Facebook blocks Chechnya activist page in latest case of wrongful censorship – The Guardian

Facebook moderators have just seconds to decide whether to delete content. The company said the decision had been made in error. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook censored a group of supporters of Chechen independence for violating its community standards barring organizations engaged in terrorist activity or organized criminal activity, the latest example of the social network mistakenly censoring government dissidents.

The Facebook group, Independence for Chechnya!, was permanently deleted by Facebook in late May, according to the group administrator, an Estonian human rights activist who asked to be identified by her initials, MP. She said she was shocked when she received a message from Facebook informing her of the deletion. We do not support terror, MP said. We support [a] political[ly] legal way for returning Chechen independence.

After the Guardian contacted Facebook about the group, it was reinstated. A company spokesperson said that the deletion had been made in error and pointed out that with millions of reports each week, the company sometimes gets things wrong.

The case is just the most recent example of how Facebooks mission of creating a more open and connected world can be compromised by its gargantuan task of policing billions of pieces of content.

In recent weeks, the company has censored a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist for publishing a series of posts alleging corruption by Maltese politicians and an abortion rights organization for violating its policy against the promotion or encouragement of drug use. In all of those cases, Facebook reversed its decisions after it was contacted by the Guardian.

Facebook is also facing complaints from critics who argue the network is not censorious enough and is failing to stamp-out extremist or abusive content.

The Chechen independence group, which had about 6,000 members, had existed for almost a decade and was originally created by a resident of Chechnya, according to MP, who said she took over administration of the group after the original administrator was forced into hiding due to threats to his relatives. The group is supportive of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, an unrecognized government consisting of exiled leaders from the wars for independence.

While some Chechen separatist groups, such as the Caucasian Emirate, are considered terrorist organizations by the US government, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria is not. Indeed, the group is specifically listed as not violating in a list of terrorist groups that the Guardian reviewed as part of the Facebook Files. One Facebook moderator told the Guardian that content reviewers have less than 10 seconds to make a decision about whether content should be censored or not, making the careful policing of extremist content a mission impossible.

MP said that her group was used to spread news about what Chechens really want and how they think because there is no real free media in Russia. My friends and me, we wanted to give the Chechen point of view.

Its a modest but difficult goal: press freedom is tenuous in Russia as a whole, and basically non-existent in Chechnya, a Russian republic ruled with an iron first by Ramzan Kadyrov.

Local media works according to one principle: Do not make Kadyrov angry, an anonymous Chechen journalist wrote in the Guardian last year. Today, I do not know a single journalist here who would agree to work on a story that was anything other than positive about life in post-war Chechnya.

Kadyrov was selected to lead Chechnya by Vladmir Putin, and he has been linked to the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemstov and accused of various human rights violations, including the reported detention and torture of hundreds of gay men.

The Chechen leader has a particularly authoritarian attitude toward social media. He enthusiastically documents his lifestyle to his 2.7m followers on Instagram, while retaliating harshly against Chechens who voice even mild dissent on social networks. A favored tactic is public humiliation forcing those who wrote negative comments to appear on local television to renounce their views and apologize.

While the Chechen group has been restored, the case raises concerns for press freedom advocates about how Facebook is wielding its power to censor. Not every group of dissidents will catch the attention of a news organization or advocacy group, said Suzanne Nossel, the executive director of free-speech advocacy group PEN America, and that seems to be a much more reliable means of redress than Facebooks official system for appealing censorship decisions.

If that dissident group doesnt have the channels or access to power to get through to Facebook at a higher level, they may just find themselves silenced, said Nossel. What is necessary is a more accessible, transparent, timely process of individual appeal and the provision of rationale that make this incredibly powerful hand that Facebook and other platforms wield something that is more understandable and can be a subject of public debate.


Facebook blocks Chechnya activist page in latest case of wrongful censorship – The Guardian

Peace, Trump, censorship and fake news up for discussion – Ashland Daily Tidings

Local report

Independent media producers, students, local activists and community groups will be celebrated next week duringIndependent Media Week, organized around the theme A well-informed citizenry is a cornerstone of democracy. This will be the 13th year for the week spotlighting grassroots media and its creators.

The locally sourced event began in April 2005 when, at the request of citizen media activists who launched KSKQ, the local low-power FM radio station, and developed the Rogue Valley Independent Media Center, the city of Ashland proclaimed its first Independent Media Week to celebrate efforts to make public records more readily accessible and to broadcast our community meetings and civic events.

Every year since, a coalition of local independent media organizations has asked the city to proclaim one week in April as Independent Media Week. And, in 2015, a bill introduced by then-Rep. Peter Buckley passed the Oregon legislature and was signed into saw declaring the third week of April each year “as Independent Media Week to encourage all Oregonians to seek out and explore the rich diversity of independent media available to and within their communities.”

This year’s celebration runs Sunday through Saturday, April 9 to 15. It includes discussions, workshops and a presentation by Project Censored director Mickey Huff.

On Sunday, April 9, there will be an open house breakfast from 10 a.m. to noon at the KSKQ 89.5/94.1 FM community radio station studio at 330 East Hersey St., No. 2, in Ashland. The public can meet producers and staff, learn more about KSKQ and enjoy a light breakfast.

There will be a panel discussion on “Cultivating a Culture of Peace in an Era of Trump: What’s the Media’s Role?” from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 10, in the Arena downstairs at Stevenson Union on the campus of Southern Oregon University.

Local media representatives and the audience will discuss whether and how the media should play a role in advancing goals advocated by the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC), including transforming attitudes, behaviors and institutions so they better foster harmonious relationships, particularly in time when the information landscape has been roiled by new national leadership with its own way of doing things.

Panel members are Jeff Golden, producer and host of Immense Possibilities on select PBS stations; Bert Etling, editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings; Jason Houk, publisher of the Rogue Valley Community Press and news director for KSKQ community radio; and Hannah Jones, editor of The Siskiyou, the Southern Oregon University student-run news website.

David Wick, executive director of the ACPC, will say a few words about the work of the commission. Also joining the conversation via a video link will be Dr. David Adams, the coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network and former UNESCO director of the International Year for the Culture of Peace, proclaimed for the Year 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly, who will provide an international perspective on the Culture of Peace and the vital role media plays in its evolution.

Critical Media Literacy Education: The Antidote to Fake’ News, Media Filters, and Propaganda in a ‘Post-Truth World” is the focus of a lecture by Mickey Huff, director of Project Censored, who will speak at 6 p.m. Friday, April 14, in the Arena at Stevenson Union.

Huff is director of Project Censored, founded in 1976, and president of the Media Freedom Foundation. He has edited or co-edited eight volumes of “Censored” and contributed numerous chapters to these works dating back to 2008. Huff sits on the advisory board for the Media Literacy and Digital Culture graduate program at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, and serves on the editorial board for the journal Secrecy and Society. He also represents Project Censored as one of the cosponsoring organizations for the National Whistleblowers Summit held annually in Washington, D.C.

Another highlight of Independent Media Week is presentation of the Hal Jamison Independent Media Award. Jamison was a long-time Ashland resident and supporter of independent, community media. This award is dedicated in his honor and showcases a community member who is dedicating their time and energy to support our independent media resources.

Independent Media Week sponsors include KSKQ 89.5/94.1 Community Radio, the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice and the UN Club of SOU. For more information, call Jason Houk at 541-841-8341.

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Peace, Trump, censorship and fake news up for discussion – Ashland Daily Tidings

Political Correctness Isn’t About Censorship It’s About Decency – Huffington Post

What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power away from them.Toni Morrison

Never trust anyone who says they do not see color. This means to them, you are invisible.Nayhyirah Waheed

Not Steven. Not Stephen. Certainly not Steveareno.

Its a preference. My preference. My choice. And if people want to be in my good graces, theyll comply with my wishes.

Theres nothing strange or unreasonable about this. We do it all the time usually when were being introduced to someone.

Nice to meet you, Steve. Im Elisha.

Elisha? What a beautiful name!

Please. Call me Steve.

Is there anything wrong with that? Does that stifle conversation? Does it stop people from talking freely to each other?

No. Certainly some names are hard to pronounce or in my case remember. But overcoming those hurdles is just common decency. Its not too much to ask especially if youre going to be dealing with this person for an extended length of time.

The idea that allowing people to define themselves somehow shuts down conversation is rather strange. But its the essence of opposition to political correctness.

Political correctness is tyranny with manners, said conservative icon Charlton Heston.

I wonder if he would have felt the same if wed called him Charlie Hessywessytone.

A more fleshed out criticism comes from President George H. W. Bush who said, The notion of political correctness declares certain topics, certain expressions, even certain gestures off-limits. What began as a crusade for civility has soured into a cause of conflict and even censorship.

Is that true? Is political correctness really censorship? Thats the conflation made by many conservatives and even some liberals. After all, popular Left-wing comedian Bill Maher sarcastically calls his HBO show Politically Incorrect, and he often rails against the practice.

Theres a kernel of truth to it. We are asked to change the way we speak. Were asked to self-censor, but we already do this frequently without wailing against a loss of free speech.

Human beings are subject to various impulses, but as adults, we learn which ones we can act on and which we shouldnt. I may think it would be hilarious to run into a crowded movie theater and yell, FIRE! However, I know that doing so while possibly funny to a certain kind of person would result in injuries and trauma as moviegoers stampede out of the theater. So I dont do it. Is that censorship? Maybe. But its censorship with a small c.

The Hestons, Bushes and Mahers of the world seem to think political correctness is more like Capital C Censorship. But this is demonstrably false.

That kind of Censorship is the act of officials, possibly agents of the government, a corporation or some other formal bureaucracy. But political correctness has nothing to do with officials. There are no censors. There are only people who ask to be named a certain way.

A censor looks at a news report of military operations in Iraq and deletes material that would give away the armys location. Political correctness is nothing like that. It involves someone asking others to refer to themselves THIS WAY and not THAT WAY.

The penalties for violating Censorship are official. Ask Chelsea Manning who until being pardoned by President Barack Obama – was serving a 35-year prison sentence for doing just that. The penalties for violating political correctness are social. You may be criticized, condemned or disliked.

If you criticize Manning for releasing classified documents to Wikileaks, youre not violating political correctness. Thats your opinion, and youre entitled to it. However, Manning is a trans woman who is going through hormone replacement therapy. If you refer to her as him you are violating political correctness. Youre naming her in a way that violates her wishes. The penalty is not a prison sentence. Its a sour look.

