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Governance December 19, 2022

Elon Musk Losing Poll on his Future as Twitter CEO



Elon Musk Losing Poll on his Future as Twitter CEO

Elon Musk launched a poll on Sunday asking users whether he should quit as Twitter CEO. It follows a decision by the company earlier in the day to ban tweets promoting rival social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, which Musk reversed a few hours later.

Also read: Haptic Gloves Let People Touch Each Other in the Metaverse

The billionaire said he would “abide by the results of this poll.” As of writing, 14.3 million Twitter users had taken part in the poll with 57% voting in favor of him stepping down. There is about three hours left before the poll closes later today, Dec. 19.

Musk did not give details of when he would leave his position should the vote go against him. Elon Musk took over as CEO in October after paying $44 billion to purchase the social media firm. However, his short reign has been marred by issues of alleged policy inconsistency, abuse of power and impromptu employee sackings.

No more free promos of Facebook and others

The poll follows a change to Twitter’s “promotion of alternative social platforms policy” on Sunday.

Twitter said it will specifically “remove accounts created solely for the purpose of promoting other social platforms.” Content that contains links or usernames for rival social media firms including Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostr and Post, is banned.

Twitter threatened to delete tweets from accounts that violated its new policy. It also said accounts may be temporarily locked or permanently suspended.

Critics described Twitter’s decision to ban mentions of competitors on its platform as an attack on free speech. Elon Musk’s acquisition of the giant social media company has been framed in this way, as a victory for freedom of speech.

“This is incredibly shortsighted,” shouted Justin Amash, libertarian and former U.S. member of Congress. “Twitter should strive to be a more open environment, not less open.”

Journalist Ashton Pittman pulled up a screenshot of an old  tweet by Elon Musk. In the tweet, the billionaire explained that only a “bad socio-economic system” would build a wall to keep a rival at bay. Pittman pointed to the irony in that Twitter, championed by Musk as the citadel of free speech, is now behaving like the “bad” competitor.

Elon Musk Losing Poll To Decide Future as Twitter CEO After Twitter’s Bungled Ban of Rivals

Twitter may be kicked out of the EU

‘”This [Twitter rivals ban] most certainly goes against EU regulations though. It will either be reversed or Twitter will be fined heavily in Europe or kicked out,” explained Maynard Manyowa, a Zimbabwean journalist based in the United Kingdom.

The European Union’s (EU) Digital Markets Act “aims to ensure that large online platforms [also referred to as gatekeepers] behave in a fair way online.”

The Act demands that firms such as Twitter do not treat their own “services and products more favorably in ranking than similar services or products offered by third parties on the gatekeeper’s platform.” It also says that big social media companies may no longer “prevent consumers from linking up to businesses outside their platforms.”

No successor

Elon Musk later reversed the policy update. He then launched the poll and apologized. “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. Won’t happen again,” he said in tweet. However, he also revealed that “there was no successor” to run the company as CEO after him.

Twitter’s official account later started a separate poll asking users if the social network should have a policy stopping accounts from advertising competing social media platforms on Twitter.

Jack Dorsey donates to Twitter rival Nostr

Social media firms have been politically weaponized in the service of American interests, according to observers.

In a recent investigative article, The Intercept detailed how the U.S. government is secretly working with leading tech companies to monitor and moderate content. The firms include Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, Wikipedia, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Verizon Media. The plan is to filter out content the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) considers “dangerous speech”.

Now other emerging decentralized social media networks are betting on taking back control of individual privacy and freedom of speech. They intend to phase out compliant, centralized firms as the de facto medium of online social interaction.

On Dec. 16, Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey donated 14 Bitcoin worth about $240,000 to Nostr Protocol, a new decentralzed social network that challenges Twitter directly. Twitter banned the protocol.

According to a Github post by developers Git-sgmoore and Fiatjaf, Nostr is an “open protocol that is able to create a censorship-resistant global ‘social’ network once and for all.”

“It doesn’t rely on any trusted central server, hence it is resilient; it is based on cryptographic keys and signatures, so it is tamperproof; it does not rely on P2P techniques, therefore it works,” they said.

Dorsey has since added his Nostro public key to his bio on Twitter. It is not clear whether this constitutes a violation of Twitter’s new policy on alternative social media platforms.

Nostr is one among a number of emerging decentralized social networks intent on giving users both the personal and financial freedom to act according to their conscience rather than under political instruction.

