- Google fired four employees for allegedly accessing sensitive information and leaking it to the press.
- Tuesday, those employees denied the claims they had leaked confidential information and sued Google for “unfair labor practices,” alleging the tech company had fired them in retaliation for organizing workers’ movements.
- At the same time, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped down from their executive positions with Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
- They then handed control of Alphabet over to current Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Fired Employees Sue Google
Four recently-fired Google engineers announced they would be suing Google for unfair business practices.
The former employees allege they were fired in retaliation after participating in organizing several workplace movements within the company.
“We spoke up when we saw Google making unethical business decisions that create a workplace that is harmful to us and our colleagues,” the four said in a joint Medium statement. “We participated in legally protected labor organizing, fighting to improve workplace conditions for all Google workers. We joined together to hold Google accountable for the impact on our workplace of its business decisions, policies, and practices on a range of topics.”
Google fired the engineers on Nov. 25 for allegedly accessing sensitive information and then leaking that information to the press. Google then reportedly sent an email to employees titled “Securing our data,” which said those four employees had accessed data that was “outside the scope of their jobs.”
In their Medium post, the former employees denied that they had leaked any sensitive information.
“This is flatly untrue,” they said, “and in the privacy of our meetings with HR and Google’s internal investigations team, the company acknowledged this.”
“It’s about trying to stop all workplace organizing,” they added. “Google wants to send a message to everyone: if you dare to engage in protected labor organizing, you will be punished.”
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, those employees elaborated, saying they had accessed information outside of the scope of their jobs, but they also claimed that accessing such information was not against Google policy and that it was available to anyone in the company.
Notably, some of that information included documents relating to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
“Viewing of others’ calendars, documents, etc., is a longstanding tradition at Google, very intentionally,” one of the employees told BuzzFeed News, “and Google provides users, including employees, a wide range of access control features to limit things when needed.”
All four former employees have also denied the claim that they leaked such information to the press, with one of the employees saying she went so far as to send office reminders to organizing workers to not leak information.
For its part, Google has offered some pushback, a spokesperson saying “no one has been dismissed for raising concerns or debating the company’s activities.”
“We dismissed four individuals who were engaged in intentional and often repeated violations of our longstanding data security policies, including systematically accessing and disseminating other employees’ materials and work,” that spokesperson said.
In September, Google settled a similar lawsuit alleging that it was not allowing employees to discuss workplace issues. While it didn’t admit to any wrongdoing, it did have to affirm that employees can discuss work-related issues.
Google Fires Four Employees
Prior to the firing, two of the engineers were placed on administrative leave.
On Nov. 22, more than 200 people protested outside of Google’s office in San Francisco to reinstate those employees; however, that pressure ultimately proved not to be enough.
After those employees were fired, some workers claimed they had been fired because of their roles in organizing movements.
“With these firings, Google is ramping up its illegal retaliation,” a group of organizing workers said in a statement. “This is classic union busting dressed up in tech industry jargon, and we won’t stand for it.”
Those four employees had all been involved in various movements, including protesting Google’s work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide a cloud network and Google’s work with the Pentagon to use A.I. to interpret videos that could be used for drone strikes.
They also protested Google’s creation of Dragonfly, a search engine meant to comply with Chinese censorship laws. Google then terminated work on Dragonfly in July.
Perhaps most notably, they had also been involved in last year’s mass walkout that involved more than 20,000 Google employees. The walkout occurred after news leaked that Google had paid Android creator Andy Rubin a $90 million exit package following sexual misconduct allegations.
Google Co-Founders Step Down
In other Google-related news, both heads of its parent company, Alphabet, announced they were stepping down from their positions on Tuesday.
The two executives, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founded Google together. Page had served as Alphabet’s CEO while Brin had served as the company’s president.
In a joint statement, they then handed control of Alphabet to current Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
“…it’s the natural time to simplify our management structure,” they said. “We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company. And Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President.”
Both Page and Brin, however, said they will still be involved as board members and shareholders.
Following this announcement, Pichai also confirmed that none of this will have any effect on Google’s daily operations.
“I want to be clear that this transition won’t affect the Alphabet structure or the work we do day to day,” Pichai said in an email to employees. “I will continue to be very focused on Google and the deep work we’re doing to push the boundaries of computing and build a more helpful Google for everyone.”
