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Well-intentioned bipartisan social media bill could be a slippery slope regarding privacy

(SOCIAL MEDIA) A new anti-sex trafficking bill may put social media companies at risk for content that they don’t control.

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A new form of slavery

An estimated 20-45.8 million people are trapped in sex trafficking, the world’s newest form of slavery. One out of every five victims is a child under the age of 18. This form of slavery is happening in 167 countries, or roughly, 87 percent of the world and the United States is not exempt.

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A new bill geared toward ending sex trafficking on social media may end up jeopardizing the immunity from user-created content that social sites have, simply because it is too broadly written.

Good Concept, Poor Execution

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 aims to target instances of sex trafficking—more specifically, child sex trafficking—in online venues, including social media sites. Sounds like a worthwhile cause, right? Unfortunately, the proposed execution of this act leaves a lot to be desired.

According to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, social media sites are not directly responsible for the content their users upload.

This prevents them from being held accountable for controversial content that they can’t see or moderate quickly enough.

For example, if a murder or similar crime is recorded and uploaded to YouTube, YouTube isn’t liable for the content itself.

The ambiguity in the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 could potentially change that by amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to exclude cases of sex trafficking, in which case the platforms on which the content was uploaded could—and, some fear, would—be prosecuted for that content.

This presents a huge problem because, as we all know, the Internet is often a moral-free zone where nothing is off-limits.

With Section 230 amended, some of the pitch-black humor and careless conversation one expects to find in the average comment section could turn into actual cases levied against social media sites like Facebook and YouTube, to say nothing of the actual instances that these companies can’t react to in time.

Wrong Way to Go About It

Obviously, we’re all in favor of ending sex trafficking, especially in a realm so untamed as the Internet. However, anyone who has spent literally any time in a comment section knows how volatile, controversial, and straight-up weird people can be when they feel anonymous. To hold a company accountable for the (admittedly reprehensible) actions of a few people who agreed to terms of use contracts prohibiting those actions seems like the wrong way to go about a serious problem that very much needs to be addressed.

As it sits, the result of passing the bill as-is would more than likely culminate in nothing more than wave after wave of minor, time-wasting lawsuits for individual “infractions” and suspected leads. Sex trafficking is a horrendous act that deserves full and immediate attention—it just needs a little more focus than this bill currently entails.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

Social Media

Twitter’s crackdown on deepfakes could insure the company’s survival

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter is cracking down on manipulated and misleading content—will other social media platforms do the same?

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Twitter isn’t renowned for things that other social media platforms lay claim to—you know, setting trends, turning a profit, staying relevant—but the oft-forgotten site finally has something to brag about: cracking down on deepfakes.

Oh, and they also finally pulled out a profit this year, but that’s beside the point.

Deepfakes, for those who don’t know, are videos which have been manipulated to portray people—often celebrities or politicians—saying and doing things that they never actually said or did. The problem with deepfakes is that, unlike your average Photoshop job, they are extremely convincing; in some cases, their validity may even be impossible to determine.

Unfortunately, deepfakes have been used for a variety of unsavory purposes ranging from moderate humiliation to full-blown revenge porn; since ruling them out is difficult, the long-term implications of this type of video manipulation are pretty terrifying.

You wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that all social media platforms should address deepfakes as a serious issue, but the fact remains that many platforms have taken decidedly lackadaisical approaches. Facebook, for example, continues to allow content from producers who have histories of video manipulation, the dissemination of misleading information, and flat-out false advertising—something that has been generally glossed over despite being heavily addressed by media.

This is where Twitter is actually ahead of the curve. Where other social media services have failed in the war against “fake news”, Twitter hopes to succeed by aggressively labelling and, in some cases, censoring media that has been determined to be manipulated or misleading. While the content itself will stay posted in most cases, a warning will appear near it to signify its lack of credibility.

Twitter will also remove manipulated content that is deemed harmful or malicious, but the real beauty of their move is that it allows people to witness first-hand a company or service purposefully misleading them. By keeping the problematic content available while making users aware of its flaws, Twitter is increasing awareness and skepticism about viral content.

Of course, there is room to criticize Twitter’s approach; for example, some will point to their act of leaving deepfakes posted as not doing enough, while others will probably address the tricky business of identifying deepfakes to begin with. Luckily, Twitter’s policy isn’t set in stone just yet—from now until November 27th, you can take a survey to leave feedback on how Twitter should address these issues going forward.

As Twitter’s policy develops and goes into place, it will be interesting to see which social media platforms follow suit.

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Social Media

This LinkedIn graphic shows you where your profile is lacking

(SOCIAL MEDIA) LinkedIn has the ability to insure your visibilty, and this new infographic breaks down where you should put the most effort

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LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a must-have in the professional world. However, this social media platform can be incredibly overwhelming as there are a lot of moving pieces.

