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Government protests...

Thailand threatens legal action against social media companies in its quest to censor criticism of the country's political system


Link Here24th September 2020
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime
Thailand aggressively defends its political system that is based on nominal democracy, but in reality has a monarchy led elite that holds all of the power. In particular Thailand hands out extreme punishments for political comments that criticise the monarchy system. The country uses its lese majeste law that punish people for insulting the monarchy, but of course criticising the political system is deemed to be insulting of the king.

The system has worked effectively under the previous well respected king, but the current incumbent is not so revered. It would be a brave person that would dare to rise above the parapet in the face of a 30 year prison sentence, but a current wave of protests was initiated by school children, and it proved not so easy to start sending kids to jail for 30 years. Now the momentum has spread to university students, and the government is seeking to censor social media postings in support of the protest movement.

But Google, Facebook and co have not responded to government censorship demands, and now the Thai government is turning to law to try and get the US companies to comply.

Digital minister Puttipong Punnakanta announced the move at a news conference saying that unless the companies send their representatives to negotiate or request further information, police can bring criminal cases against them. Of course the companies have googled for lese majeste and realise that any company such representatives may be risking 30 years jail time.

The digital ministry filed complaints with cybercrime police after the two firms missed a 15-day deadline to comply with takedown orders. It appears that YouTube did indeed take down some videos but Puttipong says more takedown orders will be issued to Facebook, Twitter and Google.

 

 

The Social Dilemma...

New Zealand film censor addresses a Netflix documentary that includes extracts from a film banned by the censor


Link Here20th September 2020
Full story: Film censorship in New Zealand...At the Office of Film and Literature Classification
David Shanks, the New Zealand Chief Censor, writes:

There's a new documentary out on Netflix which is trending on social media and making headlines around the world.

Social Dilemma looks at how social media companies are exploiting human psychology and using surveillance and data mining to keep people addicted, all to make a huge profit. It explores impacts like the declining mental health of populations, the rise of fake news and conspiracies, and giving terrorists a platform to promote hate and livestream their crimes.

It was the part about livestreaming that brought it to my attention. We received a complaint from a member of the public last week -- just after the documentary was released -- saying that it contains excerpts from the Christchurch terrorist's video which he livestreamed on Facebook on 15 March 2019.

I had banned that same video in New Zealand days after the attacks. I classified it as an unlawful (objectionable) publication in New Zealand for its promotion of terrorism and extreme violence.

So was it illegal for Netflix to stream this documentary in New Zealand?

The answer is no. As we detailed in guidance we issued at the time , classification of the livestream video in its entirety doesn't mean that every excerpt from the livestream is unlawful, although we had urged media to demonstrate extreme care in the treatment of this material.

The clips that are used in Social Dilemma support the documentary's narrative, yet it's important to remember that they show a real-life atrocity in New Zealand, that happened only last year, and they show real people. The timing couldn't be worse. Survivors and relatives of those who were subject to the attacks have only recently worked through the sentencing process.

I watched the documentary, and I was deeply concerned about this.

I asked Netflix to change their age rating for this documentary from 7+ to 13+ and to add a warning for Violence, including brief images from the Christchurch terror attacks, suicide references and content that may disturb. I also offered other options - to put up a warning screen at the start of the documentary or remove the footage of the attacks altogether but those options weren't taken up.

Netflix has since updated their rating and warning, which I appreciate.

The good news is that this type of situation is less likely to come up in the future. A recent law change means that from late next year, Netflix and other streaming services will be required by law to display New Zealand age ratings and content warnings on all films, shows and documentaries.

If you plan to watch Social Dilemma, I recommend that you watch with care and consider those around you that may be triggered by the content.

 

 

Concentrating minds...

Chinese censors order that local media remains silent about the western backlash to Mulan's Xinjiang connections


Link Here11th September 2020
Mulan is a 2020 USA / Canada / Hong Kong children's action adventure by Niki Caro.
Starring Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen and Li Gong. IMDb

A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.

China is very much looking forward to the wide distribution of the new live action Disney film Mulan. But is not so keen on letting Chinese people know that the rest of the world is talking about the films links to the repression of muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Partly shot in Xinjiang, Mulan's credits included thanks to the authorities there, which prompted calls overseas for a boycott of the movie.

Now Chinese censors have told local media outlets not to carry any news stories about the western backlash to the movie.

 

 

Scratch scratched...

China bans website of coding language for kids


Link Here8th September 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in China 2020s...A new decade of Chinese internet censorship
According to Greatfire.org, a site that monitors internet censorship in China, internet users in China cannot access Scratch's website anymore.

Scratch programming language was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. There are around 60 million kids who use Scratch's interactive programming features to learn how to make games, animated stories, and more. A total of 5.65% or 3 million Scratch users reside in China.

The censorship seems re lated to a Chinese news report about the projects on Scratch on August 21. It claimed that the platform harbored a great deal of humiliating, fake, and libelous content about China, that included placing Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan in a dropdown list of independent countries.

The report says that any service distributing information in China has to comply with the local regulations. It also suggested that Scratch's website and user forum had been banned in the country.

It is unclear whether the ban is temporary or a permanent one. In any case, if the ban is proven permanent then China will probably whip up a home-baked alternative.

 

 

Live action protest reaction...

Asian activists call for a boycott of Disney's Mulan over star's support for China in the Hong Kong democracy dispute


Link Here7th September 2020
Mulan is a 2020 USA / Canada / Hong Kong children's action adventure by Niki Caro.
Starring Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen and Li Gong. IMDb

A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.

Disney's Mulan is facing calls for a boycott in some Asian countries. Liu Yifei, the live-action film's star, first angered fans last year with comments supporting Hong Kong's police, who have been accused of violence towards pro-democracy protesters.

Now Thai and Taiwanese activists are also telling people not to see Mulan.

During a period of unrest Chinese-born actress Liu Yifei - who's an American citizen - shared a post from the government-run Beijing newspaper People's Daily on Weibo saying:

I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.

 

 

Price war...

Facebook says that if Australia forces social media to share news stories then Facebook will ban its users from sharing news articles


Link Here1st September 2020
Full story: Facebook Censorship since 2020...Left wing bias, prudery and multiple 'mistakes'
Facebook explains in a blog post:

Australia is drafting a new regulation that misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect. When crafting this new legislation, the commission overseeing the process ignored important facts, most critically the relationship between the news media and social media and which one benefits most from the other.

Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram. This is not our first choice -- it is our last. But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia's news and media sector.

We share the Australian Government's goal of supporting struggling news organisations, particularly local newspapers, and have engaged extensively with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that has led the effort. But its solution is counterproductive to that goal. The proposed law is unprecedented in its reach and seeks to regulate every aspect of how tech companies do business with news publishers. Most perplexing, it would force Facebook to pay news organisations for content that the publishers voluntarily place on our platforms and at a price that ignores the financial value we bring publishers.

The ACCC presumes that Facebook benefits most in its relationship with publishers, when in fact the reverse is true. News represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed and is not a significant source of revenue for us. Still, we recognize that news provides a vitally important role in society and democracy, which is why we offer free tools and training to help media companies reach an audience many times larger than they have previously.

News organisations in Australia and elsewhere choose to post news on Facebook for this precise reason, and they encourage readers to share news across social platforms to increase readership of their stories. This in turn allows them to sell more subscriptions and advertising. Over the first five months of 2020 we sent 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook's News Feed back to Australian news websites at no charge -- additional traffic worth an estimated $200 million AUD to Australian publishers.

We already invest millions of dollars in Australian news businesses and, during discussions over this legislation, we offered to invest millions more. We had also hoped to bring Facebook News to Australia, a feature on our platform exclusively for news, where we pay publishers for their content. S ince it launched last year in the US, publishers we partner with have seen the benefit of additional traffic and new audiences.

But these proposals were overlooked. Instead, we are left with a choice of either removing news entirely or accepting a system that lets publishers charge us for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits. Unfortunately, no business can operate that way.

Facebook products and services in Australia that allow family and friends to connect will not be impacted by this decision. O ur global commitment to quality news around the world will not change either. And we will continue to work with governments and regulators who rightly hold our feet to the fire. But successful regulation, like the best journalism, will be grounded in and built on facts. In this instance, it is not.

 

 

Censorship Ideology...

Best selling economics book won't be sold in China after the author refused to implement censor cuts


Link Here31st August 2020
Full story: Book Censorship in China...Offical book censors and self censorship
A best selling economics book by the French economist Thomas Piketty appears unlikely to be sold in mainland China after he refused requests to censor it.

The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has expressed admiration for Piketty's work, but Capital and Ideology , which was published last year, has not made it to the mainland China market due to sections on inequality in the country.

Piketty told the Guardian the Chinese publisher Citic Press had sent his French publisher a list of 10 pages of requested cuts in June from the French edition of the book, and a further list in August related to the English edition. He said:

I refused these conditions and told them that I would only accept a translation with no cut of any sort. They basically wanted to cut almost all parts referring to contemporary China, and in particular to inequality and opacity in China.

The passages highlighted by the Chinese publishers as requiring censorship  include one referring to the post-communism societies of regions including China becoming hypercapitalism's staunchest allies, as a direct consequence of the disasters of Stalinism and Maoism. Other sections reference the opacity of Chinese income and wealth data, capital flight and corruption.

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