The news of the transfer of power was widely considered not too surprising as both Page and Brin have largely stayed out of the spotlight after restructuring Google in 2015.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (The Verge) (CNN)
Jake Paul Believes COVID-19 Is a Hoax
- Internet star Jake Paul called COVID-19 a hoax, incorrectly compared it to the flu, called 98% of news fake, and doubted medical experts in an interview with The Daily Beast published Wednesday.
- Many online slammed Paul for his misleading and false claims and praised the reporter, Marlow Stern, for repeatedly pushing back against them.
- Readers also pointed to other notable moments in the interview as ones that expose Paul’s true character.
Jake Paul’s Thoughts on the Coronavirus Pandemic
YouTuber Jake Paul is facing major heat online after claiming that COVID-19 is a hoax in an interview with The Daily Beast.
During the interview, the outlet’s Senior Entertainment Editor, Marlow Stern, brought up the fact that Paul has hosted several parties throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Stern cites a July report from Kat Tenbarge for Insider, which quoted Paul saying at the time, “I personally am not the type of person who’s gonna sit around and not live my life.”
When asked if he still lives by that mindset, Paul essentially explained that he does. “It’s time for us to open up,” he said.
“This is the most detrimental thing to our society. COVID cases are at less than 1 percent, and I think the disease is a hoax,” he added.
Paul went on to compare the virus to the flu, which Stern push back against in an interesting exchange.
Stern: You think the disease is a hoax? It’s killed about 260,000 people so far this year.
Paul: Ugh. Yeah, and so has the flu.
No. The flu has only killed a fraction of that, and we also have a vaccine for the flu.
The flu kills between 20,000 and 70,000 people a year. And we have a mass-produced vaccine for it.
Don’t we have a vaccine for COVID?
Not yet. They’re hopeful we will soon. It’s been approved by the FDA based on early-stage trials but it hasn’t been introduced to the market yet. So they’re hopeful that there will be a vaccine out very soon, although distribution also poses a big problem. But I want to talk about why you think COVID is a “hoax.”
I don’t have to elaborate.
You don’t want to elaborate on that?
[Deep sigh] No.
This section of the interview caught the most heat online, however, at a later point, Paul made more false and misleading claims about the virus, which Stern again corrected.
Paul also suggested he had doubts about the information coming from health professionals, saying: “I don’t think we do know who the health professionals are. People like yourself, or people who go on Twitter and read articles all day, you know, 98 percent of news is fake, so how do we know what’s actually real, and what we’re actually supposed to do?“
Shortly after the article was published, Twitter users and some fellow content creators slammed his remarks.
Other Notable Moments
However, the outrage isn’t solely about his coronavirus comments. In the interview, Paul also refused to comment on several of his past controversies, including the FBI raid on his home and his this use of the n-word.
He also faced criticism for remarks he made about his criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly charges. Those charges came after video appeared to show him participating in a looting at a mall in Scottsdale, Arizona during Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.
“It looked like people in your crew were both shooting fireworks at the mall and also destroying some store windows inside of it. Do you feel you conducted yourself appropriately in that situation?” Stern asked.
“I was merely a reporter simply, like you are in this call, wanting to capture, document, and record what was happening,” Paul responded.
At one point, he even became frustrated that Stern was asking him about his past controversies.
“How does asking about these incidents help you learn more about me?” Paul said. “You didn’t ask me, “Yo, do you have any hobbies?” “What are you like as a person?” “What is your daily routine?” “Do you call your mom?” “Do you have friends?”
“You want me to ask you if you have friends or call your mom?” Stern replied.
“I mean, if you actually wanted to learn more about me, yeah, those are the types of questions you would ask,” Paul explained.
To that, Stern noted that he did spend time asking Paul about his passion for boxing and defended his line of questions as fair.
Because of this, and other notable moments in the piece, many are saying the interview gives a good glimpse and Paul’s true character. Readers have also praised Stern for how he conducted the interview and repeatedly corrected Paul’s dangerous claims.
wow! wow! Mr. Stern, I congrats you on how you handled this interview. I could not believe what I was reading and the statements made by Jake. If it was his team setting it up, what in the world were their goals? To show everyone his true idiotic self. wow!— just nate; part time cowboy, part time catboy (@idlebums) November 25, 2020
Read the full interview here: The Daily Beast
Belle Delphine Calls Out YouTube for Double Standards After It Terminated Her Channel
- Social media creator Belle Delphine, who is known for her risqué content and viral marketing stunts, had her YouTube channel terminated Sunday “due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy on nudity or sexual content.”
