says, 'I'm really concerned if so many refugees come, there will be problems with drugs and they want to attack our women,' then it has a different effect, even though the content is the same. But if there is an NPD logo there, then a lot fewer people listen."

Facebook's transparency problem
Last December, the German Justice Ministry set up a taskforce to combat online hate speech, and enlisted social media giants Facebook and Twitter to help stamp it out. But Philip Scholz, Justice Ministry spokesman, said that while those companies had acknowledged their responsibility, more could be done. "It's not enough. The AAS report confirms that," Scholz told DW. "Even though it joined the taskforce, and made certain commitments, Facebook is still very un-transparent. We don't know how many people are employed at Facebook to check the reported content. We don't even know how many complaints are made to Facebook and what percentage of the content is deleted. So for us it is quite hard to judge what the actual reasons are." "You have to say that the companies that earn a lot of money with the Internet have a responsibility to find an adequate solution," he added. But Baldauf said there is plenty that the state could do, as well, especially when it comes to comments on Facebook posts, rather than statements made by operators of certain pages. "That's a negotiation between the state and the company, and there's still a lot both sides could do," he said. "The companies have to give criminal prosecutors access to certain things. But the structures that the state puts at the disposal of these things are not adequate either."
© The Deutsche Welle.


Dutch Teenage girl’s mother takes Instagram to court over fake account with naked photos

28/6/2016- The mother of a 15-year-old girl has taken Instagram to court over a fake account under the teenager’s name containing naked photos and videos, reports The Volkskrant. This mother, from Hoorn in the Netherlands, wants to know who set up the account, but Instagram will not provide user data without a court order. A court in Alkmaar has heard that the photos and sexually explicit film do not actually feature the teenager, but the account included her nickname, and may be related to school bullying. Marianne Zeeman, the mother’s lawyer, reportedly said: “This is not the only incident. The girl has been pushed to attempt suicide several times.” She added that the family saw legal action against Instagram to test their “strong suspicions” about the culprit as the only way to deal with the bullying, as police had been unable to resolve the issue.

Instagram, an American company, argued it is a neutral platform acting as an intermediary, not responsible for content, and bound to protect user privacy. Jens van den Brink, acting for Instagram, reportedly said it found itself “between a rock and a hard place”. The fake account has been taken offline. The court will give a decision on whether to force Instagram to reveal the name of the alleged bully by 11 July. Last year a 21-year-old Dutch woman called Chantal successfully took Facebook to court to find out who had posted a “revenge porn” sex film of her online, and an IP address involved is currently being investigated. Meanwhile, the Dutch government is planning to tighten rules to protect children online this year, making “sex chat” and sexual extortion of minors a crime.
© The Dutch News


How Do FB “Community Standards” Ban Muslim Civil Rights Leader and Support Anti-Muslim Groups?

By Mandie Czech

27/6/2016- Facebook is a social network that has over one billion members. It’s a place for businesses and artists to connect their facilities or art with people, and a place for families and friends to connect and share their feelings, thoughts, and activities. Facebook prides itself on being inclusive of everyone. Recently, there has been an increase of Islamophobia and Islamophobic rhetoric on Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg vowed to fight this hate speech. So how did Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) – Chicago, get kicked off Facebook – twice – after posting criticism of Donald Trump’s own Islamophobic comments?

In a Facebook posting on December 9, 2015, Zuckerberg wrote,
I want to add my voice in support of Muslims in our community and around the world. After the Paris attacks and hate this week, I can only imagine the fear Muslims feel that they will be persecuted for the actions of others. As a Jew, my parents taught me that we must stand up against attacks on all communities. Even if an attack isn’t against you today, in time attacks on freedom for anyone will hurt everyone. If you’re a Muslim in this community, as the leader of Facebook I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that we will fight to protect your rights and create a peaceful and safe environment for you. Having a child has given us so much hope, but the hate of some can make it easy to succumb to cynicism. We must not lose hope. As long as we stand together and see the good in each other, we can build a better world for all people.

Given that Zuckerberg made such a bold statement and openly told Muslims that Facebook is a welcoming environment, it seems to be a contradiction when a Muslim community leader critical of bigoted speech towards Muslims gets banned by Facebook. Most recently, on his personal Facebook page, Ahmed Rehab criticized Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump calling out Trump’s, “false and racist accusation that Muslims refuse to assimilate” and asking why Trump wishes to bestow “Nazi mindsets onto our country.” After multiple pro-Trump trolls likely reported his posting to Facebook, Rehab was banned from posting for two days. Rehab was exercising his right to free speech, which is constitutionally protected under our First Amendment. After he was allowed to post again, Rehab made commentaries regarding his experience being banned.

