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Twitter and Google join Facebook in tightening rules on US election claims | US elections 2000

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Premature claims of victory will be blocked from Twitter and Google in the run-up to November’s US presidential election, as both companies follow Facebook in trying to fight the prospect of a stolen vote.

Under its new rules, Twitter will treat as harmful misinformation any tweet which makes false claims about election rigging, or prematurely claims to announce the election results.

The platform does not currently have rules against such tweets because its misinformation policy is designed to combat only those messages with the potential to cause “immediate harm”, but starting on 17 September, Twitter says, certain claims about elections move into that category.

“Twitter is where people come to hear directly from elected officials and candidates for office, it’s where they come to find breaking news, and increasingly, it’s an integral source for information on when and how to vote in elections,” the company said in a blogpost.

The new rules do not commit Twitter to removing such misinformation; instead, it may choose to apply a label to the offending tweets, as it has done with previous examples of electoral misinformation shared by Donald Trump.

Google’s policies focus on the company’s search autocomplete, which offers suggestions for terms to search for based on what users have entered. The company says it will remove any predictions that look like they could be claims “for or against a particular candidate or party”.

It will also remove predictions that seem to offer any information about voting methods, requirements or polling locations: for instance, the company said, neither “you can vote by phone” nor “you can’t vote by phone” will appear as search suggestions.

The rules will not, Google emphasised, affect search results themselves.

Last week, Facebook led the way with a similar set of rules, announced by its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. “This election is not going to be business as usual,” he wrote in a post on the site. “If any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the results are in, we’ll add a label to their post educating that official results are not yet in and directing people to the official results,” Facebook said.

None of the companies explicitly named Donald Trump in their explanation for the new policies, but fears have been growing for some time that the president could seize on delayed results, due in part to the rapid increase in voting by mail, and declare himself victor before the true count is known.

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Alice Fraser: the 10 funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet) | Culture

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When I was told to write one of these 10 funniest things on the internet columns my first thought was, “Oh no, the internet isn’t for remembering things.” My second thought was, “Oh no, I don’t know what’s funny.” And my third thought was, “They’re really letting anyone do one of these.” Does it count if it’s on the internet but was originally on something else? Because that’s a lot of things. So it’s always good to start with an existential lack of confidence in the fundamental structures of the game.

Most of my memories of laughing at the internet come from when I was about 15 – a period when the internet was on a big clumpy desktop in our living room, when I was cackling with my twin brother over things that almost certainly don’t hold up today, and which I can’t bear to go back to in case they don’t. One was a website that had little animations of a dinosaur that was critical of capitalism, which I’ve found impossible to google. There was also a deeply worried existential bat character that I screenshot to use as my avatar on my teenage LiveJournal.

Anyway, this list is as much “10 things I can remember from the internet” as anything else.

1. “How is prangent formed?”

This is just a man reading different questions from people about pregnancy where they’ve misspelled the word “pregnant”. For a list of queries, a high proportion of which were probably written amid deep human emotion, and that might be characterised as punching down, this builds a level of absurdity that I find irresistible.

How IS prangent formed?

“PREGANANANT” just hits the sweet spot for me.

2. Robert Pattinson’s hand-held pasta invention

Zach Baron’s GQ interview with Robert Pattinson is beautifully written, and the description about three-quarters of the way through of Pattinson’s attempt to cook his own recipe is gorgeous. It escalates into absurdity and, as Baron acknowledges, he’s not sure if Pattinson is doing a bit, being earnestly incompetent, completely unhinging from reality, or a bit of each. The best way to enjoy this is to read it out loud to a friend.

3. Laura Davis: Gobby or Shark

It’s no secret that I love Laura Davis. She’s glorious, and her deeply under-appreciated comedy chops are undeniable. Gobby or Shark is a clip of standup that’s a great example of her combination of brutality and wistfulness.

What would you choose?

I’d recommend getting onboard with all her work, including her latest album, The Bus Show, which was recorded in a cupboard during lockdown and is one of the most successful versions of comedy-without-an-audience I’ve experienced.