- Soon after, Delphine asked YouTube why she had been banned without receiving three strikes or any previous warnings. She also found it suspicious that YouTube would do this when it allows and promotes music videos for songs like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP.”
- Fans agreed, comparing her content to other music videos on the site and calling it an example of YouTube’s uneven policy enforcement.
- Team YouTube said it would take a look into what happened, but it’s unclear if the decision will be reversed.
Belle Delphine Banned From YouTube
Social media star Belle Delphine called out YouTube on Sunday for what appear to be double standards in the enforcement of its content guidelines.
Delphine is a cosplay Instagram model known for posting risqué content. She received a lot of attention last year after telling her followers she would make Pornhub account if she earned 1 million likes on a post. When she did, she trolled everyone with videos that looked like they would be porn but weren’t actually porn.
Others may recognize Delphine as the girl who sold her bathwater to “thirsty gamer boys” online.
This time, however, Delphine isn’t catching attention for one of her unique stunts. Instead, she tweeted Sunday, “Hey @TeamYouTube why was my youtube account terminated with no warning/no strikes for ‘sexual content’ when you allow and promote songs like ‘W.A.P’? seems a lil sus.”
Her remarks came the same day that her channel, which had 1.7 million followers, was shut down. A notice on her page confirmed that the ban was “due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy on nudity or sexual content.”
YouTube typically takes this kind of action after a channel earns three strikes, but Delphine’s post suggests this decision came suddenly.
Comparisons to Music Videos
Delphine’s tweet also included a video shared by Keemstar that seemed to have been originally posted by a user named Lord Vega. That video compares Delphine’s content to popular music videos that have been allowed on the platform without issue. In fact, in some cases, those videos have been promoted by YouTube on its trending page.
At one point, that comparison edit even shows Delphine’s June parody of “Gooba” by rapper 6ix9ine, which also served as a promo to her newly launched Instagram, TikTok, and OnlyFans accounts at the time.
The comparison essentially showed Delphine dressed and dancing in similar ways that women in the “Gooba” video were. The clip also shows other music videos from rappers like Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, who are also dressed and dancing provocatively.
With this in mind, many of Delphine’s fans agreed that YouTube wasn’t equally enforcing its policies.
In response to Delphine’s tweet, Team YouTube said it would look into the situation.
“Thanks for reaching out – mind sharing your channel URL so that we can take a look?” it said. “Keep us posted!”
Thanks for reaching out – mind sharing your channel URL so that we can take a look? Keep us posted!— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) November 23, 2020
As of now, it’s unclear if YouTube is planning on reversing its decision.
Twitch Apologizes for Mishandling Copyright Crackdowns After Months of Controversy
- Twitch has been contacting hundreds of users with copyright infringement notifications since June, but its inconsistent responses have been heavily criticized by streamers.
- Before this massive influx of copyright claims, Twitch had no tool to let streamers mass-delete or even identify clips that contained copyrighted material.
- After complaints, it only implemented a tool that allows streamers to mass delete all of their old clips.
- Now, Twitch is apologizing for its lack of transparency and for not putting more nuanced tools in place that allow streamers to manage their clip archives.
Twitch Begins DMCA Strikes
Twitch apologized to its streamers on Wednesday after a months-long controversy involving its inconsistent response to copyright crackdowns on the platform.
“Creators, we hear you,” the company said in a blogpost. “Your frustration and confusion with recent music-related copyright issues is completely justified. Things can — and should — be better for creators than they have been recently.”
The situation first began in early June when several popular Twitch streamers revealed that they had received multiple copyright strikes all at once. For those streamers, it was an unexpected and fear-inducing warning, as under normal rules, three infractions would result in their account being permanently deleted by Twitch.
Many found it odd that some of the strikes were coming from clips that were years old — a fact that made it easier for long-time streamers to be hit multiple times.
Twitch streamer Leslie Fu, who goes by Fuslie and has over 500,000 followers on Twitch, received two strikes during that June crackdown: one for playing DNCE’S “Cake by the Ocean” and another for Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings.” After speaking with Twitch staff, she said they recommended that she delete all of her clips.
