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Elon Musk Has a ‘Huge Responsibility’ to Tackle Vaccine Misinformation on Twitter, WHO Official Says
Elon Musk will have a “huge influence” over the curbing and potential spreading of vaccine misinformation on Twitter, a World Health Organization official (WHO) said.
Musk is buying Twitter for $44 billion, pending regulatory and shareholder approval. He has said one of his aims is to promote “free speech” on the platform, and looks set to relax Twitter’s rules around content moderation.
During a virtual conference Tuesday, a reporter asked WHO officials whether having Musk in charge of Twitter could hinder its efforts to curb vaccine misinformation online. It’s not just Twitter but all social media platforms that need to address misinformation, according to Dr. Mike Ryan, executive of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme.
Appeals Court Tosses Vaccine Mandate for California Prison Guards
A panel of three judges sided with the state’s prison system, the union representing its guards and Gov. Gavin Newsom in striking down the rule on Monday, April 25. It would have made the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s over 66,000 employees.
A lower court had ruled that prison officials were failing to provide adequate medical care and potentially endangering inmates by not requiring staff to be vaccinated. All CDCR employees had been ordered to receive the jab by early January, but that plan was put on hold in November.
SAG-AFTRA Members to Rally Against Industry’s COVID Vaccination Mandate
A group of SAG-AFTRA members opposed to the film and TV industry’s vaccination mandate says they will stage a protest Thursday outside the union’s headquarters in Los Angeles. Oscar-nominated actress Sally Kirkland, a former Screen Actors Guild national board member, will be one of the speakers. As COVID restrictions are being lifted nationwide, the protesters say it’s time for Hollywood to scrap the mandate.
The film and TV industry’s COVID-19 safety protocols, which include a narrowly defined “Mandatory Vaccination” provision, are set to expire Saturday but could be extended, as they have been several times since the protocols were first issued in September 2020, enabling jobs and productions to rebound during the darkest days of the pandemic.
“I don’t think they should have a mandate requiring this vaccine,” Kirkland told Deadline. “I’m against the vaccination mandate because when I took the second shot last year, I became chronically ill for seven-and-a-half months. I ended up in the hospital and thought I was dying three times.”
ESPN Anchor Sage Steele Sues, Alleging Retaliation Over Vaccine Mandate, Obama Race Comments
ESPN anchor Sage Steele is suing the sports network for allegedly retaliating against her after she blasted the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate as “sick,” questioned former President Obama’s race and said female sports reporters sometimes invite inappropriate comments from athletes.
The lawsuit, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, accuses ESPN of pulling her from prime assignments, allowing co-workers to bully her and applying selective enforcement of rules barring employees from speaking out on political issues.
Steele told Cutler she reluctantly got the vaccine under orders from ESPN parent company Disney. “I didn’t want to do it,” she told Cutler. “But I work for a company that mandates it and I had until September 30 to get it done or I’m out.”
“I respect everyone’s decision, I really do, but to mandate it is, um, sick,” Steele continued. “And it’s scary to me in many ways. But I have a job, a job that I love, and frankly, a job that I need, but again, I love it. I’m not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney, a global company… but it was actually emotional.”
165 Million People Impacted by China’s COVID Lockdowns. Here’s What You Need to Know
China has introduced lockdown measures in its two biggest cities, Beijing and Shanghai — the twin engines that power much of the nation’s economy — in an uncompromising bid to stamp out COVID-19 outbreaks.
Shanghai is at the center of the latest outbreak, reporting upwards of 10,000 new cases a day. Authorities have responded with a city-wide lockdown that has lasted weeks, confining nearly all 25 million residents of the once-bustling financial hub to their homes or neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, Beijing officials have launched mass testing exercises, shut schools and imposed targeted lockdowns on some residential buildings in a bid to rein in infections. Those actions have sparked fears of a wider lockdown similar to Shanghai’s.
Authorities are now enforcing full or partial lockdowns in at least 27 cities across the country, with these restrictions affecting up to 165 million people, according to CNN’s calculations.