So political correctness is not Censorship. In some ways, the confusion comes from the term political correctness, itself.

Though its origins are hard to pin down, it appears to have been coined by the Soviets to mean judging the degree of compatibility of ones ideas or political analysis with the official party line in Moscow. At least thats what the International Encyclopedia of Social Studies says.

The term came to prominence in the United States in conservative writer Dinesh DSouzas book Illiberal Education. He disparaged affirmative action as a kind of political correctness that gave preference to (what he saw as) unqualified minority students over whites in college admissions.

So the first mention of the term in the USA was simply to disparage liberal political policies. It was a ham-handed way of comparing the Left with the Soviets. Yet somehow this term has become the handle by which we know simple civility. Its kind of hard to feel positively about a concept that begins with a mountain of unearned negative connotations.

Conservatives know the power of getting to name something. Its their go-to propaganda tactic and lets them control much of the debate. For instance, thats why the Right loves to call Social Security an entitlement. Theres truth to it because youre entitled to getting back the money you pay in, but its full of unearned negative connotations as if these people were somehow demanding things they dont deserve.

In essence, political correctness shouldnt be political at all. Its just kindness. Its just being a decent human being. Dont purposefully call someone by a name they wouldnt appreciate. Respect a persons ownership of their own identity.

And for some people thats hard to do. Their conceptions of things like gender, sexuality, race and religion are extremely rigid. The only way to be a man is THIS WAY. The only way to be spiritual is THAT WAY. But if they give voice to these ideas in the public square especially in the presence of people who think differently they will be frowned upon.

But is this really so dissimilar to the crowded movie theater? Refusing to acknowledge someone elses identity is harmful to that person. It tramples the soul,similarly to the way their body would be trampled in a stampeded exit. So you shouldnt do it.

The result is an apparently much more tolerant society. Its no longer okay to use racial, cultural, gender and sexual stereotypes in public. Youre forced to give other people consideration or else face the consequences of being disliked. And on the surface, thats a much more inviting world to live in.

However, there is a glaring problem. In some ways, this has made public discourse more antiseptic. People dont always say what they mean in the public square. Its not that theyve changed the way they think about the world. Theyve just learned to keep it to themselves until theyre around like-minded individuals. They reserve their racist, classist, sexist language for use behind closed doors.

This is why when Im at a party peopled exclusively by white folks, some partygoers may let racial epithets slip out. And we all laugh nervously to be polite. Or maybe its more than politeness. Maybe for some its to relieve the tension of such refreshing candor like taking off a girdle. Fwew! Here, at least, I can say what I really think without having to worry about people looking down on me for it!

Since such reactions occur mostly in homogeneous groups, it makes the world look much more enlightened than it really is. Pundits and policymakers look around and cheer the end of these social ills when they havent ended at all. Theyve merely gone underground.

And so we have an epidemic of colorblind white people who cant see racism because of the gains of political correctness. Somehow they forget those unguarded moments. Somehow they havent the courage to examine their own souls. Or perhaps they dont care.

And so we have the conundrum: which is better to live in a world where all individuals have the right to name themselves or to live in a world where our most basic prejudices are on display for all to see?

Personally, I pick political correctness, and heres why.

Words are important. We think in words. We use them to put together our thoughts. If we continue to respect individuals names in word, eventually well begin to do so in thought and deed.

This isnt mind control. Its habit. Its recognizing an ideal and working toward it. As Aristotle taught, the way to become a good person is to act like one. Eventually, your preferences will catch up with your habits.

I think thats whats happening today. Look at the children. Theyre so much less prejudiced and racist than we, adults. This is because theyve learned political correctness first. They didnt have to unlearn some archaic white-cisgender-centrism. This is normal to them, and I think thats a good thing.

Obviously some people will balk at this idea. They will look at this ideal as reprehensible. They want to return to a world where women were little more than property, a world where black people knew their place, where sexual identity was as simple as A or B.

But I think most of us recognize that this is not a world where wed want to live. Modern society can be scary and confusing but trying to respect everyone as a person isnt a bad thing. Its consideration, concern, warmth.

Perhaps the best way to love your fellow humans is to call them by their proper names.

A similar version of this article originally was published on my Website.

Continued here:

Political Correctness Isn’t About Censorship It’s About Decency – Huffington Post

Russia Is Trying to Copy China’s Approach to Internet Censorship – Slate Magazine

Opposition supporters take part in an unauthorized anti-corruption rally in central Moscow on March 26.

Alexander Utkin/AFP/Getty Images

When you hear the words Russia and internet, you probably think of Kremlin-backed hacking. But the internet is also a powerful tool for Putins opposition. Last month, the internet helped spark Russias largest anti-government protests in five years. Russia respondedby blocking access to webpagesthat promoted demonstrations.

This is part of a larger story. Just a few years ago, Russians had a mostly free internet. Now, Russian authorities would like to imitate Chinas model of internet control. They are unlikely to succeed. The Kremlin will find that once you give people internet freedom, its not so easy to completely take it away.

I lived in Moscow in 2010 after spending years researching internet activism in China. I quickly found that Russia and China had very different attitudes toward the web. The Great Firewall of China blocked overseas sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. In Russia, by contrast, you could find almost any information online. This was largely because Russian authorities didnt view the internet as a serious political threat. That changed in late 2011 and early 2012, when Moscow was the site of the largest anti-government protests since the end of the Soviet Union. Social media helped organize those demonstrations, and President Vladimir Putin took note. A law that took effect in late 2012, to give just one example, granted Russian authorities the power to block certain online content.

Moscow clearly admires Beijings approach. Last year, former Chinese internet czar Lu Wei and Great Firewall architect Fang Binxing were invited to speak at a forum on internet safety. The Russians were apparently hoping to learn Chinese techniques for controlling the web. Russia has already taken a page or two from Chinas playbook. While Facebook and Twitter remain accessible in Russia, at least for now, a Russian court ruled to ban LinkedIn, apparently for breaking rules that require companies to store personal data about Russian citizens inside the country. This could be a warning to companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook, which risk being blocked in Russia if they refuse to follow such rules.

Both Russia and China have made clear that they wish to regulate the internet as they see fit, without outside interference. Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed the importance of internet sovereignty, which essentially means that individual countries should have the right to choose their own model of cyber governance. Putin has taken this idea one step further by calling the internet a CIA project. By this logic, Russia needs to proactively protect its own interests in the information sphere whether by cracking down on online dissent or using the internet to spread its own version of events.

Russia internet expert Andrei Soldatov, author of the book The Red Web, says the Kremlin certainly looks for something close to the China approach these days, mostly because many other things failedfiltering is porous, global platforms defy local legislation and are still available. Soldatov says that the government would like to have direct control of critical infrastructure such as the national system of domain distribution, internet exchange points, and cables that cross borders. He adds that this approach, which may not even be successful, would be more of an emergency measure than a realistic attempt to regulate the internet on a day-to-day basis.

Chinas method has worked because Beijing has long recognized the internet as both an economic opportunity and a political threat. Chinas isolated internet culture has given rise to formidable domestic companies. It was once easy to dismiss Chinas local tech players as mere copycatsSina Weibo imitating Twitter, Baidu imitating Google, and so on. But now, some of these companies, notably Tencents WeChat, have become so formidable that we may soon see Western companies imitating them. In the meantime, Chinese internet users arent necessarily longing for their Western competitors.

In Russia, however, American sites like YouTube have become very powerful. The recent demonstrations were in part sparked by an online report by opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger Aleksei Navalny, who alleged that Russian President Dmitri Medvedev had amassed a fortune in yachts, mansions and estates. Navalnys video on YouTube, viewed more than 16 million times, detailed this alleged corruption. Navalny called for protests after his demands for investigating official corruption was denied by the Russian Parliament. According to Global Voices, the Russian prosecutors officerecently requested the blockingof a YouTubevideo calling on young people to rally.

Russian blogger Elia Kabanov believes that YouTube is now too big to block. I doubt the Kremlin will go there, he said. They blocked LinkedIn mostly because it was a niche site in Russia and nobody cared. And of course the government propaganda machine is using YouTube a lot, so it wouldn’t make any sense to block it. If they try to take down protest announcements on platforms on YouTube, Kabanov says, new ones will appear. I really cant see the way for the Kremlin to implement the Chinese model now: Everything is too connected, their own agencies are using all these services.

Russia does have its own domestic social networks, of course. VKontakte (VK), for example, is far more influential than Facebook. Soldatov notes that VK played an unusually big role in the recent protests.But Facebook still has a devoted Russian following, especially among political activists.

No government can entirely control the flow of information. Even in China, those determined to find information can find a tool, say a virtual private network, to jump over the firewall. Russian censors will face a similar challenge. In recent years, there has been an ongoing increase in Russian use of Tor, a browser that can be used to circumvent censorship. As a 2015 Global Voices article noted, the increase in censorship closely mirrors the upward trend in interest towards Tor.

In the short term Russian street protests may fizzle out, especially as Moscow cracks down on dissent. But the story wont end there. The internet on its own will not cause a revolution in Russia, but it can be an effective tool for organization. Beijing figured this out a long time ago, but the Kremlin is learning it too late.

This article is adapted from the forthcoming Attacks on the Press: The New Face of Censorship, a book from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Future Tense is a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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Russia Is Trying to Copy China’s Approach to Internet Censorship – Slate Magazine

Trigger Warning: A High School Censors A Speech About Censorship – Forward

Wallkill Senior High School just censored my lecture about censorship.

Several months ago, the school in an upstate New York community known for its prisons and apple orchards invited me to participate in its annual Authors Day event on April 4 and 5. Published writers gab to administrators, librarians and educators over a buffet dinner and then lecture to several classes of students the following day. Its a schlep from Manhattan, but writers receive a modest honorarium and I enjoy talking to kids about my passion.

The talk focused on my book, Killed Cartoons: Casualties From The War On Free Expression (W.W. Norton), a collection of editorial art that newspapers and magazines deemed too controversial to publish. The schools website graciously described me as a top journalist on the front lines of world news and politics who has written 2 critically acclaimed books on the censorship of political cartoons and news articles.

Now I had been warned that the school is located in a conservative district, and I understood that the underlying topic of my talk the embattled free press in the Trump era could prove controversial. But the school should have known what it was getting into. After all, I did not write a young adult novel about a talking purple whale, but hard-hitting nonfiction books on censorship. And my first audience primarily educators with a mission to opening minds for a living would, I assumed, be interested in my message even if it werent exactly theirs.

