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Facebook Employees Hold Virtual Walkout Over Zuckerberg’s Stance on Trump Posts

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Source: Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

  • Twitter put a warning message over a Tweet from President Donald Trump Thursday which it said “glorifies violence.”
  • In that tweet, Trump criticized the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, warning that“when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
  • The move escalated tensions between Trump and Twitter. Last week the feud prompted Trump to issue an executive order aimed at restricting social media platforms’ ability to police their own content.
  • Employees at Facebook, which did not issue any sort of warning for the exact same post, are furious at CEO Mark Zuckerberg for allowing that post to remain.

Facebook Employees Angry

Twitter angered President Donald Trump last week after issuing warnings on several of his tweets, and now, Facebook employees are now targeting their CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, for not doing the same.

Twitter’s issued a fact-check warning on Trump’s May 26 tweets, which falsely claimed that increased access to mail-in voting will lead to extensive voter fraud.

Then, Thursday night, the company followed up by hiding a different tweet from the president that it said “glorifies violence.”

Notably, these are the first instances where Twitter has corrected or censored Trump, something many have called on them to do for years. 

Facebook, however, has stuck to its policy to not censor the president’s speech, even if it could be interpreted as violence. 

“I’ve been struggling with how to respond to the President’s tweets and posts all day,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Friday. “Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.”

“But I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression,”  he added. 

“I disagree strongly with how the President spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open.”

Zuckerberg’s post was yet another defense of his long-held stance regarding the platform’s responsibility to censor violent speech and misinformation from politicians. 

Still, Zuckerberg’s unwavering stance has resulted in a number of Facebook employees publicly disagreeing with their boss. 

“Inaction is not the answer,” employee Diego Mendes said on Sunday. “Facebook leadership is wrong.” 

@DiegoMendes

Other employees continued to take to Twitter to express their opposition to Zuckerberg’s philosophy, one saying, “I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up. The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

Monday, dozens of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout in further protest of Zuckerberg’s “inaction.” Many also took to Twitter with #TakeAction.

During the virtual protest, The New York Times reported that two senior employees threatened to resign if Zuckerberg does not change course on Facebook’s policy.

“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC in a statement Monday. “We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”

Zuckerberg will meet with his staff Tuesday to discuss disputes over those posts, moving his weekly meeting up from Thursday in response to the walkout.

Twitter Flags Trump Tweet

Trump’s tweet Thursday was critical of the protests that became violence following the death of George Floyd.

In the first of two tweets, Trump says he can’t stand by and watch the situation in Minneapolis. He goes on to jab Mayor Jacob Frey for being a “weak radical left mayor.”

But that tweet was never flagged. It was actually Trump’s second tweet that Twitter targeted because, in it, Trump said, “…when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” Twitter wrote above the tweet, which is hidden and must be clicked into while on the site. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

While Twitter did not delete the tweet, it has disabled all likes and replies on the post. Currently, the only way to directly share the tweet is to retweet it with a comment.

Early Friday morning, Twitter followed up with another statement, where it explained that the tweet violated “policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.”

As many online have also noted, the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” carries with it a deeply dividing history. 

It’s first known use was in 1967 by Miami police chief Walter Headley to describe his department’s plans to crack down on protests in black neighborhoods. According to historians, that phrase was even considered to have contributed to the city’s race riots in the late 1960s.

White House Quotes Censored Trump Tweet

In opposition to Twitter’s decision, Friday morning, the White House Twitter account quoted Trump’s censored tweet. That tweet then got hit with the same warning.

The White House later posted another tweet defending the president, saying he didn’t glorify violence.

“He clearly condemned it,” the account said. “@Jack [Dorsey] and Twitter’s biased, bad-faith “fact-checkers” have made it clear: Twitter is a publisher, not a platform.”

In addition to the White House, Trump continued his battle against Twitter Friday morning in a series of tweets that accused the site of having an anti-conservative bias. 

“Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot,” Trump also said in defense of his original comment. “I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means.”

“It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!” 

Trump’s Executive Order

Prior to posting this original comment on Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aiming to restrict social media platforms’ ability to police their own content.

Following this, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promised to continue issuing fact-checks and even warnings against Trump if he’s found in violation of Twitter’s policies.

On Friday, prompted by journalists, Google released a statement saying that undermining the statute that affords platforms their freedoms to moderate their content would “hurt America’s economy and its global leadership on internet freedom.” 

Still, both Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Representative Matt Gaetz have promised to introduce legislation that would roll back this statue. For his part, Trump has been very receptive of that idea.

However, there have been a number of reports that any restriction could face major hurdles with the Federal Communications Commission as well as in court over whether such a move would impinge on speech freedoms. 

