Asking the big social media companies to remove extremist content more quickly will do little to fight terrorism

'We believe doctors dealing with erectile dysfunction should also be asking about watching pornography,' researchers say: Getty
‘We believe doctors dealing with erectile dysfunction should also be asking about watching pornography,’ researchers say: Getty

Barely a day goes by when social media is not in the firing line from activists and advertisers over hate speech and racist rhetoric.

The controversy goes to the heart of the debate about the extent to which social media platforms should become the arbiter of content decisions and whether internet companies should be solely responsible for dealing with abhorrent content posted by users. Facebook and Twitter are both doing more than ever to reduce “online harms” – certainly much more than is legally mandated – but work carried out by Tech Against Terrorism shows that the majority of activity by terrorists and violent extremists has now shifted to the smaller, newer messaging apps, and niche social networks.

We need to acknowledge that, for all the understandable focus on the bigger platforms, it

Read More

To fight online child sexual abuse, tech companies turn to a nonprofit startup

Thorn, a nonprofit that builds technology to combat child sexual exploitation, launched a tool on Wednesday to help small- and medium-size companies find, remove and report child sexual abuse material.

The tool, called Safer, is designed for companies that lack the resources to build their own systems.

“To eliminate the trade of this material and stop the revictimization of children in these images and videos you need to have blanket coverage of tech companies,” said Julie Cordua, CEO of Thorn, which was co-founded by the actor and investor Ashton Kutcher.

Cordua noted that while large platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have the employees and motivation to build their own tools for detecting this material, smaller companies don’t.

“It’s expensive, it’s a heavy lift operationally and it requires specialist knowledge,” she said. “We saw this gap and thought we could build a shared system to get the rest of the

Read More

Cross-continent couples fight for ‘sweetheart’ status amid COVID-19 travel bans

Leah Howd is worried that her 5-month-old son, Johan, won’t remember his father when they are finally reunited.

“He is too small to understand the person on the computer monitor is his dad,” she said.

Howd, 39, of Peoria, Illinois, hasn’t seen her partner, Bas Bruurs, 41, of the Netherlands for three months — they are among thousands of couples now kept apart in different corners of the world by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The U.S. has banned most foreign travelers from Europe since March, while the European Union barred Americans from visiting its 27 member states July 1.

NBC News’ Social Newsgathering team spoke to Americans desperate to be reunited with their partners who are using social media hashtags such as #LoveIsEssential and #LoveIsNotTourism to spotlight their stories.

Howd and Bruurs, who met playing the online video game Guild Wars 2 in 2015, have been dating since 2017, and they

Read More

Inside historic black bookstores’ fight for survival against the COVID-19 pandemic

OAKLAND, Calif. – Inside Marcus Books, the nation’s oldest black-owned bookstore, no one lingers anymore over shelves lined with a diasporic collection of African and African American history, culture, music and literature.

Staffers take phone orders from the safety of their homes. Shoppers keep their distance when darting in and out to pick up purchases. Blanche Richardson, whose parents founded Marcus Books 60 years ago, works alone in the store, putting on a protective mask for curbside deliveries.

Operating in a state of emergency is nothing new for independent black-owned bookstores, which for decades have survived on the margins of the publishing industry. But COVID-19 is posing a new kind of existential threat, Richardson says. Most bookstores have seen a drop in overall book sales even as online sales pick up.

“The pandemic exacerbated the plight of the few remaining black bookstores across the country,” Richardson told USA TODAY.


Read More

Microsoft’s new Teams features fight video conferencing fatigue

Despite recent pressure from the White House, schools and businesses across the country are unlikely to resume in-person functions for the foreseeable future due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But going “online-only” has posed challenges of its own. However, Microsoft Team’s brand new slew of updates and features seek to address some of those problems and make this new era of physical isolation just a little less exhausting.

Microsoft Teams together


Microsoft hopes to help attendees of online meetings feel more connected to everyone else on the call using AI-driven processes. For example, Together Mode is designed to combat Zoom Fatigue by leveraging segmentation technology to set the call participants on a shared background “making it feel like you’re sitting in the same room with everyone else in the meeting or class,” according to a Wednesday press release. Doing so reportedly helps people focus on the nonverbal cues of the other folks

Read More

Trump, Biden fight for primacy on social media platforms

WASHINGTON (AP) — On an average day, President Donald Trump sends about 14 posts to the 28 million Facebook followers of his campaign account. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, delivers about half that many posts to an audience of just 2 million.

The numbers are similarly skewed in other spheres of the social media landscape.

On Twitter, Trump’s 82.4 million followers dwarf Biden’s 6.4 million. The president has spent years cultivating a ragtag digital “army” of meme makers and political influencers who retweet campaign messages hundreds of times daily. Trump is outspending Biden on Google and YouTube advertising by nearly 3 to 1.

As his reelection bid faces growing obstacles, his primacy in the dizzying digital world is one of his top advantages, giving him a massive platform to connect with supporters and push a message that ignores his vulnerabilities related to the pandemic, unemployment and race relations. Biden and

Read More

LinkedIn, Microsoft launch free Learning Path job training courses to fight coronavirus unemployment

Microsoft and LinkedIn want to put a dent in the nation – and the world’s – unemployment numbers.

The software giant and the professional networking site, which Microsoft acquired in 2016 for $26.2 billion, identified in-demand jobs and are offering free, online training to help job seekers improve their skills and land positions.

LinkedIn data showed 10 specific jobs with the most current openings and a four-year trend of being in demand, pay “a livable wage,” and have skills that can be learned online and remotely. LinkedIn’s CEO Ryan Roslansky posted the details on the site’s blog about the initiative.

LinkedIn’s top 10 in-demand jobs

1. Software developer 

2. Sales representative 

3. Project manager 

4. IT Administrator 

5. Customer service specialist 

6. Digital marketer ​ 

7. IT support/Help desk 

8. Graphic designer 

9. Financial analyst  

10. Data analyst 

LinkedIn and Microsoft created Learning Path training modules for those 10 positions.

Read More

Inside One Mother’s Fight To Help Her Kids Get An Education During Coronavirus

(Photo: Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Terri Johnson/Getty)
(Photo: Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Terri Johnson/Getty)

This story about rural education was produced as part of the series Critical Condition: The Students the Pandemic Hit Hardest, reported by HuffPost and The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.

Terri Johnson willed her body not to show signs of impatience. She had been sitting in the parking lot of a McDonald’s in Greenville, Mississippi, for more than an hour, so her oldest child, Kentiona, could connect to the building’s Wi-Fi, something they didn’t have at home. Johnson didn’t want her daughter to feel rushed. 

Kentiona, 16, was in the passenger seat using the car’s dashboard as a makeshift desk. Her high school had recently closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic and shifted to distance learning. Kentiona’s persuasive essay for her English class had brought them to the McDonald’s on that third Friday

Read More

Bookshops fight back against virus and Amazon

Bookbugs and Dragon Tales owner Leanne Fridd has been running online storytelling sessions
Bookbugs and Dragon Tales owner Leanne Fridd has been running online storytelling sessions

Before lockdown, the number of independent bookshops in the UK rose for three years in a row. But the pandemic drove customers online – and shops had to get creative to survive.

Running an independent bookshop can be a challenge at the best of times, trying to compete with the might of Amazon and the supermarkets. In recent years, things had been looking up, however, with 890 on our high streets in 2019, up from 867 three years earlier.

They took a major hit during lockdown, but most have reopened (except in Scotland) in time for Independent Bookshop Week, which runs until Saturday. Many found new ways to reach readers while their doors were shut, but their long-term futures are still in the balance.

“As yet we have no idea how many retail casualties may result from

Read More

Could California legalize sports betting? Epic fight unfolding between casinos, Legislature

Legalized sports betting has flourished across the country, while California has watched from the sidelines. That could be changing for the largest and richest state.

Two separate proposals have emerged to amend the state Constitution and allow gambling on baseball, football and other sports, generating new tax revenue for a state budget devastated by the coronavirus.

The competing proposals have generated a fierce political fight over how this historic expansion of gambling in California should unfold. A proposal in the Legislature — one favored by the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball — has run into opposition from California’s wealthy and powerful Native American tribes.

Protective of their casinos — governed by compacts negotiated with the California governor — the tribes are pushing a far more limited version of sports betting that excludes online wagers. The tribes are also proposing changes designed to crack down on what they see as

Read More