I assumed wrong.

Around dessert time, I walked to the lectern in the neighborhood Italian restaurant and joked that the audience would be getting a second helping of broccoli.

Unlike the other authors, creators of childrens books who spoke ad hoc about how they became writers, I prepared remarks, because I had something important to say: The leader of the free world has declared war on our free press, and his multi-pronged assault endangers our democracy.

On February 24, President Trump stood before an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., and smeared journalists by calling them enemy of the people.

That particular phrase, enemy of the people, holds a sinister place in the history of political rhetoric, as I told my fidgety audience. Among those who have launched such verbal missiles to demonize their opponents are Adolf Hitlers minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who labeled Jews enemies of the German people murderous Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, and Russian autocrat Joseph Stalin.

As the BBC recently recounted, during Stalins long, brutal reign, out-of-favour artists and politicians were designated enemies and many were sent to hard labour camps or killed. Others were stigmatised and denied access to education and employment.

People stared at their brownies and avoided my eyes, except some of the bulked-up guys, maybe gym teachers, who looked like they wanted to fire a dodge ball at my head.

I then noted that just last week, in a tweet that sailed mostly under the radar, Trump, who has sued journalists for writing unflattering stories about him in the past, proposed weakening the laws protecting a free press. The failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years, he wrote, ominously adding, Change libel laws?

Eviscerating the laws protecting publishing (which is not unimaginable if Senate Republicans eliminate the filibuster for legislation, as some observers believe will happen) would make it much harder for journalists to do our jobs exposing public corruption and corporate malfeasance and much easier for the super-rich and big business to suppress the truth.

The Trump administrations assault on the media goes beyond attempts at intimidation. The presidents recent budget proposal would eliminate the relatively modest government support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, one of the most respected sources of news in the country.

I also pointed out that Trump doesnt hate all media. In fact, hes a fan of Alex Jones, a racist radio host who argued that 9/11 was an inside job perpetrated by the U.S. government, and that the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, was a giant hoax.

Not long after Trump launched his presidential campaign, he appeared as a guest on Joness InfoWars show to flatter the host. Your reputation is amazing, gushed the president, a comment that I still find amazing.

Someone walked out about then. Not slinked out to the bathroom, but marched out in audible disgust. Now I know how comedians feel when they bomb.

Maybe some history will work, I thought to myself.

Our Founding Fathers understood that a vibrant, independent press and a well-informed citizenry stood in the way of tyranny and was essential to the success of their experiment, as they referred to democracy. Thats why they included freedom of the press in the First Amendment. Unfortunately, only 11% of Americans could identify freedom of the press as a constitutionally enshrined First Amendment right, according to the Newseum Institute.

Thomas Jefferson, who endured intense scrutiny from reporters during his presidency, nevertheless consistently defended the field of journalism. Were it left to me, he wrote in 1787, to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.

Donald Trumps war on the press has prompted protests from prominent members of his own party. Former president George W. Bush, hardly a liberal, pointed out that we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and its important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.

Without a free press, Sen. John McCain worried that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time thats how dictators get started.

That approach didnt work either, so I wrapped up, explaining that the administrations palpable hostility prompts some media organizations to rededicate themselves to the mission of public interest journalism and others to cower in fear and engage in self-censorship. And, that editorial cartoonists are arguably the most vulnerable of journalisms foot soldiers, given the simple power of their expression. A vulnerability shown by the number of full-time cartoonists at newspapers dropping, from about 2000 in the year 1900, to around 90 when I published my book in 2007, and fewer than 30 today.

Reprinted with permission of Paul Combs.

Killed by the Tampa Tribune, 2005.

Youve been a terrific audience

Keepin it light, David, said one of my hosts, who later delivered the news by phone that my talk to the students the next day would be canceled due to a scheduling conflict. I am pretty sure that the other authors, who discussed less contentious topics, such as the teacher who first inspired them to read, spoke right on schedule.

The students arguably are the ones losing out. They would have benefited from a interacting with a professional journalist with experience on the front lines of world news and politics, and by civilly discussing polarizing issues with someone they might not necessarily agree with.

Still, I learned a few lessons from the experience: The divisions in this country are deeper than I expected; people seem less willing than ever to engage in debate, and the status of the press down to about 20% in 2016 from 51% in 1979, [according to Gallup], (http://www.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx) is seriously damaged, hindering our ability to effectively communicate sometimes difficult-to-digest truths.

On the bright side, at least I didnt have to eat lunch in the cafeteria.

David Wallis is the Forwards opinion editor. Contact him at wallis@forward.com

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Read the rest here:

Trigger Warning: A High School Censors A Speech About Censorship – Forward

It happened! Cork conference overcomes academic censorship … – Mondoweiss

(Photo: the International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility conference)

It was originally scheduled in 2014 for the Britains Southampton University and was canceled after Zionists pressured university officials. It was briefly rescheduled once more in Southampton in response to outrage over the censorship only to be canceled once again. However, lead organizers, Oren Ben-Dor, James Bowen and George Bisharat did not give up. In the intervening months questions about the legitimacy of Israeli government actions only increased, and the original conference organizers were joined by more scholars and international legal experts determined to carry out a serious discussion about Palestine and international law.

For many of the attendees, the timing this spring couldnt have been better. The ascendancy of the right wing in Europe and the United States and the recent vociferous reactions to the UN report by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley made the discussions all the more timely and necessary. The warm Irish welcome was such that the first two days were actually held in the atrium auditorium of Corks City Hall. The sessions were packed at both City Hall and the Sunday session at the University of Cork. Although there was security hired by conference organizers, there were no violent incidents, nor even any sustained complaints from the audience. The only sustained reactions were the enthusiastic applause outbursts whenever the courage and persistence of the conference organizers was mentioned.

Eitan Bronstein from the Israeli human rights group De-Colonizert speaks at the International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility conference. (Photo: Facebook)

Richard Falk, co-author of the recent UN report:Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid, commissioned and published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA),was the first keynote speaker with amagisterial overview of the legal history of the state formation of Israel. Ugo Mattai from the University of Turin and Hastings College of Law was the keynote for the second day and gave an eloquent perspective on the functional limits of international law. Other presenters included Ghada Karmi, University of Exeter; Vasuki Nesiah, NYU; Anthony Lowstedt, Webster University in Vienna; anti-house demolition Activist Jeff Halper; London barrister Salma Karmi-Ayyoub; Jaffa journalist Ofra Yeshua-Lyth; Joel Kovel, NY writer and activist and many others.

The sessions, listed with titles such as Legitimacy, Self Determination and Political Zionism and Settler Colonialism: Exceptional or Typical, could have veered off into repetitive rhetoric and bitter denouncements, but the skillful panel arrangements and choice of speakers by the organizers made for thoughtful, though sometimes intense discussion and reflection.

Joel Kovel, speaking at Cork conference

Several key Jewish academics and the presentation by Buckingham Professor Geoffrey Alderman insured that pro-Israel voices were also presented. The only tense moment came when someone in the audience questioned a panelists contention that Israeli children are being taught to hate. That discussion was quickly defused by expanding to include statements about diverse cultures and the need to empathize with the other.

One of the sessions on the last day was enhanced with a variety of maps. Instead of the usual depressing images of encroaching wall construction and escalating settlement development, in this discussion the maps were shown as possible guides for potential future reconciliation and repatriation. Dr. Salman Abu-Sitta from the Land Society of Palestine showed slides of map points locating carefully researched sites of former Palestinian homes and villages placed over a map of current Israeli population centers. When viewed via his overlapping graphics, one could see that there was room on the land for ensuring space for the right to return. As an experienced civil engineer, Abu-Sitta outlined some of the planning and construction that could be created for a truly authentic peace process. His plan, he assured the audience, would cost a lot less than even one year of U.S. aid to Israel, and, as he pointed out, would only be a one-time cost, not an annual expenditure. One should be cautious about any technological solution to human problems, but Abu-Sittas positive and good humored look at what has been such an insoluble issue was refreshing and persuasive.

Eitan Bronstein Aparicio also used cartography in a positive presentation. He passed out copies of a large fold-out map which shows the many historic settlements that were destroyedbut not just Palestinian ones. His map includes Jewish and Syrian destructions also from way before 1948 until 2016. This is part of the extensive work Bronstein Aparicio has done to increase understanding of the history of land and population centers for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Throughout the conference, there were occasional Thoughts for the Day by Philip Franses, a representative from the Schumacher College. These short presentations must have been scheduled by the organizers to circumvent what was the anticipated dissension. Like the bored security personnel, these hedges against rancor were completely unnecessary at this overwhelmingly positive and hopeful conference. The expected dissension was non-existent and these programmed new age moments seemed forced and patronizing. The mantra of were all equal humans and we are the world moments seemed rather insulting.

The final panel included a presentation by Cheryl Harris, Professor ofConstitutional Law at UCLA, who began with a review of events in Ferguson, Missouri, and a short history of the Black Lives Matter movement. According to Harris, this movement has become aware of the need to connect with international struggles against racism and the global struggle for justice. Both Harris and Richard Falk adroitly, with diplomatic grace, responded to the feel good, everyones equal proscription by reminding the audience that Franses confident rhetoric did not take power into account. Yes, all lives do matter, but a togetherness chant is not going to remedy unjust situationsin Missouri or Palestine.

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It happened! Cork conference overcomes academic censorship … – Mondoweiss

German Proposal Threatens Censorship on Wide Array of Online Services – Center for Democracy and Technology (blog)

Anticipating federal elections in September, Germanys Minister of Justice has proposed a new law aimed at limiting the spread of hate speech and fake news on social media sites. But the proposal, called the Social Network Enforcement Bill or NetzDG, goes far beyond a mere encouragement for social media platforms to respond quickly to hoaxes and disinformation campaigns and would create massive incentives for companies to censor a broad range of speech.

The NetzDG scopes very broadly: It would apply not only to social networking sites but to any other service that enables users to exchange or share any kind of content with other users or make such content accessible to other users. That would mean that email providers such as Gmail and ProtonMail, web hosting companies such as Greenhost and 1&1, remote storage services such as Dropbox, and any other interactive website could fall within the bills reach.