“On top of it being near impossible for me to delete >100,000 clips,” she said, “the creator dashboard isn’t loading any of my old clips. How am I supposed to protect myself here?”
“I’m willing to do anything to keep my channel, even if it means deleting all my clips and memories from the past years. I feel so helpless right now. I’ve built this channel up for 5 years and to potentially lose it all so fast to something like this would be devastating.”
As far as what appeared to be happening, it seemed like music companies were sending Twitch takedown notices related to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act — notices that Twitch had no choice but to respond to unless it wanted to be sued.
Like Fuslie pointed out, Twitch’s response on how to fully correct the situation wasn’t exactly transparent. Many others also asked why Twitch couldn’t just mute the parts of their clips that contained copyrighted music.
As the situation unfolded, Twitch Support tweeted that it had, in fact, received a sudden influx of DMCA takedown requests, most related to clips from 2017 to 2019.
Similar to how Fuslie characterized her interaction with Twitch staff, the support account advised streamers to remove any clips they believed might violate copyright law.
“We know many of you have large archives, and we’re working to make this easier,” the account said.
A few days later, Twitch Support said the company would begin using a program that could identify clips that might contain copyrighted music. It noted that those clips would then be deleted without penalty to streamers.
At the same time, Twitch said it was working on implementing a tool that would help streamers to be able to more easily delete all their clips at once.
October Wave of DMCA Takedowns
In October, streamers faced another wave of DMCA takedown notices, but this time, they received a much different warning. In a blanket email, Twitch told affected streamers that it had identified and deleted all flagged copyrighted clips, without issuing any strikes.
“We recognize that by deleting this content, we are not giving you the option to file a counter-notification or seek a retraction from the rights holder,” the email read. “In consideration of this, we have processed these notifications and are issuing you a one-time warning to give you the chance to learn about copyright law and the tools available to manage the content on your channel.”
Unlike earlier notices, these didn’t contain any information about what copyrighted work had been violated, who the claimant was, or how to contact them.
Jessica Blevins, FaZe Mongraal, and LIRIK were among a plethora of notable streamers who received this notice. Like LIRIK, many other popular streamers were confused by the warning and did not understand what aspect of their content had violated copyright law.
With this notice, Twitch also told streamers that they had until Oct. 23 to find and delete any possible copyrighted material. After that, it would “resume the normal processing of DMCA takedowns.”
Because of that warning, many streamers began purging clips from their channel entirely, even if they hadn’t received this email. That included Pokimane, who said she deleted more than six years of clips and memories.
“It is INSANE that @Twitch informs partners they deleted their content – and that there is more content in violation despite having NO identification system to find out what it is,” one streamer, Devin Nash, said. “Their solution to DMCA is for creators to delete their life’s work. This is pure, gross negligence.”
On Nov. 2, Clix — a Fortnite streamer with 2.6 million followers — tweeted that he had received two DMCA strikes.
“One more and i’m banned forever,” he said. “I did everything they told me to legit all my vods and clips.”
The same day, another streamer by the name of SquishyMuffinz reported that he had been banned altogether. While that ban was overturned a couple of hours later, he eventually deleted every single video from his channel out of fear of another ban.
Twitch Apologizes for Mishandling DMCA Takedowns
In its Wednesday apology, Twitch admitted that it should have made that October warning email much “more informative and helpful,” conceding that it had provided “frustratingly little information.”
“You’re rightly upset that the only option we provided was a mass deletion tool for Clips, and that we only gave you three-days notice to use this tool,” the company said. “We could have developed more sophisticated, user-friendly tools awhile ago. That we didn’t is on us. And we could have provided creators with a longer time period to address their VOD and Clip libraries – that was a miss as well.”
“We’re truly sorry for these mistakes, and we’ll do better.”
Before May of this year, Twitch said “streamers received fewer than 50 music-related DMCA notifications each year” on the platform. Since then, it has been receiving “thousands of DMCA notifications each week” from major record labels, something it doesn’t expect to slow down.
“This means two things: 1) if you play recorded music on your stream, you need to stop doing that and 2) if you haven’t already, you should review your historical VODs and Clips that may have music in them and delete any archives that might,” the company went on to say.
Among the next steps Twitch says it’s taking, that includes expanding its technology to be able to detect copyrighted audio, introducing “more granular ways to manage your archive,” and giving streamers the ability to review which clips were hit with DMCA notices to help them more easily file counter-claims.