He posted again about Donald Trump, criticizing Trump’s Hitler-like attitudes. Within a matter of hours, Rehab was again banned from posting on Facebook for three days for speaking his mind and using free speech. During the start of his second ban, Rehab commented that Facebook apologized for his first ban stating,
Facebook sent me an apology, blaming the error on an employee, and yet still didn’t lift the ban despite several requests. This may not be a conspiracy, just a stupid, incompetent company at work”. Facebook originally told Rehab that his posts violated “community standards”, but a quick check of Facebook’s standards shows Rehab’s commentary not to be in violation.

This incident raises other questions. Why does Facebook ban and ask questions later? What does Facebook do if the employee reviewing the claim of standards violation is prejudiced? Why can’t you, the accused, fight your case more effectively with Facebook and be allowed to see the claim made against you or your post. It isn’t a fair system if you can’t defend yourself. If Ahmed Rehab is banned consecutively for exercising his free speech, why aren’t so many others challenged in the same way? Consider the Facebook pages dedicated to anti-Islam/anti-Muslim hate groups such as: “Exposing Islam,” “Stop Islam,” “Islamic morality is immoral,” “The Truth about Islam,” “Just Say No To Islam,” “North American Infidels,” “Ban The Burqa,” “Anti-Islam Alliance,” Bureau of American Islamic Relations (BAIR), “Women of the World United Against Islamic/Muslim Sharia Law,” “Pamela Geller’s Official page,” “A Cult Called Islam,” and “Bare Naked Islam.” These hate groups cause distress and fear for Muslims yet Facebook has no problem allowing these pages to operate even though many of these pages advocate killing, Islamophobia, and oppression against Muslims.

How do blatant attacks against a group of people qualify as “free speech” when the speech is clearly violent and threatening in nature? Most of those pages talk about killing Muslims, banning Islam and Sharia law, and practicing violence against anyone who is or looks Muslim. If Facebook actually holds community standards, these pages and individuals should be blocked for spreading violence and hate, not to mention, the insinuation of killing people. While language is protected under our First Amendment, threatening language that insinuates violence such as what is found on those pages cannot logically be deemed acceptable under those community standards. Yet for some reason, those pages rarely find themselves in trouble. When I reported an Islamophobic page, I was greeted with a friendly message from Facebook telling me that they reviewed my request but found the language did not violate community standards.

This wasn’t the first time I was surprised to find that these “community standards” don’t seem to apply to everyone. A few months ago my friend took a photo of herself and me; we were both wearing hijabs. I made that photo my Facebook profile picture. When I commented in rebuttal to someone who was badmouthing the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an, I was confronted with hostility and Islamophobia. I was called “terrorist” and this individual suggested I was going to, “don a suicide belt to kill people.” I reported this man and his commentary to Facebook for review on the grounds of “violating community standards” due to his hate speech. Within less than 24 hours I had a notification stating that his commentary was reviewed but staff found nothing wrong with it. It was suggested to block him.

On another occasion, I ran across what I deemed to be a dangerous and mentally ill individual who was talking about killing Muslims, his guns, and how he would like to lynch President Obama. I reported him but Facebook reviewed his comments and sent me a message about how he is practicing his right to free speech. This link provides information regarding Facebook’s community standards, which they don’t always seem to follow themselves. To further prove that Facebook has a tendency to single out Muslims, I found that when my profile picture features me without a hijab, I could comment on someone I disagree with and not get my comment removed. Yet, when my profile picture depicts me in a hijab, when I disagree with someone, I have found that more frequently, my commentary is removed because it “violated community standards” or was otherwise deemed inappropriate.