Under the proposal, providers would be required to promptly remove illegal speech from their services or face fines of up to 50 million euros. NetzDG would require providers to respond to complaints about Violating Content, defined as material that violates one of 24 provisions of the German Criminal Code. These provisions cover a wide range of topics and reveal prohibitions against speech in German law that may come as a surprise to the international community, including prohibitions against defamation of the President (Sec. 90), the state, and its symbols (Sec. 90a); defamation of religions (Sec. 166); distribution of pornographic performances (Sec. 184d); and dissemination of depictions of violence (Sec. 131).

NetzDG would put online service providers in the position of a judge, requiring that they accept notifications from users about allegedly Violating Content and render a decision about whether that content violates the German Criminal Code. Providers would be required to remove obvious violations of the Code within 24 hours and resolve all other notifications within 7 days. Providers are also instructed to delete or block any copies of the Violating Content, which would require providers not only to remove content at a specified URL but to filter all content on their service.

The approach of this bill is fundamentally inconsistent with maintaining opportunities for freedom of expression and access to information online. Requiring providers to interpret the vagaries of 24 provisions of the German Criminal Code is a massive burden. Determining whether a post violates a given law is a complex question that requires deep legal expertise and analysis of relevant context, something private companies are not equipped to do, particularly at mass scale. Adding similar requirements to apply the law of every country in which these companies operate (or risk potentially bankrupting fines) would be unsustainable.

The likely response from hosts of user-generated content would be to err on the side of caution and take down any flagged content that broaches controversial subjects such as religion, foreign policy, and opinions about world leaders. And individuals inside and outside of Germany would likely have minimal access to a meaningful remedy if a provider censors their lawful speech under NetzDG.

The proposal is also completely out of sync with international standards for promoting free expression online. It has long been recognized that limiting liability for intermediaries is a key component to support a robust online speech environment. As then-Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue, noted in his 2011 report:

Holding intermediaries liable for the content disseminated or created by their users severely undermines the enjoyment of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, because it leads to self-protective and over-broad private censorship, often without transparency and the due process of the law.

The Council of Europe has likewise cautioned against the consequences of shifting the burden to intermediaries to determine what speech is illegal, in conjunction with the report it commissioned in 2016 on comparative approaches to blocking, filtering, and takedown of content: [T]he decision on what constitutes illegal content is often delegated to private entities, which in order to avoid being held liable for transmission of illegal content may exercise excessive control over information accessible on the Internet.

Shielding intermediaries from liability for third-party content is the first of the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability, a set of principles supported by more than 100 civil society organizations worldwide. The Manila Principles further caution that Intermediaries must not be required to restrict content unless an order has been issued by an independent and impartial judicial authority that has determined that the material at issue is unlawful. It is a mistake to force private companies to be judge, jury, and executioner for controversial speech.

CDT recommends that the German legislature reject this proposed measure. It clearly impinges on fundamental rights to free expression and due process. The challenges posed to our democracies by fake news, hate speech, and incitement to violence are matters of deep concern. But laws that undermine individuals due process rights and co-opt private companies into the censorship apparatus for the state are not the way to defend democratic societies. Governments must work with industry and civil society to address these problems without undermining fundamental rights and the rule of law.

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German Proposal Threatens Censorship on Wide Array of Online Services – Center for Democracy and Technology (blog)

Censorship at Middlebury College – Canada Free Press

Having witnessed how the Yugoslav tragedy was essentially driven (vis a vis “wag the dog” 20) by pseudo-intellectual thug “academics” and “journalists” who pimp themselves out to the highest bidder

The recent embarrassing censorship of Dr. Charles Murray at the hands of a student mob at Middlebury College1 gave me horrible flashbacks of my numerous unforgettable experiences with academic censorship as a Serbian-American activist in the Boston area when I was a graduate student at Harvard in the 1990s 2.

During this time, the Yugoslav civil wars were raging and the media and Western politicians were blaming the Serbs for everything bad that happened in the Balkans and beyond 3. Many conferences and lectures were suddenly and spontaneously organized at local colleges and universities. But just like the corporate-controlled mainstream media discussion of the facts surrounding tragic civil wars in the former Yugoslavia, I found that they were consistently presenting only 1/2 (or less) of the real story4,5.

Serbian experts were not being invited to present their side. Self-described pseudo-intellectual experts on the Balkans who werent even from Yugoslavia (and in many cases had not even visited the region) were instead regurgitating US State Department agitprop to demonize the Serbian people. And there were so many of them: dermatologist (!) Philip Cohen MD, NYT columnist Anthony Lewis, journalist (later US ambassador to the UN) Samantha Power, historian and journalist Noel Malcolm, columnist Georgie Anne Geyer etc. etc. etc., who were giving biased/distorted presentations at esteemed academic institutions against the Serbs and advocating military action against them with little or no counterpoint. We tried in vain to challenge their distorted arguments only to find hostile conference organizers who would allow maybe a two minute response – and it had to be in the form of a question (for an hour long talk) – if we were lucky – and then shut us down once they saw that we were disrupting their carefully constructed web of distorted information.

At one memorable conference at Wellesley College, Croatian nationalist professor Ivo Banac at Yale angrily, publicly and loudly called my friend who had civilly and diplomatically questioned his Yugoslav communist sources a Serbian propagandist. I made the point there publicly that there were no Serbian perspectives/voices who were invited. Afterward, an anthropology professor at Wellesley took my group out for a late dinner to apologize because he told me that he was asked to present a Serbian viewpoint but admitted that he knew nothing about the war or the region and felt that Wellesley had done a disservice to the Serbs. When my wife who was a Wellesley alumna wrote a letter to the president of the college explaining this horribly anti-intellectual situation, the president explained in written response that Srdja Popovic was invited. This is the same Mr. Popovic who openly called for bombing of his own people as a traitor while the majority of his family was safely in America courtesy of the US State Department. I wouldnt consider his views representative of the majority of Serbs.

Another American anthropologist at Boston University whom I knew and who actually did field work in Yugoslavia was viciously threatened by Croatian scholars when she presented her pro-Serbian (really just balanced but to be balanced in those days was to be pro-Serb) perspectives at another scholarly academic conference. She was rarely invited to present papers due to the anti-Serbian McCarthyesque hysteria that swept up academia in the 1990s despite the gravity of her important work in Yugoslavia in the 1970s. A Canadian sociology professor at McMaster University received death threats from Croatians in Hamilton Ontario when she wrote about the savage genocide of Serbian Orthodox Christians in WWII at the hands of the Croatian Catholic Ustashe 6-8.

A Japanese-American professor who was a friend of mine and fellow activist wrote a letter to Elie Wiesel to query him why he was so anti-Serbian given that he should have had some understanding of why Serbs were so terrified to live in a Croatia that sought to resurrect the symbolism and rhetoric of its shameful Nazi Ustasha era when hundreds of thousands of Serbs (my relatives included) perished. Prof. Wiesel wrote him back a bizarre, strangely worded and unintelligible response which was also sent to the president of his university demonstrating the McCarthyesque means that some scholars utilized to scare and possibly get fired those who disagreed with them.

Even MIT had a biased anti-Serbian panel which included a Bosnian Muslim warlord commander (who had likely committed war crimes against Serbian civilians) but with no Serbian side to challenge the information presented. When I pointed this out, I was threatened by some members of the largely Muslim student audience and had to make a hasty exit for fear of my life – at MIT of all places!

More recently historian and columnist Dr. Srdja Trifkovic was banned from entering Canada in 2011 due to an angry Bosnian Muslim organization/mob that prevented him from giving an invited talk on the future of the Balkans at the University of British Columbia just because he was Serbian and had written pieces and books critical of Muslim extremism in the past 9-12.

And so it went for many years and continues to go on to this very day. I write the Canada Free Press this piece because there are few (if any) American news outlets who would dare to publish this essay because to publish it would be to admit decades of censorship and information control in the American free and fair media 2. There was no real debate on the Balkans at our nations finest academic institutions because the intention was never to inform American students and scholars about the reality of the civil wars in Yugoslavia but to demonize the Serbs to build support for illegal military action against them and breakup Yugoslavia at Serbian expense. These actions culminated in the illegal and vicious bombing of Serbia in 1999 to enable an Islamic terrorist safe haven of Kosovo (from which we continue to receive blowback) by stealing it from Serbia and to create Camp Bondsteel for protecting the AMBO pipeline and act against Russia someday13-15.

Though many of the allegations against the Serbs have been proven to be grossly exaggerated and many of the atrocities against them have reluctantly and finally been exposed, the damage has been done. Yugoslavia, which was an anchor of stability in the Balkans, has been torn asunder and the Balkans has returned to its pre WWI status as an unstable and divided powder keg that could go off any moment thanks to NATOs desperate need find a new purpose and new enemies to justify its senseless existence after the fall of the Berlin Wall 16. And so this costly Quixotic quest for imaginary enemies, betrayal of century-old allies (e,g. WWI and WWII ally Serbia), and divide-and-conquer modus operandi continues to this very day in Libya, Syria, the Ukraine and elsewhere and now in my own country – America.

I will never forget the racism, ignorance, censorship that Serbians and Serbian-Americans endured at the hands of ignorant academics such as Samantha Power who were nothing more than pseudo-intellectual propagandists doing the bidding of their Bilderberger/CFR masters: globalists and master strategists such as Zbieniew Brzezinski and George Soros in their fanatical and sinister effort to force an unelected new world order which will enslave much of humanity 17-19.

Fast forward to the censorship of Dr. Charles Murray at Middlebury College and I see exactly the same McCarthyesque/fascist pattern of ignorant, immature, and misguided students (led by their mentors and other sponsors) most of whom Ill bet have not even read Dr. Murrays book but nevertheless feel self-righteous in their anger and censorship of this scholar.

The point of this essay is not to defend Dr. Murrays work. It is not even to say who was right and who was wrong in the Yugoslav civil wars where no side was innocent. The point of this essay is to explain that many so-called scholars and their students dont know how to debate and are destroying respect for and the purpose of academia. They are afraid of information that may not fit their carefully crafted and generously funded paradigms and so, to prevent the truth or at least different ways of thinking from emerging, they censor it. The Middlebury students betrayed the constitutional right of free speech by preventing Dr. Murray from presenting his ideas. As Americans, we have the right to hear and should hear ALL sides of any story (regardless of what is right and what is wrong) – particularly in an academic setting and to debate these ideas. They key to being a good scholar is precisely the willingness to examine different directions of thought that may be controversial but nevertheless, may yield tremendous insight and will at the very least instill caution where fools dare to tread. When we become afraid of ideas, we become slaves to that fear and lose our ability to think freely and thus be creative which is what made America great.

