[News] The Internet Was a Mistake

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A thread for updates on the various ways the internet is destroying everything and the undying hellsites of social media. Let's all laugh at the abyss.

It doesn’t seem to be working, anecdotally. Facebook is hemorrhaging users and those who no longer use the platform have a REALLY high level of hostility for Facebook and the no holds barred savagery it encourages.

NYT wrote:

Zuckerberg personally took responsibility for Russian interference on the site during the 2016 presidential election

Saying you'll take responsibility for something and actually taking responsibility for it are two wildly different things, and he absolutely has not done the latter.

Well, if your platform is too pervasive to moderate, then the platform needs to be made less pervasive. I mean that is essentially the argument when they say they aren't responsible for the damaging content on their platform. That they aren't the "arbiter of truth". They are admitting that their moderation is either intentionally and/or inherently inadequate. The "arbiter of truth" comment belies that it is intentional.

Neo-Nazis are still on Facebook. And they’re making money

It’s the premier martial arts group in Europe for right-wing extremists. German authorities have twice banned their signature tournament. But Kampf der Nibelungen, or Battle of the Nibelungs, still thrives on Facebook, where organizers maintain multiple pages, as well as on Instagram and YouTube, which they use to spread their ideology, draw in recruits and make money through ticket sales and branded merchandise.

The Battle of the Nibelungs — a reference to a classic heroic epic much loved by the Nazis — is one of dozens of far-right groups that continue to leverage mainstream social media for profit, despite Facebook’s and other platforms’ repeated pledges to purge themselves of extremism.

All told, there are at least 54 Facebook profiles belonging to 39 entities that the German government and civil society groups have flagged as extremist, according to research shared with The Associated Press by the Counter Extremism Project, a non-profit policy and advocacy group formed to combat extremism. The groups have nearly 268,000 subscribers and friends on Facebook alone.

CEP also found 39 related Instagram profiles, 16 Twitter profiles and 34 YouTube channels, which have gotten over 9.5 million views. Nearly 60% of the profiles were explicitly aimed at making money, displaying prominent links to online shops or photos promoting merchandise.

Click on the big blue “view shop” button on the Erik & Sons Facebook page and you can buy a T-shirt that says, “My favorite color is white,” for 20 euros ($23). Deutsches Warenhaus offers “Refugees not welcome” stickers for just 2.50 euros ($3) and Aryan Brotherhood tube scarves with skull faces for 5.88 euros ($7). The Facebook feed of OPOS Records promotes new music and merchandise, including “True Aggression,” “Pride & Dignity,” and “One Family” T-shirts. The brand, which stands for “One People One Struggle,” also links to its online shop from Twitter and Instagram.

The people and organizations in CEP’s dataset are a who’s who of Germany’s far-right music and combat sports scenes. “They are the ones who build the infrastructure where people meet, make money, enjoy music and recruit,” said Alexander Ritzmann, the lead researcher on the project. “It’s most likely not the guys I’ve highlighted who will commit violent crimes. They’re too smart. They build the narratives and foster the activities of this milieu where violence then appears.”

CEP said it focused on groups that want to overthrow liberal democratic institutions and norms such as freedom of the press, protection of minorities and universal human dignity, and believe that the white race is under siege and needs to be preserved, with violence if necessary. None has been banned, but almost all have been described in German intelligence reports as extremist, CEP said.

On Facebook the groups seem harmless. They avoid blatant violations of platform rules, such as using hate speech or posting swastikas, which is generally illegal in Germany.

By carefully toeing the line of propriety, these key architects of Germany’s far-right use the power of mainstream social media to promote festivals, fashion brands, music labels and mixed martial arts tournaments that can generate millions in sales and connect like-minded thinkers from around the world.

But simply cutting off such groups could have unintended, damaging consequences.

“We don’t want to head down a path where we are telling sites they should remove people based on who they are but not what they do on the site,” said David Greene, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.

Giving platforms wide latitude to sanction organizations deemed undesirable could give repressive governments leverage to eliminate their critics. “That can have really serious human rights concerns,” he said. “The history of content moderation has shown us that it’s almost always to the disadvantage of marginalized and powerless people.”

German authorities banned the Battle of the Nibelungs event in 2019, on the grounds that it was not actually about sports, but instead was grooming fighters with combat skills for political struggle.

In 2020, as the coronavirus raged, organizers planned to stream the event online — using Instagram, among other places, to promote the webcast. A few weeks before the planned event, however, over a hundred black-clad police in balaclavas broke up a gathering at a motorcycle club in Magdeburg, where fights were being filmed for the broadcast, and hauled off the boxing ring, according to local media reports.

The Battle of the Nibelungs is a “central point of contact” for right-wing extremists, according to German government intelligence reports. The organization has been explicit about its political goals — namely to fight against the “rotting” liberal democratic order — and has drawn adherents from across Europe as well as the United States.

Members of a California white supremacist street fighting club called the Rise Above Movement, and its founder, Robert Rundo, have attended the Nibelungs tournament. In 2018 at least four Rise Above members were arrested on rioting charges for taking their combat training to the streets at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. A number of Battle of Nibelungs alums have landed in prison, including for manslaughter, assault and attacks on migrants.

National Socialism Today, which describes itself as a “magazine by nationalists for nationalists” has praised Battle of the Nibelungs and other groups for fostering a will to fight and motivating “activists to improve their readiness for combat.”

But there are no references to professionalized, anti-government violence on the group’s social media feeds. Instead, it’s positioned as a health-conscious lifestyle brand, which sells branded tea mugs and shoulder bags.

