New Zealand admits it has direct access to Facebook takedown portal where it can flag content for censorship

New Zealand’s government has officially admitted that it has partner access to Facebook’s controversial content takedown portal.

This portal is designed specifically for government agencies to flag content to Facebook for censorship. According to The Intercept, which reported on the portal in October, government partners can also use the portal to “report disinformation directly” to Facebook.

And in a recent response to a New Zealand Official Information Act (OIA) request, which asked whether the government has partner access to Facebook’s takedown portal, the New Zealand government confirmed that the Department of Internal Affairs has access. While this was the only government department that was confirmed to have access to the portal, the OIA response also said “we cannot advise if any other government agency has access to the takedown portal.”

We obtained a copy of the OIA response for you here.

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Oversight Board tells Meta to stop complying with police requests to censor rap music

Meta’s Oversight Board said that Meta should not have complied with a request from London’s Metropolitan Police to ban a drill music track. Drill music is a rap genre that politicians and law enforcement agencies have associated with gang violence.

In January, rapper Chinx (OS) posted a video of his song “Secrets Not Safe.” Shortly after posting the song on Instagram, Meta received an email from the police requesting the removal of the song. Meta escalated the case to a team for special consideration, and ruled that it violated its policies because it referenced a shooting that took place in 2017 and included what police believed to be a “threatening call to action.”

After the song was removed, Chinx appealed and had it reinstated by a moderator who was not part of the special consideration team. The decision was overruled and the song got banned again after a week, again following a request by the police.

The board questioned whether Meta considered the context, or simply compiled because it was a request from the police.

“Not every piece of content that law enforcement would prefer to have taken down — and not even every piece of content that has the potential to lead to escalating violence — should be taken down,” the board wrote in its decision.

Social media platforms are less transparent about informal requests like the email from the Met.

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FBI Director Cannot ‘Be Sure’ Whether Facebook Is Sending User Information to Agents

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday he cannot “be sure” whether Facebook is sending the agency user information without being compelled to do so, an act that would violate the law.

Wray’s remark in response to a question from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) comes after Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee released a report (pdf) in early November in which a whistleblower suggested that the FBI has a “special relationship” with Facebook “in which it accepts private user information without any consent or legal process.”

The move is part of a program “likely codenamed ‘Operation Bronze Griffin,’” said the report. It alleges that the types of user content that Facebook provides the FBI “have a partisan focus, tending only to concern users from one side of the political spectrum,” and that there is a pro-Democrat bias within the FBI.

On Thursday, Paul asked Wray at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on the report’s allegations, “Is Facebook or any other social media company supplying private messages or data on American users that is not compelled by the government or the FBI?”

“Not compelled, in other words, not in response to legal process?” Wray queried.

“No warrant, no subpoena, they’re just supplying you information on their users?” Paul said.

“I don’t believe so,” Wray responded. “But I can’t sit here and be sure about that as I as I sit here.”

Paul told Wray that if Facebook is supplying the FBI with user information, it would be against the law—the Stored Communications Act, part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986—which “prohibits providers from sharing electronic communications with any person or entity, unless it’s compelled.”

“This was done to protect the privacy of people, so we could feel like we can send an email or direct message to people without having that information given over,” Paul said.

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Facebook Censors Posts on Vaccine Harms Because They “Make People Feel Unsafe”

This morning, a friend published a short post on Facebook, drawing attention to how it seemed to him the company was not even bothering any more to refer to the so-called ‘independent fact-checkers’ to justify their censorship. He had re-posted a clip where Fox reporter Tucker Carlson discussed the negative effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, referring to peer-reviewed studies. The clip is available here.

How on earth can peer-reviewed results constitute “misinformation”? The peer review process isn’t perfect, far from it, but after all it is the accepted standard. A first conclusion therefore is that the word ‘misinformation’ does not refer to misinformation any more, it simply refers to any information the censor wants suppressed. The word has become meaningless.

The action, then, is suppression of a certain kind of information, but what about the reason? The reason for suppressing uncomfortable information about COVID-19 vaccines is that seeing this information may “make some people feel unsafe”. What does this mean precisely?

There are at least two possibilities, and here I’m talking only about those who believe in the narrative. The first is that people may feel unsafe seeing evidence that contradicts what they’ve been told by the authorities, the mainstream media and the social media giants; the ‘safe and effective’ mantra. Watching Tucker Carlson’s review of the evidence might make people feel unsafe, uncertain, sceptical towards the propaganda, relentlessly pushed towards them; this is what happens when you discover you’ve been deceived by someone you trusted. You feel unsafe for you don’t know who to trust any more.

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Facebook launches new tools to “combat climate misinformation”

The world’s largest social network, Facebook, has announced plans to increase its elevation of “authoritative climate information” and expand its “fact checking” of content that it deems to be climate misinformation.

Facebook will expand its fact-checking tools by increasing the availability of its “Climate Science Center” (a page that contains “factual resources from the world’s leading climate organizations and actionable steps people can take in their everyday lives to combat climate change”) to 165 countries and expanding its “Climate Inform Labels” (labels that are added to Facebook posts and link to posts from the Climate Science Center).

The tech giant has also launched a “Climate Science Literacy Initiative” that will “pre-bunk climate misinformation” by running ads that “feature five of the most common techniques used to misrepresent climate change.”

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Be careful what you post: How Facebook and the US government have united against Americans with the ‘wrong’ views

It’s been revealed by sources within the US Department of Justice that direct messages sent through Facebook by American users, along with public postings, have been rigorously monitored, and reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) if they express anti-government, anti-authority views, or if they question the legitimacy of the November 2020 presidential election’s outcome.

