That's a very good point, and one that's getting the short shrift across most of the coverage. The Hoeg Law YouTube channel discusses that in some detail
Don't get me wrong, I think it's a good thing that these documents are coming into public scrutiny, . And I don’t think Facebook would want the bad PR of trying to sue or prosecute Ms Haugen, who's largely being portrayed as a brave woman speaking up against an evil megacorp.
Still, what’s the underlying criminal activity? Being profitable isn’t illegal. Malleable concepts like ‘misinformation’ and ‘spreading hate’ aren’t illegal. (at least under 1st Amendment jurisprudence). And Section 230 absolutely forecloses the argument that Facebook is legally liable for user generated content; the entire crux of Ms Haugen’s activism!
Take away any alleged legal wrongdoing, and you’re legally (if not morally) close to situations like Palmer Luckey or Anthony Levandowsk: Disgruntled ex-employees walking out of their jobs with a sack of stolen documents and trade secrets.
I'm having some serious reservations about Ms Haugen, her objectives and motivations.
The fact she's endorsing the lurching atrocity of the Online Harms Bill doesn't inspire much confidence for a start! A bill that proposes everything from forcing sites to take down content that's not illegal, to curtailing encryption, to mandating "politically neutral moderation" whatever that's supposed to mean. (Presumably giving terfs and UKIP supporters an avenue to complain next time they get kicked off private websites).
Obviously it's not finalized yet. But as the only mainstream pushback to the bill here in the UK, is that it doesn't go far enough (!) I'm not expecting any last minute improvements!
I'm also an listener of Joe's podcast. And I can recall multiple incidents across multiple episodes where he's made some pretty derogatory comments about trans people, about racial justice campaigners. (One incident where he referred to Jesse Jackson as a "race pimp").
The constant rehashing of alt right and anti-sjw talking points.
His completely uncritical interviews of genuinely f** hateful figures, like Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes, etc.
(I'd go back and link to the particular time stamps but honestly there's not enough time in the day to be trolling through multiple 3 hour podcasts.)
And no Joe Rogan clearly isn't an alt righter or a fascist. If he was, he clearly wouldn't have anything like the following he does.
But that's what makes it more insidious.
He presents a respectability, and a neutrality, bolstered by his credentials as a comedian, combat sports experts, and fight commentator. His fight breakdown interviews, an interviews with celebrities, scientists and fighters, interspersed with his more seditious interviews, give cover for the times that the podcast really goes off into crazy town!
Is it any wonder that mixed martial arts has an alt right problem?
Honestly, I don't feel moderating the content of Joe rogan's individual podcast is that important. At most, it's mildly interesting to watch Spotify squirm!
When this was announced Joe Rogan was pretty unequivocal that the contract with Spotify gave him complete editorial control his podcasts. Assuming that's true, it's likely to be a massive headache for them to do anything other than deleting older episodes from their catalogue (all of which swiftly reappear online, and most of which are still available on his old podcast feed). Anything more could invite a breach of contract.
They can do nothing and tacitly endorse the more controversial content (along with all the negative publicity and employee relations issues that that causes)
Or they try and put their foot down. Rogan walks away. The podcast remains as popular as ever on its previous platforms. And Spotify potentially kiss goodbye to the $100m it's spent to secure his exclusivity. (Or alternatively, Burns money on expensive lawsuits, or has to hold its nose on a settlement).
The more interesting discussion, I think, is this recent trend to monetize podcast culture. In which we include Spotify, Audible, and newer platforms like Luminary.
Apart from general appointment that a once thriving and free online cultural touchstone, is being commodified and turned into just another damn product.
These platforms also have to wrestle with the manifold issues of podcasts. Including but not limited to, copyright infringement, defamation, and the presence of hateful, or otherwise questionable content on many podcast feeds.
Stuff that you generally ask forgiveness rather than permission for, on a free podcast. But when you start paying walling that, it creates a lot more liability for a lot more bullshit.
TechDirt’s coverage of this case has been great. But I have to admit I’m confused by the sympathy Matthew Storman seems to be presented with. He’s made some very silly decisions during, and this mess is entirely of his own making!
Some highlights of his behaviour throughout this saga:
As one of your own articles pointed out, RomUniverse wasn’t just hosting Nintendo’s abandonware. The site hosted and advertised ROMs and ISOs for brand new stuff on the Switch and 3DS! As well as various other contraband.
He asserted immunity under the DMCA, because all those ROMS were totally uploaded by users. He knew nothing, whatsoever, about them. Then, in his sworn deposition he testified that the ROMs were, er, actually all uploaded by him and his site admin. Making the DMCA totally irrelevant!
In a galaxy-brain, Chad-tier move, Storman decided to just keep the site online for almost a year, even after he’d been served with the lawsuit.
In another act of 4D chess,Alpha-strategy, Storman refused to cooperate with discovery, failed to furnish evidence, and the court found that he destroyed evidence that was adverse to him!
Nintendo are asking the court to reconsider the injunction, not just because Storman can’t pay $50 per month. But (primarily) because Storman keeps putting his foot in it. He apparently told Nintendo’s lawyers that he's considering relaunching the site, despite his undertaking not to!
“Defendant’s threat to continue to operate RomUniverse to distribute videogame ROMs, using the same website he used for the past several years to mass-infringe Nintendo’s copyright and trademark rights, necessitates the entry of an injunction,” Nintendo informs the court.
What did he expect them to do after telling them that? The guy’s been lucky to avoid sanctions so far, but I imagine the judge’s patience for his shenanigans is wearing pretty thin.
If he'd done the sensible thing, and gone gently into that goodnight, none of this would've happened. He’d be an anonymous figure behind a shuttered Rom site, and be able to move on with his life. (Maybe re-launching the site under a new name or domain).
Instead he decided to put himself in the firing line. And to this extent he’s been completely successful!
It's subjective to be sure. But:
On the one hand, creators who want attention for themselves and their hobby (D&D), want to play it, want others to enjoy the game, and want to promote D&D to a wider audience. So they put together a nice production, write a story, and run the tabletop game in real-time, in front of a camera (Matt Mercer's DM skills have my neverending jealousy).
On the other hand, creators who want attention for themselves and the "meta" they've created. So they buy an inflatable hot-tub and some latex microphone sheaths, and let nature take it's course.
Maybe one is a more worthwile creation than the other?
It doesn't help that they pivoted hard on that rule.
Until relatively recently (Circa 2016) they were unequivocal on content being games only. To the point that they took down at stuff violating that even by partnered streamers.
Now they have Just Chatting (and other non-gaming categories. But let's be real... it's all about Just Chatting), which would be easy enough to ignore, if it wasn't for it being at the top of the discovery queue most times of the day (as I mention in my post below - discoverability on Twitch is really lacking). Which more than incentivses people to game the system.
There's also a disparity in moderation between JC and everything else. Like, if I stream in the League of Legends queue, I'll get my stream shut down if I'm not actually playing LoL in some way!
Meanwhile in JC, and I can seemingly do topless pushups on a lazy susan while reading sports betting results, and this is totally fine!
I'm not too bothered about hot tub stuff. Or ear licking. Although I would point out that this latest idea comes straight from PornHub (don't ask how I know that).
But I genuinely think this whole situation is a genuinely interesting content moderation case study.
Most of the content debate talks about illegal content, hate speech, etc. Arguably just as important for platforms is how they deal with content like this. Ie spammy, low-grade, clickbait content. Stuff that's designed to skirt rules on nudity (or whatever) and get lots of traction, but doesn't look good for the service (turning off users and advertisers)
Twitches sites design probably doesn't help here. Discoverability on the site is almost exclusively through the categories tab. ( Unless the stars align, and you randomly end up on the front page) The "just chatting" category is a complete free for all, and Twitch doesn't seem to have any metric other than how many people are watching the streams. Which is almost guaranteed to lead to to this situation; Niche or interesting content gets buried under ear licking and scantily clad women.
It's similar to the brouhaha on Instagram, over de-indexing hashtags they associate with low grade content. And like Instagram's efforts, it can be a minefield. Especially when those efforts end up with women's content disproportionately removed or downgraded.
And what a sight it is to behold!
A light & speaker setup, triggered by a marble running over a switch.
Let's all marvel at this astounding invention! Truly, a patent monopoly is justified. How else are we supposed to protect this important innovation?
An innovation, by the way, that could be (and I suspect, has regularly has been) figured by any eight-year-old with a basic school electronics set!
Whaaat? It's fine. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
I mean. Twitch's user base is notoriously chill, and highly respectful to one another.
I mean it's not like anyone would, hypothetically, False DMCA all the streamers they don't like in order to drive them off the platform! That'd be just as absurd as, well, as users uploading footage of mass shootings to the platform.
No, I think this tool is in responsible hands!
At least so long as they keep it just to us 'real gamers'. Not those 'Just Chatting' attention seeking, hot-tub fake gamer girl THO....<Insert stream of mysoginistic abuse here>
I deleted the contract tracing app shortly after it was rolled out. After the UK gov decided it would start sharing test and trace data with the police.
I'm glad to see G&A sticking to their guns with this. You can talk about elected vs unelected. The fact remains the UK government has an atrocious track record il in terms of data privacy, cyber-security, and sacrificing everything to the altar of national security/law and order.
This move, ironically makes me more likely to reinstall the app.
I'm from the UK. The NSPCC was(and to an extent still is) a worthy charity, that helps exploited children.
But these days, it's sounding more and more like the Paedofinder General. Railing against E2E encryption with no actual evidence, other than "concerns".
I rely on an E2E platform in order to share photos of my children, securely, with my extended family. Especially important when we're under lockdown and not legally allowed to meet face to face?
What does the NSPCC have to say about me? Should I send those photos via unsecured services where they're at increased risk of being stolen by hackers and paedofiles? Should I post them publicly to Facebook where they can be taken by anyone?(and I become that annoying 'Facebook dad' everyone hates?) Or should my parents just not experience their grandkids growing up?
According to the article, it would be up to the orwellian-named Free Speech Council. So god knows.
Under their national dignity bill, it's probably considered a thought-crime to even insinuate that a Polish national is a Nazi!
If only we could keep those communities from becoming toxic shitpits…
Surely the answers to that are the same as moderating any other online service?
Encourage publishers and developers to innovate. Share best practices accross the industry. And push more control out to your end-users.
From an individual gamer standpoint, I'd add creating and curating smaller more managable (and directly moderatable) communities. Services like Discord are great for this.
Not a perfect solution. But as we're constantly reminded on here, content moderation is impossible to do perfectly.