While Ahmed Rehab has been fully restored to Facebook, it doesn’t take away from the fact that he was banned to begin with. It never should have happened. This is the fault of Facebook’s policies of banning first and asking questions later along with Facebook’s claim of “employee error.” It is a major problem that Internet trolls can have so much power to get some one banned even for a short time. A large, sophisticated social media company such as Facebook needs to quickly be able to investigate whether “community standards” have really been violated before someone is banned. The standard apparently is to assume the poster is guilty until proven innocent. Social media in general can be hard to navigate, especially if you are part of a targeted minority like Muslims, who now seem to attract attacks both online and on the streets. But there is even a bigger question here. With all of the attacks and hate directed at Muslims, why doesn’t Facebook step up and act on its claim of inclusiveness and take down pages that are spreading hate and violence against Muslims?
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.
© The Chicago Monitor


UK: Ex-Yorkshire mayor in racism storm over anti-Muslim and ‘Romania gypsy’ tweets

A former Yorkshire mayor faces being reported to the police over alleged racism and anti-Muslim comments on social media.

30/6/2016- Councillor Heather Venter, who was mayor of Driffield in 2013 and 2014, supported controversial posts on Twitter, but denies harbouring racist views. One tweet she ‘liked’ said: “Shouldn’t employ Muslims. Nothing but trouble.” Another tweeted on April 30, read: “Sadly, looks like Romania’s Gypsy begger/pickpockets will b [sic] soon replaced by African Muslims.” She also tweeted a link to an article by a neo-Nazi website that read: “White South Africans march in London against white genocide.” The controversy comes after a website accused the councillor of racism for her Twitter activity. George McManus of the Beverley and Holderness Labour Party. said the tweets ‘liked’ by Coun Venter were “designed to cause offence”.

He added: “There’s no room for remarks like these in a civilised society. I am particularly concerned that this person occupies a position of authority as a councillor and that this impacts badly on the reputation of the good people of Driffield. They are in my opinion designed to cause offence and to cause racial and religious hatred. “I intend to ask Humberside Police to consider whether or not they constitute an offence under section 127(1) of the 2003 Communications Act.” Coun Venter has denied the allegation and said: “I can’t understand it because I’m not racist.” She told The Yorkshire Post she could not remember the tweet about employing Muslims, and said: “I just can’t understand how I would have favourited it. I can’t remember doing that. I like Muslims. I’m pro Palestinian for God’s sake.” But she defended the tweet about Romanians. She said: “It’s happening. It doesn’t mean I don’t like them. Yes they are coming, it’s a fact. You have to see things as they are. Certainly there’s no malice behind it.”

On the South African tweet, she said: “I lived in South Africa. There was a protest, a march in London, about white genocide, because farmers are getting murdered every week.” Coujn Venter has 59,800 likes and says Twitter had been her “lifeline” since her serious illness, especially last couple of months when she had been housebound. She added: “It beggars belief I have 59,800 likes - doesn’t it make you think it is a concerted effort to get at me?” She said she was being called a Nazi on Facebook: “It’s all over Facebook apparently. It said I was a Nazi and I should be made to resign. I could ask the police whether it is an offence that someone local has said I am a Nazi. It’s a two way thing. I could be accusing them of libel, assassination of character. I just find it all pathetic.”

The former mayor moved back to the UK in 1998, having lived in South Africa for a number of years with her South African husband. During her time there, she said she took pity on out-of-work African men, by providing them with food. She added: “When you see a man and all they’ve got is their pride - they’ve got nothing, absolutely nothing - and for a man to come and stand at your gate and beg for food, you feel for them. “My gardener would stand every day waiting to be picked up for work and if they didn’t work, they didn’t eat. “I used to give him chicken and stuff like that.”

And when asked about her ‘liking’ a Tweet that attributed knife crime in London to black people, she said: “That’s a sad undeniable fact. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like blacks. I have a lot of black friends.” Claire Binnington, clerk of Driffield Town Council: “We’ve made the person who made us aware of this to contact standards at East Riding Council, which is the procedure for people who have complaints. She does make clear on Twitter that she speaks for herself and not the town council.”
© The Yorkshire Post


UK: Minister for hate crime won't use Twitter because it's so awful

Karen Bradley, the Home Office Minister responsible for fighting hate crime, stays off Twitter because it's too full of hatred

29/6/2016- The Government Minister responsible for fighting hate crime has revealed she stopped using Twitter because she was sick of the abuse. Midland MP Karen Bradley made the admission after she was asked about racism, anti-Semitism and intimidation. She said: “I am not on Twitter now. There is a reason I am not on Twitter. I just decided I didn’t want to listen to this kind of nonsense.” And later, she praised Birmingham MP Jess Phillips (Lab Birmingham Yardley) for staying on Twitter despite the abuse she has received. Mrs Bradley said: “The honourable lady I know has experienced far far more than her share of abuse, particularly online, and she’s a stalwart for standing up and being there, and still being on on Twitter. I’m not quite sure why she is.” Karen Bradley is the MP for Staffordshire Moorlands and a Government Home Office Minister responsible for hate crime, extremism, anti-social behaviour, violence against women and girls and other issues.
© The Birmingham Mail


UK: Man arrested in London over suspected racist social media posts

Detectives investigating extreme right-wing, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic postings on social media have arrested a man.

