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Center for Combating Extremism opens to fight the world’s first common enemy

(SOCIAL MEDIA) President Trump was given a tour of the Center for Combating Extremism which was built for monitoring online behavior, seeking to understand and stop disenfranchisement and radicalization.

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Brand new collaboration

On Sunday, to cap off of his first presidential overseas trip, President Trump helped to inaugurate the Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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Fellow world leaders King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sissi joined Trump in opening the cutting edge, collaborative center devoted to battling extremist ideology on social media.

Group effort

President Trump took a guided tour of the anti-terrorism complex following his high profile speech to many Arab leaders on the importance of collaboration in the face of extremist terrorism. To this end, the United States and Saudi Arabia signed a joint declaration calling for the formation of a commission devoting to coordinating both country’s anti-extremism efforts, which will focus on cutting off extremist financing sources, countering dangerous messaging, and employing military force.

Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Mohammed al-Issa emphasizes that military force alone will not solve the problem, because “we know these groups can only be defeated if we defeat their ideology.”

So what exactly is the Center for Combating Extremism going to do? Other than, you know, generally combating extremism? Well the big idea is this: terrorism is the world’s first common enemy. We’re all up against this enemy, so if we’re smart we’ll work against it together.

Combating Extremism

The Center was founded by a few different countries to monitor and analyze extreme ideologies, and hopefully prevent extremist terrorism by working with governments and other organizations.

The Center operate through three basic strategies. Confront extremism using cutting edge intellectual, media, and numerical methods. That seems vague, but remember, this place is brand new. More details will inevitably emerge, but so far we know that extremists’ speeches, online comments, and other data are analyzed super quickly, and with high accuracy.

Acceptance and moderation

In the end, the Center is all about moderation and accepting others. They aren’t just monitoring extremists messages – they’re putting out their own, an alternative to the hate and anger.

The Center will produce content that both confronts and defies radical messaging, revealing the propaganda behind the extremism.

A number of international experts will be on hand at the Center to address extremist messages, and the content coming out of the Center will use the most common languages and dialects used by extremist groups.

A selection of 12 representatives from various states and organizations will make up the Board of Directors, allowing for neutrality, flexibility, and transparency as the Center works to achieve its moderate objectives.

#TCFCE

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

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Social Media

Zillow launches real estate brokerage after eons of swearing they wouldn’t

(MEDIA) We’ve warned of this for years, the industry funded it, and Zillow Homes brokerage has launched, and there are serious questions at hand.

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Zillow Homes was announced today, a Zillow licensed brokerage that will be fully operational in 2021 in Phoenix, Tucson, and Atlanta.

Whoa, big huge yawn-inducing shocker, y’all.

We’ve been warning for more than a decade that this was the end game, and the company blackballed us for our screams (and other criticisms, despite praise when merited here and there).

Blog posts were penned in fiery effigy calling naysayers like us stupid and paranoid.

Well color me unsurprised that the clarity of the gameplan was clear as day all along over here, and the paid talking heads sent out to astroturf, gaslight, and threaten us are now all quiet.

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Social Media

We watched The Social Dilemma – here are some social media tips that stuck with us

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Here are some takeaways from watching Netflix’s The Social Dilemma that helped me to eliminate some social media burnout.

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Last weekend, I made the risky decision to watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix. I knew it was an important thing to watch, but the risk was that I also knew it would wig me out a bit. As much as I’m someone who is active “online,” the concept of social media overwhelms me almost more than it entertains (or enlightens) me.

The constant sharing of information, the accessibility to information, and the endless barrage of notifications are just a few of the ways social media can cause overwhelm. The documentary went in deeper than this surface-level content and got into the nitty gritty of how people behind the scenes use your data and track your usage.

Former employees of high-profile platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, and Pinterest gave their two cents on the dangers of social media from a technological standpoint. Basically, our data isn’t just being tracked to be passed along for newsletters and the like. But rather, humans are seen as products that are manipulated to buy and click all day every day in order to make others money and perpetuate information that has astronomical effects. (I’m not nearly as intelligent as these people, so watch the documentary to get the in-depth look at how all of this operates.)

One of the major elements that stuck with me was the end credits of The Social Dilemma where they asked interviewees about the ways they are working to eliminate social media overwhelm in their own lives. Some of these I’ve implemented myself and can attest to. Here’s a short list of things you can do to keep from burning out online.

  1. Turn off notifications – unless there are things you need to know about immediately (texts, emails, etc.) turn it off. Getting 100 individual notifications within an hour from those who liked your Instagram post will do nothing but burn you (and your battery) out.
  2. Know how to use these technologies to change the conversation and not perpetuate things like “fake news” and clickbait.
  3. Uninstall apps that are wasting your time. If you feel yourself wasting hours per week mindlessly scrolling through Facebook but not actually using it, consider deleting the app and only checking the site from a desktop or Internet browser.
  4. Research and consider using other search tools instead of Google (one interviewee mentioned that Qwant specifically does not collect/store your information the way Google does).
  5. Don’t perpetuate by watching recommended videos on YouTube, those are tailored to try and sway or sell you things. Pick your own content.
  6. Research the many extensions that remove these recommendations and help stop the collection of your data.

At the end of the day, just be mindful of how you’re using social media and what you’re sharing – not just about yourself, but the information you’re passing along from and to others. Do your part to make sure what you are sharing is accurate and useful in this conversation.

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Social Media

WeChat ban blocked by California judge, but for how long?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) WeChat is protected by First Amendment concerns for now, but it’s unclear how long the app will remain as pressure mounts.

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WeChat barely avoided a US ban after a Californian judge stepped in to temporarily block President Trump’s executive order. Judge Laurel Beeler cited the effects of the ban on US-based WeChat users and how it threatened the First Amendment rights of those users.

“The plaintiffs’ evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat,” Beeler wrote.

WeChat is a Chinese instant messaging and social media/mobile transaction app with over 1 billion active monthly users. The WeChat Alliance, a group of users who filed the lawsuit in August, pointed out that the ban unfairly targets Chinese-Americans as it’s the primary app used by the demographic to communicate with loved ones, engage in political discussions, and receive news.

The app, along with TikTok, has come under fire as a means for China to collect data on its users. U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated, “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”

This example is yet another symptom of our ever-globalizing society where we are learning to navigate between connectivity and privacy. The plaintiffs also pointed out alternatives to an outright ban. One example cited was in Australia, where WeChat is now banned from government officials’ phones but not others.

Beeler has said that the range in alternatives to preserving national security affected her decision to strike down the ban. She also explained that in regards to dealing with national security, there is “scant little evidence that (the Commerce Department’s) effective ban of WeChat for all US users addresses those concerns.”

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