4. Fresh Avocado

Why do I find people finding things funny so funny?

Free – what?

One of the things I can’t resist is other people laughing at stuff. It brings me joy and may well be one of the reasons I love doing comedy.

5. The Toast’s Two Mediaeval Monks Inventing Things series

The Toast was consistently brilliant and I’m sad it’s shut down, but I regularly go back to the Two Monks series when I’m miserable and it always makes me laugh. It’s hard to choose just one but here you go.

Daniel Lavery is one of my favourite internet writers, sliding effortlessly between the beauty of linguistic stylings that can be understood as a sort of stylistic historical fanfiction and an extremely modern internet sensibility. His book, Something That May Shock and Discredit You, is surreal and incisive.

6. Isaac by Jonny and the Baptists

A little song about Bible stories. It’s sweet, heartbreaking, gorgeously musical, political, deeply human and very funny, which is a lot to fit into 3:07.

‘I’m sitting on the top of a mountain…’

In fact, the whole album is beautiful, and my favourite song on it isn’t comedy at all. I saw the show Love you, Hate Bastards in Edinburgh last year and it made me laugh and then cry hysterically, which is maybe not comedy, but is my favourite kind of comedy. I thought it was quite funny in retrospect that it had made me cry so much, so made a friend play the album in the car on a long drive, and was telling her when the sad song came up that it was the one that made me cry, and then I cried hysterically again in her car, to everyone’s great embarrassment.

7. Baby trashes bar in Las Palmas

This is a gorgeous short film, beautifully shot by the puppeteer Johannes Nyholm, predicated on the old premise that toddlers are tiny drunks or destructive Vikings. It’s way too much effort for a very simple joke; it’s weirdly melancholy, surprisingly provocative, existentially dumb and it makes me laugh.

How many beers is that?

There are a million videos of my two year old niece on our family WhatsApp finding normal things hilarious that are funnier than anything and I would include them here were it not a breach of her tiny dignity. That said, other people’s families are way less worried about baby privacy and this is a good example of the genre.

8. Chappelle’s Show: True Hollywood Stories – Rick James part two

These stories from Charlie Murphy of his Hollywood experiences are related hilariously by Murphy, re-enacted hilariously by Dave Chappelle, but the actual commentary from Rick James makes this a top-notch piece of comedy.

It
was a nice couch.

9. Kate McKinnon as Cecilia Gimenez

Kate McKinnon is always funny and these sketches are funny, sad and funny.

Fixed it.

10. This tweet from Rebecca Shaw

I love Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, I love Bec Shaw, I have mixed feelings about puns. This is a rollercoaster for me, every time, and Bec’s commitment to enjoying it gives me hope.

Bec Shaw
(@Brocklesnitch)

here’s a picture of me scaling a rock face pic.twitter.com/lxd2LSBGeC


April 16, 2015

Follow Alice Fraser on Twitter and catch her, along with the comedian Fady Kassab, for Humour Us as part of the Sydney Opera House’s digital season on Friday 30 October at 8pm



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Amazon launches first Nordic online store in Sweden

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Alex Wong | Getty Images

LONDON — Amazon announced Wednesday that it has launched its first Nordic online store in Sweden as the e-commerce giant looks to expand further across the European continent. 

Citizens in Sweden will now be able to order products through Amazon.se instead of having to make purchases via Amazon stores in other European countries including the British store (Amazon.co.uk) or the German store (Amazon.de), where they were shown a limited selection of products and incurred high delivery fees.

Amazon Vice President for European Expansion, Alex Ootes, said in a statement that Amazon.se will feature over 150 million products including tens of thousands from Swedish businesses.

“We will continue to work hard to earn the trust of Swedish customers by growing our product range, ensuring low prices, and providing a convenient and trusted shopping experience,” said Ootes.

In a bid to get as many of Sweden’s 10 million sparsely populated inhabitants as possible using Amazon.se, which was confirmed in August, Amazon is offering free delivery on orders over 229 Swedish krona ($25).

The launch got off to a bit of a bad start. Amazon used the Argentinian flag instead of the Swedish flag in the “choose your location” section and a frying pan was listed as a woman’s item.