Luckily, there is a fancy graphic that details everything you need to know to create the perfect LinkedIn profile. Let’s dive in!

As we know, it is important to use your real name and an appropriate headshot. A banner photo that fits your personal brand (e.g. fits the theme of your profession/industry) is a good idea to add.

Adding your location and a detailed list of work-related projects are both underutilized, yet key pieces of information that people will look for. Other key pieces come in the form of recommendations; connections aren’t just about numbers, endorse them and hopefully they will return the favor!

Fill in every and all sections that you can, and re-read for any errors (get a second set of eyes if there’s one available). Use the profile strength meter to get a second option on your profile and find out what sections could use a little more help.

There are some settings you can enable to get the most out of LinkedIn. Turn on “career interests” to let recruiters know that you are open to job offers, turn on “career advice” to participate in an advice platform that helps you connect with other leaders in your field, turn your profile privacy off from private in order to see who is viewing your profile.

The infographic also offers some stats and words to avoid. Let’s start with stats: 65 percent of employers want to see relevant work experience, 91 percent of employers prefer that candidates have work experience, and 68 percent of LinkedIn members use the site to reconnect with past colleagues.

Now, let’s talk vocab; the infographic urges users to avoid the following words: specialized, experienced, skilled, leadership, passionate, expert, motivated, creative, strategic, focused.

That was educational, huh? Speaking of education – be sure to list your highest level of academia. People who list their education appear in searches up to 17 times more often than those who do not. And, much like when you applied to college, your past education wasn’t all that you should have included – certificates (and licenses) and volunteer work help set you apart from the rest.

Don’t be afraid to ask your connections, colleagues, etc. for recommendations. And, don’t be afraid to list your accomplishments.

Finally, users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. You’re already using the site, right? Use it to your advantage! Finish your profile by completing the all-star rating checklist: industry and location, skills (minimum of three), profile photo, at least 50 connections, current position (with description), two past positions, and education.

When all of this is complete, continue using LinkedIn on a daily basis. Update your profile when necessary, share content, and keep your name popping up on peoples’ timelines. (And, be sure to check out the rest of Leisure Jobs’ super helpful infographic that details other bits, like how to properly size photos!)

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Social Media

Deepfakes can destroy any reputation, company, or country

(MEDIA) Deepfakes have been around for a few years now, but they’re being crafted for nefarious purposes beyond the original porn and humor uses.

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Deepfakes — a technology originally used by Reddit perverts who wanted to superimpose their favorite actresses’ faces onto the bodies of porn stars – have come a long way since the original Reddit group was banned.

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) to create bogus videos by analyzing facial expressions to replace one person’s face and/or voice with another’s.

Using computer technology to synthesize videos isn’t exactly new.

Remember in Forrest Gump, how Tom Hanks kept popping up in the background of footage of important historical events, and got a laugh from President Kennedy? It wasn’t created using AI, but the end result is the same. In other cases, such technology has been used to complete a film when an actor dies during production.

The difference between these examples and that latest deepfake technology is a question of ease and access.

Historically, these altered videos have required a lot of money, patience, and skill. But as computer intelligence has advanced, so too has deepfake technology.

Now the computer does the work instead of the human, making it relatively fast and easy to create a deepfake video. In fact, Stanford created a technology using a standard PC and web cam, as I reported in 2016.

Nowadays, your average Joe can access open source deepfake apps for free. All you need is some images or video of your victim.

While the technology has mostly been used for fun – such as superimposing Nicolas Cage into classic films – deepfakes could and have been used for nefarious purposes.

There is growing concern that deepfakes could be used for political disruption, for example, to smear a politician’s reputation or influence elections.

Legislators in the House and Senate have requested that intelligence agencies report on the issue. The Department of Defense has already commissioned researchers to teach computers to detect deepfakes.

One promising technology developed at the University of Albany analyzes blinking to detect deep fakes, as subjects in the faked videos usually do not blink as often as real humans do. Ironically, in order to teach computers how to detect them, researchers must first create many deepfake videos. It seems that deepfake creators and detectors are locked in a sort of technological arms race.

The falsified videos have the potential to exacerbate the information wars, either by producing false videos, or by calling into question real ones. People are already all too eager to believe conspiracy theories and fake news as it is, and the insurgence of these faked videos could be created to back up these bogus theories.

Others worry that the existence of deepfake videos could cast doubt on actual, factual videos. Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University says that deepfakes could lead to “deep denials” – in other words, “the ability to dispute previously uncontested evidence.”

While there have not yet been any publicly documented cases of attempts to influence politics with deepfake videos, people have already been harmed by the faked videos.

Women have been specifically targeted. Celebrities and civilians alike have reported that their likeness has been used to create fake sex videos.

Deepfakes prove that just because you can achieve an impressive technological feat doesn’t always mean you should.

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