The essence of democracy and intellectual freedom is the free exchange and expression of ideas. Democracies require educated citizens to flourish and that requires exposure to differing points of view even if some citizens disagree with them. Civilized debate is the proper means for flushing out bad ideas so that we can agree on and adopt good ideas and move positively forward. Without debate, we encourage polarization, ignorance and confusion around controversial ideas which is extremely dangerous.

I was deeply disappointed in the students at Middlebury college who prevented different ideas from being presented. The immature students who disrupted the event should be severely reprimanded by college authorities and those who assaulted the professor should face criminal charges and be expelled from the college. If students are unwilling to even listen to opposing ideas (regardless of their political correctness) and civilly participate in the debate/discussion, they will never learn anything and have no business being in college.

Having witnessed how the Yugoslav tragedy was essentially driven (vis a vis wag the dog 20) by pseudo-intellectual thug academics and journalists who pimp themselves out to the highest bidder and encouraged mob/NATO violence against the Serbs culminating in the destruction of international law, and seeing how Nazi Germany got its way by similarly encouraging mob violence, bullying and burning books, I shudder for the future of academia and for my country. We should all be deeply concerned by what transpired at Middlebury College.


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Censorship at Middlebury College – Canada Free Press

World Day Against Cyber-Censorship – The Media Express

The Internet has been key to providing a voice for those who have been ignored by the traditional media streams. While those groups have been able to enjoy free expression and an exchange of ideas. Yet around the world, governments are trying to limit individuals access to the web.

As part of the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, the reminders are focused on how the web remains a battleground for free speech, as well as a way to rally users in fighting repression of online speech. Reporters Without Borders created this day to also celebrate the work of brave individuals who are promoting free speech and expression on the Internet.

While there are a variety of reasons offered for censorship, in Iran, the web has become a way to track potential opposition and those who are arguing for change. Bloggers have been imprisoned, websites are blocked and access to the global internet is limited to non-existent. The argument has been to block obscene content, since the Iranian government promotes Sharia law, which includes more intense controls over content.

But this work has also had a cooling effect on free speech, as social media sites are blocked or heavily monitored and individuals are arrested based on questionable charges of insulting government officials. State-mandated blocking and filtering programs have become a standard part of the web in Iran.

Irans nationwide Halal Internet is meant to cut off a majority of citizens from the global web and they are attempting to block all foreign sites. As part of this day, Reporters Without Borders updates its Enemies of the Internet and Countries Under Surveillance lists. Countries on the Enemies of the Internet list include all of these countries mark themselves out not just for their capacity to censor news and information online, but also for their almost systematic repression of Internet users. Iran has been on that list since 2006.

There has also been an increase in the number of countries that have used the Internet for surveillance, in addition to censorship. Iran has also employed programs to track the usage of their citizens. Censorship and monitoring programs are being sold to multiple dictatorships, including Syria and Iran, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation. Yet, these capabilities would not be possible without the help of American and EU companies that sell the state-of-the-art programs being used to spy on their citizens.

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World Day Against Cyber-Censorship – The Media Express

Commentary Open Forum: The real ‘Logan’ Movie slices through … – The Winchester Star

Justin Chaffee

Anyone disturbed or surprised by the content and presentation of Logan has never read any of the comics/graphic novels involving this character, aka Wolverine.

Concerned moviegoers should understand producers of previous films involving Marvels popular foul-mouthed, cigar-toting antihero were not only doing audiences a huge favor by omitting the realistic gore that would result from Logans slicing and dicing, but also protecting their own budgeting-butts, bub. Ever bothered to track the body count in other movies?

Logan is a womanizing, problem-drinking, pro-bone-oh curbside-ampu-surgeon. Mutate this with a soft spot for defenseless loners and a rageful disposition toward oppressive organizations, and the result is a perfect role model for any Generation X-er.

Previous films subtly portray the heros true attributes and abilities as best as PG-13 ratings would allow. In X-Men: First Class, 20th Century Fox grants Wolverine the only allowable f-word, in his brief 60 seconds on screen. The new release comforts true fans in that Hollywood is finally growing a pair (of claws) to show audiences the real Logan through Logan.

American censorship is just a manifestation of unnecessary fear. It was culturally necessary that the conservative, home-schooling mom accidentally took her kids to see Sausage Party, before realizing its content was not suitable for her family. She should have done her research first.

How does she protect her children from hearing what some people publicly blast through the car radio? A theater accidentally showing a red-ban trailer in front of a family feature holds slightly different circumstances, yet all children grow up and will experience similar themes in the real world eventually. These types of mistakes just expedite the process.

Its a brave new world, again. Endless possibilities.

Justin Chaffee is a resident of Winchester and Newport News.

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Commentary Open Forum: The real ‘Logan’ Movie slices through … – The Winchester Star

Twitter Tests Censoring Entire User Accounts over ‘Sensitive Content’ – Breitbart News


Mashable first reported on the feature when one of their contributors attempted to view the profile of tech analyst Justyn Warren but was unable to determine why or how the account was flagged. Warren was notinformed that his profile was hidden, nor understood exactly why Twitter imposed the measure on his account. Warrens tweets seem to contain some swearing, but nothing serious enough to seem to warrant a sensitive content warning. His profile has since been unflagged.


Soon enough, there were reports of other accounts being grayed out:

Twitter claims that this new feature is to make the experience safer for users, and that it follows similar steps to their other safety features. Media, such as photos or videos,can already be reported as sensitive, with Twitter having the ability to mark an entire users media posts as sensitive permanently if they so choose. However, this new step verges away from stopping everyone immediately seeing pornography or graphic images to something potentially more worrying.

Abhimanyu Ghoshal writing atTheNextWeb posited some of the negative outcomes, imagining if a potential employer looked up your profile and found that it was greyed out; its possible they could get the wrong impression about your online presence. Or, if you had an important idea to share, but people couldnt see your tweets because you cursed once [Twitter] needs to be careful that it doesnt end up censoring its users and stifl[ing] free speech.

Twitters safety features are done via an opt-out system, whereby users have to go into their profile and deliberately change their settings in order to ensure that they see everything they want to. There is merit to allowing people to avoid things they do not want to Gab, the free speech alternative to Twitter, implemented a word-filtering feature that Twitter lateradopted but this was the choice of the users, and not forced upon them as default.

This is not the first time Twitter has implemented new features that tend towards censorship. If accounts are seen to have potentially abusive behavior, they are locked out for a certain period of time.In February, Twitter announced safer search results, filtering out sensitive tweets, and collapsing abusive tweets from being seen as replies underneath a tweet.

Jack Hadfield is a student at the University of Warwick and a regular contributor to Breitbart Tech. You can follow him on Twitter @ToryBastard_ or on Gab @JH.

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Twitter Tests Censoring Entire User Accounts over ‘Sensitive Content’ – Breitbart News

Amnesty International and ProtonMail join forces to fight cyber censorship – Amnesty International

On the occasion of World Day Against Cyber Censorship, ProtonMail and Amnesty International join forces to show how internet restrictions affect people around the world.

As the worlds largest encrypted email provider, ProtonMail is the privacy tool of choice for journalists, activists and privacy conscious everyday users. Today when logging into their inboxes, ProtonMails 2 million users from 150 countries will see Amnesty Internationals latest findings on cyber censorship.

The internet is a powerful tool for free speech and activism, but in the wrong hands it can also be a tool for repression.

The internet is a powerful tool for free speech and activism, but in the wrong hands it can also be a tool for repression. Amnesty International has documented cases of advanced “techno-censorship” across the world, as governments race to find new tools and tactics to silence dissent. The range of cyber censorship and surveillance tactics being employed by governments is getting more sophisticated with each passing year, with dire consequences for freedom of expression, said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Technology and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International and ProtonMail want people who believe in a free internet to take action. The tech firms developing the architecture of the internet need to build in stronger security, with end-to-end encryption for example, that we can use to protect our rights to privacy and free speech online. The decisions made about the nature of the internet will affect our societies for a generation to come.

The decisions made about the nature of the internet will affect our societies for a generation to come.

Each year governments around the world are increasingly restricting internet freedom. With the use of IP address blocking today Turkey and Saudi Arabia block over 50,000 and 400,000 websites respectively; including news and social media networking sites. Chinas Great Firewall continues to restrict internet to over 800 million users.

Cyber censorship not only steals peoples rights to freedom of information but can also have the disastrous effect of hampering creative and scientific development needed for a brighter future.

Cyber censorship not only steals peoples rights to freedom of information but can also have the disastrous effect of hampering creative and scientific development needed for a brighter future Dr. Andy Yen, co-founder and CEO ProtonMail.

It is becoming an increasingly common practice for governments to shut off the Internet during moments of unrest and protest, such as Ethiopia did on more than one occasion in 2016. Last year several governments also shut down encrypted messaging apps, like Signal in Egypt and Whats App in Brazil.

Cyber censorship is further exacerbated by the indifference from some of the biggest tech companies towards their users privacy. Last year, Yahoo confirmed that it cooperated with the NSA to implement a special surveillance software to scan all its users emails for the agencys use.

On 21 October 2016, Amnesty International warned that tech companies like Snapchat and Microsoft are failing to adopt basic privacy protections on their instant messaging services, putting users human rights at risk. Only 3 of 11 tech firms examined in Amnesty Internationals Message Privacy Ranking provide end-to-end encryption by default on all their messaging apps.

Today we are changing our login page to stimulate a debate about online privacy, digital freedom and cyber censorship. Many of our users are journalists, dissidents and everyday users who have experienced internet restrictions in one way or another and who have turned to encrypted email to secure their communications, said Dr. Andy Yen, ProtonMail co-founder and CEO.

Cyber censorship not only steals peoples rights to freedom of information but can also have the disastrous effect of hampering creative and scientific development needed for a brighter future. Earlier this year ProtonMail launched a Tor hidden website to combat censorship and today we are happy to highlight the brave work Amnesty international is doing to protect civil liberties online.

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Amnesty International and ProtonMail join forces to fight cyber censorship – Amnesty International

Taiwan Is Desperate for Fee-Paying, Mainland Chinese Students. That Could Be Bad for Academic Freedom – TIME

Taiwan’s universities are reeling from accusations that they are indulging in widespread academic censorship to secure lucrative fee-paying exchange students from the Chinese mainland.

