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How Pinterest reminds us that the web is for adults

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Pinterest and porn

(AGBeat) – Recently, we reported that as Pinterest grows, the chance of young men discovering Pinterest grows as well, and with young men visually bookmarking their interests, the site will easily be populated by potentially offensive material.

Tech bloggers are tossing up polls about whether nudity in art or otherwise is offensive, and while Pinterest is like any other community with rules (namely that they “do not allow nudity or hateful content” on the site), they are being called to prepare themselves to censor unsavory content that violates their rules (although all pins are already subject to the site’s Terms of Service and when flagged, Pinterest staff manually reviews it and either removes or allows each instance). There is alarm and hints that the site should offer stronger censorship which is ironic given these are the same tech bloggers that write endlessly about SOPA and ACTA.

The internet is a strip club

Pinterest is currently populated by mostly creatives, many of whom are artists or art enthusiasts and the bottom line is that nudity is a part of art. Additionally, the site does not force anyone to follow or view any content that is obscene – people with sensitivities should stick to viewing pins from people they know/trust/follow while avoiding a potentially offensive space, just as people with sensitivities should stick to not walking into a strip club and acting upset that nudity exists.

In this scenario, however, the strip club is not Pinterest, it is the entire web, which simply serves as a reminder that the web truly is for adults. Sure, anyone over the age of 13 can use Pinterest, and any toddler using mommy’s iPad can use the web, but it is wasted effort to run a poll about whether nudity has been witnessed on Pinterest, or to write about nudity online.

There is no such thing as a “no children allowed” button for the web, but the upset surrounding nudity on Pinterest is silly and a waste of effort, just as getting upset that porn exists online or that someone cussed on Twitter is wasted effort. While Pinterest has their rules that they request users to live by and they enforce the no nudity rules, it is a community that is based on sharing visual bookmarks of whatever interests the user, so if sideboob interests the user and someone doesn’t like that, they should unfollow them and keep their eyes on pins from people they follow that they trust not to offend them… stay out of the “Everything” category of Pinterest, or stay out of the internet overall for that matter, and everyone will be okay.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. David Pylyp

    February 20, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Do you think there is a board on Pinterest that could be used as a referral WHO is available in What City State Province Bio that I can quickly scan.

    Is it Scan or Scorn that will be received?
    Your judgement is required.

    David Pylyp
    Living in Toronto and waiting for you

  2. Tinu

    February 20, 2012 at 1:24 am

    There's for real a poll about whether art is obscene? Because it contains nudity? I may have to unsubscribe from the web for a while. I abhor pettiness. I'd move to France but I just love this freaking country so much.

    • Lani Rosales

      February 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

      Even if we lived in France, we'd still read American sites, we can't help it 🙂

  3. Allen Mireles

    February 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Lani, I celebrate your choice of topic here and your extension of the concern about nudity on Pinterest to the reality of the entire web and the reminder that the web is for adults. I'm glad you have chosen to remind readers that no one is forced to follow anyone on Pinterest (or on the web for that matter) and that there are easy ways to limit one's exposure to anything one considers offensive. Duh.

    Last week (was it only last week?) we got up in arms about a popular social media consultant who spammed Pinterest with a series of branded posters with inane quotes. While I saw the same thing others saw and was both amused and dismayed at the pinning of 24 posters that all looked the same and included quotes that seemed unimportant (and yes, I felt like it was spam) I simply unfollowed that person and several others and went to gazing longingly at beautiful interiors that in no way resemble my home's. Point being, there was an easy fix. I have no interest in being wooed by social media gurus while I am on Pinterest. I like to look at the images that resonate and I can create my ideal Pinterest experience fairly easily. I have other friends and colleagues on Pinterest who pin images of sideboobage or sexy young things in scant outfits and I blow right by those because they don't interest me. If it gets to a point of being offensive, I unfollow, so that I can focus on the images that make me salivate: beautiful, pristine interiors devoid of a single pet hair.

    For better or worse, the web and now Pinterest, are a reflection of our humanity. The good, the bad and the ugly. (And, those things differ depending on who you ask.) We must use our intelligence and our discernment when using these tools–as we do in other aspects of daily living in today's world.

    • Lani Rosales

      February 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Perfectly stated, Allen – "simple fix" is the concept I was addressing… not sure why this is overly complicated for some people.

  4. novalinnhe

    December 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Hmmm… I’m reading up a lot about this, because I’ve just seen a man’s board on Pinterest that completely freaked me out. I reported him instantly. I pre-empt a few rolling eyeballs at this point, but it IS within Pinterest’s Terms of Use – so although my opinion is going to be unpopular within the context of this article, I was definitely within my right to do so.
     
    However, I never really realised that there are a community of people out there who actually enjoy images like this… without being a raging pervert/paedophile. It’s been quite curious hearing other people’s opinions on it. I’ve been Googling for about an hour now, slowly forming my opinion, and quite enjoying how eloquent a lot of the people writing these articles are.
     
