- Seven members of SF Pride voted to ban Google and its affiliates from future parades, arguing that the company does not do enough to protect the LGBTQ community.
- There were debates over whether or not the vote is legally binding since only 12 of the 326 members were present.
- The organization said its board will meet on Feb. 5 to determine what happens next.
What Prompted the Vote?
YouTube and its parent company, Google, may no longer be welcome at San Francisco’s annual LGBTQ pride parade after a group of event organizers voted to ban them from future festivities.
Members of San Francisco Pride passed the resolution against Google and its affiliates on Jan. 15, saying the company is not doing enough to protect members of the LGBTQ community, particularly when it comes to hate speech and harassment on YouTube.
Though YouTube has been a long-time supporter of the LGBTQ community in terms of corporate marketing, it’s faced a ton of backlash in recent months from critics who accused the platform of not supporting the community with its policies.
For many, this became apparent when Vox journalist Carlos Maza said he had been a victim of homophobic and racist harassment at the hands of conservative commentator Steven Crowder. Maza claimed that over the course of two years, Crowder called him names including “Mr.Gay Vox,” “lispy queer,” and “anchor baby.”
YouTube initially responded by letting Crowder’s videos stand, saying that while his comments were hurtful, they did not violate community guidelines. Instead, the platform suspended Crowder’s ability to earn ad revenue.
That decision sparked widespread outrage both from the general public and internally. Soon after, over 140 Google employees signed a letter asking SF Pride to drop Google from its parade. Meanwhile dozens of others marched to protest against the company’s policies, despite being warned that doing so would violate Google’s code of conduct and potentially cost them their jobs.
About six months after the Maza- Crowder controversy, the company updated its harassment policy, banning content that contains malicious insults based on race, gender expression, or sexual orientation. But organizers say that isn’t enough to protect LGBTQ users and argue that creators like Crowder still remain popular on the platform.
Is the Vote Legal?
The vote marks a huge change in the attitude that many have towards Google, which was once viewed as a corporate leader in its support of the LBGTQ community.
“Companies are no longer scared to be seen as pro-LGBTQ; in fact, their participation is a great opportunity for them. We believe companies should earn that opportunity by proving that they really do stand with our community,” the members seeking to ban Google said in a statement to Recode.
However, it’s important to note that the vote represents only a small percentage of the organization given that only about 12 of the 326 members were present at the time. Seven people voted in favor of the ban, according to the interim executive director, Fred Lopez.
Lopez told Recode that some members of the board questioned whether the vote was legally binding without the board’s approval. Others argued that members do have the authority to pass the ban since current bylaws don’t appear to restrict them from making amendments.
Lopez explained that the group was looking into the legality of the vote saying, “Our legal team is reviewing the implications of last week’s vote by seven of Pride’s 326 members. Our Board of Directors will meet February 5th to determine our next step.”
The effort to ban Google is being led by former Google employee Laurence Berland, who claims the company fired him for workplace organizing. Google denied this claim and told Recode that Berland violated company data security policies. However, Berland has been fighting for Google to be banned since last June, when he was still working for the company and is now urging the board to approve the motion at the Feb. 5 meeting.
Meanwhile, Google has expressed disappointment in the news. “Google has been a proud supporter of San Francisco Pride for over a decade,” the company told Recode in a statement.
“We’re saddened that seven members, including a recently fired employee, decided to recommend banning Google, YouTube, and our employees from supporting this important community organization. SF Pride has over 300 members and a separate board that makes the ultimate decision on participation; we’ll continue to work with the San Francisco Pride board and its broader membership on next steps.”
The spokesperson also defended the company against claims that it doesn’t support the LGBTQ community, pointing out that Google has opposed laws that target the LGBTQ individuals and has provided employees with same-sex health benefits that include coverage of gender reassignment surgery.
See what others are saying: (Recode) (Tubefilter) (SF Gate)
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.