This week the Ministry of Education launched an emergency probe of pledges allegedly signed by universities with their Chinese counterparts to uphold Chinas official view on Taiwans status and avoid teaching sensitive content like Taiwanese independence.

The controversy has struck at a particularly sensitive time, with the island nation smarting from a strong rebuke last weekend by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who warned that China would not tolerate any activity attempting to separate Taiwan from the motherland.

Taiwan, a democracy of 23 million, has its own parliament, military and foreign policy, but Beijing views it as a renegade province that will eventually be reunited with the mainland by military force if necessary.

The Education Ministry refused to confirm press reports that at least 80 out of 157 universities may have compromised their academic independence to attract Chinese students, until it completes its full investigation next week.

But Yang Min-ling, head of the ministrys International Department, warned that any institution found guilty of violating laws governing cross-strait relations between Taiwan and China could face fines of up to $16,000.

Fearful that Beijing is trying to erode their jealously guarded academic liberties, Taiwanese professors and students are in revolt.

A new campaign against political restrictions on academic freedom by Professor Fan Yun, who teaches sociology at National Taiwan University, has been supported by professors and students from over 20 institutions.

Universities are supposed to protect the democratic values of a society, says Fan.

I visit Hong Kong universities and whats happening there is quite depressing. They already lost the freedom to talk about what they want to. So I hope that we are overworried, but we dont want to wait until its too late, she argues.

We still want to facilitate academic exchange with China, but we have to have our bottom line.

With Taiwans low birth rate fueling fears of a future shortfall in students, however, that line appears to be flexible for many universities competing for funding. Taiwan, which has a glut of universities, gratefully receives over 30,000 Chinese exchange students every year.

The latest controversy began at Shih Hsin University in the capital, Taipei, after it revealed that in letters to some mainland Chinese students it vowed to avoid sensitive subjects.

A spokesman, Yeh I-jan, argued that the letters were nonbinding and only necessary for about 5% of the institutions annual 1,500 Chinese students.

Shih Hsin and other universities claim such documents are a formality to placate the Chinese authorities, denying that teaching standards are compromised. But Yeh did recall several instances where Chinese students had complained about the content of lessons and stopped attending.

Young activists in both Hong Kong and Taiwan have irked Beijing in recent years by pushing for greater autonomy or even independence. In 2014, hundreds of students formed the Sunflower Movement and occupied Taiwans parliament to protest Chinas political influence.

Lin Fei-fan, one of Sunflowers leaders, is alarmed that the letters issued by universities have both violated Taiwans academic freedom and burdened visiting Chinese students with self-censorship. But he also sees an opportunity.

This incident actually gives us a rare chance to rethink how a democratic Taiwan can engage with an authoritarian and inimical neighbor country through education exchange, he says.

Concerns about China using its overseas students for political leverage have occurred elsewhere.

In San Diego, Chinese students protested against a decision by the University of California to invite Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in the U.K. is said to have warned students at Durham University against engaging with human-rights activist, Anastasia Lin.

Its part of how they want to promote their cultural and social agenda in other societies, particularly in Taiwan, said Hsu Yung-ming, a legislator with the government-aligned New Power Party.

We worry that our universities maybe have some under-the-table compromise with China.

But Jason Hsu, a legislator from the opposition party, the Kuomintang, warned the government against a kneejerk reaction.

While opposing pledges to Chinese universities, Hsu believes that the Ministry of Education probe, with the threat of financial penalties, is also overreaching.

He asks: Do we want zero students from China in Taiwan, or do we want to promote more exchange and understanding towards each other? I think I would vote for the latter.

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Taiwan Is Desperate for Fee-Paying, Mainland Chinese Students. That Could Be Bad for Academic Freedom – TIME

University of Lincoln’s Conservative Student Group Censored for … – Reason (blog)

Marcin FloryanTalk about proving a point. The University of Lincoln’s student union has suspended a conservative student group’s social media accountsan act of retaliation against the group for daring to criticize the student union’s hostility toward free speech.

In effect, the British university’s student government is censoring students because they objected to censorship.

“Just to reiterate the irony of this situation,” wrote a different conservative club at another university, “their student union, upon being criticized for being anti-free speech, have silenced those complaining about a lack of free speech!”

What happened was this: Lincoln’s Conservative Society tweeted a link to Spiked magazine’s Free Speech University Rankings, which do not hold Lincoln’s student union in high esteem.

Someone in the student union most have noticedthe conservatives were accused of “bring[ing] the University of Lincoln Students’ Union and the University of Lincoln into disrepute,” according to spiked.

In response, the student union forced the Conservative Society off of social media until May 1. Student unions at British universities, unfortunately, enjoy broad censorship powers (this is what happens when you don’t have a First Amendment).

Lincoln students may not have the right to criticize their overlords, but we do. Here is the University of Lincoln Student Union’s Twitter page. Let its leaders know how you feel about the way they handle dissent.

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University of Lincoln’s Conservative Student Group Censored for … – Reason (blog)

The Insanity of Self-Censorship: Climate Change, Politics, and Fear-Based Decision-Making – Climate Science Watch

Climate change has a long list of known human health consequences, not the least of which is a set of adverse impacts on mental health. As more and more people are directly affected by destructive floods, heat waves, drought, deadly storms and other extreme weather events all worsened by increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide experts predict a steep rise in mental and social disorders: anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, increased suicide rates, and outbreaks of violence. Hardest hit will be children, the poor, the elderly, and those with existing mental health problems: collectively, this amounts to about half the US population! Worse, the consensus seems to be that the mental health profession is unprepared to handle these challenges.

Just three days after the presidential inauguration, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced in a terse email that it was cancelling a three-day conference, the Climate and Health Summit, that was to take place in Atlanta from February 14-16. With the translation of science to practice as the planned theme, scientists were to present their most recent research on the physical and mental health effects of climate change, and conferees were to explore ways to improve interagency cooperation and stakeholder engagement. Though no official reason was given, it quickly became evident that the CDC had engaged in self-censorship. President Trump has alleged that global warming is a notion invented by the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing noncompetitive and, more recently, that climate change is a hoax. This strategic retreat, as one scheduled speaker characterized it, was the result of a fear-based decision to shut down the event preemptively, before the new administration had a chance to shut it down for them, absent any foreknowledge or hint that they would.

As taxpayers who underwrite interagency federal climate science to the tune of about two billion dollars a year, we should be as intolerant of self-censorship as we are of outright censorship of government information. The unfettered communication of research findings regarding climate change impacts across regions and sectors is necessary for public awareness, preparedness, and sound policymaking. As global temperatures rise, all will be better served if civil servants inoculate themselves against the chilling effect that normally accompanies the sort of tyrannical rule weve already witnessed from our new President. In all likelihood, the CDC Summit was not on the White House radar, and could have proceeded unimpeded. Instead, Al Gore and several health-related organizations swooped in, came to the rescue, and sponsored a distilled down, one-day version they called the Climate & Health Meeting. But it is not the responsibility of private citizens and organizations to pick up the slack when agencies cower.

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Truth be told, climate change is scary; the only thing scarier, we argue, is a culture of repression in which government employees opt for the safety of silence over the invaluable service of disclosure. Fear appears to be the common denominator: deep-seated fear often underlies psychological suffering in response to dangerous conditions, and fear of retaliatory budget cuts and potential job loss motivated CDC conference organizers to cut bait in an act of anticipatory surrender. If we subscribe to the notion that knowledge is power and empowering, it only follows that the more we can know and understand how our climate system is changing and what sorts of abnormal weather patterns we can expect where we live and work, the more we can prepare ourselves across the board, including mentally and emotionally. Were calling on the CDC and all federal and state entities conducting climate research to be fearless, to stand up in defiance of those who prefer to bury their heads in the sand and insist everyone else do the same. The stakes are too high to remain in the dark.

Climate change is already taking an emotional toll, but affects people differently. Dismissive, doubtful, disengaged, cautious, concerned, and alarmed: these words have been used to describe the wide-ranging responses people have to climate change. Those who are dismissive simply refuse to accept mounting scientific evidence, and often put forth bogus arguments in an effort to disprove global warming. There are at least two underlying explanations. As can happen with a diagnosis of life-threatening cancer, some people are thrown into fear-based denial. Simple greed or zealous protection of a financial interest can also motivate some to be dismissive and deny outright the veracity of the climate threat. Some treat climate change as if it were a religion, and declare a disbelief in climate change. To this, Neil deGrasse Tyson often says that the good thing about science is that its true whether or not you believe in it. It is as ridiculous to say, I dont believe in global warming as it is to say, I dont believe in gravity both are simple laws of physics.

Those who are doubtful are reluctant to accept climate change as a reality, and tend to defend carbon-intensive lifestyles while pointing to unsettled science and denier rhetoric to defend their view. Then there are people who simply havent plugged in, are disengaged, and have failed to notice climate change as a problem that may affect them. Still others react more neutrally, are cautious, and neither fully embrace nor reject the threat of climate change, and take a wait-and-see attitude.

Yet, the science behind climate change is well-developed, so it is no surprise that a growing percentage of people are becoming deeply concerned about worsening impacts associated with climate change severe and more frequent flooding, prolonged droughts, heat waves, devastating forest fires, sea level rise, storm surges, ocean acidification, and so on. The less fortunate of us have already been the victims of one or more extreme weather events, such as massive flooding, and have lost homes, livelihoods, even loved ones. Humans are emotional creatures. People who see unchecked climate change as an existential threat, who walk around every day acutely aware of the very real prospect of an increasingly inhospitable climate system most climate scientists are in this group can easily become alarmed.

Climate change exacts a psychological toll. A landmark 2015 report in The Lancet warns that mental health disorders are one of the most dangerous indirect health effects of global warming. Multiple studies, such as those described in the US Global Change Research Programs Third National Climate Assessments Health Chapter, have shown that climate change can cause people to become chronically worried and anxious, frustrated, overwhelmed, exasperated, even clinically depressed. Hyper-vigilance, obsessive-compulsive disorders, even full-blown PTSD can result. Some mental health professionals have dubbed the uncomfortable feeling of anticipatory anxiety pre-traumatic stress disorder. Stress levels can be the greatest for those whose livelihoods are tightly wedded to the natural environment. For example, in some parts of the world, in response to a rapidly changing climate and abnormal weather conditions, farmers are committing suicide at alarming rates.