“Exploring nature. Enjoying home!” gushes one Facebook post above a photo of a musclebound guy on a mountaintop wearing Resistend-branded sportswear, one of the Nibelung tournament’s sponsors. All the men in the photos are pumped and white, and they are portrayed enjoying wholesome activities such as long runs and alpine treks.

Elsewhere on Facebook, Thorsten Heise – who has been convicted of incitement to hatred and called “one of the most prominent German neo-Nazis” by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in the German state of Thuringia — also maintains multiple pages.

Frank Kraemer, who the German government has described as a “right-wing extremist musician,” uses his Facebook page to direct people to his blog and his Sonnenkreuz online store, which sells white nationalist and coronavirus conspiracy books as well as sports nutrition products and “vaccine rebel” T-shirts for girls.

Battle of the Nibelungs declined to comment. Resistend, Heise and Kraemer didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Facebook told AP it employs 350 people whose primary job is to counter terrorism and organized hate, and that it is investigating the pages and accounts flagged in this reporting.

“We ban organizations and individuals that proclaim a violent mission, or are engaged in violence,” said a company spokesperson, who added that Facebook had banned more than 250 white supremacist organizations, including groups and individuals in Germany. The spokesperson said the company had removed over 6 million pieces of content tied to organized hate globally between April and June and is working to move even faster.

Google said it has no interest in giving visibility to hateful content on YouTube and was looking into the accounts identified in this reporting. The company said it worked with dozens of experts to update its policies on supremacist content in 2019, resulting in a five-fold spike in the number of channels and videos removed.

Twitter says it’s committed to ensuring that public conversation is “safe and healthy” on its platform and that it doesn’t tolerate violent extremist groups. “Threatening or promoting violent extremism is against our rules,” a spokesperson told AP, but did not comment on the specific accounts flagged in this reporting.

Google's comments are especially laughable, since the only reason Atomwaffen doesn't have a YT page anymore is because they weren't smart enough to do the dosie-do around YT's worthless content rules.

I stg, nothing fills me with more rage than when YT does it's "Check out these black voices!" bullsh*t. It's like a bar that is constantly frequented by neo-nazis inviting you to come to their Black History Month celebration and just ignore those other guys, cuz they can't really do anything about it.

So apparently as much as we like to disparage facebook in America, we have the "good" facebook. The majority of the moderators are here in part due to regulations. In foreign countries, the level of moderation is far less in quantity and quality. And apparently like 90% of facebook's traffic is outside the US.

So we are just the tip of the misinformation iceberg in the US. And we wonder why the world is a pro authoritarian wreck? Its us versus them, constantly at each others throats.

I don't think I'm going out on a limb saying Zuckerberg is responsible for wars past, present and future.

I'm trying to figure out how to format this question I have about internet culture, fandom, and essentializing/fetishizing homosexual men, but I can't figure out how to do it. :lol

Well at least for a while the internet gets a break.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all down today.

US-east-1 go down again?

Facebook is ‘biased against facts’, says Nobel prize winner

The campaigning Philippines journalist Maria Ressa, who was last week awarded the Nobel peace prize, has launched a stinging attack on Facebook, accusing the social media firm of being a threat to democracy that was “biased against facts” and failed to prevent the spread of disinformation.

She said its algorithms “prioritise the spread of lies laced with anger and hate over facts”.

Ressa, who co-founded the news website Rappler, won the Nobel prize on Friday for her work to “safeguard freedom of expression”, along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov.

Ressa said Facebook had become the world’s largest distributor of news, “yet it is biased against facts, it is biased against journalism … If you have no facts, you can’t have truths, you can’t have trust. If you don’t have any of these, you don’t have a democracy.”

Ressa’s rebuke came days after former employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen claimed the company placed profits over people. UK politicians are also raising concerns about Facebook’s ability to protect children from harmful content, with one senior Tory MP accusing it of deploying a “ridiculous scouts-honour system” for verifying the age of its users.

There are now cross-party calls for action from Facebook and the government in the wake of Haugen’s explosive testimony, in which she accused the firm of steering young users towards damaging content. She also suggested that the minimum age for social media accounts should be raised from 13 to 17.

Julian Knight, Tory chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, called on Facebook to demonstrate that it was capable of enforcing even its existing rules. “It’s less about the minimum age, more about the way social media companies police this at present,” he said. “They rely on a ridiculous scouts-honour system when actually we need them to actively pursue proper, regulated, robust age assurance. Time is long past that they took responsibility.”

It makes me wonder if Zuckerberg is just a classic narcissist who only cares about himself or if he’s also an accelerationist.

RawkGWJ wrote:

It makes me wonder if Zuckerberg is just a classic narcissist who only cares about himself or if he’s also an accelerationist.

People who are currently atop the hierarchy tend not to want to burn down that hierarchy.

I don't think he wants to burn it down, but he's making a lot of money off keeping things smoldering. Plus he keeps buying more and more of Hawaii.

Yeah, I read that earlier today. Crazy.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

Yeah, I read that earlier today. Crazy.

Woah. If that’s true…

I am sympathetic, at least, to his statements about Russia. I think it's much easier to believe it was the megalomaniacal web-weaving of the Arch-Supervillain Putin than to understand that the calls have been coming from inside the house for decades now.

For my money, Russia was definitely involved, but they only needed to put their fingers on the scale in a few places. We did all the heavy lifting ourselves.

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