Techdirt: Twitter & Facebook Want You To Follow The Olympics… But Only If The IOC Gives Its Stamp Of Approval. “It is something of an unfortunate Techdirt tradition that every time the Olympics rolls around, we are alerted to some more nonsense by the organizations that put on the event — mainly the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — going out of their way to be completely censorial in the most obnoxious ways possible. And, even worse, watching as various governments and organizations bend to the IOC’s will on no legal basis at all. In the past, this has included the IOC’s ridiculous insistence on extra trademark rights that are not based on any actual laws. But, in the age of social media it’s gotten even worse.”
Xinhua: China shuts “low-taste” celeb paparazzi social media accounts. “The Chinese authorities have ordered social media operators to close several high-profile accounts accused of spreading low-taste celebrity paparazzi content. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said Friday that the closure of accounts including ‘Zhuo Wei Fans Support Group’ and ‘All Celeb News Agency’ would be permanent.”
Phys .org: Facebook denies censorship in closing of Paris user’s page. “Lawyers for Facebook Inc. denied the company engaged in censorship when it shut down the account of a French user after he posted a photograph of a famous 19th century painting of a naked woman’s genitals and lower torso. Frederic Durand-Baissas, 59, a primary school teacher in Paris, has sued the powerful social network in French court, claiming Facebook violated his freedom of speech in 2011 by abruptly removing his profile. Durand-Baissas’ account was suspended hours after he posted a photo of Gustave Courbet’s ‘The Origin of the World,’ a painting from 1866 that depicts female genitalia, the teacher has alleged. The case was heard on Thursday.”
Columbia University: New Tracker Keeps Tabs on Government Attacks on Science. “The tracker is aimed at documenting government attempts to restrict or prevent scientific research, education, discussion or publication. It currently contains 96 entries drawn from media reports, and links to other resources that complement the database. The tracker organizes attacks into specific categories: government censorship (currently 41 entries); personnel changes (20); budget cuts (15); self-censorship (11); bias and misrepresentation (8); and research hindrance (5). (Some entries are listed under more than one category.) The tracker will be updated on an ongoing basis.” Currently the site only tracks federal-level actions, but state-level actions are for the future.
Al Jazeera: Government targets Rappler, website critical of Duterte. “The Philippine government has sought to shut down an independent news website, which has published critical stories about President Rodrigo Duterte, a move observers and journalists say is an attack on press freedom and democracy.”
Al Jazeera: What unblocking Telegram app means to Iranians. “Telegram is arguably the most popular social media application in Iran. So it will come as a relief to its estimated 40 million users – nearly half of Iran’s population – that the government decided this week to lift restrictions on the app that were put in place during anti-government demonstrations last month.”
Wired: When It Comes To Gorillas, Google Photos Remains Blind. “IN 2015, A black software developer embarrassed Google by tweeting that the company’s Photos service had labeled photos of him with a black friend as ‘gorillas.’ Google declared itself ‘appalled and genuinely sorry.’ An engineer who became the public face of the clean-up operation said the label gorilla would no longer be applied to groups of images, and that Google was ‘working on longer-term fixes.’ More than two years later, one of those fixes is erasing gorillas, and some other primates, from the service’s lexicon. The awkward workaround illustrates the difficulties Google and other tech companies face in advancing image-recognition technology, which the companies hope to use in self-driving cars, personal assistants, and other products.” The comments (I don’t recommend reading them) miss the point: if Google and other tech companies want to deploy AI for every last thing, it absolutely cannot wallpaper over problematic results simply by censoring the words that are causing the problems.