Right side of history

Jack Dorsey recently expressed disappointment with issues of content moderation at Twitter and how this had curtailed free speech. “The Twitter when I led it and the Twitter of today do not meet any” of the principles of resisting “corporate and government control,” he said a blog post.

It is perhaps not surprising that he has set his eyes on building truly independent platforms. The Twitter billionaire founder is also backing Bluesky, a new decentralized social media protocol.

Bluesky is building the AT Protocol, a foundation for social networking which frees developers from corporate and government control. Large-scale distributed social applications can be built using the protocol.

It aims to come up with a protocol that grants users portability, scale, and trust, it says. Portability allows users to switch between apps without losing their data; scale, allows apps to handle more traffic and then trust, preventing algorithms from profiling users.

Dorsey is planning to spend millions of dollars in donations to other emerging privacy-focused protocols.

Over the years, key figures in Bitcoin and web3, entities predominantly on the receiving end of U.S. government intrusion, have either disapprovingly reassessed the monopoly of dominant social networks or started to delink their relationships.

The loss of confidence is symptomatic of the political entanglements of entrenched social platforms like Facebook or Google. This places decentralized crypto assets like Bitcoin and, by extension, decentralized social networks on the right side of history.


Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.


‘Google Manipulating Search to Favor Liberals and Influence Elections’



'Google Manipulating Search to Favor Liberals and Influence Elections'

Tech giant Google is allegedly manipulating search to favor liberals and tip elections, reports the New York Post. The company is using its virtual monopoly as a search engine to “elevate liberal views, stifle conservatives, and manipulate children,” according to a research report by Dr. Robert Epstein.

Epstein, who has spent the last decade monitoring Google’s manipulation of newsfeeds, search engine results, and YouTube suggestions, shared his latest report with the Post.

“Google has the power to change minds and move elections to suit its liberal corporate worldview,” according to the Post, citing the report.

Google shifted 6 million votes to Biden

Social media and the internet have become influential parts of political campaigning worldwide, as they are used to sway voter sentiments through various platforms.

However, the researcher claims that Google alone manipulated its search engine to shift 6 million votes to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election in the United States.

Read Also: Musk Will Leverage AI to Detect Manipulation of Public Opinion on Twitter

“Google secretly had in 2020, using biased algorithms which skewed search results towards positive links for Biden and negative links for Trump, as well as Get Out The Vote messaging on Google’s home page targeted primarily at Democrat voters,” stated the researcher Epstein.

Liberal bias is pervasive

The liberal bias is even more pervasive, as the primary outcome of Epstein’s report reflects monitoring how Google’s massive psy-op targets children through YouTube and other products.

YouTube’s ‘Up Next’ suggestions were biased towards liberal sources 76% of the time for adults. However, data from the past three months reveals that for children and teens, the percentage of suggested videos from liberal sources on YouTube is as high as 96%, according to the researcher.

“That’s how aggressive they are with our kids, because they think they’re gods. And no one has ever taken them to task, ever,” stated the researcher.

‘Google doing this since Obama took power’

Reacting to news regarding Google’s manipulation of search to favor liberals and swing votes, a Twitter user saw no surprise from the company.

“No surprise Google is behaving like media, which cherrypicks the information it reports.  Omitting inconvenient information,” reads her reaction.

In another scorching tweet, a user expressed frustration and claimed “election interference is allowed” and “ignored” as long as it benefits the Democrats.

“Try finding El Salvador economic reports for the last 20 years on Google. You can’t, but the World Bank reports prove decades of growth,” a user tweeted to reflect the search manipulation of Google.

Planning for live data in 2024 presidential election

The researcher has developed the same system as Nielsen for monitoring TV ratings to capture the ephemeral data by effectively “looking over the shoulders” of real users, whom he calls field agents.

Epstein has permission to record every Google interaction from 7,566 registered voters in 50 states. The researcher has even bigger plans, as he added 1,600 children aged 5–17 to expand his “field agents” pool to 25,000.

The best way to stop Google is by exposing what they do, he argues, and to this end he has built a public dashboard to go live in the 2024 presidential election.

The platform will feature live tracking of bias on Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Bing using real-time data from his chain of law firms across the United States.

However, Google CEO Sundar Pichai promised the Congress before the 2020 presidential election that “Google does not modify any products, including Search, to promote a particular political viewpoint… [We] will not do so for the upcoming 2020 presidential election.”

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China Urges Parents to Report Children’s Use of Encrypted Messaging Apps to Police



China Urges Parents to Report Children's Use of Encrypted Messaging Apps to Police

China has issued a directive to parents to report police if their children are using encrypted messaging apps. Almost every social media platform is banned in China, and even China-owned TikTok is facing restrictions in the Western world and Australia.

This strict control over social media is a result of the Chinese government’s censorship policies and concerns about information control.

Also Read: Montana Becomes First US State to Ban TikTok Completely

Additionally, TikTok has also faced challenges in India, where it was banned due to national security concerns related to data privacy and its Chinese ownership. Even in China, TikTok is only available in its Chinese version, Douyin.

The TikTok ban in the United States has made headlines in recent years, whereas China seeks to restrict encrypted western-owned platforms.

Concerns over content erasure

According to a statement from the authorities cited by state media, Chinese authorities claim that such apps reside in a “grey area” of legal supervision as they possess “the ability to erase content immediately after reading, which facilitates the destruction of criminal evidence.”

The statement highlights concerns about the potential “misuse” of these apps and the challenges they pose in terms of preserving valuable evidence.

The authorities emphasize the need for stricter regulations to ensure accountability and prevent the potential destruction of crucial information.

The local authorities have issued instructions to parents, urging them to bring their children to the nearest police station if they come across any messaging apps “to find out whether their children had engaged in a crime.”

The report emphasizes that “school and family education should play an important role in deterring juvenile crimes.”

The significance of parental involvement and educational institutions in preventing and addressing potential criminal activities among young individuals, stated the authorities.

Last autumn, messaging apps like Telegram played a crucial role in facilitating the organization of demonstrations.

Messaging apps played a dual role during the protests by facilitating coordination and preserving censored media.

Individuals used these platforms to save pictures and videos that faced swift deletion by censors, resulting in a constant battle with Chinese government surveillance and censorship.

The demonstrations, referred to as the “white paper” protests because participants held up blank sheets of paper, expressed their dissatisfaction with China’s strict zero-Covid policies and censorship.

These protests stood as the largest demonstrations since the historic Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, which ended tragically with the military resorting to the use of force against the demonstrators.

Example of totalitarian states hating encryption

In response to the news, one individual expressed a striking observation, stating, “It’s a strange twist on Mao’s Red Guard, who ratted on their parents to the commies; now we have parents ratting on their kids.”

The user conveyed a sense of resignation, stating, “Well, whatever works at pitching families, neighbors, and friends against each other.”

Another individual remarked, “The perfect example – why totalitarian states hate encryption.”

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Facebook on the Verge of Being Fined €746m for Misusing Data



Facebook on the Verge of Being Fined €746m for Misusing Data

Facebook is set to be slammed by the Irish regulator as it prepares to punish the social media giant with a €746 million fine for mishandling user information, reports The Guardian.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, acting as the primary privacy regulator for Facebook and Meta in the EU, is anticipated to halt data transfers from Facebook’s European users to the United States with its decision.

The fine and ruling, expected to be confirmed on Monday, will establish a new record for violating the EU’s general data protection regulation (GDPR), surpassing the €746 million penalty imposed on Amazon by Luxembourg in 2021.

Read Also: TikTok Collecting Similar Data to Meta, Twitter, Snap

The parent company of Facebook is expected to get a chance to appeal against the punishment in the anticipated grace period.

Inadequate data handling

Austrian privacy advocate Max Schrems is the one who brought the legal challenge. The ruling addresses concerns raised by Edward Snowden’s revelations, indicating that European users’ data is not adequately protected from US intelligence agencies during transfers across the Atlantic.

Meta’s policy chief, Nick Clegg, said that suspending data transfers based on standard contractual clauses (SCCs) could have a “far-reaching effect on businesses that rely on SCCs and on the online services that many people and businesses rely on,” back in 2020.

In a recent quarterly report the company stated that without SCCs or “other alternative means of data transfers,” it would “likely be unable to offer a number of its most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe.”

Potential compensation for user data usage

Over on Reddit, the public has been reacting to the news and raising the possibility of receiving compensation.

“Do I get some of this money if they used my information?” asked one Redditor.

Another user responded, “You’ll see a little bit all over. It’s going into EU coffers, so it will fund EU projects, I imagine.”

The conversation explored the idea that provisioning funds for EU projects might be more worthwhile than distributing small amounts to individuals.

“Which, if spent well, is more worthwhile than just giving people £1.67 or whatever tiny amount,” stated one contributor.

The comment thread also touched upon the revenue Facebook generates from user profiles and the varying advertising value based on different regions.

Opinions expressed in the Reddit thread highlight the ongoing debate surrounding Facebook’s data handling practices and the financial implications for both the company and its users.

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