    Now that I’ve studied the subject a little more, I’ve decided I’m sort of “in the middle” on it (although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to change the fact that I am very squeamish around nudity). What I’ve concluded is that, however much it does offend people, the internet is a free platform and so people shouldn’t be restricted from posting images like this – even if it offends other parties.
     
    However, I do believe that on sites which are so “easily accessible”, or run on visual media, systems like DeviantArt’s NSFW screen should be employed. It’s perfect – just slap it over anything 12+, and not only does it help out all those worried parents/religious people/those who genuinely find genetalia disturbing, but it allows images like this to be shared more freely. And so both parties win, I think. 🙂
     
    I’m a little scared about the backlash I am going to receive from fans of this guy’s Pinterest board – particularly as a lot of them seem to be quite eloquent. However, now that I can approach the situation from a broader “stance” than the scared little girl who doesn’t want to see another naked person ever again, I hope I can deal with what is coming. The internet really isn’t a very nice place for sensitive folk!
     
    However, as I’ve been reading, I’ve been thinking outside the subject a little more. If one allows sexual images like this to be posted more openly and freely (as yes, free speech is important)… what about pro-racists? Where do they go? Do they get stopped, or simply get the NSFW filter as well? What about child pornography? There are cultures where girls become women from a much younger age, and even over here in the UK, women could get married from 12. In Japan, there is an entire culture centralised around pornography which involves animated children (i.e. under 12), that is culturally accepted. Simple NSFW or unacceptable online?
     
    Hmm… I think I’ll need to do a little more studying around this. One thing is for certain, though… free speech is a ruddy confusing little topic, aye!

  5. Pingback: Google reverses decision concerning adult blog content - AGBeat

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The FBI has a new division to investigate leaks to the media

(MEDIA) The FBI has launched a division dedicated completely to investigating leaks, and the stats of their progress and formation are pretty surprising…

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Expanding its capability to investigate potential governmental leaks to the media, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) created a new unit to address those threats in 2018.

Documents obtained by TYT as a part of their investigation identify the need for the unit as being due to a “rapid” increase in the number of leaks to the media from governmental sources.

“The complicated nature of — and rapid growth in — unauthorized disclosure and media leak threats and investigations has necessitated the establishment of a new Unit,” one of the released and heavily redacted documents reads.

The FBI appeared to create accounting functions to support the new division, with one document dated in May 2018 revealing that a cost code for the new unit was approved by the FBI’s Resource Analysis Unit.

In August 2017, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had stated that such a unit had already been formed to address such types of investigations, which he had deemed as being too few in number shortly after taking office in February 2017.

By November of the same year, Sessions claimed that the number of investigations by the Justice Department had increased by 800%, as the Trump administration sought to put an end to the barrage of leaks regarding both personnel and policy that appeared to come from within the ranks of the federal government.

The investigation and prosecution of leaks to the media from government reached a zenith under the Obama administration, using a United States law that originated over 100 years ago in 1917, and was long unused for such purposes.

The Espionage Act treats the unauthorized release of information deemed to be secret in the interests of national security and could be used to harm the interests of the United States or aid an enemy as a criminal act. While controversial in application, the administration used it to prosecute more than twice as many alleged leakers than had been addressed by all previous administrations combined, a total of 10 leak-related prosecutions.

In July 2018, Reality Winner, pled guilty to one felony count of leaking classified information in 2016, representing the first successful prosecution of those who leaked governmental secrets to the media under the Trump administration.

Winner, a former member of the Air Force and a contractor for the National Security Agency at the time of her arrest, was accused of sharing a classified report regarding alleged Russian involvement with the election of 2016 with the news media. Her agreed-upon sentence of 63 months in prison was longer than the average of those convicted for similar crimes, with the typical sentence ranging from one to three and a half years.

Defendants charged under the Espionage Act by the FBI are challenged in mounting their case by the fact that they are prohibited of using a defense of disclosure in the public interest as a defense to their actions.

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MeWe – the social network for your inner Ron Swanson

MeWe, a new social media site, seems to offer everything Facebook does and more, but with privacy as a foundation of its business model. Said MeWe user Melissa F., “It’s about time someone figured out that privacy and social media can go hand in hand.”

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Let’s face it: Facebook is kind of creepy. Between facial recognition technology, demanding your real name, and mining your accounts for data, social media is becoming increasingly invasive. Users have looked for alternatives to mainstream social media that genuinely value privacy, but the alternatives to Facebook have been lackluster.

MeWe is poised to change all of that, if it can muster up a network strong enough to compete with Facebook. On paper, the new social media site seems to offer everything Facebook does and more, but with privacy as a foundation of its business model. Said MeWe user Melissa F., “It’s about time someone figured out that privacy and social media can go hand in hand.”