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (Forbes) (CNBC)

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TikTok and Twitter Are Now Deleting Videos That Expose Closeted Olympians on Grindr

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On top of outing people who may not be ready to have their sexuality revealed to the world, these videos could have endangered LGBTQ+ athletes from countries where homosexuality is illegal.


Closeted Olympians Being Doxxed

Openly LGBTQ+ Olympians are currently more visible than they have ever been before, but unfortunately, so are closeted ones.

That’s because some people have been using the LGBTQ+ dating app Grindr to try and find Olympians. They’ve been doing so by using the app’s “Explore” feature, which allows people to search and see users in specific locations (ie. Olympic Village).

But some aren’t content with just discovering which athletes belong to the LGBTQ+ community. They’re also sharing that information on platforms like TikTok and Twitter. 

“I used Grindr’s explore feature to find myself [an] Olympian boyfriend,” one TikTok user said in a post that had been viewed 140,000 times, according to Insider

That video reportedly went on to show the poster scrolling through Grindr to expose over 30 users’ full faces. 

As many have argued, not only does this potentially out already-stressed Olympians who may not yet be comfortable sharing their sexuality, it also could put some users at serious risk if they live in countries where being LGBTQ+ is illegal. 

In fact, the video cited by Insider seemingly did just that, as it reportedly shows the face of a user who appears to be from a country “known for its anti-LGBTQ policies.”

Grindr Responds, TikTok and Twitter Take Action

In response, Grindr said the posts violate its rules against “publicly displaying, publishing, or otherwise distributing any content or information” from the app. It then asked the posters to remove the content.

Ultimately, it was TikTok and Twitter themselves that largely took action, with the two deleting at least 14 posts scattered across their platforms.

A Highly-Visible LGBTQ+ Presence at the Games 

According to Outsports, at least 172 of around 11,000 Olympians are openly LGBTQ+. While that number is still well below the statistical average, it’s triple the number of LGBTQ+ athletes that attended Rio’s 2016 Games.

In fact, if they were their own country, openly LGBTQ+ athletes would reportedly rank 11th in medals, according to an Outsports report published Tuesday. 

Among those winners is British diver Tom Daley, who secured his first gold medal on Monday and used his platform to send a hopeful message to LGBTQ+ youth by telling them, “You are not alone.”

After winning a silver medal on Wednesday, U.S. swimmer Erica Sullivan talked about her experience as both a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a person of color. 

Still, the Olympics has faced criticism for its exclusion of intersex individuals, particularly those like South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, who won gold medals in both 2012 and 2016. Rules implemented in 2019 now prevent Semenya from competing as a woman without the use of medication to suppress her testosterone levels. 

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Pink News) (Out)

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Jake Paul Launches Anti-Bullying Charity

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The charity, called Boxing Bullies, aims to use the sport to give kids confidence and courage.


Jake Paul Launches Boxing Bullies Foundation

YouTuber Jake Paul — best known as the platform’s boxer, wreckless partier, and general troublemaker — has seemingly launched a non-profit to combat bullying.  

The charity is called Boxing Bullies. According to a mission statement posted on Instagram, it aims to “instill self confidence, leadership, and courage within the youth through the sport of boxing while using our platform, voice, and social media to fight back against bullying.”

If the notion of a Paul-founded anti-bullying charity called “Boxing Bullies” was not already begging to be compared to former First Lady Melania Trump’s “Best Best” initiative, maybe the group’s “Boxing Bullies Commandments” will help connect the dots. Those commandments use an acronym for the word “BOX” to spell out the charity’s golden rules.

Be kind to everyone; Only defend, never initiate; X-out bullying.” 

Paul Hopes To “Inspire” Kids To Stand Up For Themselves

Paul first said he was launching Boxing Bullies during a July 13 interview following a press conference for his upcoming fight against Tyron Woodley.

“I know who I am at the end of the day, which is a good person,” he told reporters. “I’m trying to change this sport, bring more eyeballs. I’m trying to support other fighters, increase fighter pay. I’m starting my charity, I’m launching that in 12 days here called Boxing Bullies and we’re helping to fight against cyberbullying.”

It has not been quite 12 days since the interview, so it’s likely that more information about the organization will be coming soon. Currently, the group has been the most active on Instagram, where it boasts a following of just around 1,200 followers. It has posted once to Twitter, where it has 32 followers; and has a TikTok account that has yet to publish any content. It also has a website, though there is not too much on it as of yet.

On its Instagram, one post introducing Paul as the founder claims the rowdy YouTuber started this charity because he has been on the receiving end of bullying.