Even if we are not directly adversely affected by it in our daily lives, simple awareness of the climate threat, via the media and in normal discourse, is enough to cause anxiety. In most areas of the world, its difficult not to notice abnormal weather patterns: higher average temperatures, wild temperature swings, a lot more precipitation, or a lot less. Instinctively, many of us know something is wrong: were experiencing the small drip of climate reality.

The Climate & Health Meeting Al Gore organized was held on February 16 at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Over 300 people attended; Gore made opening remarks; there were two panels, about a dozen speakers, and a lunch keynote address. President Jimmy Carter made a surprise appearance and delivered a few remarks. With the possible disapproval of Congress, the CDC has to be a little cautious politically, he said, adding, The Carter Center doesnt. The Chicago Tribune noted that the move sends a powerful signal: Civil society and academic organizations will try to fill the conversation gaps about climate change left by the new administration. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), one of the meeting sponsors, commented, Were committed to making sure the nation knows about the effects of climate change on health. If anyone doesnt think this is a severe problem, they are fooling themselves. The APHA has declared 2017 the Year of Climate Change and Health. Its not clear how many CDC employees who were slated to attend the original conference were at the February 16 meeting. However, it is worth noting that two CDC staffers who did attend Dr. Patrick Breysse,director of the National Center for Environmental Health, and Dr.George Luber, an epidemiologist inthe Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects were requested for media interviews, but a senior CDC press officer declined to make them available. Restrictions on interactions with the press were put in place across all federal agencies soon after Trump took office; reportedly, some of these restrictions are beginning to loosen up, but we still dont know how much this administration will attempt to impede normal communications going forward.

Presenters at the meeting covered a wide variety of topics: air quality, infectious diseases, heat waves, extreme weather, vulnerable populations, state and local initiatives, adaptation measures, and the role of the health care sector. Children are particularly vulnerable, so much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a formal statement in 2015 urging pediatricians and politicians to work towards solving the climate crisis to protect the young. An AAP spokesperson noted, Their future is at stake, yet they do not vote and they have no voice in the debate. We have a moral obligation to act on their behalf. Indeed. Washington, DC-based psychiatrist Dr. Lise van Susteren, who presented on mental health at the Climate & Health Meeting (see transcript below), is convinced that the chronic failure of adults to tackle the climate change problem and implement effective solutions puts our children in harms way, and amounts to nothing less than child abuse. Its difficult to disagree; failing to provide our kids with a world thats as safe to live in as the one we were born into is something all parents should do their best to avoid.

Political interference in climate communication was a recurring problem in the Bush-Cheney administration. In October 2007, the Bush White House removed six entire pages of Congressional testimony offered by CDC Director Julie Gerberding, which linked climate change to adverse health impacts. Climate Science Watch covered the story of the eviscerated statement and published the unredacted testimony as submitted by Gerberding to the White House for customary review. It was later confirmed that Vice President Dick Cheneys office had pushed for the deletions.

Under the fossil fuel-friendly Bush Administration, many lessons were learned, and some provisions have since been put in place that protect the right to free speech of federal employees wishing to share the results of their research with the media and the public.

Given the rapidly accelerating threat of climate change and associated risks to human populations not just in America but all over the globe political interference in the communication of scientific findings crucial to informing policymakers and the public is literally a life-threatening act of betrayal against current and future generations. Keeping our Constitutional right to free speech requires that we exercise it. Please, no more self-censoring.

CSPW Senior Climate Policy Analyst Anne Polansky has 30 years of experience in public policies relating to energy and the environment, with a strong focus on climate change and renewable energy. She is a former Professional Staff Member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ TRANSCRIPT Mental Health Consequences of Climate Change By Dr. Lise Van Susteren, Psychiatrist

Everything related to climate change either directly or indirectly all the losses, injuries, illnesses, displacements carry with them an attended emotional toll that must be acknowledged as we tally up psychological impacts of climate change. Ill start with a few of the mental health impacts for which we have precise data, and then move onto those for which we do not.

We know of the link between extreme climate and weather events to aggression. For each standard deviation of increased temperature and rainfall, we can expect a four percent increase in conflict between individuals, and a fourteen percent increase in conflict between groups. The findings are valid for all ethnicities and regions.

So, more assaults, murders and suicides, and increase in unrest all over the world should come as no surprise.

Air pollution forms more readily at higher temperatures, with particulate matter crossing of the brain via the olfactory nerve, causes neural inflammation linked to multiple mental and neurologic problems: cognitive decline in all age groups, including Alzheimers and other neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinsons disease and ALS. It is linked to autism and to psychiatric disorders. The American Psychological Association reports that children exposed in utero to air pollutants were more likely to have symptoms of anxiety or depression. Emergency room visits for panic attacks and threats to commit suicide are higher on days with poor air quality. Exposing workers to increasing levels of CO2 has significant impact on their cognitive functioning. The testing at indoor concentrations to which Americans are frequently exposed shows the most serious decline in our ability to think strategically, to use information, and to respond to a crisis. Not good.

But, not everything that counts can be counted. Indeed, it is the inchoate, insidious, complex, and unconscious psychological states driven by climate trauma, not lending themselves to studies and precise numbers, that are the most profoundly damaging, and drive systemic emotional conditions society will find difficult to treat and surmount.

We must think about the balance between the need for data with the need to connect emotionally, because emotional connection is at the heart of what moves people to action. Action now turns on our success, in part at least, in stirring empathy. When the place you call home is burned down, blown away, dried up, flooded when you lose your possessions, maybe your pets, your livelihood, your community see injuries, illness and death the mix of fear, anger, sorrow, and trauma can easily send a person to the breaking point. Mental health professionals are seeing a full range of psychiatric disorders: PTSD, major depression, generalized anxiety, a rise in the abuse of drugs and alcohol, domestic violence (most often against women) and a rise in child-abuse.

Some of us are lucky enough to be at a distance from the worlds climate disasters, but were not potted plants sitting here. This is empathic identification with the victims. It is painful seeing people drowned, burned, flooded, starved right? Special populations that are at risk [include] children; the elderly; the sick; the disabled; the mentally ill (of course); the poor, and those living in the bulls-eye, disaster-prone areas: along coastlines and rivers, in tornado alleys, in cities with the heat island effect. [They also include] first responders, and climate Cassandras who suffer from pre-traumatic stress disorder in the grip of images of future disasters they cant put out of their minds.

In the first published climate change delusion, a 17-year-old Australian boy had to be hospitalized for refusing to drink water, believing it would cause millions in his drought-ridden in country to die of thirst. The Melbourne childrens hospital doctor who treated him told me he has a clinic full of children with climate anxiety.

Through the result of multiple forces, climate change poses both a threat multiplier and a root cause of the mental health crisis from the explosion of refugees today searching for safety, destabilization of regions, with groups dangerous to world security rising in these feral conditions. In Europe, a sharp turn to the far right politically, the once open question about America was answered in November. In times of peril and scarcity people regress, they turn to what they perceive as strong leaders to protect them and are willing to give up their freedoms and values in exchange for perceived security.

Fears often flip to a more empowering form: anger explaining why hearing about scary climate change can evoke so much aggression. The experiences of citizens stranded at the Superdome in New Orleans in the days after Katrina are an example of how quickly our systems can be overwhelmed, and our faith in them turned upside down. Faith in a functional government is the sine qua non of a stable society.

When disasters are no longer experienced solely as acts of God or nature, but derived from the behavior of humans, it will be much tougher on us, because what happens from intentional negligence is harder to put behind us than what happens accidentally. Carried by an on-off switch, the activation of a human gene for stress in the face of trauma can be passed on to succeeding generations, compounding the toll.

A new term has been coined, solastalgia to describe the pain as seeing lands that once gave the treasured sense of home now lost or irreparably damaged. Should I have a baby? is the question increasingly being asked by young people worried about the carbon cost of bringing another person into the world. A doctoral student in anthropology at Stanford and one of his friends with whom I am in contact are discussing rational suicide in the face of climate and carbon impacts.

As we register the warning that by mid-century, 30 to 50 percent of species may be on the path to extinction, and considering the life-sustaining biodiversity, the overwhelming beauty and complexity of nature, inspiring us with awe and wonder, what our friend Eric Chivian would likely ask, is the cost, not only to human health, but the cost to our souls.

When we put people in harms way, theres a name for it, its called aggression. To our children, though they are not yet calling it this, its clearer every day that destructive inaction on climate and this is my professional opinion will be experienced as child abuse, with all the attendant mental health impacts we would expect.

Thank you.

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The Insanity of Self-Censorship: Climate Change, Politics, and Fear-Based Decision-Making – Climate Science Watch

Curvy Muslim Woman Instagram Censorship Sexualization – Refinery29

“I took this last November, in a moment of celebration for finally finding pants that fit both my waist and hips,” she wrote on a second post of the photo. “This celebration was cut short when enough ppl reported it for @instagram to take it down. Usually I wouldn’t address this but here’s the thing: I’m covered from head to toe, and yet my picture was seen as ‘inappropriate’ enough to get deleted.”

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Curvy Muslim Woman Instagram Censorship Sexualization – Refinery29

Death Threats and Censorship Can’t Stop ‘Naughty Muslim’ Comic Mona Shaikh – NBCNews.com

Mona Shaikh performing at the Laugh Factory Courtesy of Mona Shaikh

Shaikh was 8 years old when she knew she wanted to become a performer after watching Indian actress Madhuri Dixit.

“You can literally have the world on your finger, spinning, because of so much charisma and charm and funny that you bring to the table, and I just loved her,” Shaikh said.

She was 15 when she narrowed her interest to stand-up comedy, the same year she immigrated to the United States from Pakistan with her parents and four older brothers.

Shaikh spent much of her youth in Pakistan alone because her mother was frequently in America to get treatment for two of her brothers who suffered from polio. She credits her early life as having contributed to the foundation she needed to become an artist and to the perspectives she shares through comedy.

“I think it really kicked off my imagination and it just gave me this opportunity to dream and think what would it be like to be a performer. To travel the world, to connect with so many people who don’t share the same background as you, but to bring these people together and convey to them artistically?” she said. “I think it really fed the artist that needed to be fed as a kid.”

Although Shaikh knew early on what she wanted to do with her life, she didn’t share her dreams with her family until she was 18. They didn’t support her, Shaikh said, and she was given an ultimatum of either studying physical therapy or being sent back to Pakistan to get married.

She rejected both options, moved to New York, dropped out of college and invested her money into acting classes with no backup plan.

