- YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced the platform would not remove politicians’ posts that would normally violate community standards.
- The move follows another recent and similar announcement by Facebook, which said it will grant exemptions to politicians because it considers political speech “newsworthy.”
- Both moves are largely seen as attempts to remain politically neutral ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections as well as to address and adapt to concerns pertaining to hate speech and violence.
YouTube’s Exemptions Announced
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced Wednesday that the video platform will allow some posts by politicians to remain on the site even if those posts would normally violate community standards.
“When you have a political officer that is making information that is really important for their constituents to see, or for other global leaders to see,” Wojcicki said while speaking at The Atlantic Festival, “that is content that we would leave up because we think it’s important for other people to see.”
Wojcicki continued, arguing that even if YouTube took down a video by a politician, the media would still cover it and give context to it.
A YouTube spokesperson later told Politico that politicians are still subject to its community guidelines but clarified that it will grant exemptions to political speech if it deems it to be educational, scientific, or artistic. It will also grant exceptions to their speech in documentaries. Those exceptions, however, reportedly apply to other videos, as well.
Facebook’s Previous Announcement
Wojcicki’s announcement follows a similar decision made Tuesday by Facebook.
Also speaking at The Atlantic Festival on Tuesday, Nick Clegg——Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications—clarified his company’s stance on posts made by politicians, saying the platform considers political speech “newsworthy.”
“It is not our role to intervene when politicians speak,” he said.
“I know some people will say we should go further, that we are wrong to allow politicians to use our platform to say nasty things or make false claims,” he continued. “But imagine the reverse. “Would it be acceptable to society at large to have a private company in effect become a self-appointed referee for everything that politicians say? I don’t believe it would be.”
On top of this, Facebook had already made politicians exempt from its fact-checking program. For example, that includes not flagging clips from debates where a politician makes an inaccurate or incorrect claim.
Clegg did note, however, that the exceptions may not extend to speech that could incite violence. They also do not extend to ads.
Twitter’s June Announcement
Both moves follow an announcement by Twitter in June that it would demote posts from politicians if those posts violated community standards; however, the platform said it would still allow the posts and would include a warning.
“The Twitter Rules about [specific rule] apply to this Tweet,” the generalized warning reads. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain available.”
Why Does Any of This Matter?
The announcements by each of these platforms have generally been seen as an attempt to adapt their policies concerning hate speech or speech that incites real-world violence.
Essentially, the moves have been seen as an answer to critics who have accused the platforms of not taking a hard enough stance on politicians who break their rules.
Another major reason why these platforms are making such announcements may be to keep from being accused of bias ahead of the 2020 elections.
Facebook, a frequent target of Democrats and Republicans, has been subject to intense scrutiny since the 2016 elections, both over concerns of Russian interference and political bias.
“We are champions of free speech and defend it in the face of attempts to restrict it,” Clegg said in a blog post. “Censoring or stifling political discourse would be at odds with what we are about.”
By standardizing how these platforms deal with posts by politicians, it would seemingly keep them outside of any political disputes.
Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat
Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.
Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.
Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere.
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday.
“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”
In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.
According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.
Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?
As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”
For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.
“I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???” one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People.
“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”
According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”
Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media.
“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”
Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer
The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.
The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul
YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker.
While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career.
“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.
“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”
Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content.
“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”
Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury
The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December.
“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”
Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”
See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.