Having been a victim of bullying himself, Jake experienced firsthand the impact it has on a person’s life,” the post says. “Jake believes that this is a prevailing issue in society that isn’t talked about enough. Boxing gave Jake the confidence to not care about what others think and he wants to share the sport and the welfare it‘s had on him with as many kids as possible.”

It adds that he hopes his group can“inspire the next generation of kids to be leaders, be athletes, and to fight back against bullying.”

Paul Previously Accused of Being a Bully

While fighting against bullying is a noble cause, it is an ironic project for Paul to start, as he has faced no shortage of bullying accusations. While Paul previously sang about “stopping kids from getting bullied” in the lunchroom, some have alleged he himself was actually a classic high school bully who threw kids’ backpacks into garbage cans. 

This behavior allegedly continued into his adulthood, as a New York Times report from earlier this year claimed he ran his Team 10 house with a culture of toxicity and bullying. Among other things, sources said he involved others in violent pranks, pressured people into doing dangerous stunts, and destroyed peoples’ personal property to make content.

Earlier this year, Paul was also accused of sexual assault, though he denied those allegations.

See what others are saying: (Dexerto)

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Director Defends Recreating Anthony Bourdain’s Voice With AI in New Documentary

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The film’s director claims he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent, but on Thursday, Bourdain’s widow publicly denied ever giving that permission. 


Bourdain’s Voice Recreated

“You are successful, and I am successful, and I’m wondering: Are you happy?” Anthony Bourdain says in a voiceover featured in “Roadrunnner,” a newly released documentary about the late chef — except Bourdain never actually said those words aloud.

Instead, it’s one of three lines in the film, which features frequent voiceovers from Bourdain, that were created through the use of artificial intelligence technology.

That said, the words are Bourdain’s own. In fact, they come from an email Bourdain reportedly wrote to a friend prior to his 2018 suicide. Nonetheless, many have now questioned whether recreating Bourdain’s voice was ethical, especially since documentaries are meant to reflect reality.

Director Defends Use of AI Voice

The film’s director, Academy Award winner Morgan Neville, has defended his use of the synthetic voice, telling Variety that he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent before inserting the lines into the film. 

“There were a few sentences that Tony wrote that he never spoke aloud,” Neville said. “It was a modern storytelling technique that I used in a few places where I thought it was important to make Tony’s words come alive.” 

Bourdain’s widow — Ottavia Bourdain, who is the executor of his estate — later denied Neville’s claim on Twitter, saying, “I certainly was NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with that.”

In another interview with GQ, Neville described the process, saying the film’s creators “fed more than ten hours of Tony’s voice into an AI model.”

“The bigger the quantity, the better the result,” he added. “We worked with four companies before settling on the best.”

“If you watch the film,” Neville told The New Yorker, “you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the AI, and you’re not going to know. We can have a documentary-ethics panel about it later.” 

The Ethics Debate Isn’t Being Tabled

But many want to have that discussion now.

Boston-based film critic Sean Burns, who gave the film a rare negative review, later criticized it again for its unannounced use of AI, saying he wasn’t aware that Bourdain’s voice had been recreated until after he watched the documentary.  

Meanwhile, The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner wrote that the “seamlessness of the effect is eerie.”

“If it had been a human voice double I think the reaction would be “huh, ok,” but there’s something truly unsettling about the idea of it coming from a computer,” Rosner later tweeted. 

Online, many others have criticized the film’s use of AI, with some labeling it as a “deepfake.”

Others have offered more mixed criticism, saying that while the documentary highlights the need for posthumous AI use to be disclosed, it should not be ruled out altogether. 

“In a world where the living could consent to using AI to reproduce their voices posthumously, and where people were made aware that such a technology was being used, up front and in advance, one could envision that this kind of application might serve useful documentary purposes,” David Leslie, ethics lead at the Alan Turing Institute, told the BBC.

Celebrities Recreated After Death

The posthumous use of celebrity likeness in media is not a new debate. In 2012, a hologram of Tupac took the stage 15 years after his death. In 2014, the Billboard Music Awards brought a hologram of Michael Jackson onstage five years after his death. Meanwhile, the Star Wars franchise digitally recreated actor Peter Cushing in 2016’s “Rogue One,” and unused footage of actress Carrie Fisher was later translated into “The Rise of Skywalker,” though a digital version of Fisher was never used.

In recent years, it has become almost standard for filmmakers to say that they will not create digital versions of characters whose actors die unexpectedly. For example, several months after Chadwick Boseman’s death last year, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” executive producer Victoria Alonso confirmed Boseman would not be digitally recreated for his iconic role as King T’Challa.

See what others are saying: (BBC) (Yahoo! News) (Variety)

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