THANK YOU to the two new followers from over the past week, bringing the total up to 116.
I hope you like what you read, or at least feel strongly enough to comment. I donâ€™t think people realize thereâ€™s something in it for them!
Go back over previous posts and youâ€™ll see the subjects Iâ€™ve written about often change or develop, so I update the posts using comments â€“ several times, with more than a dozen updates â€“ depending on the subject matter and source of the new information. (You can never be too sure.)
If you comment on this site, youâ€™ll get more on the subject that mattered to you with an emailed update when I post something. Commenting on social media wonâ€™t often get you that because there are more posts, making them are harder to find. (Of course, youâ€™re free to comment both here and on social media, but you know how I feel about most social media by how I end each post, how none of us control it, and thereâ€™s more to come on that so please keep reading.)
Most of what Iâ€™ve been publishing lately has been about work, especially the newspaper stories Iâ€™ve written, since that takes up so much of my time. Those are actually considered pages and not posts, so you wonâ€™t get an email about them. Still, when you care about your craft, itâ€™s fun looking back on what youâ€™ve learned.
Soon, maybe tomorrow, I plan to publish about the past two issues. Click â€œPGN, 2019: Copy Editor, Writer, Reporterâ€ to keep up. Writing something every single week has been taking up too much time.
I have to mention yesterdayâ€™s terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed a 50th person, who was found at the first of the two mosques, al Noor. Three dozen survivors, ranging from two years old to their 60s, are still in hospitals, 12 in intensive care and two in critical condition. Many needed multiple surgeries.
Also, The Sydney Morning Herald reported police said they think Brenton Tarrant, 28, was the lone gunman. NBC News reported three other people were arrested and considered suspects, but are not anymore. A woman was released, one man faces unrelated firearms charges, and an 18-year-old manâ€™s arrest was â€œtangentially related,â€ according to police, but not believed to have been involved with the shooting.
Similar to the attack in late October in Pittsburgh â€“ in which I expressed my shock on the day, and was finally able to look at the bigger picture after a week â€“ the victims were just praying together on their holy day of the week. (Sure, Muslim vs. Jewish, mosques vs. synagogue, and Friday vs. Saturday, but that doesnâ€™t seem so important after what happened.)
Today, the suspected gunman in the two mosque attacks, the Australian-born Tarrant, made his first appearance in court. According to CBS News, with his hands in cuffs, he â€œflashed what is believed to be a white nationalist hand gestureâ€ as the judge charged him with one count of murder and indicated there will be more charges filed when Tarrant goes in front of the Christchurch high court on April 5. The motives for the shooting rampage are reported to be white nationalism and an anti-immigrant ideology.
More than 200 miles south, authorities searched a home believed to be Tarrantâ€™s familyâ€™s, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised new gun control legislation since all five of Tarrant’s weapons were purchased legally. Those weapons were rifles covered in white-supremacist graffiti. Online gun ownersâ€™ groups referred to â€œpanic buyingâ€ ahead of an expected ban on semi-automatic guns.
Tarrant is also suspected of publishing a 74-page white supremacist manifesto on Twitter that was sent to a bulk email address that included Prime Minister Ardernâ€™s own office, minutes before the attacks started.
The manifesto referenced â€œwhite genocideâ€ driven by â€œmass immigration,â€ and called President Donald Trump, here in the U.S., a â€œsymbol of renewed white identity.â€
The attack was also broadcast live with a bodycam on Facebook. (I had planned to write about that company weeks ago, and will have a lot more to say in another post.)
According to Morning Brew, â€œFacebook quickly shut down the account associated with the livestream, but the 17-minute video showing what appeared to be the shooting still got widespread playâ€ on Instagram, Reddit, YouTube and other platforms.
The Huffington Post published an article called â€œFacebook Monitoring Failure Helped Spread Christchurch Hate Around the Worldâ€ which went off on the â€œcompanyâ€™s touted policing system â€¦ despite recent raves by executives that the company has become a crack content monitor.â€
(Iâ€™ll take a moment to go off on Facebook pretty much shutting down most of Wednesday while posting to users it was just making upgrades. Sounds like a lie from the people who were supposed to be policing, or their bosses who had to explain themselves on rival Twitter. And policing what, since Facebookâ€™s founder, chairman and chief executive officer â€“ Mark Zuckerberg â€“ wouldnâ€™t ban Holocaust deniers and defended some of their motives on that very Facebook?)
