Culture News

Why Mark Zuckerberg Is Sucking Up to Donald Trump (and Attacking Twitter)

With Donald Trump preparing to crack down on social media, Mark Zuckerberg is echoing Trump's sentiments

Last week two of Donald Trump's tweets attacking mail-in voting were flagged by Twitter as inaccurate, with a link to clarifying information.

Predictably, President Trump did not take the note well and is now preparing to sign an executive order with the purpose of cracking down on social media companies. In a move that strikes at the very foundation of the Internet, the new order will seek to give the federal government authority over how these platforms moderate user content.

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Culture Feature

MOBIfest 2020: Dyllón Burnside and Kid Kenn to Play Festival for Queer Communities of Color

MOBIfest, a wellness festival by and for Black gay men and queer communities of color, will stream on June 4th.

mobi-nyc.org

For the past few years, MOBIfest has provided a free celebration of wellness and pride for queer communities of color.

Every year, MOBI (Mobilizing Our Brothers Institute) offers a circuit of community care and artistic expression through a variety of initiatives, culminating in an annual Pride festival. This year's MOBIfest will happen virtually, but its spirit and mission promises to be as strong and important as ever.


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Engadget

Facebook will no longer tolerate any misinformation hosted on its site–except if it's funny.

The $600 billion company recently announced a new policy banning videos manipulated by AI software, also known as "deepfakes." But the policy is a softball to appease critics who malign Facebook's leniency towards political ads that contain false information. Facebook's head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, announced that they will remove videos from Facebook and Instagram according to the following criteria:

"It has been edited or synthesized — beyond adjustments for clarity or quality — in ways that aren't apparent to an average person and would likely mislead someone into thinking that a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say. And:
"It is the product of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merges, replaces or superimposes content onto a video, making it appear to be authentic."

The first loophole is that videos made with less sophisticated software, deemed "shallow fakes," are still allowed to circulate freely, which does nothing to combat the spread of false information contained within more rudimentary videos. Both deepfakes and shallowfakes experience spikes in popularity and invade the internet around election times; Facebook's new policy is clearly part of their preparation for the tumultuous 2020 presidential election.

One notable deepfake in recent years is of House speaker Nancy Pelosi as she seems to slur her words. Shared by many Trump supporters, including Rudy Giuliani, the video is clearly manipulated with basic editing effects found on any smartphone. Since no AI software was used to create the video, it's still permitted under Facebook's new policy.

Likewise, a manipulated video mocking Mark Zuckerberg himself is still allowed to exist on the platform, because it falls under the policy's second loophole: satire and parody. If the video is made for comedic purposes, then it's exempt from the policy. "This is indeed a step in the right direction ... We need to leave breathing room for satire and parody," said Danielle Citron, law professor and vice president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. However, the policy leaves so much room for interpretation that it's bound to be inconsistent. "I would have liked the policy to have included manipulated deceptive media showing someone acted in ways they didn't," Citron said. "Think about deepfake sex videos."

"Facebook wants you to think the problem is video-editing technology, but the real problem is Facebook's refusal to stop the spread of disinformation," a spokesperson for Pelosi said. Aside from the new policy, Facebook will also use "independent third-party fact-checkers" to review videos. If flagged, videos may be permitted to exist on the platform but with a label clearly identifying them as false and manipulated. Those videos will appear less frequently in users' news feeds (and will be outright rejected if they're ads).

Why not remove all false information? Bickert said, "If we simply removed all manipulated videos flagged by fact-checkers as false, the videos would still be available elsewhere on the internet or social media ecosystem. By leaving them up and labelling them as false, we're providing people with important information and context." Okay. But why not label every piece of deliberate misinformation as "false" or "satire?" Why not clearly demarcate fact from fiction in an effort to re-establish the firmament of truth over lies? Maybe because Trump is a sitting U.S. president who is impeached and courting a war with Iran, Australia is on fire, and we're living in an era of celebrity-endorsed misinformation.