Amazon was also criticized for wrongly translating some product descriptions. A children’s puzzle containing yellow rapeseed flowers, for example, was described as having a “sexual assault flower motif,” while a cat-themed hairbrush was described with the Swedish slang word for “vagina.”

“Many products on Amazon Sweden came from auto-translated listings on other Amazon marketplaces, which enabled it to have a deep catalog on day one, but has unfortunately resulted in many wrong, sometimes comical, and even offensive Swedish translations,” wrote Juozas Kaziukenas, founder of e-commerece intelligence firm Marketplace Pulse.

In response, Amazon issued a statement saying: “We want to thank everyone for highlighting these issues and helping us make the changes and improve Amazon.se. Whilst we are really excited to have launched Amazon.se today with more than 150 million products, it is only day one for us here in Sweden and we are committed to constantly improving the customer experience.”

The statement continued: “Therefore, if anyone spots any issues with product pages, please do use the link on the page to provide feedback and we will make the necessary changes.”

While Amazon.se provides local retailers with a new platform through which to sell their goods and a convenient shopping platform for customers, some Swedes are concerned that Amazon doesn’t treat employees fairly and that it could threaten other local firms.

One Twitter user wrote: “So Amazon opened in Sweden today. All I say is, why? I see no reason why I would order anything from Amazon when we already have Scandinavian companies that provide better services, better prices and faster shipping.”

Sweden is the 17th country where Amazon has set up an online store. In Europe, Amazon has set up online stores in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and The Netherlands, where it launched just six months ago.


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Facebook, Google and Twitter CEOs to testify in Senate on Section 230

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The CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter return (virtually) to Congress today to defend their legal liability shield to lawmakers keen to weaken it.

The hearing begins at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

The executives will face lawmakers on the Senate Commerce Committee. Members unanimously supported the hearing after its scope was expanded to include discussions of digital privacy and tech’s impact on local media. Republicans and Democrats on the committee remain divided over how to tackle these issues, but their shared concern leaves an open path for reform to come down the road.

“There is more common ground than people realize,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told CNBC Tuesday of Republicans’ and Democrats’ approach to reforming the legal shield known as Section 230. He said there could be more “opportunity for bipartisan consensus” after the election.

Section 230 protects tech platforms from liability for their users’ posts but also allows them to moderate content they consider “objectionable.” Republicans have complained that the legal shield allows tech companies to get away with removing messages they disagree with, particularly those from conservatives. Tech companies have repeatedly denied claims that their moderation practices are based in biased policies or algorithms.

Democrats, on the other hand, fear that tech platforms have not done enough to police their platforms and that Section 230 allows them to get away with not taking appropriate action. Blumenthal said he’s particularly concerned about disinformation on the platforms that could discourage potential voters from turning out or mislead voters about the election outcome.

In an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Wednesday, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Section 230 “frankly is probably ripe for reform.”

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Square co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey.

Getty Images | CNBC

In their written testimonies, the CEOs warn of the potential negative impacts of repealing key portions of Section 230. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote that it would impose the greatest harm on small businesses that can’t keep up with legal fees. Google’s Sundar Pichai wrote that the statute has been “foundational to US leadership in the tech sector.”

The hearing will also be a chance to see where lawmakers stand on a national privacy law, which similarly has widespread support but has been held up by disagreements over two details of how it should be enforced. Democrats have advocated for a bill that would allow states to add extra protections for their constituents and give consumers the right to sue companies they believe violate their digital privacy rights.

Republicans want a uniform national privacy law that will preempt state laws are opposed to so-called private rights of action. They fear a patchwork of state laws and petty lawsuits that bog down smaller companies.

Blumenthal said he thinks it could be possible to “modify” those details to reach a middle ground if a national law provides strong protections for consumers.

For Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Pichai, this is their second time testifying before Congress this year after the House’s antitrust hearing in July. Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Dorsey are also set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next month about their handling of the New York Post’s unverified story about former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

-CNBC’s Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.

WATCH: How the internet is regulated


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