MeWe prioritizes privacy in every aspect of the site, and in fact, users are protected by a “Privacy Bill of Rights.” MeWe does not track, mine, or share your data, and does not use facial recognition software or cookies. (In fact, you can take a survey on MeWe to estimate how many cookies are currently tracking you – apparently I have 18 cookies spying on me!)

ron swanson

You don’t have to share that “as of [DATE] my content belongs to me” status anymore.

Everything you post on MeWe belongs to you – the site does not try to claim ownership over your content – and you can download your profile in its entirety at any time. MeWe doesn’t even pester you with advertising. Instead of making money by selling your data (hence the hashtag #Not4Sale) or advertising, the site plans to profit by offering additional paid services, like extra data and bonus apps.

So what does MeWe do? Everything Facebook does, and more. You can share photos and videos, send messages or live chat. You can also attach voice messages to any of your posts, photos, or videos, and you can create Snapchat-like disappearing content.

You can also sync your profile to stash content in your personal storage cloud. Everything you post is protected, and you can fine-tune the permission controls so that you can decide exactly who gets to see your content and who doesn’t – “no creepy stalkers or strangers.”

MeWe is available for Android, iOS, desktops, and tablets.

This story was originally published in January 2016, but the social network suddenly appears to be gaining traction.

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Reddit CEO says it’s impossible to police hate speech, and he’s 100% right

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Moderating speech online is a slippery slope, and Reddit’s CEO argues that it’s impossible. Here’s why censorship of hate speech is still so complicated.

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Reddit often gets a bad rap in the media for being a cesspool of offensive language and breeding grounds for extreme, harmful ideas. This is due in part to the company’s refusal to mediate or ban hate speech.

In fact, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman recently stated that it’s not possible for the company to moderate hate speech. Huffman noted that since hate speech can be “difficult to define,” enforcing a ban would be “a nearly impossible precedent to uphold.”

As lazy as that may sound, anyone who has operated massive online groups (as we do) knows this to be unfortunate but true.

Currently, Reddit policy prohibits “content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people […or] that glorifies or encourages the abuse of animals.”

Just about anything else is fair game. Sure, subreddit forums have been shut down in the past, but typically as the result of public pressure. Back in 2015, several subreddits were removed, including ones focused on mocking overweight people, transgender folks, and people of color.

However, other equally offensive subreddits didn’t get the axe. Reddit’s logic was that the company received complaints that the now retired subreddits were harassing others on and offline. Offensive posts are permitted, actual harassment is not.

Huffman previously stated, “On Reddit, the way in which we think about speech is to separate behavior from beliefs.” So posting something horribly racist won’t get flagged unless there’s evidence that users crossed the line from free speech to harassing behavior.

Drawing the line between harassment and controversial conversation is where things get tricky for moderators.

Other social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at least make an attempt, though. So what’s holding Reddit back?

Well, for one, moderating hate speech isn’t a clear cut task.

Right now, AI can’t fully take the reins because to truly put a stop to hate speech, there must be an understanding of both language and intent.

Since current AI isn’t quite there yet, Facebook currently employs actual people for the daunting task. The company mostly relies on overseas contractors, which can get pretty expensive (and can lack understanding of cultural contexts).

Users post millions of comments to Reddit per day, and paying real humans to sift through every potentially offensive or harassing post could break the bank.

Most agree that cost isn’t a relevant excuse, though, so Facebook is looking into buying and developing software specializing in natural language processing as an alternative solution. But right now, Reddit does not seem likely to follow in Facebook’s footsteps.

While Facebook sees itself as a place where users should feel safe and comfortable, Reddit’s stance is that all views are welcome, even potentially offensive and hateful ones.

This April in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) a user straight up asked if obvious racism and slurs are against Reddit’s rules.

Huffman responded in part, “the best defense against racism and other repugnant views both on Reddit and in the world, is instead of trying to control what people can and cannot say through rules, is to repudiate these views in a free conversation.”

So essentially, although racism is “not welcome,” it’s also not likely to be banned unless there is associated unacceptable behavior as well.

It’s worth noting that while Reddit as a whole does not remove most hate speech, each subreddit has its own set of rules that may dictate stricter rules. The site essentially operates as an online democracy, with each subreddit “state” afforded the autonomy to enforce differing standards.

Enforcement comes down to moderators, and although some content is clearly hateful, other posts can fall into grey area.

Researches at Berkeley partnered with the Anti-Defamation League recently partnered up to create The Online Hate Index project, an AI program that identifies hate speech. While the program was surprisingly accurate in identifying hate speech, determining intensity of statements was difficult.

Plus, many of the same words are used in hate and non-hate comments. AI and human moderators struggle with defining what crosses the line into hate speech. Not all harmful posts are immediately obvious, and when a forum receives a constant influx of submissions, the volume can be overwhelming for moderators.

While it’s still worth making any effort to foster healthy online communities, until we get a boost to AI’s language processing abilities, complete hate speech moderation may not be possible for large online groups.

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