“Here’s the thing: if you don’t burn your boats, you never know what you’re capable of,” she said. “With a backup plan, you’re not going to give it your all because at the back of your mind, you always think you can always go back to that other life. I didn’t want to do that. I burned my boats and it’s not easy, but it’s working out.”

Since then, Shaikh has become the first Pakistani female comedian selected for the Laugh Factory’s Funniest Person in the World Competition and to headline Hollywood Improv. In 2015, she launched a diverse comedy show called Minority Reportz, which features a diverse slate of comedians.

Across Los Angeles, she has performed at multiple venues, including The Ice House in Pasadena and Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank.

With the recent presidential election, Shaikh has incorporated current political events into her set and has been vocal about her dislike of President Donald Trump. As a Muslim, she joked that she’s OK with the Muslim registry Trump had proposed, but that she would have her rear end photographed for it.

Despite the fact that politics can be a sensitive subject, Shaikh said having lived in Pakistan is why she includes the topic in her routines.

“I grew up in a politically unstable country so politics is weaved into my fabric,” she said. “I can’t be an artist now and not talk about things that impact people.”

But Shaikh isn’t always able to include that subject in her shows. During a set in Dubai, she was censored from discussing human rights violations or criticizing the government of Saudi Arabia, which is an ally of the United Arab Emirates, she said. Had she violated that instruction, she was told she would have been banned from going back to the country.

While she wasn’t able to make those jokes live, Shaikh has taken to YouTube to poke fun at how women in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to drive and how some Muslims imams have sanctioned domestic violence. In one clip, she jokes about how Pakistani men are obsessed with virgins because they don’t like criticism. Shaikh’s material has earned her the nickname

Sometime in 2012 or 2013, Shaikh said she was notified via email by her fans that her website website had been banned in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Last year, she received an email from YouTube saying her channel had been banned in the two countries, she said.

Shaikh said she has even received death threats via email, but said she isn’t fazed and hasn’t been deterred from continually bringing up those topics.

“They don’t like the fact that I talk about these things, but when I see my fellow Pakistani sisters being physically assaulted or murdered by their own family for honor killings and such backward cultural things, how do you as a human being not speak up against that, especially as an artist? Especially if you have a platform?” she said.

“If the Pakistani government doesn’t like it, maybe they can start changing their laws and start treating minorities, women, transgender and gay people with some more love and respect,” she added.

Shaikh noted that either way, some people will take offense to her content and disagree with it, so she would rather talk about things that matter.

“I’ve seen when people don’t speak up and they don’t provide resistance against tyrants or evildoers,” she said. “There’s a big price to pay for that, and I think artistically and as a human, I try to be on the right side of history. I guess there’s a price for that, too.”

Through comedy, Shaikh says she hopes to do for audiences what two of her role models, comedians George Carlin and Chris Rock, did for theirs.

“What they did for people is they made them think,” she said. “That’s my goal.”

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Death Threats and Censorship Can’t Stop ‘Naughty Muslim’ Comic Mona Shaikh – NBCNews.com

Violence on Facebook Live presents censorship dilemma – CBS News

A person armed with a gun is seen on a live video posted to social media onApril 31, 2016 in Chicago.


Facebook Live gives people an easy way to broadcast live video, but it has also reportedly given Facebook a real live headache: how to decide when to censor video depicting violent acts.

In the year since its launch, the feature has been used to broadcast at least 50 acts of violence, according to theWall Street Journal, including murder, suicides and abeating of a special-needs teenagerin Chicago earlier this year. One of the problems is that Facebook didnt grasp the gravity of the medium during the planning process for the feature, an unidentified source told the newspaper.

Facebook Live, which lets anyone with a phone and internet connection live-stream video directly to Facebooks 1.8 billion users, has become a centerpiece feature for the social network. In the past few months, everyone from Hamilton cast members to theDonald Trump campaignhas turned to Facebook to broadcast in real time.

Soon, we believe a camera will be the main way to share, instead of the traditional text box, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during an earnings conference call last November. We think its pretty clear video is only going to become more important.

But the focus on video has prompted some tough philosophical questions, like what Facebook should and shouldnt show.

In July, a Minnesota woman named Diamond Reynolds used the service tolive-stream her fiance Philando Castileafter he was shot by police. The next day, Facebook Live captured the scene as five Dallaspolice officers were gunned downduring a peaceful demonstration.

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Police are searching for the gunman who fatally shot two people and wounded one more in a Chicago alley. The incident was captured in a Facebook …

Both the Castile and Dallas videos were initially streamed unedited and uncensored. The Castile video temporarily disappeared from the social network because of a technical glitch, according to Facebook. It was restored later with a warning about its graphic nature.

Zuckerberg addressed this issue last month inan open letter to the Facebook community, conceding that errors in judgment were made.

In the last year, the complexity of the issues weve seen has outstripped our existing processes for governing the community, he wrote, referencing how some newsworthy videos were handled.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This article originally appeared onCNET.com.

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Violence on Facebook Live presents censorship dilemma – CBS News

Violence on Facebook Live presents censorship dilemma – CNET – CNET

Video live-streamed on Facebook in June showed the action that precedes a shooting, as well as the aftermath.

Facebook Live gives people an easy way to broadcast live video, but it has also reportedly given Facebook a real live headache: how to decide when to censor video depicting violent acts.

In the year since its launch, the feature has been used to broadcast at least 50 acts of violence, according to the Wall Street Journal, including murder, suicides and a beating of a special-needs teenager in Chicago earlier this year. One of the problems is that Facebook “didn’t grasp the gravity of the medium” during the planning process for the feature, an unidentified source told the newspaper.

Facebook Live, which lets anyone with a phone and internet connection live-stream video directly to Facebook’s 1.8 billion users, has become a centerpiece feature for the social network. In the past few months, everyone from Hamilton cast members to the Donald Trump campaign has turned to Facebook to broadcast in real time.

“Soon, we believe a camera will be the main way to share,” instead of the traditional text box, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during an earnings conference call last November. “We think its pretty clear video is only going to become more important.”

But the focus on video has prompted some tough philosophical questions, like what Facebook should and shouldn’t show.

In July, a Minnesota woman named Diamond Reynolds used the service to live-stream her fiance Philando Castile after he was shot by police. The next day, Facebook Live captured the scene as five Dallas police officers were gunned down during a peaceful demonstration.

Both the Castile and Dallas videos were initially streamed unedited and uncensored. The Castile video temporarily disappeared from the social network because of a “technical glitch,” according to Facebook. It was restored later with a warning about its graphic nature.

Zuckerberg addressed this issue last month in an open letter to the Facebook community, conceding that errors in judgment were made.

“In the last year, the complexity of the issues we’ve seen has outstripped our existing processes for governing the community,” he wrote, referencing how some newsworthy videos were handled.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Violence on Facebook Live presents censorship dilemma – CNET – CNET

Students journalists gain protection against censorship – Arizona Daily Sun

PHOENIX A House panel voted 10-1 Monday to protect student journalists despite objections by one lawmaker who feared giving too much power to children.

SB 1384 would limit the ability of administrators to censor university, community college and public school papers. About the only time they could block publication would be in cases of libel, unwarranted invasions of privacy, violations of law of where there is imminent danger of inciting students or disruption of operations.

And that prior restraint would be allowed only for public school papers.

Members of the House Education Committee heard from a parade of high school journalists who cited their own experiences having stories edited or quashed by administrators. That included Henry Gorton at Sunnyslope High School who said he was barred from reporting the views of Trump supporters about issues of illegal immigration amid concerns that undocumented students would feel threatened.

Rep. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, told Gorton that story might actually gain him support at the Republican-controlled legislature.

But Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, called the legislation well intentioned but also flawed.

Stringer indicated he had no real problem with providing protections for college journalists. But this bill, he said, goes too far.

I think it’s a big mistake to include high schools and student newspapers in high schools with colleges and universities, he said. There’s a very, very fundamental difference between high schools which are full of children, which are full of minors, and colleges and universities where we’re dealing with adults.

And Stringer specifically objected to a provision to protect faculty advisers from administrative retaliation solely for either protecting student journalists from exercising their rights in the legislation or refusing to infringe on conduct that is constitutionally protected.

I can see the need to protect students, to allow students to have freedom of speech, he told Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, the sponsor of the legislation.

But I think it’s pretty common knowledge that in many of our schools there’s a strong liberal bias, Stringer continued. And I can foresee the unintended consequence of protecting faculty members who are influencing the students, or perhaps expressing their own views and biases, using public resources to propagandize their own liberal views through what purport to be student publications.

Stringer was not dissuaded by Lori Hart, a faculty adviser at Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, who argued such protections are necessary.

Advisers do get fired from teaching at the school if they go ahead and publish something that is not approved by the school, she said.

Hart said it’s possible that if students get additional legal protections it might not be necessary to extend some sort of employment immunity to their advisers. But she told Stringer that’s not the case now.

I just know that right now teachers need that protection, Hart said.

This is actually the second time Yee has advanced such legislation. The first time was in 1992 as a high school student journalist who came to the Capitol to seek protections after she said her own work at Greenway High School was being censored.

She got the bill through the Senate only to have it die in the House. Yee told colleagues she did not realize that until last year.

Yee, like Hart, defended the protection for faculty members.

They, too, receive intimidation from their school district administrators who tell them, ‘Don’t print the story, she said.

And they fight against that because they’re protecting the student, Yee said. They’re saying, ‘The story is a valid story, it’s got both sides of the issue, it’s black and white, it’s appropriate to go to print.

Stringer warned Gorton there’s a potential downside in getting the freedom he and other students seek: Administration simply shutters the paper.

You do see the risk that if we statutorily guarantee you, to high school students, adolescents, this blanket kind of immunity and free speech protection that it could be totally self-defeating and have very unintended consequences that you basically lose your forum for expressing any opinions or journalistic ideas, Stringer said.

Gorton, however, was undeterred. He said if administration controls the content, the paper is no longer a forum for students.

Under censorship, it’s not a forum but an echo chamber that’s more propaganda and more a newsletter rather than a newspaper, something that only advances the interests of our administrators, he said.

Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, said she was concerned that the legislation did not specifically allow administrators to keep profanity and nudity out of papers. But David Cullier, dean of the journalism school at the University of Arizona, said there are court cases which already give public school administrators the right to prevent publication of such items.

The measure, which already has gained unanimous Senate approval, now needs a vote of the full House.

Originally posted here:

Students journalists gain protection against censorship – Arizona Daily Sun