It took the Keystone Kops over there in Menlo Park and wherever else Facebook keeps them 17 minutes until New Zealand police informed the company a gunman was posting live video. Like Facebook, two days earlier, New Zealand police sent their message on Twitter.
Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online. We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed.
— New Zealand Police (@nzpolice) March 15, 2019
Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video. We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware.
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) March 15, 2019
But it was too late, and many social misfits in the public had already captured the indecent video.
According to that Huffington Post article, other social media platforms â€œreportedly took hours to remove the video from their platformsâ€ â€“ as if people who feel the need to see the gruesome donâ€™t have it saved on their computers.
According to CNBC, Facebook said it removed the original video following the killings. Also, Twitter removed the original video and suspended the account that posted it.
And, YouTube (owned by Google) did the same but,
â€œSeveral people tweeted that they have been able to find repostings of videos of the attack on Youtube more than 12 hours after it happened. â€¦ A straightforward search on YouTube will generally yield legitimate reports from news organizations, but graphic videos could still be easily found if a user filtered results by upload date.â€
The senior tech editor at NBC News Digital showed what he found.
Took me about 30 seconds to find YouTube videos of the ripped livestream: pic.twitter.com/TFkQHIqQbf
— Jason Abbruzzese (@JasonAbbruzzese) March 15, 2019
Tried again, more videos. pic.twitter.com/45eXO7Wlrj
— Jason Abbruzzese (@JasonAbbruzzese) March 15, 2019
Some of these videos have been up for a couple hours. @YouTube, I love you, but what the hell are you doing. pic.twitter.com/CaS6LzS0x2
— Jason Abbruzzese (@JasonAbbruzzese) March 15, 2019
CNBC also noted the problem is not new.
â€œFacebook has previously experienced abuse of its livestream function and has taken steps to detect problematic streams in real time. In 2017, the company added additional measures to detect live videos where people express thoughts of suicide, including using artificial intelligence (known as AI â€“Lenny) to streamline reporting, and adding live chat with crisis support organizations. These policies followed a series of suicides that were reportedly livestreamed on Facebookâ€™s platform.â€
This is what The Washington Postâ€™s reporter whose Twitter bio says covers â€œAI and the algorithms changing your lifeâ€ tweeted out.
The New Zealand massacre was livestreamed on Facebook, announced on 8chan, reposted on YouTube, commentated about on Reddit, and mirrored around the world before the tech companies could even react.
— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) March 15, 2019
It's been eight hours and you can literally still watch this video on YouTube.
— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) March 15, 2019
And a cybersecurity reporter for The New York Times brought up this point:
These companies all like to tout their ability to fingerprint videos and images to remove them quickly from the web. Are they doing that tonight? Are they actively looking for hashtags promoting the video and their variations?
— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) March 15, 2019
So what can help? Maybe quicker identification.
A long Thursday article about Facebook in Fortune magazine had chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer asking the reporter looking at two side-by-side pictures on his laptop this simple question: â€œWhich one of these is broccoli and which one is marijuana?â€
The reporter took some time before answering correctly, saying it â€œisnâ€™t obvious. Both pictures look convincingly cannabis-likeâ€”dense, leafy-green buds that are coated with miniature, hair-like growths, or perhaps mold.â€
The Fortune reporter said Schroepfer was demonstrating how Facebook â€œis using technology, specifically artificial intelligence,â€ because itâ€™s â€œmore accurate than humans,â€ and, â€œfaster by far than a human.â€
He said about her, â€œIt took you more than a second,â€ but the companyâ€™s technology â€œcan do this in hundredths of milliseconds, billions of times a day.â€
Also according to the expert, Facebook was 93.77 percent sure about the pot, but only 88.39 percent sure about the broccoli.