Witch hunt on the web

Under the terms of a secret collaboration agreement with the FBI, a Facebook staffer has, over the past 19 months, been red-flagging content they consider to be “subversive” and immediately transmitting it to the Bureau’s domestic terrorism operational unit, without the FBI having filed a single subpoena – outside the established US legal process, without probable cause, and in breach of the First Amendment, in other words.

Just as shockingly, these intercepted communications were then provided as leads and tips to FBI field offices across the US, which in turn secured subpoenas in order to officially obtain the private conversations that they already possessed, and thus cover up the fact the material had been obtained extra-legally. Facebook invariably complied with these subpoenas, and would send back “gigabytes of data and photos” within an hour, suggesting the content sought was already packaged and awaiting legal confirmation before distribution.

It is uncertain quite how many users were flagged, but it’s abundantly clear a specific type of person was of interest to the FBI – “red-blooded” conservative right-wingers, many of whom supported the right to bear arms. No one connected to Antifa, BLM or any other left-wing group was ever informed on. 

It seems not a single Facebook user snitched upon for daring to be possessed of troublesome political opinions was ever arrested, or prosecuted, for their wrongthink, even though some were reportedly subject to covert surveillance and other forms of intrusion and harassment. Their views were consistently found to not translate to criminality or violence – their words were simply brutal condemnations of Biden’s election and presidency, and aggressive calls for protests.

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Memphis Maniac Who Live-Streamed Killing Spree Served Just 11 Months After Attempted Murder Arrest, Mayor Reveals

The 19-year-old Memphis man accused of killing four and terrorizing the city for hours Wednesday night as he drove around shooting people was let out of prison after serving less than a year for an attempted murder charge that was plea-bargained down to aggravated assault.

The Daily Wire is not naming the suspect or publishing his photo as part of a policy to deprive mass shooters of the attention they crave. But after police captured him in a stolen car, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said he should never have been on the loose.

“If [the suspect] served his full three-year sentence, he would still be in prison today and four of our fellow citizens would still be alive,” Strickland said.

Records show the suspect was freed on March 16 after serving just 11 months of his three-year sentence. A new law Strickland backed which went into effect in July may have kept the suspect locked up.

The bloody spree began just before 1 a.m. with the apparently random killing of a 24-year-old man in his driveway, said Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis, who laid out a timeline at a post-arrest news conference late Wednesday. The rampage resumed around 4:30 p.m., when police learned a man had been shot dead in his car.

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CDC Gave Facebook Misinformation About COVID-19 Vaccines, Emails Show

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) passed misinformation to Facebook as the partners worked to combat misinformation, according to newly released emails, in the most recent example of CDC officials making false or misleading claims.

In a June 3 message, a Facebook official said the CDC had helped the company “debunk claims about COVID vaccines and children,” and asked for assistance addressing claims about the vaccines for babies and toddlers, including the claim that the vaccines were not effective.

Several weeks later, after U.S. regulators authorized the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for young children and the CDC recommended them, a CDC official responded by offering unsupported information.

“Claims that COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective for children ages 6 months to 4 years are false and belief in such claims could lead to back vaccine hesitancy,” the CDC official wrote. The names of all of the officials mentioned in this story were redacted in the emails, which were released as part of ongoing litigation against the U.S. government.

“COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are effective at protecting people, including children ages 6 months to 4 years, from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying,” the CDC official added.

There’s no evidence that the vaccines are effective against severe illness and death in young children.

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Facebook Fact-Checkers Are Now Dropping by the Comments Sections of Your Posts to Re-Educate You

Facebook just keeps finding new ways to be awful. The latest stunt is to jump into the comments section of your posts to insert some approved agitprop that stays near the top of your feed.

This particular “fact” check concerns an estimate from a car dealership showing that a customer would be charged nearly $30,000 for an EV battery for his Chevy Volt. A Facebook page called Car Coach Reports, which focuses on auto news, posted a picture of the invoice on August 29. Two days later, PolitiFact waded into the comments section to add their take on the story—namely that the battery in question was for a 10-year-old vehicle with 70,000 miles that is no longer under warranty. PolitiFact wrote, “The battery had to be purchased from a third-party supplier because General Motors discontinued the Volt in 2018 and no longer makes the battery.” They quickly added that newer batteries “cost much less.”

On the “fact” checker’s website we learn that “The average cost of a replacement battery in an electric vehicle is about $6,300… though that price can be higher depending on the vehicle in question.” Prices can range anywhere from $6000 to $20,000.

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FACEBOOK TELLS MODERATORS TO ALLOW GRAPHIC IMAGES OF RUSSIAN AIRSTRIKES BUT CENSORS ISRAELI ATTACKS

AFTER A SERIES of Israeli airstrikes against the densely populated Gaza Strip earlier this month, Palestinian Facebook and Instagram users protested the abrupt deletion of posts documenting the resulting death and destruction. It wasn’t the first time Palestinian users of the two giant social media platforms, which are both owned by parent company Meta, had complained about their posts being unduly removed. It’s become a pattern: Palestinians post sometimes graphic videos and images of Israeli attacks, and Meta swiftly removes the content, providing only an oblique reference to a violation of the company’s “Community Standards” or in many cases no explanation at all.

Not all the billions of users on Meta’s platforms, however, run into these issues when documenting the bombing of their neighborhoods.

Previously unreported policy language obtained by The Intercept shows that this year the company repeatedly instructed moderators to deviate from standard procedure and treat various graphic imagery from the Russia-Ukraine war with a light touch. Like other American internet companies, Meta responded to the invasion by rapidly enacting a litany of new policy carveouts designed to broaden and protect the online speech of Ukrainians, specifically allowing their graphic images of civilians killed by the Russian military to remain up on Instagram and Facebook.

No such carveouts were ever made for Palestinian victims of Israeli state violence — nor do the materials show such latitude provided for any other suffering population.

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