Latin American Nations Ease Restrictions as COVID Cases Drop
Colombians will soon be going to movie theaters without having to wear face masks. Chile opens its borders next week for the first time in two years. Mexico’s president has declared the pandemic over. And in Rio de Janeiro, tens of thousands attended Carnival parades just two months after the world-famous spectacle was postponed to prevent COVID-19 infections.
Even as coronavirus cases rise half a world away in China and authorities there impose new lockdowns, plummeting infection rates in Latin America have countries eliminating restrictions on mass gatherings, lifting some travel requirements and scrapping mask mandates that have been in place for two years.
Elon Musk and the Rise of Elite Dissidents
Elon Musk’s successful bid to buy Twitter has sent shockwaves throughout the world. The news is hitting especially close to home, since I was recently suspended from Twitter for “dead-naming” HHS Assistant Secretary Admiral Levine.
I refused to delete the tweet because I said nothing hateful or wrong — nor was the tweet inaccurate in any way. Before Musk’s purchase, I was locked out of my account for weeks, unable to communicate with my 1.7 million followers, making my suspension one of the most high-profile to date on the platform.
While the impending good or ill of Musk’s takeover is debated on Twitter and beyond, the entire saga points to an emerging trend across all corners of our chaotic media and institutional landscape — I call it the rise of elite dissidents.
Shadowbanning Is Big Tech’s Big Problem
Sometimes, it feels like everyone on the internet thinks they’ve been shadowbanned. But for almost everyone who believes they have been shadowbanned, they have no way of knowing for sure — and that’s a problem not just for users, but for the platforms.
Shadowbanning is the “unknown unknown” of content moderation. It’s an epistemological rat’s nest: By definition, users often have no way of telling for sure whether they have been shadowbanned or whether their content is simply not popular, particularly when recommendation algorithms are involved. Social media companies only make disambiguation harder by denying shadowbanning outright. As the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said in 2020, “Shadowbanning is not a thing.”
But shadowbanning is a thing, and while it can be hard to prove, it is not impossible.
What’s more, many social media users believe they are in fact being shadowbanned. According to new research I conducted at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), nearly one in 10 U.S. social media users believes they have been shadowbanned, and most often they believe it is for their political beliefs or their views on social issues.
Google Now Lets You Request the Removal of Personal Contact Information From Search Results
Google announced this week that it’s expanding the types of personal information that users can request to be removed from search results. Under the new policy expansion, people can request the removal of personal contact information, such as a phone number, email address or physical address. Prior to this expansion, the policy mainly covered information that would let other people steal your identity or money, such as banking and credit card details.
The expanded policy now also allows people to request the removal of additional information from search results that may pose a risk for identity theft, such as confidential log-in credentials.
As part of the removal process, you need to submit all the web and image URLs that you want Google to review for removal. For Google to consider the content for removal, it must include your contact info and there must be the presence of “explicit or implicit threats” or “explicit or implicit calls to action for others to harm or harass.”
Facebook Parent Meta Soars 16% After Q1 Results Show User-Growth Recovery, and Mark Zuckerberg Reins in Metaverse Spending
Facebook parent Meta soared as much as 16% in regular trading Thursday after its first-quarter results showed a rise in daily active users, and after CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to reassure investors about metaverse-related expenses.
The social-media giant reported earnings per share of $2.72, above expectations for $2.56, in its financial update released after the market close Wednesday. Quarterly revenue came in at $27.91 billion, missing analysts’ average estimate for $28.20 billion.
It reported that daily active users rose by 3 million from the last quarter to 1.96 billion, beating analyst expectations of 1.95 billion.
Musk’s Twitter Ambitions to Collide With Europe’s Tech Rules
A hands-off approach to moderating content at Elon Musk’s Twitter could clash with ambitious new laws in Europe meant to protect users from disinformation, hate speech and other harmful material.
“If his approach will be ‘just stop moderating it,’ he will likely find himself in a lot of legal trouble in the EU,” said Jan Penfrat, senior policy adviser at digital rights group EDRi.
Musk will soon be confronted with Europe’s Digital Services Act, which will require big tech companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook parent Meta to police their platforms more strictly or face billions in fines.