WeeklyTech #104

Where do we draw the line on hate speech?

In 2009, I was encouraged by some friends at work to join a new social media platform called Twitter. I remember watching a short promo video and hearing about how this site allowed people all across the world to connect and speak freely about whatever came to mind — whether about our favorite sport teams or the most important social issues of the day. But as the platform grew in users and influence in the public square, real challenges emerged about how to navigate violence, misinformation, and even hate speech online. And as a long history of U.S. jurisprudence illustrates, hate speech has been notoriously difficult to define, often due to inadequate parameters and the robust protections for free expression and religious freedom from heavy-handed government overreach.

While these problems are not limited to Twitter specifically, the type of users the platform attracts and its enormous influence in public discourse have made it ground zero for many of the debates over free expression and content moderation. Just this past weekend, two prominent conservative pundits, Allie Beth Stuckey and Erick Erickson, were both temporarily suspended by Twitter for violating the platform’s rules on hateful conduct, specifically concerning gender and gender identity issues. Both users had access to their accounts limited for 12 hours, being unable to post new messages, like posts, or retweet other accounts. 

The Rundown

Artificial intelligence can now be recognised as an inventor after historic Australian court decision – Alexandra Jones | ABC news

In a landmark decision, an Australian court has set a groundbreaking precedent, deciding artificial intelligence (AI) systems can be legally recognised as an inventor in patent applications. That might not sound like a big deal, but it challenges a fundamental assumption in the law: that only human beings can be inventors.

Exposed Before Digital Omniscience: A Theological Reading of Surveillance Capitalism – Matthew Shadle | Church Life Journal

Digital surveillance is not limited to our computer screens and smartphones. “Smart” products such as personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, robotic vacuum cleaners like Roomba, and smart cars are collecting an astounding amount of data about our everyday lives which is then packaged and sold as data profiles used to target advertisements or generate profits in other ways.

To Fight Vaccine Lies, Authorities Recruit an ‘Influencer Army’ – Taylor Lorenz | The New York Times

To reach these young people, the White House has enlisted an eclectic army of more than 50 Twitch streamers, YouTubers, TikTokers and the 18-year-old pop star Olivia Rodrigo, all of them with enormous online audiences. State and local governments have begun similar campaigns, in some cases paying “local micro influencers” — those with 5,000 to 100,000 followers — up to $1,000 a month to promote Covid-19 vaccines to their fans.

Jihadists flood pro-Trump social network with propaganda – Mark Scott and Tina Nguyen | Politico

The rapid proliferation of such material is placing GETTR in the awkward position of providing a safe haven for jihadi extremists online as it attempts to establish itself as a free speech MAGA-alternative to sites likeFacebook and Twitter.

Investigation: How TikTok’s Algorithm Figures Out Your Deepest Desires – Wall Street Journal

A Wall Street Journal investigation found that TikTok only needs one important piece of information to figure out what you want: the amount of time you linger over a piece of content. Every second you hesitate or rewatch, the app is tracking you. Photo illustration: Laura Kammermann/The Wall Street Journal

What’s Fueling the Divisions in Your Church? – Aaron Earls | Lifeway research

The irony of social media is that it was pitched as a way for us to stay connected with those with love, but in reality, social media has worked to keep us connected to the app by stoking anger at those we love and those we’ve never met.

Apple Will Scan U.S. iPhones For Images Of Child Sexual Abuse – The Associated Press | NPR

Apple unveiled plans to scan U.S. iPhones for images of child sexual abuse, drawing applause from child protection groups but raising concern among some security researchers that the system could be misused, including by governments looking to surveil their citizens.