29/6/2016- The 41-year-old was held in London on Wednesday morning on suspicion of inciting racial hatred. Scotland Yard said the man, who is from London, was arrested at approximately 6.30am as part of a pre-planned operation in north London by officers from the Crime Disruption Unit within the the force's Counter Terrorism Command, supported by the Territorial Support Group. A Met Police spokesman said: "Detectives executed search warrants at two addresses, both in north London, as part of this investigation, which relates to social media postings of an extreme right wing, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic nature. "Searches at one of the addresses are ongoing. A number of digital items have been seized at one of the properties." The arrested man has been taken to a north London police station where he remains in custody.
© The Press Association


Brexit: Facebook page highlights racism after vote triggers spike in hate crimes

Critics have attempted to shut down a Facebook group which highlights racist encounters amid a spike in hate crimes after the EU referendum.

27/6/2016- Sarah Childs, 32, set up the Worrying Signs page with two university friends to show highlight a surge in xenophobic incidents since Britain voted to quit the EU. Since the group was set up yesterday it has amassed more than 7,500 members as users flood the page with stories of racist confrontations. Stories include one man who said a “Go Home” message aimed at a Romanian pupil was scrawled on a toilet wall at his daughter’s school, and chants of “Make Britain white again” on London’s Portland Street. And while thousands of people have praised attempts to highlight the fears, others have left messages criticising the page and urging Facebook to ban it.

Ms Childs, a community enterprise consultant from Sheffield, said: “The idea of putting all the stories together was that it’s easy to dismiss one story, but when you have a few hundred all together they make a bigger impression. “It’s harder to say, ‘oh, it’s just a minority of people it’s happening to, it’ll all blow over’. “Maybe it is a minority. I don’t know, but I don’t think that’s the most important point here. This is an issue that is affecting a lot of people and we can’t allow it continue.” “I’ve experienced some harassment from people who don’t like what we are doing, some people trying to get me banned from Facebook to interrupt what we’re doing.

“I have also received some messages from angry Leave voters who feel that I’m trying to paint them personally as a racist, but that isn’t what this campaign is about at all. “This is a problem that arisen in the aftermath of the referendum but it’s not really about the referendum anymore. “It’s not about Leave or Remain. We don’t think everyone who voted Leave is a racist. We just want to highlight a problem that needs to be addressed going forward.” Ms Childs called on authorities to address the growing fears of hostility towards foreign residents. She added: “While we have politicians, lawyers, and economists working on the legal and economic ramifications of leaving the EU and drawing up a plan for that, we don’t see anyone talking about a social plan.

“If we’re going to make this country a better place for all of us to live in we need to plan to heal our social divides as well, and to ensure that every person in our communities feels welcome and safe." She added: "We currently have over 7,000 members in the group and more requesting to join every minute. This is a group that has only been in existence for 26 hours. "Our initial goal was simply to draw attention to the rise in racist and xenophobic harassment and violence in the wake of the referendum. “It’s clearly something that is resonating with a lot of people. Our hope is that it becomes big enough to more than just an awareness raising initiative but an actual spur to action and leadership on this matter.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged Londoners to "stand guard" against hate crime following Britain's decision to withdraw from the European Union. The rallying cry came 24 hours after the Met confirmed it was investigating allegations of criminal damage after racist graffiti was reportedly smeared on a Polish community building in Hammersmith.
© The Standard


Google and Facebook Quietly Escalate Their Cyber-War on IS

The two tech giants have stepped up their fight using the same technology used to remove videos with copyrighted content.

27/6/2016- Silicon Valley has long struggled with how to police inappropriate or even criminal content. Earlier this year, Microsoft, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter agreed to work with the European Union to identify and combat hate speech online. The problem these companies face is that they often rely on users submitting and flagging material, but the concern is that if companies start taking down users’ posts themselves, they run the risk of being seen as self-censoring. Now, though, at least two tech companies have turned to automation to remove extremist content from their platforms. YouTube and Facebook are among a group of tech giants that have quietly begun to use automation to eradicate videos featuring violent extremism from their Web sites, Reuters reports.

Two sources tell the news outlet that the technology the companies are utilizing is the same used to automatically identify and delete copyright-protected content, though it’s unclear how much of the process is automated. (Google, Facebook, and others are already using automation to eliminate child pornography on their platforms.) The companies’ end goal is not to identify new extremist videos posted to their platforms, but to prevent re-posted material that’s already been deemed inappropriate from spreading, including Islamic State videos. Neither YouTube’s parent company Google nor Facebook would confirm the reports, nor will they discuss the use of such automation publicly, Reuters’ sources say, partially out of concern that terror groups will learn to circumvent the technology.

The report comes amid growing calls by political leaders for tech companies to fight terrorist propaganda on their own platforms. Shortly after the terrorist attack in Orlando that left 50 dead, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton began to urge tech companies to combat extremist propaganda from the likes of IS online. “As president, I will work with our great tech companies from Silicon Valley to Boston to step up our game,” Clinton said in a speech. “We have to [do] a better job intercepting IS’s communications, tracking and analyzing social-media posts, and mapping jihadist networks, as well as promoting credible voices who can provide alternatives to radicalization.” Clinton hasn’t called for blocking content online, though Donald Trump, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and Clinton’s primary opponent, has.

Following Apple’s public spat with the F.B.I. over its refusal to unlock an iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter, Trump called for a boycott against Apple and argued in favor of the United States closing off parts of the Internet to thwart ISIS, though it wasn’t entirely clear what he meant.
© Vanity Fair


USA: Halting the hate

A new technique for removing radical propaganda

25/6/2016- American officials referred to Anwar al-Awlaki as a senior recruiter for al-Qaeda. After being connected to numerous terrorist attacks, in 2011 he became one of the first United States citizens to be killed by an American drone. Yet Awlaki’s online lectures continue to inspire Islamic extremists nearly five years after his death. His videos are thought to have helped radicalise those responsible for the attack this month on a gay nightclub in Orlando, for the shootings in 2015 at the Inland Regional Centre in San Bernardino and for the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. Once such extremist videos appear online they never disappear. YouTube removed hundreds of Awlaki’s videos in 2010. But a search of the platform reveals thousands of copies remain in circulation. Now a new technology promises to help prevent extremist videos from spreading on the internet.

The technique, known as “robust hashing”, was developed by Hany Farid at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, working in partnership with Microsoft. In essence, it boils down a photograph, video or audio file into a unique numeric code. To generate a code for a photo, for example, the image is first converted to black and white, changed to a standard size and then broken up into squares. Dr Farid’s algorithm then calculates the variation in intensity (the brightness of the pixels) across each of the cells in this grid. Finally, the intensity distribution of each cell is combined to create a 144-digit signature (or “hash”) for each photo. The technique can identify photographs even if they have been altered in minor ways (if a photograph’s colour is changed, for example, or if marks are made on it). Dr Farid estimates that his software can check up to 50m images a day. Importantly, there is no way to reconstruct a photograph from its hash.

An earlier version of the technology, called “PhotoDNA”, has already been successfully deployed to remove child pornography from social-media sites but is able to create hashes only for photographs. Working with the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), a non-profit organisation, Dr Farid has been able to extend robust hashing to video and audio files. Dr Farid has not published his work. The reason for that is he fears it would help people to try to circumvent the technology or allow repressive regimes to use it to suppress dissent. Instead, he and the CEP hope to set up the National Office for Reporting Extremism (NORex). This body would help maintain a database of extremist imagery and assign robust hashes to the most brutal or dangerous. Social-media companies have yet to sign up but if past experience is a guide, they soon will.

In 2009 Microsoft donated PhotoDNA to the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, an American organisation which has built a registry of hashes from its database of abusive images. The technology, which removes hundreds of thousands of photographs each year, is used by nearly all social-media companies, including Facebook and Twitter.
© The Economist


INACH - International Network Against CyberHate

The object of INACH, the International Network Against Cyberhate is to combat discrimination on the Internet. INACH is a foundation under Dutch Law and is seated in Amsterdam. INACH was founded on October 4, 2002 by and Magenta Foundation, Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet.