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Germany: Facebook to meet government on Internet hate-mongering

27/8/2015- Facebook on Thursday accepted an invitation from Germany's justice minister to discuss doing more to purge the social network of racist posts after widespread complaints from users. In a letter to Facebook's European subsidiaries, Justice Minister Heiko Maas suggested a meeting with company executives on September 14 to talk about "improving the effectiveness and transparency of your community standards". Facebook's German unit agreed to meet Maas, saying in an email sent to AFP it "takes his concerns very seriously". "We are very interested in an exchange of views with Minister Maas about what society, companies and politicians can do together against xenophobia spreading in Germany," the email said. The Internet giant "works hard every day to protect people on Facebook against abuse, hate speech and bullying", the company spokesman said.

"Racism has no place on Facebook."
As Germany faces a record influx of refugees and a backlash from the far right, social media like Facebook have seen an upsurge of hateful, xenophobic commentary. Many users say that when they complain to the company about offensive posts, Facebook often responds that after a review the post does not violate its community standards, Maas said, even in "obvious cases". And users also accuse the company of double standards for cracking down swifter and harder on nudity and sexual content than on hate-mongering. Maas said Facebook was required to delete posts in violation of German laws against incitement of racial hatred. Facebook users in Berlin and the southern state of Bavaria have been slapped with large fines this year for hate speech.

Last month Germany's most popular film star, Til Schweiger, blasted fans who left dozens of anti-immigrant comments on his Facebook page after he appealed for donations for a refugee charity. And a German TV journalist's impassioned appeal this month for an "uprising of decent people" against racism and attacks on asylum-seekers was viewed more than five million times via Facebook alone within 48 hours, drawing an outpouring of both support and scorn. Facebook said in April it would not allow the social network to be used to promote hate speech or terrorism as it unveiled a wide-ranging update of its global community standards.
© AFP

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Austrian found guilty of Nazi Facebook post

A 28-year-old Austrian man who called for Jews to be gassed in a Facebook post was sentenced to eight months in prison on Tuesday by Wels Provincial Court.

26/8/2015- The defendant, who was found guilty of incitement, posted a message on Facebook last September referring to the conflict in Gaza that read: “Show no photos of our dead brothers, children, women. Show only photos of their women and children...”. He is also said to have written: “Death to the Jews, I would gas them”, “Hitler showed the world that he was right, Sieg Heil!”. A second defendant, a 26-year-old man who commented on the post with the words “Sieg Heil! Adolf Hitler”, was acquitted by the court. Both men were born in Turkey but have Austrian citizenship and live in the city of Wels. They both held previous convictions for unrelated offences and neither is thought to have connections to right wing scenes. The message was posted on Facebook while the 28-year-old was living in a drug treatment clinic in Carinthia last year. Both men confessed to the postings during the investigation and the 26-year-old told the court that his comment had been “stupid” and added: “I'm sorry. I did not really mean it.”

Although the 28-year-old initially told police he had posted the “fun” statement, in court he claimed it had been written by his roommate, whom he said was a schizophrenic patient whose family followed Nazi ideology. In his closing remarks, however, the defendant said: “I would like to apologise. It doesn't matter who wrote it, I am simply sorry.” His lawyer stressed that his client suffered from “massive cognitive deficiencies” and the post was made as a result of “rashness”. The prosecutor, however, showed the court another Facebook post from the 28-year-old, which was not subject to the proceedings, that read: “The day will come when only the Aryans will be among each other. Blue eyes, blond hair, our leader is wonderful.” The sentence follows the conviction earlier in August of a 38-year-old father from Styria for making donations to a neo-Nazi website and writing posts that denied the holocaust happened and incited hate against Muslims.

The Styrian had registered on the website, which hosted different forums as well as selling Nazi memorabilia, with the name 'NS friend' and was active on the site between April 2009 and June 2012. Prosecutor Johannes Winklhofer told the accused that he had previously lied in court, in 2011. He said: “You said that you would have nothing more to do with this scene but it was not true, you made contributions to this website and were also registered on it.”
© The Local - Austria

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Dutch Man Offers $11K Bounty for Murder of 'Devilish' Jewish Neighbor

Source: JTA
24/8/2015- A Dutch man offered on Facebook to pay 10,000 euros, or about or $11,500, to anyone willing to kill his Jewish neighbor. The man posted the message 
 recently, along with anti-Semitic statements, in connection with his long quarrel with his apartment building neighbor, Gabriela Hirschberg, and her partner, The De Telegraaf daily reported. The report did not name the man. “I have one desire in my life: To tear out this nest of devils,” he wrote in reference to Hirschberg’s apartment. Naming his neighbors, he added: “Each head is worth 10,000 euros to me.”Telegraaf did not specify the anti-Semitic statements that the paper reported he attached to that message.

The neighbor also wrote: “Anyone may come along as long as I have the pleasure of punching the lights out.” Facebook followers offered to come and help find “a final solution” to the problem — language that echoes Nazi rhetoric about Jews during the Holocaust.The two neighbors have been in conflict since 2009, when Hirschberg complained to police about the neighbor for excessive noise, Telegraaf reported. They have since filed multiple complaints against each other, including for destruction of property.

Hirschberg told the paper she sometimes sleeps away from her apartment out of fear of her neighbors, adding that the conflict has cost her one job and has caused her so much stress that it is creating medical complications. The neighbor said she is “turning it around” and that he suspects she hacked his family’s email account. A police detective is investigating the Facebook message, a spokesperson told De Telegraaf.
© The Forward

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Google required to remove old crime links from search results

21/8/2015- The European information watchdog has told Google to take further steps to wipe any mention of a link between a person’s name and a minor criminal offence committed more than ten years ago from its search engine. In May 2014 the European Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) instructed Google to remove certain results for an individual’s name, which linked that person to a minor criminal offence committed over ten years ago. Now, the ICO has insisted that any coverage of the fact that Google had removed the links should also be removed within the next 35 days. Whilst Google is able to reject an application for removal based on the story being in the public interest, it may find it difficult to ignore this instruction, although there seems to be nothing to stop it from leaving the links extant on US Google.com. “Google was right, in its original decision, to accept that search results relating to the complainant’s historic conviction were no longer relevant and were having a negative impact on privacy,” said deputy commissioner David Smith. “It is wrong of them to now refuse to remove newer links that reveal the same details and have the same negative impact.”
© Euro Weekly News

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Czech Rep: Hate Free Culture project working to combat xenophobia

19/8/2015- On Tuesday, around thirty members of various religious denominations – including Muslims, Jews and Christians – sat down for a joint breakfast event in Studio Alta in Prague’s Holešovice district. The event, attended by community representatives, the South African and Kuwaiti ambassadors to the Czech Republic, and many ordinary members of the public, was organized by the Hate Free Culture Project. The breakfast is part of a wider effort by this organisation to foster greater understanding in the Czech Republic amidst heightened tensions over the current migrant crisis. I spoke with project coordinator Lukáš Houdek and began by asking him to describe Hate Free Culture’s work:

“It’s actually a part of the Office of the Government’s Social Exclusion agency. So we are all employees of the government. And it is 80 percent funded via Norwegian Grants [Norway Grants – EEA Grants].”

Has it taken on new momentum in recent months because of the migrant crisis?
“Certainly, because the project was designed a few years ago to mostly fight hatred targeted against the Roma population. But last year it changed into mostly fear and hate against Muslims, and now in recent months it has changed in the direction of migrants and refugees.”

Your most recent event was a harmony breakfast held in Prague. So are these the kind of events that your organization uses to foster harmony, understanding – what is the overall intention?
“We are undertaking many activities. We are proving hoaxes false – this is something we are doing quite intensively right now – but we also organize events including stand-up comedy, or the event you mentioned inviting different religious and ethnic groups to show that we can sit down, eat together and understand each other. But we also try to communicate the issue of human rights, or specifically combating hate and intolerance, in different ways. One example is through arts. Right now there are several exhibitions all over public spaces across the Czech Republic. We have posters that deal with the topics of our campaigns. So we are trying to utilize different media to communicate certain issues. We also want to ensure we are active not just in Prague but also in regions across the country.”

You mentioned that you dispel hoaxes. I noticed your website was just dealing with one regarding Czech Muslims supposedly being against the recent Prague Pride festival. You also have another section on the site which discusses the conflict in Teplice regarding Arab visitors supposedly making a mess in parks and lashing out at local dogs. Do you believe that there are major levels of misunderstanding between Czechs and Czech Muslims or Muslim migrants?
“It’s really hard in this kind of a situation when people are afraid – let’s say logically so, because something is coming that they have little experience of, as we aren’t very used to different cultural groups in the Czech Republic. So it is very easy for people to believe hoaxes or everything they read in social media. And there are so many hoaxes, or news articles that are ultimately untrue. We think it is very important to have a critical eye towards what they read and see and not simply believe everything. And of course it is also caused by a lack of information, because the discussion about refugees and Muslims in the Czech Republic is led by people who are not experts in this subject, but rather ‘instant experts’ that have just appeared in recent months.”
© Radio Prague

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Canada: Racist comments appear on website for Winnipeg's anti-racism summit

One day after Mayor Brian Bowman announced details for an anti-racism summit in Winnipeg, racist comments appeared on a website dedicated to the announcement.
19/8/2015- “Young aboriginals need to be discouraged from having children until they are secure (educated & employed),” reads one anonymous comment on 1winnipeg.ca. “I get frustrated over seeing intoxicated aboriginals stumbling around downtown ... It is not justified to say I am racist.”  “I have lived in Wpg. all my life and have not felt the racism against the white people like you get from the Pilipino people (sic),” reads another. “We welcomed them to our country with open arms and they refuse to speak the English language even the ones born here.”  Bowman announced the summit, slated to happen September 17-18, at the CMHR on Tuesday, and acknowledged the site would likely attract these kinds of comments. “But that’s why (the summit) is important, to start this discussion.” Plenty of ideas have also popped up on the site.

One aboriginal man suggested a day a few times a year where people of all races could gather to talk about their backgrounds. “It would be a day where you could bring your family and friends to get to know people of all other ethnic groups and learn about their way of life.” “A small thing we can teach our children, both at home and at school, is not to laugh at racist jokes,” reads another. “I would raise awareness by adding culturally based advertising, which is rarely seen in our city, holding a Pro-Acceptance forum, and staging a One Winnipeg convention annually,” said a third.
© Metro News Canada

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Canada: Calgary Liberal candidate pulls out after old offensive Twitter postings surface

A Liberal candidate in Calgary who landed in hot water over a series of offensive Twitter postings she wrote in the past has pulled out of the federal election.

19/8/2015- Ala Buzreba, who has been the Liberal standard bearer in Calgary Nose Hill, wrote on her Facebook page that she was stepping down as a candidate while again apologizing “without reservation, for posting comments that do not accurately reflect my views and who I am.” “I have posted a lot of content on social media over the years, and like many teenagers, I did so without really taking the time to think through my words and weigh the implications,” she wrote. “The discussion shouldn’t be focused on me and my tweets, but rather it should be about what’s best for Canadians.” Earlier in the day, a spokesman for the federal Liberal party would not answer definitively whether Buzreba would remain as the party’s candidate but Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau had defended her and noted her apology.

“It’s important to point out that she was a teenager and we all make mistakes, but I’m glad to see she has unreservedly apologized,” Trudeau told reporters at a campaign stop in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Screenshots of Buzreba’s years-old tweets circulated on social media after they were discovered by Sheila Gunn Reid, a self-described staunch conservative, among other tweeters. In one screenshot of the Liberal candidate’s Twitter account from June 2011, Buzreba wrote, “Just got my hair cut, I look like a flipping lesbian!!:‘(”  In another screenshot, Buzreba is seen telling another tweeter to “Go blow your brains out you waste of sperm,” with the hashtags #racist and #bigot.

After a pro-Israel account tweeted in April 2011 that support for Palestine and Islam would “come back & kick u in the arse!” Buzreba responded. “Your mother should have used that coat hanger,” she wrote, according to screenshots now circulating on Twitter. The 21-year-old Buzreba, who had been trying to unseat Conservative Michelle Rempel, initially responded to the backlash by tweeting she was young at the time that she wrote the offending messages and has since “learned a lot of lessons about social media.”  Three hours later, after news reports were published online and the backlash escalated on social media, Buzreba formally apologized. Rempel, who was first elected in 2011 in the previous Calgary Centre-North riding which has since been redrawn, said the Liberals should explain the offensive comments. “It’s up to (Trudeau) to explain to the Canadian public why he’s defending those comments for her,” Rempel said.

Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, said even before the tweets emerged Buzreba was not expected to unseat Rempel, who remains popular and unscathed by controversy. Buzreba’s offending tweets are also unlikely to deliver a death blow to Liberal chances in Alberta ridings where they are expected to be competitive, though the “tremendously offensive” comments won’t help, Williams said. “For those who have questions about the Liberal Party or who are wondering if they want to give the Liberal Party a chance for the first time in decades, this isn’t going to help in that direction,” she said. “But in the ridings where there are really strong Liberal candidates or, conversely, weak Conservative candidates, this I don’t think is going to make the big of a difference.”

The case follows a controversy that embroiled NDP MLA Deborah Drever, who appeared in a series of offending images, including a heavy metal album cover in which a man appears poised to assault her with a bottle. “More and more of the foolish things that people say and do without thinking of how problematic it is … are going to come to light; it’s going to be part of our new political reality,” Williams said. “Whether we’re talking about Deborah Drever or this candidate, we’re in the early stages of trying to figure out how to handle a world where one’s youthful mistakes or thoughtless meanderings end up on a permanent record.”
© The National Post

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Dane arrested for praising arson attack

A Danish Facebook group has been shut down by the social media site on the grounds of "glorifying" Sunday's arson attack against the Islamic Society centre in Copenhagen, leading to one of its members being arrested while others are currently under investigation.

19/8/2015- The Danish Facebook group ‘No to mosques – sincerely’ (Nej til moskéer – oprigtigt) was closed down by Facebook on Tuesday, and a man affiliated with the group has since been arrested on charges of inciting crime. Shortly after the recent arson attack on an Islamic centre, many of the group’s fans posted comments on the page that “glorified” the act, according to the social media site. “An arson attack against a mosque is a despicable crime, and comments glorifying it do not belong on Facebook,” the company’s regional director for public policy, Thomas Myrup Kristensen, told TV2. Besides reporting the comments to Facebook, a number of people also took screenshots of them before the page was shut down. “I’m happy to donate a can of gasoline,” wrote one commenter. “Good. Respect. Burn down that camel shit,” wrote another commenter, who has since been charged by the police for inciting crime.

The man was also interviewed by Radio24syv, where he told the station that he intended to “go to Poland and pick up my Kalashnikov and shoot all the Muslims.” The people behind the group have also been reported to the police. The group was already back on Facebook on Wednesday however, writing in a post that “We welcome you back after a minor bump on the road towards a Fatherland free of mosques and Islam.” Another Facebook group is currently organizing a so-called “peace ring” event, inviting people to an event on Saturday to join hands and form a circle around the Copenhagen mosque located on Dorotheavej in what is intended to be a call for unity. “I was very affected by all the hateful comments I read on Facebook following the arson attack,” Rosa Naghizadeh, one of the organizers, told Politiken.

1,100 people have already confirmed that they will attend the event, which is set to take place on Saturday August 22.  Shortly after the arson attack on Sunday, a 34-year old man voluntarily turned himself into custody. The man, who suffers from schizophrenia, is reported to be from the same Nordvest district as the Islamic Society’s complex.  He is expected to appear in court once his mental state allows it. Although he willingly turned himself in, prosecutors said that he turned violent while in the psychiatric unit and is now being held against his will. The suspect attempted to set fire to a building belonging to the Islamic Society at a time when some 40 people, including children, were inside. The complex also includes a mosque where society members worship.

Since February, when Omar El-Hussein, a young Dane of Palestinian origin, shot dead a filmmaker and an unarmed Jewish security guard outside a synagogue, Denmark's Muslim community has feared being viewed with suspicion. Those concerns were amplified after more than 50 graves were destroyed at the Muslim cemetery in the Copenhagen suburb of Brøndby in June. Out of Denmark's population of 5.7 million, nine percent are foreign-born, of whom some 296,000 originate from "non-Western" countries, official statistics show.
© The Local - Denmark

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The ISIS Twitter census: Defining and describing the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter

Although much ink has been spilled on ISIS’s activity on Twitter, very basic questions about the group’s social media strategy remain unanswered. In a new analysis paper, J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan answer fundamental questions about how many Twitter users support ISIS, who and where they are, and how they participate in its highly organized online activities.

31/3/2015- Previous analyses of ISIS’s Twitter reach have relied on limited segments of the overall ISIS social network. The small, cellular nature of that network—and the focus on particular subsets within the network such as foreign fighters—may create misleading conclusions. This information vacuum extends to discussions of how the West should respond to the group’s online campaigns. Berger and Morgan present a demographic snapshot of ISIS supporters on Twitter by analyzing a sample of 20,000 ISIS-supporting Twitter accounts. Using a sophisticated and innovative methodology, the authors map the locations, preferred languages, and the number and type of followers of these accounts.

Among the key findings:
• From September through December 2014, the authors estimate that at least 46,000 Twitter accounts were used by ISIS supporters, although not all of them were active at the same time.
• Typical ISIS supporters were located within the organization’s territories in Syria and Iraq, as well as in regions contested by ISIS. Hundreds of ISIS-supporting accounts sent tweets with location metadata embedded. 
• Almost one in five ISIS supporters selected English as their primary language when using Twitter. Three quarters selected Arabic.
• ISIS-supporting accounts had an average of about 1,000 followers each, considerably higher than an ordinary Twitter user. ISIS-supporting accounts were also considerably more active than non-supporting users.
• A minimum of 1,000 ISIS-supporting accounts were suspended by Twitter between September and December 2014. Accounts that tweeted most often and had the most followers were most likely to be suspended.
• Much of ISIS’s social media success can be attributed to a relatively small group of hyperactive users, numbering between 500 and 2,000 accounts, which tweet in concentrated bursts of high volume.

Based on their key findings, the authors recommend social media companies and the U.S government work together to devise appropriate responses to extremism on social media. Approaches to the problem of extremist use of social media, Berger and Morgan contend, are most likely to succeed when they are mainstreamed into wider dialogues among the broad range of community, private, and public stakeholders. The ISIS Twitter census: Defining and describing the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter
© Brookings

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Brilliant Comic Is a Devastating Look at Online Hate Mobs

12/8/2015- There’s a saying that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, a poetic way of noting that it’s difficult, perhaps even ill-advised, to translate an auditory medium to a silent page. But that’s exactly what writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie have been doing in the world of comic books for nearly a decade, with music-themed series like Phonogram, a cult favorite comic about music as magic, and The Wicked and the Divine, a title where pop stars are literal gods. “We quite like making things hard for ourselves,” says Gillen. “Especially when we started, we were arrogant: ‘This is impossible to do, let’s try it.'” It seems to have worked; The Wicked and the Divine not only earned three Eisner Award nominations last year, but attracted the attention of Hollywood, where it was recently optioned for television.

But the most recent issue of the series takes on a challenge just as daunting: detailing the horrors of online harassment, and how misogyny circumscribes the lives of women in the public eye, whether they’re walking down the street or performing in front of millions. The comic, which recently published its second volume, follows a pantheon of 12 gods who take human form every 90 years and transform their teenage hosts into charismatic icons with the power to change the world who burn bright but die two years later. In the modern era that means that deities like Amaterasu, Lucifer, and Baal have become pop stars, many of whom evoke shades of Rihanna, Björk, and Florence Welch. Most of the characters in the comic are women, and the most recent issue focuses on Tara, a masked character whom we know almost nothing about. She’s one of the modern-day gods, but the primary detail attached to her is the knee-jerk catchphrase tossed off at her by the other characters and the public at large: “Fucking Tara.”

In the latest issue, we get a glimpse of what this sort of casual cruelty looks like when directed en masse at a visible woman online—and it’s an ugly thing to behold. There’s a devastating two-page spread designed to look like an iPad rotated on its side, displaying a Twitter feed of Tara’s mentions. This is what Tara sees, a cumulative look at what the world tells her about herself, and it’s an ugly thing to behold. By design, the only thing that the audience has learned about Tara until this moment is that she is to be dismissed and mocked; like so many women in media and online, she is a target, a catchphrase, and a hashtag—not a person. “In a real way, by this point people have been talked into a hate mob against a character they don’t know anything about,” says Gillen. “Many WicDiv fans are complicit with the hate mob, and that’s kind of the point: It’s very easy to make people join hate mobs.”

Drawing From Real World Harassment
It’s a phenomenon that has been elevated into the public eye often over the last year, particularly within the world of videogames. Gillen, who worked as a videogame critic before his shift into comic book writing, knows many of the targets of recent harassment campaigns against women online and has spent a lot of time reading the horrible social media attacks hurled at them. “I had to sit down and spend an entire afternoon [with] those things, and I researched them,” says Gillen. “I let that poison into my head because I wanted to be aware of what people were going through. Digging into that pit is not fun to do. I know that’s nothing compared to experiencing it, but it was hard. It was a traumatic issue to do.” The comic also doesn’t depict harassment as a problem exclusive to famous women. In another scene, for example, we see Tara walking down the street at age 11 as a car of men shouts sexual obscenities at her. “There are multiple statements in that issue,” says Gillen. “Many of the works of art I love are saying several things simultaneously. And that is what life is like: if you boll anything down to a message on a card, it’s not really saying anything.”

Multiple meanings come up a lot when Gillen talks about Phonogram as well, his first collaboration with McKelvie and the book that helped make his name in the comics industry. First published in 2006, it imagined a world where music was quite literally magic, and fans called “phonomancers” used Britpop songs from the ’90s as conduits for supernatural powers. It was, as Gillen says, “a weird fucking book,” and while it never achieved mainstream popularity, it became a cult hit with a devoted following. It’s often been observed that Gillen looks a bit like Phonogram’s protagonist David Kohl, and he readily admits that there are clear autobiographical elements in both Phonogram and the The Wicked and the Divine. For years, he was an prominent critic who wrote about music and videogames—even coining the term “new games journalism“—before shifting into comic books, where he started creating entertainment of his own and made his way from cult indie titles to scripting flagship books like Uncanny X-Men for Marvel.

“Phonogram is about my 20s; it’s about the consumption of art and how that changes you. It’s aggressively not interested in musicians,” says Gillen. “But The Wicked and the Divine is about my 30s. It’s about that happened to me since Phonogram came out—that transition from somebody who is both a fan and a critic to a creator. And how you adapt when you get in that space. And why the hell would anyone want to be a writer or artist or musician in any way whatsoever?” The newest volume of Phonogram hits shelves today, nearly six years after the last one, and almost a decade after the original book debuted. It’s a bit odd now for Gillen and McKelvie to look back at their earlier work for reference, in part because so much time has passed. “If you ask me and Jamie to sign a copy of Phonogram, we do this great thing where we start flipping through it and mocking ourselves,” laughs Gillen. “‘Oh, isn’t that a nice big caption!'”

They’ve changed personally as well as creatively; the first issue of Phonogram dropped when Gillen was 31, and now he’s rounding the bend to 40. An earlier issue featured a character named Emily Aster declaring that “nostalgia is an emotion for people with no future.” The new volume, The Immaterial Girl, not only casts a glance back at the classic MTV era of music videos, but returns to find Aster growing older and feeling the nostalgia she once derided in others starting to creep in.

Cosplay for Gods That Don’t Exist
There are aspects of The Wicked and the Divine that measure the passage of time as well, though a bit more quietly. Gillen notes that most of the parents we meet in the book are now closer to his age, and he describes his 17-year-old protagonist Laura—who worships the pop star pantheon and would do almost anything to become one of them—as being both a bit like his child, and a bit like someone he used to be. “She’s a fan who wants to move from one world to the other,” says Gillen. And now that Gillen has completed his own transformation from fan to successful creator, the stories he tells about fandom do something strangely recursive and almost magical: They inspire fandoms of their own, simply by being told.

“The fan culture around each book is a pretty intense mirroring of what the book itself is,” says Gillen. Where Phonogram developed a small but tight-knit scene of fans, the audience for The Wicked and the Divine is appropriately bigger and brighter, demonstrating their love with everything from tattoos and cosplay. Gillen says they’ve explicitly told readers to imagine the god they would become in the pantheon, and now some fans show up at conventions cosplaying as those personalized deities. “We’re almost trying to coach people into thinking about themselves a bit like Laura,” says Gillen. “I love that people have started to cosplay these gods that don’t exist.”

There’s something almost parental in the way Gillen describes The Wicked and the Divine. He speaks of it as a combination of his and McKelvie’s sensibilities, but also a way of expressing all the things they’ve experienced over the last decade. It may even be a way of teaching a bit about what they’ve learned. “By the time we get to the end, I would hope that I’ll have imparted whatever wisdom the last 40 years has taught me,” says Gillen. “And I hope there’s some 17-year-old who’s going to read it all, and come out the other end and create [something] awesome.”
© Wired

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G is for Google

10/8/2015- As Sergey and I wrote in the original founders letter 11 years ago, “Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.” As part of that, we also said that you could expect us to make “smaller bets in areas that might seem very speculative or even strange when compared to our current businesses.” From the start, we’ve always strived to do more, and to do important and meaningful things with the resources we have. We did a lot of things that seemed crazy at the time. Many of those crazy things now have over a billion users, like Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome, and Android. And we haven’t stopped there. We are still trying to do things other people think are crazy but we are super excited about.

We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant. Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable. So we are creating a new company, called Alphabet (http://abc.xyz). I am really excited to be running Alphabet as CEO with help from my capable partner, Sergey, as President.

What is Alphabet? Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products contained in Alphabet instead. What do we mean by far afield? Good examples are our health efforts: Life Sciences (that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens), and Calico (focused on longevity). Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related. Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence. In general, our model is to have a strong CEO who runs each business, with Sergey and me in service to them as needed. We will rigorously handle capital allocation and work to make sure each business is executing well. We'll also make sure we have a great CEO for each business, and we’ll determine their compensation. In addition, with this new structure we plan to implement segment reporting for our Q4 results, where Google financials will be provided separately than those for the rest of Alphabet businesses as a whole.

This new structure will allow us to keep tremendous focus on the extraordinary opportunities we have inside of Google. A key part of this is Sundar Pichai. Sundar has been saying the things I would have said (and sometimes better!) for quite some time now, and I’ve been tremendously enjoying our work together. He has really stepped up since October of last year, when he took on product and engineering responsibility for our Internet businesses. Sergey and I have been super excited about his progress and dedication to the company. And it is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google. I feel very fortunate to have someone as talented as he is to run the slightly slimmed down Google and this frees up time for me to continue to scale our aspirations. I have been spending quite a bit of time with Sundar, helping him and the company in any way I can, and I will of course continue to do that. Google itself is also making all sorts of new products, and I know Sundar will always be focused on innovation -- continuing to stretch boundaries. I know he deeply cares that we can continue to make big strides on our core mission to organize the world's information. Recent launches like Google Photos and Google Now using machine learning are amazing progress. Google also has some services that are run with their own identity, like YouTube. Susan is doing a great job as CEO, running a strong brand and driving incredible growth.

Sergey and I are seriously in the business of starting new things. Alphabet will also include our X lab, which incubates new efforts like Wing, our drone delivery effort. We are also stoked about growing our investment arms, Ventures and Capital, as part of this new structure.

Alphabet Inc. will replace Google Inc. as the publicly-traded entity and all shares of Google will automatically convert into the same number of shares of Alphabet, with all of the same rights. Google will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet. Our two classes of shares will continue to trade on Nasdaq as GOOGL and GOOG. For Sergey and me this is a very exciting new chapter in the life of Google -- the birth of Alphabet. We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity's most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for! I should add that we are not intending for this to be a big consumer brand with related products--the whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands.

We are excited about…
Getting more ambitious things done.
Taking the long-term view.
Empowering great entrepreneurs and companies to flourish.
Investing at the scale of the opportunities and resources we see.
Improving the transparency and oversight of what we’re doing.
Making Google even better through greater focus.
And hopefully...as a result of all this, improving the lives of as many people as we can.
What could be better? No wonder we are excited to get to work with everyone in the Alphabet family. Don’t worry, we’re still getting used to the name too!
Posted by Larry Page, CEO
© Official Google Blog

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Facebook, Google and Twitter block 'hash list' of child porn images

Some of the world's biggest internet companies are joining forces to crack down on the sharing of child abuse images.

10/8/2015- Internet giants including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo are stepping up the fight against paedophiles, with a new system that automatically blocks images of child sexual abuse. The companies have started using a database of thousands of known child sex abuse images compiled by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), known as a "hash list", to identify and block these images. Each of the images has been assessed by a highly-trained analyst and assigned a "digital fingerprint" (also known as a hash value) – a unique code created by running the image through an algorithm. Any copies of the file that are made will produce the same hash value when analysed, so if anyone tries to share the image on Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Twitter or Yahoo, these companies will automatically detect the hash value and block the image.

The hashing technology that the tech companies will use to identify known child abuse images has been developed by Google, and is now being shared with the wider industry. The IWF said that all eligible members will soon be offered access to the hash list. A similar system is already used by Dropbox, Google and other companies to prevent users from sharing copyright-protected files with other users. “The IWF hash list could be a game-changer and really steps up the fight against child sexual abuse images online," said Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the Internet Watch Foundation. “It means victims’ images can be identified and removed more quickly, and we can prevent known child sexual abuse images from being uploaded to the internet in the first place.”

The IWF said many internet companies can make use of the hash list, including those that provide services such as the upload, storage or search of images, filtering services, hosting services, social media and chat services, data centres and connectivity services. The hash list is constantly growing, and has the potential to reach millions of hashes of images. The IWF claims to remove around 500 web addresses containing child sexual abuse material every day, with one web address containing up to thousands of images. However, Professor Will Stewart from the Institution of Engineering and Technology has previously warned that these measures are not a silver bullet. The internet was designed to provide adaptable routing, and makes even well-intentioned censorship difficult.

The digital fingerprinting system also only blocks child sex abuse images that have been identified by the Internet Watch Foundation and subsequently added the to database. It is also possible to change the hash value by altering the image in some way. "There is no quick technical fix that will protect victims – the most effective approaches use education, responsible parenting and more resources for enforcing the law," he said. The initiative comes after David Cameron announced tougher measures to combat online child sexual abuse material in November 2014. As well as technical solutions to prevent paedophiles from sharing explicit images online, the Prime Minister announced the creation of a new criminal offence of "sexual communication with a child", to close a loophole in the law.

The offence was introduced in an effort to stop paedophiles asking for explicit photos from children on mobiles or online – even if it cannot be proved that they have received an illegal image. David Cameron said the new offence would carry a sentence of up to two years in prison and allow police and prosecutors to pursue those who attempt to groom children online regardless of the outcome of their behaviour.
© The Telegraph

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FBI: When It Comes To @ISIS Terror, Retweets = Endorsements

Which makes Twitter one of the bureau's best informants.

7/8/2015- The FBI's best informant has played a role in dozens of terrorism cases over the past several years and provided endless intelligence on extremists across the United States. The informant is young, rich, well-connected, easily distracted and really into reality television. The informant's name? Twitter. The social network is an "extraordinarily effective way to sell shoes, or vacations, or terrorism," and it puts propaganda in the pocket of kids and those with troubled minds, FBI Director James Comey said recently. "It's buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz. It's the constant feed ... the devil on your shoulder all day long, saying, 'Kill, kill, kill.'"

FBI agents have cited suspects' tweets in a slew of recent terrorism cases. Federal prosecutors have charged several Twitter users who allegedly support the Islamic State with lying to federal agents about their Twitter activity. In other cases, the FBI has pointed to Twitter activity -- including retweets -- as probable cause for terrorism charges. In one case, a 17-year-old pleaded guilty to providing "material support" to a designated foreign terrorist organization by tweeting out links. Law enforcement officials are ramping up their monitoring of Twitter. The company received 2,879 information requests from federal, state and local law enforcement authorities within the U.S. in 2014 -- a 66 percent increase from the 1,735 it received in 2013, according to its transparency report. Overall, there was a 72 percent jump in the number of accounts affected by such requests in the second half of 2014. The requests could be seeking additional user information, IP addresses and even the content of direct messages sent through the network.

Twitter's report does not specify how many requests came from the federal government in particular. But it's notable that FBI agents investigating terrorism are likely based in some of the locations with the highest number of Twitter requests in the second half of 2014. There were 195 requests made in Virginia, 170 requests out of New York state, and 125 requests that originated in the nation's capital. Among the recent terrorism cases that pointed to Twitter, the feds brought criminal charges against Ali Shukri Amin, a 17-year-old from Virginia who operated the Twitter account @AmreekiWitness, simply for sending certain tweets. The government -- which in press releases alternatively referred to Amin as a "Manassas Man" and a "Virginia Teen" -- focused on Amin's tweets about ways to use Bitcoin to financially support the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS. Amin has pleaded guilty and, in a statement of facts, agreed that he had operated the Twitter account, which "boasted over 4,000 followers," as a "pro-ISIL platform during the course of over 7,000 'tweets.'"

After the teen pleaded guilty in June, Dana Boente, the top federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia, said the case "demonstrated that those who use social media as a tool to provide support and resources to ISIL will be identified and prosecuted with no less vigilance than those who travel to take up arms with ISIL." Hamza Ahmed, 19, was indicted earlier this year for lying to federal agents about his travel plans and about how well he knew someone who had traveled to Syria. While Ahmed said he knew the person only "vaguely" from high school, the FBI pointed to a series of tweets between the pair in which Ahmed said, "Lol my bro I love you."

Bilal Abood, 37, was arrested in May and charged with making a false statement to the FBI, in part about his Twitter activity. A review of his computer revealed that he "had been on the internet viewing ISIS atrocities such as beheadings and using his twitter account to tweet and retweet information" on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, and had reportedly used his Twitter account to "pledge obedience" to Baghdadi, according to the indictment. Abood allegedly denied pledging obedience. An affidavit from an FBI agent said that particular post "was retweeted by others." 

Arafat Nagi, a 44-year-old from Lackawanna, New York, arrested last week, made statements to federal law enforcement that were "inconsistent with his statements on the Twitter account that has been linked to him," according to an affidavit from an FBI agent. One tweet from April 2014, the agent wrote, demonstrates that Nagi was "promoting ISIL and their cause on Twitter." Agents also did an extensive review of Nagi's Twitter account, noting that 140 of the 278 Twitter handles he followed "featured profile pictures of ISIL flags, photos of al-Baghdadi or Osama bin Laden, photos of weapons or of individuals in military fatigues, photos of recent beheadings or other images which could reasonably be described as violent or terrorism-related in nature." Of Nagi's own 412 followers, the FBI said, approximately 187 "showed images that could reasonably be described as violent or terrorism-related in nature."

Keonna Thomas, a 30-year-old from Philadelphia who went by @YoungLioness on Twitter, was charged in April with attempting to provide material support for the Islamic State. In an affidavit in support of probable cause, an FBI agent pointed to tweets that Thomas "re-posted on Twitter" supporting the militant group. Comey, the FBI director, maintains that Americans still have protection against the government going after them for simple speech because the feds know they'll have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a suspect purposefully engaged in illegal conduct. "Knowing it was wrong, you provided material support for a terrorist organization or some other offense," Comey said, explaining how the FBI sees these suspects in response to Huffington Post questions during a meeting with reporters last month. "That is the bulwark against prosecuting someone for having an idea or having an interest. You have to manifest a criminal intent to further the aims prohibited by the statute."

Asked if reposting materials alone would cross the line, Comey said the answer would be different based on the individual circumstances. "It would depend upon what your mental state is in doing it," the FBI director said. "I can imagine an academic sharing something with someone as part of research would have a very different mental intent than someone who is sharing that in order to try and get others to join an organization or engage in an act of violence. So it's hard to answer in the abstract like that." But Comey said it was "pretty darn clear" where the line was. "The government is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted with a criminal intent to violate the statute. That is how we know people don't stumble, fall into, accidentally end up with a criminal violation," Comey said. "We're required to prove you knew what you were doing, you knew it was wrong, and you did it anyway. That's why I'm a big, big believer that that's a very important burden on the government."

That may sound cautious in theory, but Lee Rowland wants to be sure the government isn't sweeping too broadly in practice. The senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project said that pure speech, even unpopular speech, should be protected. "The First Amendment prohibits the government from making it a crime to engage in speech, including hearing or agreeing with controversial or unpopular ideas," Rowland said. "So if someone is being charged with a crime simply for retweeting the content of a terrorist group, that would violate the First Amendment, full stop." "Of course there's also the question of intent there: repeating speech is not automatically an endorsement. … There are viral anti-terrorism activists who have reposted or retweeted speech or images by ISIS, for example, to highlight the group's cruelty," said Rowland. "So a RT alone is certainly not an endorsement and in many situations may be a criticism of the original speaker, and that's particularly true with terrorism, because I believe many people may believe terrorism is self-evidently immoral."

Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said he suspects the government may, in fact, resist bringing cases that are purely about social media activity. "If you're the prosecutor, it's all well and good to say we're going to prosecute, as material support, a retweet or what have you, but nobody wants to go into court with that as the entire basis -- or even the grand jury with that as the whole basis," Chesney said. "Any good investigator would say, all right, now we have a person of interest. Let's make sure we get that person in contact with the cooperating witness or confidential informant. Then we'll get them talking much more substantively and we'll flesh this out." Chesney compared deciding when to intervene with a person tweeting extremist views to the "old 'Minority Report' problem," a reference to the short story and movie in which people got busted pre-crime.

"The positive way to spin that story is that they're not going after people just for dumb retweets, that they get in there and they find out through a cooperator what the person is really focused on, how serious they are. And if it turns out to be something big, the case is brought on that basis," Chesney said. "The negative way to describe it is that it's entrapment, that these are people who do these dumb things and then they get led down the treacherous path." He suggested prosecutions based on tweets might be viewed differently depending on whether the ultimate target is what Americans see as a "domestic" cause -- say, an ultra-conservative anti-government group or a radical environmental organization -- or a "foreign" cause -- like Islamic terrorism.

It's "clearly true," Chesney said, that people will be more concerned about law enforcement efforts "that are perceived as involving homegrown or domestic institutions or individuals, versus that which is perceived as 'the other' or foreign." Charging someone for social media activity alone might not be as politically viable in the former situation. "RTs do not equal endorsements, I think should go without saying," Chesney said. "But it gets interesting if you're retweeting really nasty beheading videos and stuff," he added. "Really, that's not endorsement? What does it mean to retweet something?"
© The Huffington Post

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German media frenzy after journalist slams online hate speech against refugees

German journalist Anja Reschke has caused a stir across German social media after condemning the rise of hate comments against asylum seekers online. She has called for an "uprising of all decent people." 

6/8/2015- The huge debate in Germany comes amid the ever-increasing number of asylum seekers arriving in the country. In July alone, the German Federal Office for Migrants and Refugees (BAMF) reported a "record" monthly influx of 79,000 refugees - most of whom had arrived from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Current figures estimate that Germany will receive as many as 600,000 asylum applications in 2015. As the number of refugees has increased, there has also been a simultaneous rise in xenophobic sentiment, which has taken a particularly strong hold of Germany's social media. In the past, racism and xenophobia were often attributed to right-wing groups, but hidden behind their computer screens, it has become difficult to determine exactly who the perpetrators are. On Wednesday evening's edition of public broadcaster ARD's "Tagesthemen," one of Germany's most widely watched news programs, Munich-born journalist Anja Reschke denounced the increasing xenophobia and called on Germans to take a stand.

'Flood of hate comments'
"When I publicly say, Germany should take in economic refugees - what do you think will happen then?" Reschke began. "It's just an opinion which I can freely express. It would be nice if it were discussed objectively. But that's not how it would go. I'd receive a flood of hate comments." The presenter and previous winner of the Axel Springer Prize for young journalists, said the xenophobic commentators had until recently hidden behind pseudonyms. "But in the meantime they're being published under their real names. Apparently that's not embarrassing anymore," she said. Reschke went on to praise the small number of blogs and social media sites, such as "Perlen aus Freital" (Pearls from Freital), which already work to mock the hate comments. Among the comments are calls for refugees be "set on fire" or "left to drown in the sea." Spokesperson for civil rights charity "Amadeu Antonio Stiftung," Robert Lüdecke, supported Reschke, saying that the internet had become "a part of everyday life" and that people are as responsible to react to racism online as they would in real life.

Growing number of attacks
Continuing her attack on the hate inciters, Reschke warned the German public to not underestimate the power of the comments posted online. "We can say: 'Yeah, well, there are always idiots - best to ignore them.' But they're not just words. They already exist - the arson attacks on refugee shelters." Beyond the social media platforms, Germany has also seen an alarming increase of right-wing extremist violence in recent months. Officials recorded 202 attacks in the first six months of this year alone - the same amount as there were in the entirety of 2014. Just last week, a planned refugee home in Lunzenau near the eastern German city of Chemnitz was attacked with Molotov cocktails.

'Stand up and open your mouth'
Although law enforcement against hate crimes is growing, Reschke said that alone, this is not enough. "The hate-writers must understand that this is not tolerated in society. Therefore, if you don't think that all refugees are parasites that should be chased away, burned or gassed, then you must clearly make it known." "Stand up against it and open your mouth. Take a stance, publicly name and shame them." "The last 'uprising of all decent people' was 15 years ago. I think it's time again," the journalist said, referring to a similar call from German Chancellor at the time, Gerhard Schröder (SPD), following an arson attack on a synagogue in Düsseldorf.

Strong support
Reschke's plea to German public was met with much applause from like-minded viewers. The video has since been viewed over 3.7 million times, with many supporters expressing their support on social media. "The woman is fantastic!" one Facebook user wrote. "The best commentary I've seen for a long time. Applause!" another wrote. "Resist by sharing this commentary on your own timeline!" another Facebook user wrote, expressing an idea shared by more than 105,000 users who did exactly that.

Against freedom of expression
As Reschke predicted, however, she also received her fair share of negative retorts. Writing on the "Tagesthemen" website, one user, named only as "gman," criticized Reschke's commentary for preventing freedom of opinion. "This isn't the freedom of expression and free democratic basic order that the fathers of our constitution had in mind," he wrote. Another, who named themselves "DiePositiveBratwurst," lamented that fact that Reschke had allegedly "branded every worried citizen as a hateful citizen." Asking the question on many a confused German's lips at the moment, however, was user "Tralafit" who asked: "On the one hand we're a free country, on the other we don't want incitement. How are we to find the right balance?" As Germany plays tug of war between preventing a rise in xenophobia and trying to help those most in need, the country is grappling to find an answer - one that hopes to be found sooner rather than later.
© The Deutsche Welle.

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Headlines July 2015

Google has own idea of what 'right to be forgotten' means

31/7/2015- Since a landmark ruling on the so-called 'right to be forgotten' by the Court of Justice of the European Union, Google has received requests to remove over a million website links from its search results in Europe. Of those 1,057,561 uniform resource locators (URLs), it deleted 370,112, or 41.3 percent, Google says. The court had ruled in May 2014 that if an internet search into an EU citizen's name yielded results which were “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”, that citizen may request the search engine to have those removed from the list of results. For example, Google complied with a request from a Belgian whose conviction of a crime was quashed on appeal to remove an article about them. It also removed an article about a rape victim in Germany.

However, it did so only for the European versions of its search engine. That means the articles can still be found by those using google.com. This has come to the attention of the French data protection authority. It sent Google a formal notice in June, saying “delisting must be carried out on all extensions of the search engine”. On Thursday, the US company asked the French data watchdog to withdraw the notice. It interprets the court ruling as obliging Google only to apply the ‘right to be forgotten’ on its European versions of Google Search. “While the ‘right to be forgotten’ may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally”, Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in a blog post.

However, in its ruling the EU court did not differentiate between the worldwide and national versions of the search engine. Google, in its blogpost, also noted that the French order “is disproportionate and unnecessary, given that the overwhelming majority of French internet users—currently around 97%—access a European version of Google’s search engine like google.fr, rather than Google.com or any other version of Google”. But this statement is misleading at best. Many people don't use a national variant of Google instead of the global one, but in addition to it.

Google.fr is indeed the most visited web domain in France, according to internet traffic pollster Alexa. But Google.com is ranked third, between Facebook.com and Youtube.com. According estimates, Facebook has about 26 million users, and Youtube around 22 million, in France. While calculation methods may vary, this means that Google.com is used by, roughly, between 22 and 26 million French internet users – or along the lines of between 40 and 47 percent. The picture is similar all over Europe, where the national version of Google is the most popular website, and the international version ranks as high as number two in the UK, Spain and the Netherlands, number three in Poland. Google did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Free speech
Fleischer also argued that if the French data protection authority CNIL had its way, this would affect internet users in the rest of the world. “If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place,” he wrote. Google warned of a risk of “serious chilling effects on the web”, noting examples of content that is illegal in one country but which is legal in others. “Thailand criminalises some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalises some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be “gay propaganda."”, he wrote. But Fleischer is overstating the effect a national – or in the EU case regional – court order has on the wider development of the Internet.

In 2002, there were similar fears after a ruling in an Australian libel case against American company Dow Jones over the publication of an online article from its business magazine Barron's. The highest Australian court decided that because the article was available in Australia, the subject could sue for defamation there. Following the decision, the New York Times wrote in an editorial the case “could strike a devastating blow to free speech online”. But the conclusion of authors Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu in their 2006 book “Who controls the Internet?, Illusions of a Borderless World”, that the predicted devastation has been held off, is still valid today. Moreover, they criticised the US-centrism that is present among Internet freedom activists as much as in the rhetoric of American companies like Google.

Goldsmith and Wu wrote that “the First Amendment does not reflect universal values … and they are certainly not written into the Internet's architecture”. However, some of the most used websites worldwide are American, and they inherently carry some of those American values, which slightly differ from European values, where privacy is generally regarded as much more important. Google said it disagreed with the French data protection authority “as a matter of principle”.

Principle or also profit?
But it could well be that part of the company's motivation comes from the costs that would be involved with extending the right to be forgotten to its other domain names. Technically, it is not impossible for Google to do it. But it may reduce the public company's profit margin. As Goldberg and Wu noted, “national Internet laws are no more burdensome than the scores of conflicting national laws that multinational firms typically face”. In return, companies gain access to an enormous market. Having to adhere to different laws when providing services around the world, is part of the deal for running a global company. Even online.
© The EUobserver

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Reddit needs to stop pretending racism is valuable debate (opinion)

Free speech doesn't mean you have to take something seriously.
By Adi Robertson


29/7/2015- Reddit's executives are still walking a thin, shaky tightrope as they update the site's content policy. Today, CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman posted a small update on Reddit's new moderator tools and rules for policing the site's worst communities — which could spell one of the biggest shifts in the site's history. He stayed to chat about what the changes would mean. And the inevitable question came up: "How do you feel about hosting what may soon be the biggest white supremacist forum on the internet?" Horrible, actually, but I don't think you can win an argument by simply silencing the opposition. Another user pointed out a seven-year-old comment in which Huffman said that "we've always banned hate speech, and we always will." Huffman followed up: While my personal views towards bigotry haven't changed, my opinion of what Reddit should do about it has. I don't think we should silence people just because their viewpoints are something we disagree with. There is value in the conversation, and we as a society need to confront these issues. This is an incredibly complex topic, and I'm sure our thinking will continue to evolve.

This is a problem.
The problem isn't necessarily with allowing hate speech on Reddit. Policing large communities is an extremely complex topic — just look at the fight over showing breastfeeding on Facebook for an example of heavier moderation backfiring. As in real life, good (or okay) speech can easily become collateral damage when you take down bad speech, especially when automation or large networks of moderators come into play. Whether or not this applies to Reddit is up for discussion. The problem is that Huffman doesn't frame the debate this way, and neither do many other people. By some very common logic, networks like the racist "Chimpire" aren't bugs in the system. They're valuable dissenting opinions that will help us settle important issues. So allowing r/CoonTown to exist isn't just a principled decision, it's one with practical benefits. That's not only dead wrong, it's fundamentally antithetical to valuable debate.

There's a place for confronting issues head-on. Social progress happens when people are willing to accept scrutiny of beliefs they took for granted — dismantling religious arguments against gay marriage was an incredibly valuable exercise. But to turn those conversations into real change, there has to be a point at which we consider the question settled and move on. Climate change is real. Vaccines do not cause autism. Dark skin does not make someone literally subhuman. At some point, "debate" isn't a good-faith act, it's a stalling tactic to protect the status quo.

And unfortunately, no question is ever settled on the internet. Its sheer size guarantees that however ludicrous or harmful a belief, there's probably a community that will foster it. The internet has democratized all kinds of opinions, making a single person's blog as accessible as a New York Times editorial. There's no way to conclusively "win" an argument with 3 billion people. This is okay when you're talking about, say, the best way to board an airplane or the four-corner simultaneous 24-hour day. The evidence comes down on one side, but keeping the debate open is relatively harmless — at best, an interesting thought experiment. Nobody makes you hear the opposition out before you set your one-corner alarm clock. But when the issue is whether one gender, sexual orientation, or race is inherently inferior to another, it's not an abstract question. Calling for an "argument" or a "conversation" means demanding that women or queer people or people of color defend their own humanity. Whether or not they do it successfully, it's a draining and demoralizing exercise, dragging a centuries-old struggle back to its starting point. Is that energy really worth deploying against the "official chimpout advisory guide" and r/WatchNiggersDie?

To be clear, we are rarely talking about rigorous scientific research into health and intelligence, or CDC surveys about black communities, or any of the other standard slippery slopes. We're talking about forums that argue from the assumption that the vast majority of black people are halfwits or violent criminals attempting to exterminate the white race. They add nothing to our understanding of race, crime, or social organization. Their main function is to shift the Overton Window far enough that non-murderous racism seems moderate. Committing to absolute, hands-off openness will eventually mean defending speech that is truly worthless and harmful. Not a "dissenting viewpoint" or "opposition." Not vulgar speech that creates something new. Speech that you are willing to accept even though the world would probably be better off if it were silenced. It's fine to decide that this is worth the cost. It's ridiculous to pretend we should be grateful it exists.
© The Verge

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Germany: Facebook Ordered by Hamburg Regulator to Allow Pseudonyms

Facebook Inc. was ordered by a German privacy watchdog to allow users to have accounts under pseudonyms on the social network.

28/7/2015- Facebook may not unilaterally change such accounts to the real names of users and may not block them, Johannes Caspar, Hamburg’s data regulator, said in an e-mailed statement. The company, whose European headquarters are in Ireland, can’t argue it’s only subject to that country’s law, he said. “Anyone who stands on our pitch also has to play our game,” said Caspar. “The arbitrary change of the user name blatantly violates” privacy rights. Caspar and other German regulators have been fighting with Facebook for years over the implementation of European data-protection rules. The U.S. company has argued that the Irish regulator has jurisdiction over its compliance with EU privacy law.

Facebook said it was disappointed its name policy is being revisited after it won disputes over the issue. “The use of authentic names on Facebook protects people’s privacy and safety by ensuring people know who they’re sharing and connecting with,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. Tuesday’s order is based on a complaint by a user who’d sought to prevent her private Facebook account from being used by people wishing to contact her about business matters. Facebook changed the profile to her real name against her will and asked for a digital copy of her identity card or passport, said Caspar.

The Irish privacy regulator in 2011 audited Facebook and found its name policy was in line with Irish law. The social network in 2013 was able to fend off an attack by another German regulator by convincing national courts that only the Irish authority has jurisdiction over the issue. Caspar now argues that a ruling last year by Europe’s top court on Google Inc.’s search engine results changed the situation and allows him to regulate Facebook.
© Bloomberg

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UK: MPs call for 'anti-Muslim paramilitary manual' website to be investigated

Far-right Gates of Vienna website is also promoting upcoming London exhibition of Muhammad cartoons which it is feared is intended to incite Islamist violence.

27/7/2015- A group of MPs have called for an investigation into a far-right website described as a training manual for anti-Muslim paramilitaries – amid fears that an upcoming exhibition of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in London is designed to incite Islamist violence. The Gates of Vienna website has been heavily promoting the exhibition, which is understood to feature the same drawings shown in Texas in May when two gunmen attempted to storm the event and were killed by police. It has been organised by the former Ukip parliamentary candidate Anne-Marie Waters and is set to take place at a location in central London on 18 September with tickets priced at £35. Organisers say among those attending will be Geert Wilders, the Dutch rightwing politician who has espoused controversial views on Islam.

In a report on the so-called British counter-jihadist movement, published on Monday, the anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate called for the exhibition to be banned. Nick Lowles, Hope Not Hate’s chief executive, said: “Our concern is that the event is intended to provoke a reaction from British Muslims. It is not about freedom of speech, it is about incitement. The authorities cannot allow this event to go ahead. Communities shouldn’t rise to their bait, we must stand together as a show of strength.” Lowles also said he had serious concerns about material published on the Gates of Vienna website. The site – the name of which refers to a 1683 battle between European forces and the Ottoman empire – contains detailed descriptions of how anti-Muslim paramilitary groups could operate during a conflict with European Muslims. One entry is a fictionalised account of a predicted race war, described as “a hard look at the near future in Britain”, with a section entitled “A guide to amateur bomb-making”. Waters is a contributor to the site and has written a lengthy post about the London exhibition.

Lowles said he believed the site was hosted on British servers. “If a Muslim had a similar website, which includes bomb manuals and details about assassinations and establishing paramilitary groups, then you can be sure action would be taken,” he added. The Labour MPs Ian Austin, Ruth Smeeth, Imran Hussain, Paula Sherriff, Wes Streeting and John Cryer have written to the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, asking her to consider if the site’s owners are breaching the law. The letter reads: “It is clear that these are the ideas that inspired Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik and as such it is deeply troubling that they are available to inspire others. We would urge you to investigate the Gates of Vienna website and take appropriate action if anyone involved is deemed to be promoting terrorism and civil disorder.”

Austin told the Guardian he would also be raising the issue with Theresa May. “I am shocked that the Gates of Vienna website can publish articles promoting a strategy for civil war,” he said. “At a time when we should all be concerned about terrorism it is imperative that the police investigate this website and those behind the calls for civil war and I’ll be raising this with the home secretary.” He added that the exhibition of Muhammad cartoons was “clearly [intended] to provoke a reaction from British Muslims and we must all ensure this does not happen”. Wilders was also present at the exhibition of the cartoons in Texas, which was run by the anti-Islam American Freedom Defense Initiative and hosted by the group’s co-founder, Pamela Geller, a US blogger and speaker who is banned from entering the UK over her anti-Muslim views.

Vive Charlie, an online magazine set up after the attacks by Islamist extremists on the offices of the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris, is co-hosting the exhibition along with Waters’ website Sharia Watch and the fringe far-right party Liberty GB. The magazine, which has no connection to the French title, is calling for artwork submissions. Waters said in a statement on Sharia Watch: “It is vital, in this era of censorship and fear, that we stand together in defiance and demand our right to free expression … We will not, and cannot, succumb to violent threats. The outlook for our democracy depends on the actions we take today.” A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said an appropriate policing plan would be put in place for the event but would not comment further.
© The Guardian

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USA: Recruitment now is through websites not hate groups

Angela King became a neo-Nazi skinhead the old-fashioned way. She was raised in a prejudiced and homophobic household. As a child she was bullied, and later members of the hate group offered her acceptance.

23/7/2015- “One day I decided to fight back,” King said. “From that point on I decided that I would never be humiliated again and that I would be the one to instigate. ... I actually became violent even before I found the far right.” King hasn’t been affiliated with the hate group for decades. Now, she works for a nonprofit that helps extremists recover from a life driven by radicalism, but she still recalls how the indoctrination process began when she was in high school. King tried becoming friends with many different groups before she was accepted by the skinheads. “Through them I met older skinheads who had indoctrinated the younger ones,” King said. “When I started hanging out with them was when I started receiving the propaganda that goes around. It has stereotypes about every other race and religion that wasn’t like us.”

Pete Simi, a criminology professor at the University of Nebraska who has studied and embedded white supremacist groups for 18 years, said that propaganda becomes a powerful mechanism for getting people more committed to the cause. “Part of this indoctrination is the idea that (members) are one of the select few,” Simi said. “They have special insight about how the world really operates, but most of us are blinded to it. You know something that most others don’t know. And so that becomes very seductive.” But as technology has changed since King was a skinhead, so has the process of indoctrination. As far as anyone knows, Dylann Roof, the alleged Charleston, South Carolina, shooter, had no direct contact with organized hate groups.

Hate groups are in decline, but influence new terrorists
“He encountered this whole world of white nationalism through the Internet entirely,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center and one of the nation’s leading experts on extremism. Potok said more and more extremists are leaving organized hate groups for the Internet. “Of course someone could have made that argument 15 years ago,” Potok said. “The Internet was already a big thing by the late ’90s, but it’s become much more pervasive today. For a guy like Dylann Roof who’s 21 years old, that’s the language he speaks. He gets all this information from the Internet and social media.” Another reason extremists have left organized groups is that the cost of being outed as a member of one has risen, causing people to lose their jobs or sometimes spouses. “So more and more people are going off into the anonymity and safety of the Internet and that world is increasingly producing lone wolves like Dylann Roof,” Potok said.

And though the means of indoctrination may have evolved, the force behind it has remained the same. “Most of these groups are propelled by fear,” King said. “As human beings, we learn to fear the things that we don’t know. That fear can morph into hate, and in that there is a continuous struggle.”
© Montgomery Advertizer

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On last day as ADL chief, Foxman says Internet biggest factor in rising anti-Semitism

After 50 years with the ADL, Abraham Foxman talks to 'The Jerusalem Post' about what's next for world Jewry and for himself.

21/7/2015- On Monday, Abraham Foxman ended his 28-year tenure as national director of the Anti-Defamation League and spoke with The Jerusalem Post about the future of world Jewry, the rise of anti-Semitism and what's next for the man who has been part of the organization in various capacities for the past 50 years. When asked about the state of world Jewry, Foxman said simply that "it's not the best of times," taking into account the dramatic rise of anti-Semitism and the Iran deal that just garnered approval in the United Nations on Monday. "If the world left us alone, we'd be fine," he said. Foxman said that the biggest factor contributing to the dramatic rise in anti-Semitism in the past 15 years has been the Internet, where it has had a rebirth. On this new platform, he said, people have the ability to quickly and anonymously voice their opinion without having to back it up with any facts.

He says that despite all the good that the Internet does, it is also used as a "superhighway for bigotry." He says another huge factor is that "we never developed an antidote" to anti-Semitism. "Many of us believed that after Auschwitz was laid bare to the world to see what hatred, bigotry, prejudice, racism and anti-Semitism could do ... [we] Jews thought the world would come together ." Foxman said that "anti-Semitism has not been taken out of the bloodstream of society," which has caused the Jews around the world and especially in Europe to question if they should leave their homes." He also sharply criticized the fact that "Israel is still being treated as a Jew amongst the nations." He gave the example that most countries in the world do not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"Every country in the world decides what their capital is and 200 countries respect it. Israel is still the only country in the world where you've decided Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, is the capital and yet most, if not almost all the countries in the world don't respect that." Foxman said that after he ends his position with the ADL, he will not retire, but rather "rewire" following a bit of vacation. He is looking to stay involved with the Jewish community and Jewish issues. "I hope to continue to have a voice ... not as director but as director emeritus. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of issues that need perspective and voice."
© The Jerusalem Post

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Italian judge indicts 25 far-right suspects

20/7/2015- An Italian judge has indicted 25 suspected members of the extreme-right movement Stormfront on charges of racial hatred and making threats following posts on the group's website against migrants, Jews and officials. The news agency ANSA reported Monday that the indictment stems from posts on the group's website in 2011 and 2012. A judge in Rome set the opening date of the trial for Dec. 15. Among those targeted by the group were the anti-Mafia writer Roberto Saviano and Mayor Giusi Nicolini of the southern Sicilian island of Lampedusa, where thousands of migrants fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty in Africa have arrived in recent years seeking a new life in Europe.
© The Associated Press

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Germany: Far-right extremists turn to social media to spread their ideas

20/7/2015- Neo-Nazis and far-right groups are rebranding themselves to appeal to a digital generation of potential sympathizers. @dwnews explores how extreme ideas are being shared via memes, hashtags and even online cooking shows.

Large online presence
Right-wing extremists in Germany are increasingly using social media to spread their ideas. In fact, according to a German youth protection agency, there are some 5,507 websites controlled by right-wing groups. About 70 percent of them are on social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Tumblr.

Social media messaging
Social media is becoming the most popular way for Germany’s far right to reach out to potential new sympathizers. But the content shared on many of these accounts isn’t what you might expect. There are no pictures of Adolf Hitler, no Swastikas and no overt violence. Instead, many of these accounts are taking a more subtle approach, camouflaging extreme ideas with sexy pictures, memes or funny videos. 

Extreme memes
Social media gives anyone - even neo-Nazi organizations - the opportunity to share their message far and wide. But it can be dificult to make outwardly hateful content go viral. So how do these groups spread their extreme views to the general public? One way is by masking them in memes. Nationalistic, anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic ideas are being repackaged into memes (images that have made their way into popular culture) and distributed on social media. The toned-down messages and familiar images make these "extreme memes" more acceptable for an average social media user to share.


Hijacking hashtags
Social media is no stranger to discussions of controversial topics with strong opinions on both left and right. And often these discussions take the form of a Twitter hashtag, a way of organizing many different tweets related to the same topic. Well, it seems far-right groups have begun hijacking hashtags and overwhelming the discussion with far-right views. Take the anti-racism hashtag #schauhin for example. "Schau hin" essentially means "look closely." The hashtag and the Twitter account above are meant to raise awareness about everyday racism in Germany. But a far right group created their own Twitter account with a similar name and logo. They then encouraged their followers to use that same #schauhin hashtag to discuss the "overwhelming infiltration of immigrants" into Germany. 

Targeting young people
Social media is an effective way to spread extreme messages and it’s also a great way to target young people. Platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter tend to have plenty of young users. And now with the rise of smartphones, kids can easily access social media without adult supervision. Germany’s extreme right-wing groups have figured this out and are now directing their messages directly at young people. One group even created a Twitter account featuring the Sesame Street character "Cookie Monster" (Krümelmonster in Germany) to attract young people to the right-wing scene. The account is linked to various extreme right-wing groups and tweets in support of right-wing activities. For exam-ple, praising PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), a group that at its peak earlier this year marched every Monday against the perceived "Islamization of Germany."


The "Cookie Monster" even took his recruitment efforts offline. A man who was later identified as a neo-Nazi was arrested at a school in eastern Germany last year after being caught handing out flyers to kids wearing a cookie monster outfit. The flyers contained far-right material. Pictures of the "right-wing muppet" pamphleting another school were posted on the account last month. And there are similar online videos too. This comes from the Krümelmonster Twitter account and shows the "Cookie Monster" mocking news reports, warning the public about it. Germany's far-right political parties have big online followings. Despite their lack of success in Germany's parliament, the country's two most popular right-wing parties have huge online followings. The AfD (Alternative for Germany) party, which advocates for Germany's exit from the European Union, and the NPD (National Democratic Party of Germany) currently have no seats in the German Bundestag. However, the two parties have far and away more Facebook followers than any other German political party.

 

"Nipsters"
By now most of us have heard of "hipsters." But what's a "nipster?" It's a combination between a Nazi and a hipster and these young and "cool" neo-Nazis have a prominent online presence. This photo comes from a far-right group called Balaclava Küche (küche means kitchen and a balaclava is the black face mask) Images like these combine elements that are popular with Germany's youth. Club Mate is an energy drink that hipsters in Berlin love to drink. And veganism is a calling card of many young German activists. So seeing young people with far-right ideas but who eat, drink and dress in a cool way can send a powerful message. Balaclava Küche even has its own vegan cooking program on YouTube. In this episope the cooks are mocking FEMEN, a radical feminist group.


Experts weigh-in
Christina Dinar is an expert on Germany's extreme right. Her work with no-nazi.net helps educate young people about the far right's online activities. Dinar says the extreme right wing in Germany uses many of the same social media techniques as everyone else to get their message out.

Sex Appeal
As the saying goes, "sex sells." And it seems Germany's far-right extremist groups have figured that out too. Rather than sharing frightening or intimidating images on social media (think Swastikas or Adolf Hitler tributes) now they are frequently using sex appeal. Anti-immigrant and pro-Europe messages have been repackaged. At first glance, they resemble shampoo advertisements.




Does online activity have offline consequences?
Memes, tweets and Facebook pages might help recruit new people to far-right circles but it's hard to link them to any offline violence. However, a Google map that surfaced last week suggests that extreme groups might be using the Internet to encourage action against asylum seekers in Germany. The map, which has since been taken down, showed the locations of hundreds of shelters for asylum seekers in Germany. The map's title? "No refugee center in my backyard." It appeared to have been created by a German neo-Nazi group called "The Third Way." There were no explicit calls for violence but the map gave exact addresses of many of the asylum centers, which could be used to plan attacks.

Attacks on refugee housing
There has been a string of arson attacks on refugee housing in Germany this year - at least 13 so far - an average of nearly two per month. The fires were mostly set to empty buildings being prepared to house refugees but the attacks have taken place all over the country. In the first half of this year nearly 180,000 people applied for asylum in Germany while anti-immigration sentiments are on the rise.


Finding and reporting extreme content
So what should you do if you find extreme content on social media? Well, the first challenge is correctly identifying it, which can be difficult given how skilled far right groups have become at disguising their messages. If you do encounter racist, violent or offensive content, our experts say: report it. Christina Dinar from no-nazi.net told us there are established methods for asking Twitter or Facebook for removing content.

© The Deutsche Welle.

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UK: Twitter unveils new 'safety centre' to help report anti-Semitism online

21/7/2015- Twitter has unveiled a new ‘safety centre’ to help users report anti-Semitic tweets on the social media platform. Tuesday’s announcement comes just hours after Prime Minister David Cameron criticised internet giants for not doing enough to stop the spread of extremism and hatred online. The new service will help users keep accounts secure, control what others can see and report tweets that violate Twitter’s rules. It follows consultation with Jewish group Community Security Trust (CST), which reported a 118 percent rise in anti-Semitism online last year. Twitter’s Head of Safety, Patricia Cartes, said: “What is really important for us is to continue to engage with CST to really understand what is happening in the offline world and make sure that our mechanisms are prepared to cope with the increase of reports. “It’s the insight that groups like CST have that empowers us to make changes and take action.”
© Jewish News UK

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UK: Islamic Network charity website called for the slaughter of gay people

Islamic Network, a Muslim charity, leant its name to articles calling for the murder of homosexuals and encouraging the killing of Muslims, an inquiry has found.

20/7/2015- An investigation by the Charity Commission has found posts on the Islamic Network's website "encouraged violence and denigrated particular faiths". The Charity Commission has said in a statement on its findings:"The charity's website had hosted historic material from 2004 that legitimised the killing of gay people and encouraged the killing of Muslims in certain circumstances." The investigation concluded it was inappropriate for the charity to host the information in its name on the website, although Islamic Network's current trustees had "acted quickly to take the website offline when the material in question came to their attention". The current heads of the charity were not in place when the information was published. The domain name which hosted the articles was inherited by the charity. The inquiry focused on two articles, one called "The prohibition of the blood of a Muslim and the reasons for shedding it" and the other "Homosexuality".

The former made reference to the circumstances when under an interpretation of Islamic law it was permissible to "spill the blood of a Muslim". The instances included adultery, murder and apostacy. The article "Homosexuality" claimed that homosexuality was a "perverted sexual behaviour", a "sick disease" and an "evil and filthy practice". It advocated that gay people should be "destroyed by fire", "executed by being thrown from a great height" and "stoned to death". Michelle Russell, director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: "Trustees carry ultimate responsibility for the operation and activities of the charity, including for the content of their charity's website and social media. "Trustees are responsible for ensuring steps are taken to remove clearly inappropriate content posted on their website straight away. In cases of illegality such as hate crime or terrorist-related material, they must report the matter to the police," she added.

Islamic Network's aims include increasing awareness of the tenets of the Islamic faith among Muslims and non-Muslims through educational media and seminars. The charity has said in a statement to IBTimes UK that "As previously stated this was an historical website we had inherited over a decade ago with thousands of articles which, like the ones in question, had been posted by unknown third parties overseas without our knowledge. "We accept we had not completed the process of reviewing the articles as quickly as we should have done. However as soon as we were made aware of the existence of those articles the trustees removed the website with immediate effect. "The trustees recognized these articles were offensive and hateful, and did not reflect our views and were against our own anti-extremism policies."
© The International Business Times - UK

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UK: Police face racism probe after secret online FB page is discovered

Britain’s largest police force has launched an investigation into allegations that its officers used a “secret” Facebook group to air racist views about ethnic minorities.

19/7/2015- The Metropolitan Police is examining allegations that serving officers used a closed group on the social network to post racist comments about Gypsies and Travellers. Both groups are officially recognised as ethnic minorities, and discriminating against them is illegal. Police officers could be prosecuted if they are found to have broken the law, and will also face professional misconduct inquiries, Scotland Yard said. But the force was urged to launch a wider review amid claims that racism against both groups has become “endemic” and “part of police culture”. The Met was first alerted to the Facebook group in April after concerns were raised by one of its members. Named “I’ve Met the Met”, it has around 3,000 participants, and serves as an unofficial online forum for serving and retired officers, but is managed on an invite-only basis and cannot be viewed by the public.

Some of the comments were made during a discussion in March about the BBC Trust’s decision to clear Jeremy Clarkson and other Top Gear presenters of wrongdoing for their use of the word “pikey”, a derogatory term for Travellers. Others dated back further. “I never knew a pikey could be offended,” read one comment. “I thought they were devoid of all normal feelings and thoughts … just my opinion based on many years of dealing with these despicable people.” Another said: “There is not a small minority of criminals from the GT [Gypsy and Traveller] community – to all intents and purposes they all depend on crime.” The comments suggest that a “canteen culture of racism towards Gypsies and Travellers” exists within the Met, according to a formal complaint sent to Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe by the Traveller Movement charity at the end of last month.

It also claimed that some police forces “categorise Gypsies and Travellers as criminals”, and that entire operations were sometimes conducted based purely on “ethnic and family name profiling”. The allegations will come as a blow for the Met, which has been working to repair its reputation since Sir William Macpherson’s 1999 report into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence found that it was institutionally racist. In a statement, the force confirmed that officials at its internal watchdog, the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS), had been investigating comments made on the Facebook group for three months. It urged members of the public to come forward if they had concerns about the online behaviour of any officers. “We can confirm that concerns were raised in April 2015 with the DPS regarding comments made by some members of a group on Facebook,” it said. “The group administrators have set the privacy settings as ‘secret’ but we understand it to include former and serving MPS officers among its members.

“DPS is assessing the information to determine whether any serving MPS officer or staff may have committed any acts of misconduct and will also look to see if any criminal offences may have been committed. Should either be disclosed they will be fully investigated.” A spokesman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Government’s human rights watchdog, said it had received a similar complaint about the Facebook group and was “in discussion” with the Met over what action to take. If it believes there is enough evidence of wrongdoing, it has the power to order a full investigation into racism within the British police service.

Yvonne MacNamara, CEO of the Traveller Movement, said the Facebook comments were “shocking”. She added: “The fact that they are potentially made by serving and retired police officers gives us no confidence at all in the Metropolitan Police’s ability to both police these communities and to attract and protect its own staff who are from Gypsy and Traveller backgrounds. “We believe that the Met must set up an internal review to look into the all too common assumptions that all Gypsies and Travellers are criminals, and they do not deserve the same quality of service and policing as any other member of our society.” Jim Davies, chair of the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association (GRTPA), said the allegations were a “sad indictment of the police service”, adding that racism against both groups was prevalent in forces across the country, not just in London.

“Racism towards Gypsies and Travellers is endemic and is part of police culture,” he said. “It has been allowed to fester and spread unchallenged for years and the effect on the lives of Gypsies and Travellers in the police service is disastrous. “Members of the GRTPA report having to endure this sort of behaviour on a regular basis, and in order to survive such a hostile environment develop coping mechanisms which include hiding their ethnicity to all but their most trusted friends.”

What the posts say:
# “I never knew a pikey could be offended. I thought they were devoid of all normal feelings and thoughts … just my opinion based on many years of dealing with these despicable people.”
# “I fucking hate Pikeys.”
# “The Policing Diversity book reliably informed us we should ‘remove your footwear when entering a travellers caravan …’
[Reply]: “Ha ha ha that’s only so they can nick them easier.”
# “Pikey is just a word used by many to refer to the low life gypsies in this world. Using it does not mean that you hate all gypsies. Same applies to the ‘n’ word, Paki etc etc”
# “If you don’t live in a caravan, claim dole, have four aliases, convictions for theft of scrap metal, and are an artisan driveway landscaper then sorry chap, you’re not proper Pikey no matter how many teas you’ve had from a baked bean can.”
© The Independent

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Dutch police phone taps now automatically include internet

16/7/2015- Dutch police now automatically intercept internet traffic when setting up a telephone tap, online magazine Computerworld reports on Thursday. The news was buried in the justice ministry’s annual report which was published in May and has only now been made public, the website states. In the report, the ministry says officials placed more than 25,181 taps last year, down around 1,000 on 2013. However, the ministry says in a report footnote that it no longer gives separate figures for internet taps because they are now ‘technically and procedurally standard’. In 2013, investigators placed 17,800 taps on IP addresses. Privacy group Bits of Freedom (BoF) said the change breaks government pledges to improve transparency. In addition, tapping internet connections is much more privacy-sensitive than a phone, spokesman Rejo Zenger told the website. The Netherlands is said to carry out more phone taps than any other country in the world. Last year, home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk refused to reveal how many taps are placed by the Dutch security services AIVD and MIVD.
© The Dutch News

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South Korea: Samsung Removes Online Cartoons After Anti-Semitism Row

15/7/2015- A Samsung company on Wednesday removed online cartoons attacking a U.S. hedge fund's founder as a ravenous, big-beaked vulture after Jewish organiza-tions protested similar smears in South Korea's media. The hedge fund, Elliott, is opposing a takeover deal between two Samsung companies that critics say will ensure the current generation of Samsung's founding family retains control over South Korea's biggest conglomerate. Samsung C&T, one of the Samsung firms involved in the takeover, posted cartoons online that depicted Elliott's founder Paul Singer as a vulture-like figure. In one scene, Singer is depicted hiding an axe behind his back while taking money from a man in ragged clothes.

The cartoons were displayed for several weeks on a website set up by Samsung C&T to argue the merits of the takeover deal. Samsung C&T said the cartoons were a sensitive issue and asked The Associated Press not to publish a story before a crucial shareholder meeting. It later issued a statement saying offense was unintentional. "We categorically denounce anti-Semitism in all its forms, and we are committed to respect for all individuals," the statement said. Jewish organizations last week called on Samsung and South Korea's government to denounce anti-Semitic stereotypes in local media. A local business news website withdrew a column in which it called Elliott "Jewish money" and "ruthless and merciless."

The takeover will be put to a shareholder vote on Friday. Samsung needs support from at least two third of shareholders. The vote is likely to be a close contest. Elliott, the third-largest shareholder in Samsung C&T, is not alone in criticizing the deal as unfair to minority shareholders. Pension funds in the Netherlands and Canada as well as thousands of minority shareholders in South Korea said they will oppose the takeover. Samsung says the deal is crucial for the future of the two companies. Meanwhile, South Korea's national pension fund, which is the largest shareholder in C&T, has reportedly decided to side with Samsung.
© The Associated Press

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UK: How is this Not Inflammatory? Posts on Britain First's Facebook Page

12/7/2015- How many times has the extremist group Britain First skirted right to the edge of the legal limit? How many times have its ‘supporters’ and those anti-Muslim bigots gone over the line and made assertions of violence against Islamic institutions. The link between extremist propaganda and violent ‘calls for action’ can be best summarised here:



Extremist group, Britain First post this article on their Facebook page. The resultant responses are akin to incitement and will be reported to the relevant police authority:



Roger Dyer: “Never mind the noise,can you imagine the stench coming from it? the obvious solution is a bonfire.”

Jason Bailey, from Well, SomersetIt’s made of wood. Petrol + matches = no more noise.”

Graham Martin: “Napalm it.”

Cain Pinnock, (from London): “petrol station near by is there”



Grant Hawley, from Milton, Cambridgeshire: “50p on a box of matches. A sound investment.”



John and Vicky McNeil, who works in Senior Sales in Debenhams: “Torch it.”



Mark Whale said: “About time it was blown up (and lists lots of flames).”



Roy Holmes from Walthamstow: “Set it alight while they are all inside praying. B.b.q muslim!”


© Tell Mama
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Brazil: Christians set up a ‘sin-free’ version of Facebook: no gays allowed

Brazilian Evangelicals have launched their own “sin-free” version of Facebook, which is founded on love and acceptance – unless you’re gay.

6/7/2015- ‘FaceGloria’ has launched in Brazil, and, according to its founders, attracted more than 100,000 users in its first month of existance. FaceGloria holds its members accountable for their actions, and bans those who break the rules. In place of ‘likes’, as on Facebook, there are ‘Amens’, swearing is banned, and any violent or erotic content is banned. In addition any photos or videos of anything related to homosexuality is strictly prohibited. Each user is also forced to upload a profile picture on signing up, although photos of topless women were immediately visible when PinkNews signed up. Intended to be like Facebook but without “violence and pornography”, the site allows Christians to talk about God and “spread his word”, says founder Atilla Barros, speaking to AFP.

The site was launched with financial support from the mayor of Ferraz de Vasconcelos, after the founders worked in his office. “We want to be morally and technically better than Facebook. We want all Brazilian Evangelicals to shift to Facegloria,” said Mr Barros. The rules are enforced by volunteers such as Daiane Santos, who sacrifices 6 hours a day working for FaceGloria. The site’s founders expect it to become Brazil’s number one social networking site, and has said they will take on Twitter and Facebook around the world, having bought the English domains for the brand.
© The Pink News

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Google unit sorry for including concentration camps in game

Ingress, the augmented reality game from Google, has come under fire for having Nazi concentration camps as points of interest.

5/7/2015- Ingress is an AR MMO RPG released for Android smartphones, players submit a location of historic value and once the location is approved, they battle over its control. The game called “Ingress” was created by Niantic Labs, a Google-owned start-up. Approved locations are typically historical landmarks; something a Nazi concentration camp is, but they’re not suitable for inclusion in a game. Ingress, the science-fiction game, was developed by Niantic Labs, a start-up company owned by the search-engine giant. “All of us here are completely appalled”, Günter Morsch, the head of the Sachsenhausen Memorial that stands on the site of a camp where 30,000 people died, told Die Zeit. And while it apologi-zed for including the death camps and concentration camps, it reportedly did not answer questions posed to it about that process. “We apologise that this has happened”, he said, according to the AP. It’s sad, it is very sad. Foxman, the retiring national director of the Anti-Defamation League who is a Holocaust survivor himself reportedly said.

Rabbi Avraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center drew attention to the games, saying they were neo-Nazi propaganda being used to influence young people. In a phone interview from Warsaw, Poland, he said it was “disturbing” that Google would include these sites in a mobile game. “FILE – In this March 5, 2015 file picture the writing ‘ Arbeit macht frei” (work sets you free ) is photographed at the entrance of the memorial of former Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen, near Oranienburg, eastern Germany. “They could spend the week in Europe at Auschwitz and Dachau and see what they actually represented”, he said.
© Thrasherbacker

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USA: White Supremacists Extend Their Reach Through Websites

5/7/2015- In late June, as much of the nation mourned the killing of nine parishioners in a Charleston, S.C., church, The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist website, was busy posting articles on a different issue: black crime against white people. “Adolescent Ape Jailed for Murdering White Man Out of Boredom,” one headline blared. And after Dylann Roof, a white 21-year-old high school dropout and the apparent author of a vitriolic anti-black diatribe, was arrested and charged with the killings, commenters on another white supremacist site, Stormfront.org, lamented something else: the possibility of the massacre’s leading to gun control. “Jews want the white man’s guns. End of story,” one person wrote from Utah. In the wake of the church massacre, many white supremacist groups have rushed to disavow any link to Mr. Roof and any role in the murders. And while Mr. Roof appears to have been in contact with some white supremacists online, investigators say it does not appear that those people encouraged or assisted in the deadly shootings.

Still, the authorities say, Mr. Roof had clearly embraced their worldview. As investigators comb through the data streams of Mr. Roof’s electronic equipment, a four-page manifesto apparently written by him before the killings offers a virtual road map to modern-day white supremacy. It contains bitter complaints about black crime and immigration, espousing the virtues of segregation and debating the viability of an all-white enclave in the Pacific Northwest. That manifesto has refocused attention on a shadowy movement that, for all its ideological connections to the white racists of the past, is more regionally diverse and sophisticated than its predecessors, experts say. They say it is capable, through its robust online presence, of reaching an audience far wider than the small number of actual members attributed to it. “There’s really not a lot out there as far as membership organizations,” said Don Black, who runs Stormfront.org. “But there is a huge number, I think more than ever, as far as people actively working in some way to promote our cause. Because they don’t have to join an organization now that we have this newfangled Internet.”

Experts dispute the number of movement supporters but agree about its efforts to modernize. While the virulent racism of old can still be found online, the movement today also includes more button-down websites run by white nationalism think tanks with vanity publishing units. Most of the best-known organizations also claim to have disavowed the violence of groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Richard B. Spencer, the 37-year-old president of the white nationalist National Policy Institute in Whitefish, Mont., embodies this new generation. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and studied for a doctorate in history at Duke University. Now he runs an organization that produces papers on issues like racial differences in intelligence and the crime rate among Hispanic immigrants.  “America as it is currently constituted — and I don’t just mean the government; I mean America as constituted spiritually and ideologically — is the fundamental problem,” he said in an interview. “I don’t support and agree with much of anything America is doing in the world.”

But precisely because the movement is more atomized and has been rendered more anonymous by the Internet, law enforcement officials say it has become harder to track potentially violent lone-wolf terrorists who might draw inspiration from white supremacist sites without being actively involved in the organizations. “White supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy — separate from any formalized group — which hampers warning efforts,” said a Department of Homeland Security report issued in 2009. The report came under fierce criticism from conservatives, who said it unfairly painted them as terrorists.

If the movement has a leading edge, it is Stormfront.org, an online discussion forum. With about 40,000 visitors a day, it is perhaps the most popular supremacist site in the world based on page views, with more than a million a month (a figure that includes repeat visitors). Mr. Black, its 61-year-old proprietor, straddles the movement’s generational divide: a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama decades ago, he later ushered in the movement’s Internet era with Stormfront.org in 1995, and followed up with a two-hour weekday Internet radio show. Stormfront’s website, operated by Mr. Black out of his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., features the slogan “White Pride World Wide.” It is primarily a chat room, with discussion threads that range from innocuous cooking tips to diatribes against gays, immigrants, Jews and blacks. Mr. Black said he had broken from the Klan because it had a history of “random and senseless violence.” But he also said he could not rule out violent conflict as white people tried to promote what he called “our heritage, our values,” and attempted to realize the dream of a separate all-white enclave.

“I personally would like to see it play out peacefully,” he said. “Unfortunately I took too many history classes, and history is not filled with a lot of peace. America is becoming balkanized just like the Balkans; we are breaking apart because of Hispanics — particularly in the Southwest — and other races.” Mr. Black was visited last week by F.B.I. agents seeking information about Mr. Roof’s online associates, though he said there was no evidence that anybody had encouraged Mr. Roof to commit murder. “This could obviously become overly broad and become a First Amendment issue,” Mr. Black said, adding that such inquiries could have a chilling effect on free expression in online posts. He would not comment when asked if he had been served with a subpoena but said lawyers were involved.

A young challenger to Stormfront.org’s influence is The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi mixture of message boards and sarcastic commentary begun by 30-year-old Andrew Anglin in 2013. He started it amid a national uproar over the killing in Florida of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black youth, by a neighborhood watch monitor, George Zimmerman. Mr. Anglin was born in 1984. Like Mr. Black, he has a podcast. The Daily Stormer offers frequently updated content, much of it provocatively raw and written by Mr. Anglin, who declined to be interviewed for this article but is believed to run the site out of suburban Columbus, Ohio. In a post on Friday headlined “Spineless Jewpublicans Respond to the Donald,” Mr. Anglin took to task virtually the entire Republican presidential field for criticizing Donald Trump’s statements on Mexican immigrants.

Several organizations — the National Policy Institute, American Renaissance, the Charles Martel Society and its website The Occidental Observer — try to take a more highbrow approach, couching white nationalist arguments as academic commentary on black inferiority, the immigration threat to whites and other racial issues. There are also two prominent groups with deep ties to the South: the Council of Conservative Citizens, which evolved from the pro-segregationist White Citizens Councils, and the League of the South, a sparsely trafficked site for hard-core secessionists. The manifesto attributed to Mr. Roof cited the council’s website as a source of information about black-on-white crime. Many groups are said to be financially challenged. For instance, Stormfront.org struggles to raise $7,500 a month from about 800 “sustaining members” to cover expenses, Mr. Black said.

The exceptions are found among the highbrow organizations: The National Policy Institute and the Martel Society were founded and have been aided by William H. Regnery II, heir to a far-right publishing empire who also oversees a brace of anti-immigration lobbying groups. The Pioneer Fund, a 78-year-old nonprofit foundation that has stoked controversy with its interest in eugenics, also has aided the policy institute and American Renaissance. In 2004, leaders of the movement met in New Orleans, ostensibly to celebrate the release of David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who had been imprisoned for fraudulent fund-raising. There, eight major organizations signed an agreement intended to define the modern supremacist movement according to three unifying principles: honorable behavior among all signatories, a high tone in public presentations and zero tolerance for violence. The degree to which followers of those groups have maintained the nonviolence pledge remains in dispute.

But the manifesto attributed to Mr. Roof included a chilling complaint about the movement’s disavowal of violence. “We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet,” the paper read. “Well, someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.” Supremacist groups remain divided by rivalries and philosophical disputes. Those differences sometimes obscure a common goal: to re-establish exclusive white control of the United States or, should that prove impossible as many groups now concede, to build an all-white enclave with its own government and an army to defend it. The League of the South seeks a second Southern secession. The Daily Stormer’s Mr. Anglin last month proposed building a white city, possibly in a foreign venue.

Mr. Spencer, who runs the National Policy Institute, said in an interview that he fantasized about an Aryan revival in the style of the Roman Empire. Others have proposed a white enclave in the Pacific Northwest, or “little Europe” towns across America. Stormfront’s Mr. Black does not just talk about such aspirations: He spent two years in federal prison for an ill-fated attempt in 1981 to seize the Caribbean island of Dominica for conversion into an all-white paradise, financed by brothels and casinos. The authorities stopped him and his group as they were boarding a yacht with plans to stage a Dominica coup. Where the masses will be found to establish such audacious and widely condemned ventures is not clear, even to their proponents. But Mr. Spencer noted that Karl Marx had founded communism with no adherents and a simple manifesto. Mr. Black said he believed the online supremacist movement was not merely large but growing.

The Anti-Defamation League has identified some 10,000 white supremacists on websites and on social media like Facebook. But many more are said to be more like Mr. Roof, invisible and surfacing online only to make anonymous comments. Stormfront claims 300,000 registered members, although Mr. Black said only a small fraction were active on the site. Some 95 percent of the site’s visitors, he said, are anonymous outsiders. Among the dozen or so main white supremacist websites, daily page views range from fewer than 1,000 to as many as 40,000, although that figure includes repeat page views. An analysis of traffic to several major supremacist websites shows that many attracted spikes in interest late last year, around the time that anger over the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., was touching off protests in cities and towns across the nation. But it remains far from clear whether it translated into a larger following for any of the groups.

Estimating the size of the white supremacy movement is “a murky guessing game,” said Donald P. Green, a Columbia University professor and expert on hate crimes, because many racists are unwilling to declare a belief that mainstream Americans find abhorrent. Gauging its impact on the Charleston murders, he said, is even harder. “The idea that you could reaffirm someone’s ideology and maybe even sharpen or focus it on a particular target is something these sites are capable of doing,” Mr. Green said. As for the church shooting suspect, Mr. Roof, “We don’t know whether that was a marker for his violent predispositions or might be the cause of them,” Mr. Green said. “It might be both.”
© The New York Times

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Who polices Facebook? (editorial)

6/7/2015- Ultra far-right group Britain First is dangerous. Its agenda is notionally an anti-Islamist one. Born from roots in the British National Party, it is more sinister than that.
In these days of terror attacks by extremists, war atrocities in Syria, the Tunisian beach massacre and the attacks on the Charlie Ebdo offices, there is surely nothing wrong in criticising such events. No, there is not, but such criticism should be founded on a bedrock of respect for those members of a religion that do not support extremism. Make no mistake, the vast majority of British Muslims are peaceful and hardworking, something not exactly publicised by Britain First. Instead they look at terror attacks as a heaven-sent opportunity to cynically push their own racist agenda. In its latest social media stunt, it has hijacked the Euro Weekly News’ masthead to publish a ‘front page’ on Facebook saying Britain First is going to wage war on Muslims extremists.

By putting the EWN masthead on the mock-up, it implies we endorse Britain First and report on their activities. In no way do we do so. The editorial policy of the EWN has always been to remain neutral. We are not political, we are not racist, we are neutral on the matter of immigration. Members of our staff are a multinational bunch. They are decent, hardworking people. There is no discrimination here. We do, however, agree with freedom of speech, and for that reason give columnists of various political hues the space to express their personal views. The EWN does not necessarily endorse or agree with those views. But this fake front page, which due to the ‘magic’ of the internet will have been posted all around the world and been seen by many, many people, is not about free speech. It is propaganda using the Euro Weekly News’ good name in an attempt to legitimise some far-right views of hate.

The events at the Charlie Hebdo offices proved journalists are seen as a prime target for the sort of people – yes, terrorists – who might take this sort of childish stunt seriously. We have 10 offices around Spain, offices which are highly vulnerable to attack. For that reason we asked Britain First to take the page down. They refused. They do not seem at all bothered that they may have made some totally innocent people targets for extremist terrorists. We asked Facebook to take the post down. Nothing has happened. We reported the matter to the Spanish authorities and the British Metropolitan Police. Again, no joy. This is a matter of deep concern. It is well known that Islamist extremists have been using social media sites to spread their agenda, and far-right groups as well. But it would appear that there is nothing – no plan, no power, no desire - to stop them.
The question is, who polices Facebook? It cannot be right that this sort of misinformation and propaganda as well as downright lies can be so easily disseminated, often to naïve and impressionable youngsters, without any way of having information corrected and removed.

That stands in contrast to the latest EU regulation on press sites. People who have been found guilty by a court can have the story purged from a news site at their request if some faceless operator on Google decides it is no longer ‘relevant.’ But it would appear Facebook stands above the law. In cases like this, as well as on the sites of countless terror group apologists, Facebook seems to have a blind spot. Freedom of speech is one thing, but there is also the concept of common decency. You know, it maybe a little old-fashioned now, but most people have a deep down feeling for what is right and what is wrong. Call it common sense if you will, but Facebook should ensure that is something that is used on its site. The editor of a newspaper is ultimately responsible for what is printed in his or her publication. Indeed he can go to jail for it.

Who at Facebook is responsible for what is published on its site? No one it seems. It is not good enough for the suits at Facebook to throw their hands up in the air, cite freedom of speech, and ignore the most heinous sorts of posts that incite violence and hatred. They should take responsibility for policing their own site. And if they won’t, then it is the duty of lawmakers to make them take responsibility, or give the police the power to stop the extremists of whatever side from using Facebook and other social media to spread their messages of hatred. Facebook is without doubt guilty of not only being apathetic but also of putting innocent people at risk.
Shame on you Facebook. Shame on you!

Comments
+3 # Michel Euesden 2015-07-06 20:49
Well as the working day of a news desk draws to a close - I would personally like to thank Facebook for the fear that we have all worked with today. We have been sitting targets for extremist groups as a retaliation to the racial hatred being incited by Britain First - who have ilegally hijacked our masthead. No one should have to have worked as the loyal dedicated EWN team have today and I hope that those responsible one day feel as we have today.
IMPOTENT and AFRAID.
You are nothing more than a set of gutless bastards who instigate terror by hiding behind the smokescreen of the internet. You are no better than those you chose to abhor.
IGNORANT AND SENSELESS MORONS.
© Euro Weekly News

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Finland’s deputy state prosecutor to investigate Sadmies’ Facebook post on sterilizing Africans

Helsinki substitute councilman Olli Sademies’ post on Facebook at the end of May, where he wrote that Africans should be sterilized after three children, is going to be investigated by the deputy state prosecutor, according to Tampere-based daily Aamulehti, citing Finnish News Agency (STT).

2/7/2015- Using such violent language against any minority by anyone never mind a politician belonging to Finland’s second-largest party is unacceptable. Sadmies’ claim on Facebook is, in our opinion, tantamount to inciting ethnic agitation and violence against black people in this country. Apart from his political credentials, Sademies is a retired policeman. I wonder what that says about the Finnish police service. No action was taken by the PS against Sademies. When confronted last month by YLE’s Swedish language service, Seppo Kanerva, who is head of the Helsinki PS city council group, said that they hadn’t had time to discuss what Sademies wrote on Facebook. “We had so much to talk about that we didn’t have time for such nonsense,” he said. Kanerva did say, however, that if Sademies continues to write similar posts he could be sacked from the party.

Sadmies’ Facebook page was taken down Tuesday after he posted a “business idea” about an aerosol that would spray pig’s blood on Muslims. The substitute councilman claims that he was taken down because of an identity check but we know that Migrant Tales’ associate editor Marshall Niles filed a complaint to Facebook about his racist and disgraceful posting.
© Migrant Tales

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OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Expert Conference Intervention by INACH

Third session: Good Practices and Lessons Learned to Empower Young People to Counter Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism
Intervention on behalf of INACH co-signed by ENAR

1/7/2015- We like to make some recommendations focussing on de-radicalization of Muslim youth. As jihad bound youth usually distrust government it’s important to have civil society play a big role in trying to de-radicalize youth. Remember that no measure will work 100%, a diverse approach therefore is preferred. From our expertise this is what we suggest:

• Develop at national, European level, a network of returnees willing to share their experience in the field with IS. Voices from within are certainly one of the best arguments to cool down expectations of teenagers or young adults looking for a cause, in particular young women who are promised romanticized jobs in hospitals, when actually they are being forced to marry fighters one after the other, which can basically amount to submissive sexual relations, even rape. (this network will also have returning youth and young adults be part of society, rather than outcasts)

• Develop a network of community leaders at European level: it would aim to create a safe space for them, where they could exchange views and challenges, build a network of peers and feel empowered to speak out. Progressive community leaders are indeed faced by massive negative responses on social media. This pressure is difficult to manage, if on top, one feels lonely in front of an immense community pressure. Such progressive community leaders - we not speaking about religious leaders such as imams - exist in every country of the EU, but are not connected enough. The emergence of such a community need to be supported. A good practice in the area is the global program “Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow” run by the Cordoba House in NYC a few years back.

• Start a specialised counter speech project aimed at radicalised youth. (with that develop a database with facts & figures to be used as counter arguments)

• Develop a campaign for and with social media.
© INACH

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Germany: Would you report a social media page if it contains extremist views or content?(Poll)

29/6/2015- Many extremist groups such as the Islamic State (IS) have swarmed over social media - using these platforms to spread their message and recruit people. How do you react when you see extremist content on social media?

47% Yes, it is our moral obligation
36% Yes, I have already done that
8% No, I haven't done it yet but think of doing so in the future
8% No, that is the duty of the site operator


© The Deutsche Welle.

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UK: UKIP official forced to delete racists FB posts after sharing them

Gordon Parkin said he shared the posts by accident and has now removed them from his Facebook timeline

28/6/2015- A senior UKIP official has been forced to delete racists Facebook posts after claiming he accidentally shared them to his followers. Mr Parkin, who is assistant to North East Euro MP Jonathan Arnott and who has himself stood for Parliament, shared a series of images by the far-right groups Britain First and The New Daily Patriot on Facebook. One post depicts Enoch Powell - the politician who made the notoriously racist “rivers of blood” speech in 1968 - next to the House of Commons alongside the words “I told you so...”. He also shared an image of women wearing the niqab which said “share if you find this offensive”. Another from Britain First, a group which opposes what it calls the “Islamifica-tion of the UK” and was founded by a member of the BNP, claims schools who choose to stock halal meat are “wrong”. Mr Parkin, who is a powerful official in the regional party and sits on panels that assess UKIP’s potential General Election candidates, told the Sunday Sun he accidentally shared them on the social networking site and has now deleted them.

When told about the posts Mr Arnott confirmed he had met with Mr Parkin about the matter but said no disciplinary proceedings were under way. Mr Arnott said: “Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I am now looking in to this, and will be consulting with the party authorities before any decisions are taken.” Mr Parkin is a long-standing member of the party and his high-ranking role means he helps members to form and shut down branches. He also stood to represent the North East in the European Parliament in 2009 for the party and ran for a Westminster seat in the Stockton North constituency in 2010. He said: “Anyone who knows me knows that I do not hold the views expressed in those pictures. It’s so easy on Facebook to accidentally click ‘share’ and a post appears on your timeline. If only I’d noticed these were on my timeline by mistake, I’d have deleted them straightaway. Look at these posts, you’ll see there is no engagement or comment from me.

“As a gay man, I know all about discrimination and prejudice, and would never intentionally upset anyone. I’ve visited local mosques in my UKIP role, I work to drive down division not stir it up, and have nothing but respect for my colleagues of all ethnic backgrounds. “Sadly, modern politics is a dirty game: someone motivated by hatred has trawled back over two and a half years on my Facebook and found three errors. Let he who has mis-clicked ‘share’ throw the first stone.” The news will be a blow for Mr Arnott, who is a close ally of Mr Parkin’s and who played a key role in attempting to clean up the party, even helping to write a rule book which specifically bans members from having links to organisa-tions like the BNP.

Labour says the posts expose UKIP as a “really nasty party” that is “built on a bedrock of racism and xenophobia”. MEP for the North East Jude Kirton-Darling said: “It is disappointing to hear that a UKIP member of staff has been sharing racist and unpleasant messages on Facebook. “UKIP are trying to paint themselves as a more respectable party but it’s just paper thin. You only have to scratch beneath the surface to reveal a really nasty party. We’ve seen things like this time and again with UKIP claiming gay marriage caused flooding. It’s too easy to dismiss UKIP as a joke when you hear things like that but their core values are based on creating division between people and that’s no laughing matter. “I spoke to a broad range of people on the doorstep who were going to vote UKIP at this election for a whole range of reasons but what people have to know is they’re voting for a party built on a bedrock of racism and xenophobia, no matter how respectable UKIP pretend to be.”
© The Chronicle Live

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Headlines June 2015

UK: Plea for Scotland Yard unit to tackle trolls as police forces face rising tide of online hate crime

25/6/2015- Scotland Yard is failing to tackle internet trolls and should become the centre for a new national specialist unit to stop other forces being “overwhelmed”, a report today warns. It says police in England and Wales lack the specialist skills needed to deal with online hate crime as reported offences soar. The report says that in London online hate crime is “not specifically budgeted or resourced” for, while police methods vary greatly across boroughs and are “insufficient”. The failure of all forces to tackle the issue is allowing trolls to “act online with impunity and has fostered a breeding ground for hate crime”. The report, due to be published today but seen in advance by the Standard, also calls for the Government to introduce a “stand-alone offence” for online attacks, making it easier to prosecute offenders. It points to figures showing that last year the Met received 1,207 crime reports in which Facebook was mentioned, a 21 per cent rise in two years, while the number involving Twitter increased by 19 per cent.

The report, which surveyed hundreds of alleged victims, suggests that only nine per cent of alleged online hate crimes nationwide are investigated. London Assembly member Andrew Boff, author of the report, said: “Victims are left feeling isolated by online hate attacks and often feel like there is nobody to turn to. “They feel police can’t be turned to because they are overwhelmed by the number of cases and are unable to provide the level of support somebody would expect. If the police can’t help, who do they go to? That’s why this unit is needed. We’re talking about pretty appalling hate crimes.” Although it is a problem for all forces in England and Wales, the report says that the unit of IT specialists should be housed within Scotland Yard and coordinate a nationwide response. It would act as a “point of liaison” with internet service and social media providers, with each force contributing funding.

The report, #ReportHate: Combating Online Hatred, says: “With online hate crime on the rise and draining police force resources, the proposed unit is necessary to alleviate the burden currently faced by police officers. Additionally, it would create a better service to victims of hate crime online.” It says existing legislation is “muddled” and “obsolete”, and calls for new laws to create specific offences relating to online hate crime. It adds that reported abuses are “just the tip of an ever-growing iceberg”, with only 16 per cent of alleged victims in London surveyed by researchers saying they reported it to police. A Met spokesman said: "The Metropolitan Police Service is committed to tackling hate crime in all its forms, and has long since recognised the impact of hate crime on communities and the hidden nature of this crime, which remains largely under-reported. "We take positive action to investigate all hate crime allegations, support victims and their families and bring perpetrators to justice. We are always seeking ways to further improve our response to hate crime and increase reporting, and are willing to consider alternative ways of enhancing our investigative response and victim support, working closely with our partners.

"The Met's recently formed hate crime senior partnership group focuses on creating and delivering an effective hate crime operational strategy for London. This is being developed in partnership with strategic and community partners, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to reducing the harm caused by hate crime and increase the confidence of victims. "In addition, the Met's online hate crime working group has been set up to respond specifically to online hate crime and explore ways to tackle the issue. As part of this work, the group will consider the publication of the London Assembly report and the suggestions made. "If anyone feels that they are the victim of hate crime, we would urge all victims to come forward and report any incident or crime as soon as possible. "All 32 London boroughs have a dedicated Community Safety Unit (CSU) with more than 500 specially trained officers across the Met who investigate hate crime and domestic abuse."

‘I believe they are out of their depth’
Suzanne Fernandes, a youth worker from west London, was sent racially offensive material on Twitter, including photographs, pornography and death threats. The troll, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also obtained a picture of her young son through Facebook and used it to create a fake account sending lurid tweets. She told the Standard: “I’m not the same person. I felt completely panic-stricken, and when they used my son’s picture it was the breaking point. I had to get counselling. “I decided to report the matter to the police and in the early days of the investigation was given the impression I was wasting the police’s time. They are out of their depth. I feel there should be a dedicated unit for victims.”
© The London Evening Standard

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Google calls for anti-Isis push and makes YouTube propaganda pledge

Executives vow video site will not be used as a platform for ‘brutally violent propaganda produced by terrorists’, but argue against blanket censorship

24/6/2015- Google has issued a call to arms against Isis, arguing that the terror group has engineered a “viral moment” on social networks with propaganda and beheading videos that needs to be challenged. Two of Google’s top executives – legal chief David Drummond and policy director Victoria Grand – used the Cannes Lions advertising festival to launch an attack, and appeal, against terrorist propaganda on Google-owned YouTube. “Isis is having a viral moment on social media and the countervailing viewpoints are nowhere near strong enough to oppose them,” said Grand. “Isis, in particular, has been putting up footage that is inhuman and atrocious. We are still seeing about two or three of these beheadings each week. They are heeding advice from a decade before from Osama bin Laden and they are taking it to another level using social media.”

Drummond, a lead figure in the internet company’s battles with regulators globally, told the thousands of media executives in attendance that the Isis movement has been strategically astute in using social media for propaganda and recruitment purposes. “The power of community is not lost on Isis and they are using it to great effect. Right now the voice of that community is a lot larger than ours, a lot louder, there’s more out there on the web. When I say ours, I mean all of us, all of us in the room today.” While an element of Google’s presentation was undeniably an anti-regulation plug about the virtues of Google’s global operations, the Silicon Valley firm made a case for an anti-Isis push. “The challenge for us is to strike this balance between allowing people to be educated about the dangers and the violence of this group,” said Grand. “But not allowing ourselves to become a distribution channel for this horrible, but very newsworthy, terrorist propaganda.”

Google’s talk covered a wide range of topics that the company is forced to make decisions on about censoring, from Robin Thicke’s misogynistic Blurred Lines video and a sexually explicit trailer for Lars von Trier’s film Nymphomaniac, to “prank” videos of teenagers inhaling deodorant spray cans, “how-to” euthanasia videos and police shootings in the USA.
However, arguably the most striking debate, which included the audience voting with red and green paddles about whether they would ban or approve material, involved Google’s discussion on terrorist propaganda. Google explained its justification for allowing graphic videos of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, caught by an amateur in the aftermath of Iran’s elections in 2009, and the decision not to block the film of terrorists killing a policeman in the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

“At about 4:30am on the day [the Charlie Hebdo attack] happened, we got a call from our French colleagues asking what to do,” said Drummond. “As with other moment-of-death footage, we had to consider the dignity of the victim as well as the video’s news and commentary value. We decided to leave it up, and leave it up globally, [but not France where it is legally banned]. “It’s important to recognise here that the filming was done by a bystander who recorded the event. It wasn’t filmed by the perpetrators, wasn’t intended to terrorise anyone. Even though it is shaky footage, it became a critical part of piecing this event together, helping us to understand an event that happened far out of the media spotlight.” Google said this kind of footage – Grand described some of the films from repressed regimes as “shining a light in places that can be pitch black” with media blackouts – was justified but that Isis’s use of YouTube was not.

The company criticised outlets, including Fox News, for deciding to run full footage of the death of a Jordanian fighter pilot, which Google blocked. “Like the others, the purpose of this Isis execution of a Jordanian fighter pilot is to showcase in full high definition the most brutal way to die,” said Grand. “But a handful of mainstream broadcast outlets, including many outlets in the Middle East, as well as Fox News, made the decision to show this even though they wouldn’t show the beheading [of James Foley].” Grand said it was a “tough call” to ban the news organisations’ reports of the death that used the full graphic footage. “Yes, it was technically news but we decided that for some types of content, including Isis staged executions, the frame or news context put around it just can’t transform the original,” said Grand. “It was brutally violent propaganda produced by terrorists and we just don’t want YouTube to be a distribution channel for it.”

However, despite raising the calculated strategy of the Isis digital onslaught, Google argued that straight blanket censorship was not the answer. “Most of us, we want to see less violence in the world,” said Drummond. “We want alternatives. For many, the answer seems to be censorship. Although we take down the worst content from our sites, at Google, given the proliferation of content online we don’t believe that censoring the existence of Isis on Google, YouTube or social media will dampen their impact really. We think there is a better way to combat the hateful rhetoric of Isis, by countering it with reason. Understand it. Standing up to it. Enforced silence is not the answer. Drowning out the harmful ideology with better messages, with reasonable messages, is the better way.”

Google put forward a challenge to the advertising and marketing executives to help populate YouTube with more content that combats Isis propaganda. “We used to think of terrorists as people who are hiding out in caves But now would-be terrorists are hanging out online. Technology is one of the greatest tools we have to reach at-risk youth all over the world and divert them from hate and radicalisation. We can only do that if we offer them alternatives. Only on open and diverse sites like YouTube… that we can find these countervailing points of view”.
© The Guardian

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On Web, white supremacists stir up a growing and angry audience

On July 14, 2013, a white supremacist named Andrew Anglin, bewildered by black Americans' outrage over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, began typing out thoughts on what he saw as a distorted world.

24/6/2015- "The whole George Zimmerman media psycho-drama has been completely insane from the beginning," Anglin wrote on the Daily Stormer, the neo-Nazi website he had started, after a jury acquitted Zimmerman in the shooting death of Martin the year before. Anglin called Martin, an unarmed, black 17-year-old, a "crazed, savage attacker" and warned of a conspiracy by "blacks and the Jewish media" to cast the justice system as biased against blacks. Born amid a backlash against the post-Trayvon Martin movement drawing attention to racial bias, the site has exploded to prominence among white supremacists as #BlackLivesMatter protests stretched coast to coast. According to the website traffic tracking site SimilarWeb, by the end of 2013 Daily Stormer had more visitors than the rival Vanguard News Network, which has been around since 2003.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, said in a March report that during the previous six months Daily Stormer's Web traffic on some days even surpassed that of Stormfront.org, the oldest and largest hate site. Anglin, in an interview Tuesday with The Times, attributed his website's popularity to his approach, which avoids long, online essays in favor of short, catchy posts. "I wanted something punchy and funny and enjoyable to read," Anglin said. "My ideology is very simple. I believe white people deserve their own country.... There's not really anything that can happen that can affect my ideology because it's so simple and straightforward." The website also may have been one of the go-to places for Dylann Roof, the suspected shooter in last week's church massacre in Charleston, S.C. An analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Center showed comments on the site appear similar to passages from a manifesto on Roof's website. Asked about that analysis, Anglin said the Daily Stormer user account cited by the center — "AryanBlood1488" — had commented maybe 21 or 22 times, not enough to be considered much of a regular.

If there is one thing Anglin, 30, and the law center can agree on, it is that websites such as his offer highly clickable destinations for hate group advocates. On some days since the Charleston shooting, hundreds of thousands of people have been drawn to these sites, which are crammed with material packaged beneath headlines geared to their angry audien-ces. "Obama shamelessly uses atrocity to call for gun ban," a headline on the website read on June 18, the day Roof was arrested. Stormfront.org was created in January 1995. In the first quarter of this year, it had more than 1.9 million U.S. visitors, a drop from its peak of 3.5 million in the first quarter of last year, according to SimilarWeb. Daily Stormer has grown steadily, from 127,343 U.S. visitors in the third quarter of 2013, when it was launched, to 949,170 in the first quarter of 2015.

Roof, who has been charged with murder in the deaths of nine black worshipers at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, is believed to have posted a mani-festo indicating he was inspired by material on the website of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group formed in 1985 and whose website was created in 1996. Jared Taylor, a spokesman, said the group could not be blamed for Roof's rampage. "The impact on Roof obviously was terrible and unfortunate, and we completely, unequivocally condemn any kind of violence and illegality," Taylor said in a telephone interview. "But does that mean the council's website has some sort of responsibility for its actions? The answer is unequivocally no. We put forward information. What he did with this information is his responsibility."

Therein lies the danger of such sites, said Heidi Beirich, who heads the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. Most make a point of condemning overt acts of violence, even as they post reams of material aimed at fueling white rage and paranoia, she said. "They're smart enough not to make open calls for violence," she said. "It's all 1st Amendment-protected speech." But, Beirich added, "people are reading this stuff, they're sucking it in, and they're getting enraged, and we're having lone-wolf violence." On Tuesday, Anglin too disavowed responsibility for the Charleston shooting and condemned violence in general. "This is a news site. We report the news," Anglin wrote on the Daily Stormer. "We have an angle, just as everyone has an angle, but we are no more responsible for the actions of our readers than the Daily Beast is responsible for the actions of their readers."

FBI officials said they routinely monitor the websites to determine whether any are calling for a particular act of violence, which could lead to a criminal charge. The arrest and conviction of self-proclaimed white supremacist William A. White, they said, is a case in point. He was sentenced in federal court in Chicago to 42 months in prison in February 2013 for "soliciting violence" against the jury foreman in a case involving another white supremacist, Matthew Hale, who was convicted of soliciting the murder of a federal judge. White had used his site, Overthrow.com, to solicit "anyone" to kill the foreman, and he posted the foreman's home address and telephone number. The motto of Overthrow.com, which was affiliated with the National Socialist Workers Party, was to "fight for white working people." Since then, FBI officials said, most hate websites have been careful not to directly suggest violence.

On Friday, the day Roof was arraigned, Anglin had this to say:
"I don't support what Roof did, in any way, but there is now no going back from it," he wrote on his site. "We are in the middle of a race war. The random murders of Whites are going to begin any minute now, across the country. The media will try to cover it up, but there will be too many murders to hide."
© The Los Angeles Times

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Czech-language FB page of non-existent group falsifies photo of banner carried by Romani people

23/6/2015- The fake Czech-language Facebook group "Roma against Islam" (Romové proti Islámu) has published an altered version of a photo taken of a Romani demonstration in September 2013 in front of the Office of the Czech Government. On one the banners, instead of the Romani flag which was actually being held, the photo has been doctored to show a text that attacks refugees. If the administrators of the page do not remove the photo, representatives of the Romani Democratic Party (RDS) plan to file criminal charges. The altered photo was posted on Sunday, 21 June and immediately became very popular, being shared more than 2 600 times and receiving more than 1 500 "likes" as of noon yesterday.

Instead of the Romani flag and the inscription "Romani Democratic Party of the Czech Republic" (Romská demokratická strana ČR), those who doctored the photo inserted the following text between the hands of the two Romani people in the photograph: "STOP REFUGEE RECEPTION. Bohemia belongs to us and our white brothers. Smokes back to Africa! Your educated Roma." Representatives of the RDS have already objected to the falsified collage. "If the administrators do not remove those photographs, we will file criminal charges. This discredits the RDS and is an abuse of our political party," Miroslav Rusenko, political secretary of the RDS Central Committee, told news server Romea.cz.

In January, Romea.cz was the first to report on the existence of this false Facebook group. The authors of its material demagogically attack Islam per se and have falsely claimed to be supported by the Dživipen association and the Terne čhave music group. Both Romani initiatives have distanced themselves from the page. In February 2015, photographs were posted to the page of the non-existent group's alleged administrator and secretary, a certain "Ján Balko". It took just a couple of minutes for news server Romea.cz to search online and determine that the photograph was actually of a Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan. Many photos of him exist online.

The fraudsters did their best to make it as difficult as possible to identify the man in the photograph, for example, by reproducing it as a mirror image so it could not be found using Google's instruments for photo searches, but Romea.cz discovered its origins nonetheless. It is evident from the materials posted to the Facebook page of this non-existent group that its purpose has been to attract Romani people to demonstrations by the anti-Islamic group "We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic" (Islám v ČR nechceme) that were held at the beginning of the year. Those same people are behind another false Facebook page called Educated Roma (Vzdělaní Romové), which insults Romani people with would-be jokes. Facebook has so far ignored requests that these false groups be removed.
© Romea.

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EU ruling holds website responsible for offensive user comments

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that an Estonian court was right to fine a news website for anonymous comments posted under one of its stories

16/6/2015- MEPs and anti-censorship groups say the judgement sets a "dangerous precedent" which could pave the way for similar cases. In the ruling, the Strasbourg-based ECHR upheld a court decision against the respected Estonian news organisation, Delfi, which had run an online article about a ferry company making controversial changes to its routes. The changes attracted widespread criticism from bloggers who posted 185 comments on the Delfi website, 20 of which contained personal threats and offensive language toward the ferry company’s majority shareholder. He took offence at the comments and the website agreed to remove them immediately but the owner decided to sue the site. In April 2006 the company was awarded 5,000 Estonian kroon.

Delfi, one of Estonia’s most popular news sites, appealed against the decision but, in a ruling, the ECHR has upheld the original decision by the Estonian courts. The unanimous ruling from the seven ECHR judges suggested that if a commercial site allowed anonymous comments, “it is both practical and reasonable for the site owner to be held responsible for them.” It said, “The applicant company [Delfi], by publishing the article in question, could have realized that it might cause negative reactions against the shipping company.”
Delfi is believed to be considering an appeal to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice but UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said the ruling set a “dangerous precedent” for freedom of expression and may dissuade websites from hosting anonymous comments. He said, "This ECHR judgement makes life incredibly difficult for the growing number of local news websites and blogs which provide a varied and valuable public space.

“These websites do not have the financial or human resources to fight malicious threats to their existence from either politicians or litigants. It is especially harsh as in this case the website owner had taken down the offensive comments as soon as possible. “The hard lesson to learn is that while the UK is a member of the EU, we must be subservient to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. I believe it is the British Supreme Court which should have the final say, not the ECHR.” Anti-censorship groups fear that news sites and blogs could now be held legally responsible for all the comments put up on their site even if they take them down after a complaint. Jim Killock, Executive Director of the UK-based organisaton, Open Rights Group, who described it as a “troubling ruling”, adding, "We all rely on defined 'notice and takedown' procedures. If courts don't respect the need for notice before takedown, then websites are going to find themselves in deep trouble."

His concerns are shared by Joe McNamee, Executive Director for European Digital Rights, who called the judgement “reckless” saying, "This baffling logic now appears to render it effectively impossible for an online publication to allow comments without positive identification of the end users. “Worse still, we know already that many publications already protect themselves by requiring people to log in to almost always American social networks to identify themselves. So much for the human right to privacy in the Convention. This will directly undermine individuals' rights to free speech and indirectly undermine their right to privacy." However, a spokesman for the ECHR stressed that the ruling was only in relation to the particulars of Estonian law and was not applicable to other cases, except by way of case law. “All this tells us is about Estonian law,” said the spokesman. “It is not applicable to other countries.”
© The Telegraph

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Belgian privacy watchdog sues Facebook

15/6/2015- Belgium's national privacy watchdog is taking US internet company Facebook to court, arguing that the way the social network website tracks the behaviour of both members and non-members is illegal under Belgian and European law. “Facebook's behaviour is unacceptable”, Willem Debeuckelaere, president of Belgium's Commission for the protection of privacy, said. It is the first time a national privacy watchdog in Europe sues Facebook for not complying to privacy law. The basis for the case is research requested by the privacy commission and published in March, which noted that Facebook tracks user behaviour on non-Facebook websites by default until they opt-out, instead of after seeking permission.

“As emphasised by the [European data protection body] Article 29 Working Party, an opt-out mechanism “is not an adequate mechanism to obtain average users informed consent”, particularly with regard to behavioural advertising. This means that Facebook’s current opt-out approach does not satisfy the requirements for legally valid consent”, the researchers concluded. It also noted that Facebook tracks the behaviour of people who are not members of Facebook, which also violates the EU's e-Privacy directive. “Even people who explicitly state that they do not want to be tracked, are tracked anyway”, Debeuckelaere told Belgian newspaper De Morgen, which broke the story on Monday (15 June).

Last month, the Belgian privacy commission presented its findings and recommendations to Facebook, whose European office is registered in Ireland. “They answered that they do not accept Belgian law or the authoritiy of the Belgian privacy commission, and that it is all a misunderstanding”, said Debeuckelaere. A Facebook spokesperson told this website in an e-mail the company is “confident that there is no merit” in the case by the privacy watchdog, known in Belgium by its acronym CBPL. “We were surprised and disappointed that, after the CBPL had already agreed to meet with us on the 19th June to discuss their recommendations, they took the theatrical action of bringing Facebook Belgium to court on the day beforehand.”

A court in Brussels will hear the case on Thursday (18 June). Willem Debeuckelaere told this website in an e-mail the date for the hearing, one day before another CBPL-Facebook meeting, is a coincidence. It is not the first time Facebook has come under fire over privacy in Europe. Austrian Facebook user Max Schrems has taken his case against Facebook all the way to the EU's Court of Justice. He announced last week an opinion by adocate general Yves Bot, which was scheduled for 24 June, has been delayed. EU ministers, for their part, will Monday discuss setting up a European privacy watchdog.
© The EUobserver

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Group Says Only One Third of Antisemitic Material Removed From YouTube, Facebook

13/6/2015- Social networking giants Facebook and YouTube removed only one-third of antisemitic and anti-Israel uploads that were posted this past year, the watchdog group Israeli Students Combating Antisemitism (ISCA) reported. ISCA intends to present the data it has collected on antisemitism on social media to the fifth annual conference of the International Forum to Combat Antisemitism, which is being held over Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Jerusalem. According to the data collec-ted by the ISCA, 15,965 complaints sent to YouTube, Twitter and Instagram led to the closure of only approximately 5,000 pages with antisemitic content. Many of the pages that remained active featured Holocaust denial – prohibited by law in some European countries – in addition to well-known antisemitic tropes about Jewish money controlling the world or that Jews “control Washington DC,” among other offensive stereotypes, Israeli news portal NRG reported on Tuesday. In many of the cases, antisemitism on these pages masqueraded as pro-Palestinian activism.

Ido Daniel, the ISCA’s director, said, “The main problem is that Facebook until this day does not know what antisemitism is.” He added that, “it and other social networks find it difficult to identify antisemitism when we raise the problem with them. Sometimes many days go by before the complaint is received, if at all.” He continued, “my staff and I have trouble finding pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel pages that do not contain antisemitism. They themselves cannot separate legitimate criticism of Israel from conspiracy theories of the worst kind.” Gideon Behar, the director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Department for Combating Antisemitism said he agrees with Daniel that the social networks are not doing enough regarding this issue. He said that, “internet companies and site operators do not understand that virtual antisemitism can become real antisemitism.”

He noted that these major internet companies only sent junior representatives to the International Forum to Combat Antisemitism. He called on the tech giants to “be part of the solution to combat antisemitism and to protect their users from this phenomenon.” Behar added that, “we look forward to participation from more senior staff. Even in everyday life, we do not see them taking any real action. They must internalize that hatred on the networks translates into actions against Jews in real life. Antisemitism is not virtual.” He asserted that the flooding of social networks with hatred of Jews and the growing antisemitism in Western Europe are the central issues facing Israel and the Jewish people. “Nine Jews were killed in three separate attacks this past year in Western Europe. This is unprecedented,” Behar said, accusing the EU and Western European countries of taking insufficient steps to stop the wave of hatred against their Jewish citizens. “Over the past two years, the two centers where we have identified a significant growth in antisemitism are in Western Europe and online social networks.”
© The Algemeiner

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A Canadian Muslim Group Has Launched a Hate Tracking Website

A Canadian Muslim advocacy group has launched a website to track Islamophobic vandalism, hijab pulling and similar forms of bigotry, as recent statistics show an uptick in hate crimes against Muslims between 2012 and 2013.

9/6/2015- Released Tuesday by Statistics Canada, the data revealed a 17 percent overall plunge in hate crimes reported to police during the one year period. But concerns remain for a number of groups who are still disproportionately targeted, including Muslims, blacks, and Jews, and for sexual minorities, who are more likely to face violence. The total number of reported hate crimes in Canada was 1,167 in 2013, down from 1,414 in 2012. About half of those were motivated by racial prejudice, while 28 percent stemmed from bias against a religion, followed by 16 percent based on sexual orientation. Overall, both religiously motivated and racial crimes were down. At 181 crimes, Jews still made up more than half of victims targeted for their religion, while black people made up the bulk of the race category with 255 incidents. Muslims, however, saw an increase from 45 incidents in 2012 to 65 in 2013.

Canada's hate crime rate is far lower than some other countries. UK statistics show over 44,000 hate crimes for England and Wales alone. Given the population differences, that's about six and a half times the Canadian rate, though Statistics Canada only includes cases "substantiated by police" while the UK data cover those "recorded by police." A US survey published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found 293,000 cases, though the number proven by police is far lower. These differences highlight an obvious problem with the Canadian data. Statistics Canada notes that hate crimes are notoriously underreported, and estimates that just over one third of victims come forward, based on a past study.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims is looking to close that gap by giving victims a platform for reporting incidents online, even when they're afraid to go to police. When confronted with hate, users are asked to submit an account with as much detail as possible, including the time, date, photos, and a description of what happened, all of which is plotted on an interactive map. Amira Elghawaby, the group's human rights coordinator, told VICE News that their data shows a further doubling of anti-Muslim incidents between 2013 to 2014, suggesting the trend is continuing. She said that vandalism is the most common problem, but that assault and harassment are frequent enough, especially for women wearing headscarves.

"The majority of individual assaults target women who are visibly Muslim," she said. "Women who are wearing the hijab are, by far, most frequently the victims of hate crimes." Elghawaby says she saw spikes in hate crimes immediately after the Charlie Hebdo killings and the Parliament Hill shooting. Stigmatization and a sense of futility often discourage people from reporting hate to police, she said, telling the story of two Muslim girls who had their hijabs pulled off by a substitute teacher during class, but were reticent to speak up and report the incident to police. "They didn't want to go public or press charges because they didn't want to bring negative attention to themselves, or to the school," she said. "It was difficult for the two girls. They're young, and they didn't want to testify in a courtroom."

For this reason, the site will allow users to remain anonymous in their posts, though the group will keep their name on file so they can verify the incident. Elghawaby said that the posts will not reveal the identity of perpetrators, however, for fear of endangering people with unproven allegations, although they may link to media reports. "Our aim in launching a national hate crime awareness project is to urge Canadian Muslims, as well as fellow Canadians, to report hate wherever and whenever it happens so that we can find ways to combat it," she said. Apart from anti-Muslim hate, the Statistics Canada data weren't all rosy of course. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation stayed pretty stable between 2012 and 2013, and were particularly likely to include acts of violence. While about half of the abuse directed against other groups were acts of "mischief," like graffiti or property damage, two thirds of crimes against sexual minorities were violent in nature, with threats and assault remaining quite frequent.

Though the anti-hate website will not specifically address homophobic or transphobic incidents, a spokesperson for an LGBTQ rights organization joined Elghawaby at a press conference to support the initiative. "Unless we address the root of the problem — the hateful idea that one group of people can be set above the rest; that one set of charac-teristics is 'normal' and therefore superior to all others—we will never be successful in addressing any one of its symptoms," said Ryan Dyck of Egale Canada. The statistics showed that Thunder Bay and Hamilton had the highest rates of reported hate crime across the country, with both surpassing five times the national average. Urban areas were the site of almost three quarters of reported hate crimes, with half in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver alone, although the National Council of Canadian Muslims noted that victims might be even less likely to go to police in rural areas.
© Vice News

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We will see more antisemitism, violence and terrorism. We should act now! (interview)

Mr. Ronald Eissens is the General Director and Co-Founder of the Dutch NGO Magenta Foundation, which focuses on international human rights and anti-racism. He also founded The ‘International Network Against Cyber Hate’ which fights discrimination and other forms of cyber hate. We discussed how to fight hate speech, online antisemitism and we talked about the consequences of the rise of antisemitism in Europe as well as the situation of Turkish Jews.
By Karel Valansi

10/6/2015- The Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism ended recently in Israel. Do you consider it successful? Is there an action plan?
In my view it was more successful than the previous ones, since it was very much geared towards action. For now there is a summary of recommendations. Some of these are quite important like these three:
# Adopting a formal, legal definition of anti-Semitism. This definition will include attacks against the legitimacy of the State of Israel and the denial of the Holocaust.
# Strengthening legislation against anti-Semitism and the training of police in better enforcing existing laws.
# Education ministries in Europe must promote education to religious tolerance and preserving the memory of the Holocaust. 
Summary of the recommendations

How do you describe hate speech? Words are powerful and have consequences. They can be used as a tool of propaganda but at the end they can create a new mindset…
Hate speech is any speech that sets out to dehumanize, discriminate, defame, vilify or insult a group of people on the basis of gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, skin color, or any speech that incites to violence and murder against said groups. Of course speech like this in the end polarizes society, poisons it even, so that an atmosphere is created in which negative action can be taken against certain groups, e.g. Jews.

Social media distributes hate easily, just by a like, a fav or a retweet. What can be done to fight online anti-Semitism?
A lot. Removal of antisemitic content. When necessary, legal action. In countries where there is no hate speech law, lobby should be started to introduce this law. Counter-speech by directly engaging those who do hate speech. Education; training children in anti-bias, training them media literacy (how to handle the internet, what is hate speech, how to distinguish between valid and false information, how to debunk conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial, where to find tools and information for this.

What do you mean by counter-speech?
This is a pilot project which our Dutch Bureau has been doing. Counter Speech is engaging online discrimination, racism and prejudice through various methods, including countering 'bad speech' with 'good speech', arguing on blogs, discussion groups and web forums and in the social media, dispelling myths using hard facts and information, debunking stereotypes and assertions and doing positive campaigns.

How does the International Network Against Cyber Hate fight cyber hate?
INACH, The International Network Against Cyber Hate, fights cyber hate by exchanging information, by doing joint actions against hate sites and other expressions online, by working with the social media and by lots of other things. Have a look here, you will get an impression.

Is there a contradiction with freedom of expression?
No, not really. Freedom comes with responsibility to protect all citizens. In a few countries, like the Netherlands, the freedom of speech is curbed by anti-hate speech legislation. The rationale for this is quite simple. History has shown that if we let hate speech run rampant, eventually this will lead to a take-over by the haters. In other words, democracy would be abolished and a dictatorship would be ruling. What is the first thing dictators do? The abolishment of free speech. So, hate speech legislation is there for a very good reason: the protection of democracy and the prevention of (ultimately) genocide.

A record number of French Jews made Aliyah. There were clear signs of anti-Semitism in Europe already. On the other hand Islamophobia is also rising and we see that the far right parties are gaining popularity. Where is Europe heading to?
As it looks now, Europe is heading for major problems with regard to both Right-wing extremism and Muslim-extremism. The first directed at Muslims and Jews, the second directed at Jews and ‘the West’ and basically anybody non-Muslim. For the longest time, Europe has neglected to take hard action against the extreme right and has failed to see in time that antisemitic sentiments run high in Muslim migrants and parts of the European Muslim communities have become breeding grounds for violence and terrorism directed at Jews and the countries itself. Since the Muslim population of Europe is by now quite large, politicians have also started pandering to the Muslim vote and are avoiding measures that could aggravate these voters. We will see more antisemitism and violence and terrorism. We will see more Aliyah. This can only be stopped if European politicians realize that they should act now.

Anti-Semitism has always been an issue in Europe. Can we say that there is a renaissance in anti-Semitism or it has a new form; in the form of anti-Israel and Holocaust denial?
‘Old wine in new skins’, as my panel at the Global Forum was called, is I think very apt. Anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism is just another obfuscation of anti-Semitism, in a way a very convenient way to hide that people are in fact antisemitic.

You have been to Turkey before, what do you think about the situation in Turkey? Approximately 17,000 Jews live in Turkey, where 69 % of the general population was revealed to hold antisemitic views according to ADL Global 100 Index.
I think Jews in Turkey are, like Jews in too many other countries, very much under threat. How long people stay, is a matter of how much communities and individual feel under threat. I do not think Turkey is worse than, for example France or The Netherlands. The difference is that in Turkey antisemitic outbursts are more visible, also by politicians. While in the Netherlands and France and other European countries the anti-Semitism is mainly ‘under water’ but is increasingly coming above water, also in the mainstream, and these days mainly coming out of the Muslim communities, the left-wing, and the mainstream.
© Salom Turkey

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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 Jugendschutz.net and Magenta Foundation, Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet.