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Here’s how tech is responding to Charlottesville

Photos from a KKK rally in Charlottesville, VA

Tech has plenty to say about the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.


The Washington Post

In the wake of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, the tech world has had a lot to say.

Afterall, technology is ubiquitous. The products and services we use every day are also the ones hate groups use to organize and spread their messages. Prominent tech leaders are involved in government. The president issues statements from his mobile phone.

If you’re having trouble keeping up, below is a roundup of companies and their responses to not just the events that left one woman dead and more than 30 injured, but to President Donald Trump’s own controversial response, as well as to outcry to snuff out the type of content online that celebrates racism, bigotry and hatred.

GoDaddy

In the days since Charlottesville, several companies have bounced The Daily Stormer, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as the top hate site in the US, from their services.

GoDaddy, which originally provided hosting, over the weekend gave The Daily Stormer 24 hours to find hosting elsewhere. When The Daily Stormer tried to register with Google, the search giant canceled it.

Cloudflare

The internet security provider also bailed on The Daily Stormer and explained why in a lengthy blog post. Here’s an excerpt:

Earlier today, Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We’ve stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We’ve taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare’s services ever again.

Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion. The tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology.

Our team has been thorough and have had thoughtful discussions for years about what the right policy was on censoring. Like a lot of people, we’ve felt angry at these hateful people for a long time but we have followed the law and remained content neutral as a network. We could not remain neutral after these claims of secret support by Cloudflare.

Twitter

Twitter accounts associated with The Daily Stormer have also been suspended.

While the company said it wouldn’t comment on individual accounts, the platform’s rules “prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and [it] will take action on accounts violating those policies.”

Discord

The voice and text chat platform for gamers also took action against accounts linked to what happened in Charlottesville.

Reddit

Reddit has banned several far-right and neo-Nazi subreddits since Charlottesville, including one called Physical Removal.

“We are very clear in our site terms of service that posting content that incites violence will get users banned from Reddit. We have banned /r/Physical_Removal due to violations of the terms of our content policy,” a Reddit spokesperson said.

Facebook

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote a post on Facebook responding to Charlottesville and underlining the site’s policy to take down any post that “promotes or celebrates hate crimes or acts of terrorism.”

We aren’t born hating each other. We aren’t born with such extreme views. We may not be able to solve every problem, but we all have a responsibility to do what we can. I believe we can do something about the parts of our culture that teach a person to hate someone else.

It’s important that Facebook is a place where people with different views can share their ideas. Debate is part of a healthy society. But when someone tries to silence others or attacks them based on who they are or what they believe, that hurts us all and is unacceptable.

There is no place for hate in our community. That’s why we’ve always taken down any post that promotes or celebrates hate crimes or acts of terrorism — including what happened in Charlottesville. With the potential for more rallies, we’re watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm. We won’t always be perfect, but you have my commitment that we’ll keep working to make Facebook a place where everyone can feel safe.

The last few days have been hard to process. I know a lot of us have been asking where this hate comes from. As a Jew, it’s something I’ve wondered much of my life. It’s a disgrace that we still need to say that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are wrong — as if this is somehow not obvious. My thoughts are with the victims of hate around the world, and everyone who has the courage to stand up to it every day.

There may always be some evil in the world, and maybe we can’t do anything about that. But there’s too much polarization in our culture, and we can do something about that. There’s not enough balance, nuance, and depth in our public discourse, and I believe we can do something about that. We need to bring people closer together, and I know we can make progress at that.

PayPal

After the Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out how various hate groups use the service, PayPal said this:

It is with heavy hearts that we reflect upon the recent events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia. Lives lost due to hatred and intolerance are a tragedy for every person in our nation. The PayPal community was appalled by the events that transpired – and our hearts go out to the people of Charlottesville and all who have been touched by this unacceptable hatred and violence.

The events in Charlottesville are yet another disturbing example of the many forms that racism and hatred manifest. Prejudice, however, does not always march in the street. Intolerance can take on a range of on-line and off-line forms, across a wide array of content and language. It is with this backdrop that PayPal strives to navigate the balance between freedom of expression and open dialogue — and the limiting and closing of sites that accept payments or raise funds to promote hate, violence and intolerance.

PayPal has a longstanding, well-defined and consistently enforced Acceptable Use Policy that governs our approach to this issue. Regardless of the individual or organization in question, we work to ensure that our services are not used to accept payments or donations for activities that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance. This includes organizations that advocate racist views, such as the KKK, white supremacist groups or Nazi groups. If we become aware of a website or organization using our services that may violate our policies, our highly trained team of experts addresses each case individually and carefully evaluates the website itself, any associated organizations, and their adherence to our policy. Ultimately, this team of professionals makes a recommendation that leads to the final determination on our ability to maintain our relationship with the website’s owner.

There are times when people may find an account that is using PayPal’s services to be offensive, but because the website and organization does not violate our Acceptable Use Policy, we will continue to process payments for the account as we respect and seek to uphold the values of freedom of expression and open dialogue. We recognize and work to navigate the fine lines that exist in these situations, and our teams do their best to distinguish between opinion-based, offensive websites and those that go beyond opinion and discourse and violate our policies. However, PayPal will – as we consistently have in the past – limit or end customer relationships and prohibit the use of our services by those that meet the thresholds of violating our policy.

In addition to our own proactive monitoring, screening and scrutiny, PayPal’s team of professionals will evaluate all sites brought to our attention by our customers. Listening to customer and community feedback makes PayPal a better company and is essential to our ability to fulfill our mission.  Anyone who has concerns about questionable or offensive content can and should alert us by emailing AUPviolations@paypal.com. We welcome your feedback and appreciate the role of our customers in helping to keep our community a safe and inclusive place for all.

Maintaining the necessary balance between protecting the principles of tolerance, diversity and respect for people of all backgrounds with upholding legitimate free expression and open dialogue can be difficult, but we do our very best to achieve it.  We are dedicated to providing financial services to people with a diversity of views and from all walks of life. While the challenges and the landscape are continually changing, we will continue to work hard to limit the efforts of those who try to use our services inappropriately. PayPal will always remain vigilant and committed to ensuring that our platforms are not used to perpetuate hate and violence or racial intolerance.

Franz Paasche, SVP Corporate Affairs Communications, PayPal

Apple Pay also disabled support for websites selling items like Nazi or white pride sweaters and T-shirts.

Squarespace

Squarespace, a service that allows people to create websites, is booting racist websites.

“In light of recent events, we have made the decision to remove a group of sites from our platform,” a spokesman said.

Spotify

Music streaming service Spotify is cracking down on bands the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled as “white power” bands. In a statement, a Spotify spokesperson said “illegal content or material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us.”

“Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention. We are glad to have been alerted to this content– and have already removed many of the bands identified today, whilst urgently reviewing the remainder.”

Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a memo to employees not only denouncing what happened the Charlottesville, but taking issue with Trump’s comments that counter protesters shared blame with neo-Nazi, white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan members who rallied on the weekend.

Team,

Like so many of you, equality is at the core of my beliefs and values. The events of the past several days have been deeply troubling for me, and I’ve heard from many people at Apple who are saddened, outraged or confused.

What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country. Hate is a cancer, and left unchecked it destroys everything in its path. Its scars last generations. History has taught us this time and time again, both in the United States and countries around the world.

We must not witness or permit such hate and bigotry in our country, and we must be unequivocal about it. This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal. It is about human decency and morality. I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.

Regardless of your political views, we must all stand together on this one point — that we are all equal. As a company, through our actions, our products and our voice, we will always work to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with respect.

I believe Apple has led by example, and we’re going to keep doing that. We have always welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world and showed them that Apple is inclusive of everyone. We empower people to share their views and express themselves through our products.

In the wake of the tragic and repulsive events in Charlottesville, we are stepping up to help organizations who work to rid our country of hate. Apple will be making contributions of $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. We will also match two-for-one our employees’ donations to these and several other human rights groups, between now and September 30.

In the coming days, iTunes will offer users an easy way to join us in directly supporting the work of the SPLC.

Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” So, we will continue to speak up. These have been dark days, but I remain as optimistic as ever that the future is bright. Apple can and will play an important role in bringing about positive change.

Best,

Tim

Intel

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was one of the first executives to leave Trump’s advisory councils. When Krzanich left the manufacturing council, he put out this statement:

Earlier today, I tendered my resignation from the American Manufacturing Council. I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing. Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base.

I have already made clear my abhorrence at the recent hate-spawned violence in Charlottesville, and earlier today I called on all leaders to condemn the white supremacists and their ilk who marched and committed violence. I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them. We should honor – not attack – those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values. I hope this will change, and I remain willing to serve when it does.

I am not a politician. I am an engineer who has spent most of his career working in factories that manufacture the world’s most advanced devices. Yet, it is clear even to me that nearly every issue is now politicized to the point where significant progress is impossible. Promoting American manufacturing should not be a political issue.

My request—my plea—to everyone involved in our political system is this: set scoring political points aside and focus on what is best for the nation as a whole. The current environment must change, or else our nation will become a shadow of what it once was and what it still can and should be.

IBM

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty sent this memo to IBMers regarding the decision to disband the President’s Strategy and Policy Forum.

Team:

By now, you’ve seen the news that we have disbanded the President’s Strategy and Policy Forum. In the past week , we have seen and heard of public events and statements that run counter to our values as a country and a company. IBM has long said, and more importantly, demonstrated its commitment to a workplace and a society that is open, inclusive and provides opportunity to all. IBM’s commitment to these values remains robust, active and unwavering.

The despicable conduct of hate groups in Charlottesville last weekend, and the violence and death that resulted from it, shows yet again that our nation needs to focus on unity, inclusion, and tolerance. For more than a century and in more than 170 countries, IBM has been committed to these values.

Engagement is part of our history, too. We have worked with every U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson. We are determinedly non-partisan – we maintain no political action committee. And we have always believed that dialogue is critical to progress; that is why I joined the President’s Forum earlier this year.

But this group can no longer serve the purpose for which it was formed. Earlier today I spoke with other members of the Forum and we agreed to disband the group. IBM will continue to work with all parts of the government for policies that support job growth, vocational education and global trade, as well as fair and informed policies on immigration and taxation.

Ginni

GE

Another resignation came from GE Chairman Jeff Immelt who, after initially saying he would stay on the manufacturing committee in a statement from GE, ultimately departed it Wednesday morning.

The President’s statements yesterday were deeply troubling.  There would be no GE without people of all races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations. GE has no tolerance for hate, bigotry, racism, and the white supremacist extremism that the country witnessed in Charlottesville last weekend.

I joined the President’s Committee on Manufacturing because engagement with government on economic policy is very important for GE, our employees, and partners.  As a company that exports over $20 billion of American made goods to the world, I believe we are best served when we constructively engage with leaders in the United States and around the world.  The Committee I joined had the intention to foster policies that promote American manufacturing and growth.  However, given the ongoing tone of the discussion, I no longer feel that this Council can accomplish these goals.  Therefore, I notified members of the council this morning that I could no longer serve on the President’s Committee on American Manufacturing.

OkCupid

The dating site banned white supremacist Christopher Cantwell Thursday and will ban others involved with hate groups.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/tech-charlottesville-apple-google-ibm-intel-twitter-facebook/#ftag=CAD590a51e

YouTube music head says company pays higher royalties than Spotify

The former road manager for Run DMC has been at YouTube for eight months now. He was instrumental in getting Google’s Doodle for the 44th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop up on the search engine’s main page, too; Cohen says that he is a music lover and artist supporter. He believes that YouTube music got to the subscription party late, which allowed companies like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music to take an early lead. He also says that ads in music videos aren’t the “death of the music industry,” but rather a second supplement to bring in the money. Cohen claims that YouTube’s ads brought in more than a billion dollars in the past 12 months. That should help soothe the music industry itself, but what about artists?

Cohen rebuts the common belief that YouTube pays less than Spotify or Pandora, saying that his service pays more than $3 per thousand streams in the US, “more than other ad supported services.” Cohen, who has been trying to patch things up between YouTube and the music industry, believes that songwriters and artists need to know what they’re making. “It’s not enough for YouTube to say that it’s paid over $1 billion to the industry from ads,” he writes. “We (the labels, publishers and YouTube) must shine a light on artist royalties, show them how much they make from ads compared to subscriptions by geography and see how high their revenue is in the U.S. and compared to other services.”

Cohen’s push into making things better at YouTube music for artists and industry veterans alike has been a while coming. Last December, the service struck a deal with the National Music Publishers Association over unpaid royalties that some speculate could have paid out at $30 million. Just this past June, YouTube and ASCAP, another national music royalties organization, created a deal for more transparency between the two companies so that YouTube could better pay its artists. “YouTube is dedicated to ensuring artists, publishers and songwriters are fairly compensated,” Cohen told Billboard at the time.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/17/youtube-music-pays-higher-royalties-spotify/

Hyundai wants a 300-mile Genesis EV in 2021, Kona EV next year

Not content to sit on the sidelines forever, Hyundai wants to bring the EV fight to its competitors.

Hyundai plans to put EVs front and center in future strategies for both itself and its luxury-brand sister Genesis, Reuters reports. This marks a shift away from, but not an entire abandonment of, hydrogen fuel cell technology. Hyundai already has a Tucson-based fuel cell crossover available for lease in California.

The first move will be to electrify the Kona subcompact SUV. It’ll pack an estimated range of about 240 miles, and it’s expected to make its debut in the first half of 2018. Following that, Hyundai will introduce a Genesis EV with a range in excess of 300 miles. Expect that one to arrive in 2021.

hyundaiioniq2017-152149.jpgEnlarge Image

“But how do you put the gas in?”


Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Hyundai’s other sister brand, Kia, isn’t sitting idly by. Kia plans to bring three different plug-in hybrids to market, as well as eight battery-electric and two fuel cell vehicles.

That sounds like a lot of new models, and it is, but it shouldn’t break Hyundai’s bank. In its plan to expand EV availability, Hyundai will develop a platform dedicated to electric vehicles. With the majority of the complex running bits on a flexible platform, Hyundai and its associated marques can focus on building a whole bunch of bodies under which the batteries will live.

While Hyundai might be giving less attention to fuel cells, they’re not entirely off the company’s radar. Genesis showed off a hydrogen fuel-cell concept SUV earlier this year, and Hyundai unveiled a fuel cell ute of its own just this week.

Hyundai’s first foray into the dedicated-EV market came with the introduction of the Ioniq. This sedan is available in various electrified forms, whether it’s a traditional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or a battery-electric vehicle. We’ve driven it, and we like it, but some specs (like EV range) lag behind the competition.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/hyundai-wants-a-300-mile-genesis-ev-in-2021-kona-ev-next-year/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Reports: Facebook shut internal forum that grew sexist, racist

facebook-f8-2017-0149.jpg

Mark Zuckerberg.


James Martin/CNET

Facebook shuttered an anonymous internal forum late last year after people using the message board posted sexist and racist comments, according to two reports on Wednesday.

The social giant closed the forum, FB Anon, after a flurry of offensive posts, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and Business Insider. The offensive posts included some that said Facebook lowered the bar for female engineers in order to flatter its diversity numbers, one person told The Journal.

The forum had been popular with employees who supported the candidacy of Donald Trump in the contentious 2016 US presidential race, according to the reports. The forum was closed in December 2016.  

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But Lori Goler, Facebook’s head of people, said in a statement to The Journal that FB Anon violated the company’s terms of service, which require users to give authentic identities.

The reports of Facebook’s internal move come as Silicon Valley companies attempt to protect free speech while curbing hate speech, a goal that has grown in importance since violence claimed the life of a women protesting against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Domain registrars GoDaddy and Google Domains, a part of Alphabet, revoked registrations for The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website and organizer of the rally, while other companies, including Apple and PayPal, have disabled services to merchants glorifying white nationalism or racism. Reddit and Facebook have banned entire groups dedicated to hate speech.

News of Facebook’s clampdown follows Google’s recent firing of an engineer who wrote a lengthy memo arguing men are better suited than women for tech jobs. James Damore’s document, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” prompted many Google employees to publically express outrage over the manifesto.  

On Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page that the social network welcomed a diversity of opinion and views but would draw the line at hate. Zuckerberg specifically mentioned the events in Virginia.

“With the potential for more rallies, we’re watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We won’t always be perfect, but you have my commitment that we’ll keep working to make Facebook a place where everyone can feel safe.”

You can read his entire post here:

We aren’t born hating each other. We aren’t born with such extreme views. We may not be able to solve every problem, but we all have a responsibility to do what we can. I believe we can do something about the parts of our culture that teach a person to hate someone else.

It’s important that Facebook is a place where people with different views can share their ideas. Debate is part of a healthy society. But when someone tries to silence others or attacks them based on who they are or what they believe, that hurts us all and is unacceptable.

There is no place for hate in our community. That’s why we’ve always taken down any post that promotes or celebrates hate crimes or acts of terrorism — including what happened in Charlottesville. With the potential for more rallies, we’re watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm. We won’t always be perfect, but you have my commitment that we’ll keep working to make Facebook a place where everyone can feel safe.

The last few days have been hard to process. I know a lot of us have been asking where this hate comes from. As a Jew, it’s something I’ve wondered much of my life. It’s a disgrace that we still need to say that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are wrong — as if this is somehow not obvious. My thoughts are with the victims of hate around the world, and everyone who has the courage to stand up to it every day.

There may always be some evil in the world, and maybe we can’t do anything about that. But there’s too much polarization in our culture, and we can do something about that. There’s not enough balance, nuance, and depth in our public discourse, and I believe we can do something about that. We need to bring people closer together, and I know we can make progress at that.

Tech Enabled: CNET chronicles tech’s role in providing new kinds of accessibility.

Technically Literate: Original works of short fiction with unique perspectives on tech, exclusively on CNET.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/reports-facebook-shut-internal-forum-that-grew-sexist-racist/#ftag=CAD590a51e

EE TV gets voice controls thanks to Amazon’s Alexa

For EE, it’s a neat trick. Amazon has long touted Alexa as a key part of its Fire TV and Fire TV stick, however those devices are for on-demand apps only. EE TV is designed to be a single solution for people who still like to tune in to live programming. Alexa, then, could be a valuable addition for people who are struggling to juggle both DVR recordings and VOD libraries. The problem, at least for now, is that the service requires an Echo speaker — with Amazon’s Fire TV, you get a purpose-built remote in the box.

Amazon, of course, only cares about expanding the Alexa ecosystem. The company wants its voice-controlled assistant to be everywhere — smartphones, speakers, even washing machines. That proliferation will naturally expand the platform’s user base and encourage third-party developers to create new “skills,” which in turn will increase Alexa’s functionality and encourage people to buy more Alexa-powered products. It’s a smart strategy, and one that Google, Apple, Samsung and others have struggled to react to. The question, of course, is whether this will move EE TV units — probably not, but it’s a nice gesture for Echo speaker owners.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/17/ee-tv-amazon-alexa-voice-controls/

Daily Stormer offline again as Cloudflare pulls support

On Saturday, August 12, 2017, a veritable who's who of white

White supremacist groups clashed with hundreds of counter-protesters during the “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. Dozens were injured in skirmishes and one counter-protester died after a white nationalist plowed into the crowd with his car.


Pacific Press

The Daily Stormer is offline again Wednesday after internet security provider Cloudflare dropped support for the neo-Nazi website.

The site, which has been called the “top hate site in America,” vanished from the web Monday after GoDaddy and then Google pulled its domain following an offensive story it published about Heather Heyer, who was killed on Saturday while counter-protesting against white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The site reappeared Wednesday with a new Russian domain. But its return was short-lived and the site dropped offline again after Cloudflare pulled its denial-of-service attack protection for the site. The San Francisco-based company said it has stopped proxying the site, as well as stopped answering DNS requests for it. Cloudflare also said it had taken steps to prevent it from registering for the company’s services again.

“Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion,” Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said in a statement. “The tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology.

“Like a lot of people, we’ve felt angry at these hateful people for a long time, but we have followed the law and remained content neutral as a network,” he said. “We could not remain neutral after these claims of secret support by Cloudflare.”

A version of the site site has moved onto the darknet, which can only be accessed through the Tor browser. The Tor address, however, pointed readers to the Russian domain, which isn’t available.

With the move, Cloudflare joins a slew of companies seeking to quash white supremacist activity on the web in the wake of the Charlottesville attack. Apple and PayPal have disabled support of their services at websites that sell merchandise glorifying white nationalists and support hate groups, while Reddit and Facebook have each banned entire hate groups

Separately on Wednesday, a Muslim American comedian filed a federal lawsuit against Andrew Anglin, the publisher of The Daily Stormer, for falsely claiming he was the “mastermind” of a deadly bombing at a concert in Manchester, England, earlier this year.

Dean Obeidallah, who hosts a show on SiriusXM Radio, says he received death threats after The Daily Stormer published doctored images designed to make readers believe the comedian had claimed responsibility for the UK bombing on his Twitter account, according to the suit.

Anglin, who didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, is also being sued by a Montana woman whom he targeted for trolling late last year.

First published Aug. 16 at 4:59 p.m. PDT.
Update, 7:58 p.m. PDT: Adds news of lawsuit against Daily Stormer publisher.

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/daily-stormer-nazi-offline-cloudflare-pulls-support-racist-charlottesville/#ftag=CAD590a51e