Sounds like grades of an A and a B, respectively, but The Huffington Post reporter â€“ one day later but after the massacre â€“ called into question whether thatâ€™s good enough â€œwith billions of postsâ€ and how itâ€™s harder â€œto spot a problem in a livestream video or a first-time upload.â€
(I can only imagine whether Zuckerbergâ€™s team knew what I did with Facebook Live when I worked at the local Fox TV station. It was usually suburb updates on severe weather by Sue Serio, Kathy Orr and Scott Williams â€“ and Iâ€™ve never used Facebook Live before or since â€“ but was anybody other than the audience of Facebook users, who â€œlikedâ€ the stationâ€™s page and agreed to receive notifications, alerted to a new live video and listening in to what was being said? Doubtful in those cases and probably every single other one. Sounds like social media needs to get better if it wants to police its users.)
And it wasnâ€™t just social media at fault.
Youâ€™d think the traditional media would cooperate with police for two reasons: Itâ€™s often the right thing, which could possibly keep someone from blaming the company for peopleâ€™s deaths; and they know theyâ€™ll want police to give them or confirm information immediately for competitive purposes.
(The massacre happened overnight in the U.S. so weâ€™re hearing reports from nearby Australia, rather than understaffed American newsrooms which promoted themselves with slogans like claiming to be â€œYour 24-Hour News Sourceâ€ more than a quarter-century ago, until it became too expensive.)
But The Guardian reported,
â€œSeveral Australian media outlets broadcast some of the footage. â€¦
â€œSky News Australia repeatedly broadcast footage of the shooter at the mosque and Ten Daily embedded the footage on its website and social media posts. Neither showed the actual shootings or any victims.
â€œThe Ten Daily video remained online for several hours but was eventually taken down, along with all the stills from the video. Sky continued to show excerpts from the video.â€
See whoâ€™s in charge at Sky News Australia. Iâ€™ll give you a guess: The same people but different company than I mentioned earlier on this page. This is who owns the company, and this is who controls the parent company.
The Guardian article continued,
â€œA Sky spokeswoman said: â€˜Sky News in line with other broadcasters ran heavily edited footage that did not show the shootings or the victims.â€™ â€¦
â€œNews.com.au (same owner â€“Lenny) published stills from the shooterâ€™s video and included some footage from the gunman in his car and entering the mosque in an online video.â€
It also mentioned another TV station and a newspaper website.
Australiaâ€™s opposition leader, Bill Shorten, may have put the battle against showing the new viral video best:
â€œThey have said, and I agree, do not allow this evil into our lives. Do not share the footage. Do not watch the footage. This is not part of normal life.â€
The Guardian article ended,
â€œThe apparent manifesto of the shooter, which has been removed from his social media accounts, was shared by several media outlets, including (Australiaâ€™s, not the one in the U.S. â€“Lenny) ABC News, which read out an excerpt.â€
Journalists know breaking news isnâ€™t planned, but there could be live events, such as the verdict in a trial and predicted bad weather moving through. How news people and their organizations cover an unexpected story reflects on their ability, trust, reputation, and perhaps ratings.
Social media companies know killers posting videos of their crimes isnâ€™t typical. The question for them is whether theyâ€™re working hard enough and fast enough to get rid of video like that, and keep it from reappearing.
I suggest social media companies show theyâ€™re socially conscious and working in the public interest by not suspending but deleting the accounts of anyone who shares the killerâ€™s bodycam video or the like on their pages. Sure, the people or companies can start new pages with different email addresses and/or phone numbers, but theyâ€™ll never get back what they lost on that platform. So showing the video on social media probably wouldnâ€™t be worth it for anyone alive and not in prison.
The spread of the video could inspire copycats, according to CNNâ€™s legal enforcement analyst Steve Moore, a retired supervisory special agent for the FBI. Who wants that in their neighborhood?
According to Moore,
â€œWhat I would tell the public is this: Do you want to help terrorists? Because if you do, sharing this video is exactly how you do it.â€ â€¦
â€œDo not share the video, or you are part of this.â€
(And you may want to avoid buying tech company stock in the near future, but thatâ€™s a different issue.)
As I promised in the fourth paragraph Iâ€™d mention, if you appreciate what you read here, subscribe with either your email address or WordPress account, and get a notice whenever I publish. Donâ€™t rely on social media with its hacking issues and censoring like this, this, this and this.
A journalism school overhaul needed to happen – along with work after graduation – for years. The current circumstances will probably push both along, but in the right direction? Consider other major news events of the past few decades (not to compare the stories) and think about how they changed content and presentation. https://mondaynote.com/the-upcoming-journalism-school-overhaul-a4e7498cca70
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