Oct 15, 2019
Ora Tanner (@odtanner) is Assistant Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research at the University of South Florida (USF). She previously worked as a nuclear physicist, science educator, and more recently as a graduate researcher on NSF-funded grant projects related to digital game-based learning and assessment. Ora earned her B.S. and M.S. in physics from Dillard University of New Orleans and USF, respectively, and expects to complete her doctorate in Instructional Technology and Educational Measurement in 2019. She studies the latest emerging technologies and explores how they can be used to empower both K-12 students and teachers in science education.
Right to Petition: A Practical Guide to Creating Change in Government with Political Advocacy Tools and Tips by Nicole Tisdale (Advocacy Blueprints Press, 2019)
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Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign targeted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week in a new social media ad. The ad facetiously alleges that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has endorsed Donald Trump for President. The assertion wasn’t true, of course, but that was the point: Warren says that endorsing Trump is essentially what Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg are doing by allowing politicians to post false ads on the platform.
In recent weeks, the social media giant has refused to remove false ads from politicians. As recently as Friday, Facebook declined to remove a Trump campaign ad questioning Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s alleged role in ousting a Ukrainian prosecutor, after the Democratic National Committee called for the ad to be removed. Facebook is uniformly refusing to take down false ads, claiming to prioritize freedom of expression over truth.
But Zuckerberg has also been defending himself for meeting with conservative groups, politicians, and pundits in private dinners and other gatherings. Zuckerberg’s terse response to those who criticized the meeting was, “Meeting new people and hearing from a wide range of viewpoints is part of learning … If you haven't tried it, I suggest you do!" Zuckerberg is set to return to Washington on October 23rd, to testify before the House Financial Services Committee, which is chaired by Maxine Waters.
Public demand for government intervention in online extremism clashes with civil liberties groups
According to a recent Morning Consult poll, some 58% of Americans want Congress to take a more active role in moderating online content. But the efforts of Democrats in Congress to push for legislation to curtail online extremism are getting resistance from civil liberties groups, including NYU’s Brennan Center.
The Hill reports that the Democrat-controlled House Homeland Security Committee is pushing for a bill that would create a bipartisan, 12-member commission with the power, not only to study online extremism, but also to subpoena certain communications. Civil liberties groups oppose any expansion of government surveillance, stating that such surveillance could have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, such as communities of color.
Meanwhile, online extremists who used to post on 8chan until it was shut down, have now been migrating over to Telegram, according to a new Vice News investigation published last week finding that more than two thirds of the 150 extremist groups on Telegram were established in 2019. And extremist content on YouTube shows few signs of slowing. A violent YouTube video containing fictitious movie footage of a shooting surfaced over the weekend, after it was shown at a pro-Trump event hosted by the conservative group American Priority on a Trump golf course. In it, Trump’s image is superimposed on top of ashooter’s, and those of his political opponents, including Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and logos of major media companies, were superimposed on top of the faces of the victims in the movie, to make it appear as though the president was massacring his opponents inside a church. The president stated that he strongly condemns the video, but that he hasn’t seen it. On Friday, in an ostensible coincidence, Trump stated at a rally that there is an “unholy alliance of corrupt Democrat politicians, deep-state bureaucrats and the fake news media.”
California blocks facial recognition in police body cams
California governor Gavin Newsome signed a bill last week that prevents the police from using facial recognition in body cams. The bill remains in effect until January 1st, 2023. New Hampshire and Oregon have passed similar legislation.
Domino’s must make its website and app accessible to people with disabilities
Finally, In a case that carries significant implications for every online platform, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from a lower court ruling that a blind customer can sue Domino’s pizza, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, for failing to make its website fully accessible. Fast Company reports though that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing back, saying that allowing customers to sue can open the floodgates of litigation and thereby harm small businesses.