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YouTube's continued commitment to conflation

August 08, 2017, 11:41:49 PM by kat


In "[a]n update on our commitment to fight terror content online", YouTube has posted another blog clarifying the companies policies towards Demonetization (demonetisation) and Controversial Content. Given the title, "fight[ing] terror[ism] online", the context of the discussion is clear, to developer policies and procedures that better "identify and remove violent extremism and terrorism-related content" that often centres around "hate speech and violent extremism", or "hate speech, radicalization, and terrorism ... [as]... used to radicalize and recruit extremists", all of which are clear violations of YouTube's Terms of Service (cf. 7.5, 7.6, 7.9) and their Community Guidelines (cf. "Hateful content", "Threats", "Violent or graphic content", "Harmful or dangerous content")[^].

At face value the policies as they stand essentially appear to align with current legislation governing threatening or hateful behaviour or conduct, or anything ostensibly in support of or promoting terrorism[1]. In other words, Users aught not to be posting content otherwise considered objectively material to a Criminal Offense, that anyone doing so, can have their content removed and/or their account suspended, without warning ("notice") on both counts (cf. ToS 7.8)[2].

Under normal circumstances this would be more than adequate; where it appears an individual is actually threatening another person, group or establishment with harm, and not just saying "mean words on the Internet", or expressing poorly worded or advised jokes or comments, or is posting material that is intended to be used to cause harm, bomb-making tutorials for example, the appropriate action can be taken, and the authorities involved where necessary, to investigate whether there is genuine and real cause for concern. Should nothing come of such investigations content and accounts could then be returned (at YouTube's discretion of course[2]).

But this isn't about being reasonable (or wanting an "reasonable discussion") from the consumers point of view (video uploaders and those watching), especially given the amount of flack YouTube has received of late from the a number of European Governments and the European Parliament in particular, who allege the corporation isn't doing enough to suppress certain types of speech, or isn't remove 'offending content' fast enough, especially material critical of government activities.

With this in mind YouTube is in fact acting on what they're being told to do rather than risk loosing access to those markets; although one or two regions might not seem too big a deal given YouTube/Googles monopolistic bravado, the concern for them would be the 'domino effect' this might cause, once one goes they all might go as soon as Governments and Regimes realise they can use local law to shutter the service, something that's useful to any Government wanting to stop an opposition rising - the policies of today that would have shuttered yesterdays protests, imagine the likelihood of the Arab Spring without the Internet.

In that context YouTube has to respond by developing and implementing dubiously thought-out, ill-conceived policies ostensibly policed not by YouTube itself but vested third parties - their way of paying lip service to impartiality; if harmful content remains it would be because the "experts" didn't properly advise them[3].

This naturally leads to political bias when the so-called "experts" are self-appointed political advocates[4] and not content analysts, their assessments are based entirely on their own predilections and hunger to be taken seriously, or at least for the issues they tout. Only then does it become possible, acceptable, to target 'conservative' viewpoints on any given platform when service providers and moored experts have 'progressive' leanings[5]. Given the ability to develop or advise on policies that remove harmful content, their doing so can only be wholly partisan towards their politiks rather than the development of more useful universal 'rule sets' that benefit and apply to everyone, equally.
Quote
"... if you want to test a wo/man's character, give [them] power".


FootNotes:
[^] Through legal Council content can be removed from YouTube where its found to be defamatory - "Defamation Complaint". Or where personal information has been exposed, through the "Privacy Complaint Process".

[1] The Courts test for 'hate' or 'threats' typically requires an impartial person, given all the facts, reasonably concluding there to be a genuine fear or concern for an individuals safety or well being. For example the Patriot Act in the USA, or the UK's Anti-Terror, Crime & Security Act.

[2] Its important to note that YouTube is under no legally binding obligation to actually do anything about content that violates their content policies, that doing so should they decide to, is discretionary - "YouTube reserves the right (but shall have no obligation) to...".

[3] Whilst YouTube/Google can be held accountable for their service (they can be sued or fined), the same cannot be said of the content "experts" advising them, who are wholly unaccountable to anyone but perhaps their members (their executive boards not their subscribers and donators). In other words, YouTube receives all the flack for poorly implemented decisions instead of the 'expert' panel advising on the policies used.

[4] YouTube's content "experts" are "select contributing member of YouTube’s Trusted Flagger program", the (YouTube Contributor" ("YouTube Hero's" and "Trusted Flagger") program, more likely due to their agreeable politics and rhetoric as much as for their expertise, bypassing the normal application and selection process).

[5] It's difficult to ascertain actual versus perceived instances of bias, i.e., whether the alleged attacks on conservatives is real or not. A number of studies/research/investigations do indicate bias in other areas (e.g. "Lackademia: Why do academics lean left?", "The Institutionalization of Ideology in Sociology", "Social media for large studies of behavior", "The Political Environment on Social Media", "Politics on Social Networking Sites", "Twitter Reaction to Events Often at Odds with Overall Public Opinion") but without the numbers bias can only be implied or suggested.

Females, despite being 50%+ of gamers, spend 2/3rds less than males

July 27, 2017, 09:29:04 PM by kat


In the current "post-truth", "fake news" environment, where the moments narrative has greater merit and matters more, that permits an unapologetic use of tangential data to straw-wo/man counter-arguments, the following has been "fact-checked" to be "TRUE" and simultaneously "FALSE" because [reasons] (without any hint of irony).

Barclays Bank has published a financial market report, "Female gamers to spend more than £1bn on video games in the next 12 months, finds Barclays research", suggesting female gamers (are set/projected to) spend £1 billion GBP on games (c.$1.4 billion USD) over the next 12 months against the sectors total spend projections of £3.4 billion GBP (c. $4.5 billion USB).

In relation to other well documented and established publications and reports that 50% of gamers are female[1], Barclays data highlights a disparity between industry facts, and the fiction advocated for in press and media, a dislocation that has female gamers spending 2/3rds less money on gaming and than their male counter-parts despite being 50%+ of the User base[3].

That's quite the anomaly. Its significant because it belies an ostensibly anti-white-male gamers narrative, that females are 50%(+) of the game playing public, are just a serious, and spend just as much time and money on games as their male counterparts. Pick an argument and stick to it, either female gamers are the same as male games, or they're not (the same argument also said in reverse). If not, there are better issues to be ruminating over.

Or put more plainly; if 'advocates', be they in press and media, represented by 'biased' blogs, lobbying or advocacy groups, constantly cherry-pick, misrepresent and cavalierly meander around facts and information because doing so better suits what they want, t'would seem only proper they be the last people on earth the computer and video games industry aught to be listening to because their "post-facts" world all too often flies in the face of observable reality and the arguments and assertions they are apparently trying to make.

*/Queue various leaps of irregular thinking to massage 'truth' from falsehood or misrepresentation. Q.E.D.



Footnotes:
[1] Other industry data points from ESA and their "Essential facts about the computer and video games industry" 2015 (44% of gamers female), 2016 (41% of gamers female) and 2017 (numbers not clearly defined), Internet Advertising Bureau UK "More women now play video games than men" & "The gaming revolution", Nielsen "Finding (and Acting on) the White Spaces in Mobile Gaming".

[2] Google search results are by no means an definitive measure of a claims 'veracity', they do go some way to providing an initial gauge as to what the Internet 'thinks' about certain subjects, topics and information. With this in mind the overwhelming narrative expressed in press, media, opinion pieces and blogs is that female gamers are 'equal' to their male counterparts. This is only 'true' selectively or electively as a consequence of narrowing focus on a particular topic of interest that is then politically weaponised at the expense of a broader 'truth'.
- c.11,500,000 - "50 of gamers are female report".
- c.360,000 - "female gamers spend as much as men".
- c.19,000,000 - "women play more games than men".
- c.9,000,000 - "men spend less on game than women".

[3] The claim, that female gamers spend 2/3rds less, or 1/3rd that of male gamers, is an intentional absurdity meant to highlight the way political advocates and acolytes, a politicised press, media and various 'rights' organisations, misrepresent issues, intentionally or not (given the amount of income they generate, and the degree to which doing so grants access to topic-specific experts, one can only conclude that much of the aforementioned's misrepresentations are intentional, if only for click-bait). Although the statement appears true at face value; 1/3rd does leave 2/3rds remaining, the actual figure is 1/6th, this is the disparity that would bring female gamers spending to parity with males given the projected totals - 3.4bn / 2 = 1.7bn per 50/50 split, females spending 1.1bn means they are only short c.600m, or c.1/6th, in which case it's more precise then to say "female gamers spend 1/6th or c.15% less on gaming than their male counterparts" which, whilst more truthful, is not as good a lead/traffic/interest generator (click-bait).

Men harassed online more but like, seriously, it's not about them - Pew 2017

July 21, 2017, 03:22:38 PM by kat


The Pew Research Center recently released its findings for "Online Harassment 2017". The key take-away from the survey results can be summed up with the following paragraphs;
Quote
More broadly, men and women differ sharply in their attitudes toward the relative importance of online harassment as an issue. For instance, women (63%) are much more likely than men (43%) to say people should be able to feel welcome and safe in online spaces, while men are much more likely than women to say that people should be able to speak their minds freely online (56% of men vs. 36% of women). Similarly, half of women say offensive content online is too often excused as not being a big deal, whereas 64% of men – and 73% of young men ages 18 to 29 – say that many people take offensive content online too seriously. Further, 70% of women – and 83% of young women ages 18 to 29 – view online harassment as a major problem, while 54% of men and 55% of young men share this concern.

Attitudes toward different policies to prevent online harassment also differ somewhat by gender. Men are more likely than women to believe that improved policies and tools from online companies are the most effective approach to addressing online harassment (39% vs. 31%). Meanwhile, women are more likely to say that stronger laws against online harassment are the most effective approach (36% vs. 24%), and they are also more likely to feel that law enforcement currently does not take online harassment incidents seriously enough (46% vs. 39%). [link] (emphasis added)

If its not clear from the above quote there are significant differences between the sexes in how they see and react to harassment; women (#notallwomen) being far more likely than men (#notallmen) to; impugn, make and take issue with the behaviour of others; perceive all forms of harassment equally; and crucially in this discussion, look to others for help, law-enforcement, the legal and political systems included[1]. What's not clear from the above, and born out by the data Pew pulled,  is that overall the research makes plain that men actually receive more harassment online, not women. But that's neither here nor there.

This difference, or more accurately, the consequences of it, that certain types of individual and groups are more prone to take offense, is the story of online harassment and cyber-bullying, intentionally and often ideologically misrepresented such that men (and boys) simply don't matter unless portrayed as perpetrators despite the facts.

Unfortunately for the Internet at large, freedom of expression (#freepresso) and freedom of speech (#freezepeach) in general, politicians, advocacy groups and ne'er-do-well's[2] understand this difference between the sexes only too well, specifically targeting women because of it, with assistive programs[3] and legislative promises that don't solve the problem on ground, often being little more than electoral, editorial or issue pandering and sensationalism, self-aggrandisement, or legislative power-grabs and/or over-sight over-reach advocated for through carefully crafted language meant to dominate public discourse, dangerous to oppose, of narratives that feed into and misappropriate the public's general desire for (social) justice.

But anyway, the bullet points from the report;
  • "Harassment is often focused on personal or physical characteristics; political views, gender, physical appearance and race are among the most common."
  • "62% consider [harassment] a major problem; online companies are seen as key actors in addressing online harassment."
  • "Americans are divided on the issues of free speech and political correctness that underlie the online harassment debate."
  • "Experiences and attitudes toward online harassment vary significantly by gender."
  • "Harassment exists on a spectrum of severity: Those who have experienced severe forms of online harassment differ sharply in their reactions and attitudes."
  • "Online harassment is often subjective – even to those experiencing the worst of it."
  • "Anonymity is seen as a facilitating factor in encouraging the spread of harassment online."
Additional Resources
- How to stop online harassment, bullying and abuse.
- "Nearly half of women who use social media say they have been sexually victimised".
- "Cyberbullying and adolescent well-being in England: a population-based cross-sectional study".

Further Reading
- Harassment of women now a "hate crime".
- 50% of women are misogynists.
- Freedom of speech ends where threats abound.
- Violence against males in games doesn't count... another study that 'proves' it.


Footnotes:
[1] Contrary to the narrative
, Pew (and other) research persistently exposes women (#notallwomen) being only too willing to, for want of a better way of putting it, "damsel" themselves when they face harassment and abuse online, counting on others to come to their aid or fix the problem, that being "brave" and "strong" comes from encouraging victimisation (on social media in particular) instead of victory, succumbing to adversity rather than surmounting it. In other words this seemingly natural tendency does not negate the fact that people in general are more likely to publicise their vistimisation, how they are being harassed and abuse, rather than their victories, how they over-came and solved the problem themselves.

With this in mind the difference in outlook likely explains why men and women tend to see harassment differently, which then makes it difficult to prosecute as an criminal offense - the same event is more likely to make women feel victimised, whereas for men it won't. For example assault, theft, murder are ostensibly physical acts, someone is physically hindered, harmed, or had property taken etc., so there is an objective 'test' the Courts can perform to determined not just whether something has happened, but also the degree of severity. Contextually this makes online harassment and abuse is almost entirely subjective (caveat: where the persons involved know one another, harassment and abuse is easier to prosecute as if often forms part of on-going physical communications, intimidation and so on - they know where the other lives - a girl sending abuse, harassment, threats to the new partner of their ex, or to a fellow student, class or work mate).

[2] A number of self-proclaimed 'advocacy' and 'support' groups have popped up in recent years claiming to help those subject to online harassment and abuse (although evidence of this is anecdotal). Unfortunately it appears some of the more notorious groups use highly questionable tactics themselves as counter-measures, often employing similar/same/severe harassing, bullying, brigading (organising or otherwise encouraging a group of individuals to act in a particular way or towards an individual or target), (in)directly inflaming, inciting, instigating or siccing targeted cyber-mods (similar to 'brigading' but less directed, often relies of the viral nature of events to coalesce individuals towards a given goal or aim) in return ("would hate something to happen to [person]"), often unapologetically advocated through a network of prominent press and media familiars.

[3] Due to the global scope of the problem there isn't a comprehensive accounting of the number of groups and resources available to women versus men because keeping tabs in such a way can be seen (and often is by advocates) as an 'oppression'. Searching Google with "women's rights online" returns 21 million hits whereas "men's rights online" return approximately 10 million, but again, discussing the issue from the men as perpetrators perspective. The upshot of this disparity is that it effectively and completely poisons the well towards male orientated research and investigation as men and boys are only ever seen as perpetrators in public discourse, that when questioned is vociferously castigated by proponents of that narrative, opposition then seen as apologism for masculinity, maleness and associated behaviours (for good or bad).

[ --- ]

That men (and boys) tend to face more harassment online than women (and girls) is not news to anyone sufficiently interested in reading the actual data available on the subject[4]. Instead politicians, other government officials and authorities, advocacy groups and a vocal but aggressive social media cliquey minority, somehow manage to create a 'post-fact', 'post-truth' interpretation that's not quite an outright (big) lie, but not entirely objectively truthful either, a (mis)representation recycled to justify denying, ignoring, hand-waving, excusing or refusing to acknowledge the bare-faced facts, to the point of mendacious obfuscation or being outright obstructionist[5].

And all largely, it seems, because men (and boys) being the butt of everyone's animosity is just the natural consequence of their "privileged" position in society, their "unearned" roles within a system alleged to be made by them for them, entirely for their benefit. In this context men and boys simply have it coming, they are fair-game, their admonishment and shaming wholly justified. To speak up or speak out is apologism, (not even tacit) approval, being pro injustice.

This predicament does not make the News either, at least not unless it can be 'weaponised'[6] or 'commoditised'[7] in some way, used as a means to advocate specifically for an end to the harassment of [group] (usually women or minorities) rather than against the harassment of everyone generally. In such an environment, anti-male sentiment is emboldened and propagates, rationalised as pay-back for "male privilege". How then can the problem of online harassment as a thing that can happen to anyone be truly solved when only one side of the story is told or cared to be heard.

[4] Historical data tracking Internet use does exist i.e., who's using the Internet and for what, but not specifically for "online harassment" and "cyber-bullying", both of which appear to be relatively new issues, or more correctly, are modern (re)categorisations of 'online safety and security' concerns as relates to making sure banks, shopping, identity information and usage is 'secure' and 'safe' (e.g. from 2005, 2000). Where data and information does exist however, its typically highly (intentionally) skewed in favour of biased advocacy.

[5] Typically, and perhaps predictably, the response to that fact that men and boys tends to be harassed more is similar to "men may be harassed more but they don't get sexually harassed as much". Whilst this is true specifically with regards to types of harassment, focusing entirely on this sub-aspect of harassment more broadly, and perhaps ironically, marginalises and diminishes the abuse men and boy face online, creating a wholly misleading picture of harassment and abuse on the Internet; EVERYONE is potentially subject to it.

[6] The 'weaponisation' of harassment means its used as a tool of aggressive persuasion by gender advocates, politicians and authorities alike, because they all gain something from its wielding, perhaps authority (hard to establish), likely publicity (easy to establish), but more often money (incredibly lucrative) - public grants, private donations and other forms of remuneration (property, material, physical goods and services). Its also used by academia to establish what can only be described as a non-falsifiable, self-justifying narrative, e.g., for Jan-July 2017 (the time of writing) Google Scholar returns 10,700 results for papers and articles on "online harassment", 7,370 for "online harassment women" and 6,560 for "online harassment men". This last figure is wholly misleading however, an inconvenient truth, as the results of "online harassment men" isn't about 'the online harassment OF men', their being harassed (victims), but of 'online harassment BY men', their being harassers (perpetrators), a narrative so strong it completely overwhelms the research data and creates an overarching frame of reference in the broader discussion that its not really about harassment per se, but harassment BY men, that harassment is an expression or byproduct of maleness and masculinity.

[7] A number of online sources suggest that "women rights" advocacy, the broader category of advocacy under which online harassment falls (harassment is an infringement various 'freedoms' if not specifically 'right's), is considered to be underfunded compared to other initiatives. Figures vary from $100 million globally to tens of millions for individual charitable causes (e.g. link). On one hand then, dealing with online harassment would seem to be, comparatively, a poorly funded and understood avenue of advocacy, but on the other quite the opposite in the broader context of advocating for the rights of children (UK, Int'l), of global (women's) health initiatives (family planning et al), sanitation, food, the advancement of education, all of which typically centre around the matriarchal (female) aspect of the family (e.g. link). In other words whilst 'women's rights' might be argued separately to be underfunded by self-interested advocates, it falls within the much larger remit afforded of a multi-billion dollar 'industry', most of which is (allegedly) spent not where its truly needed, but instead in Westernised Nations largely as a reflection of the fact that a majority of charity work and advocacy is carried out in Western Countries, the UK, USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on, and by Western International Organisation and NGO's (e.g. World Bank, UN etc.).

Bethesda CreationClub or paid mods, again

June 12, 2017, 08:03:29 PM by kat

[image courtesy CreationClub]

Bethesda introduced CreationClub at this years E3 and has taken steps to reiterate the new initiative is NOT "paid mods" (#notpaidmods).
Quote
Is Creation Club paid mods?
No. Mods will remain a free and open system where anyone can create and share what they’d like.
So just what is what is CreationClub then?
Quote
Creation Club is a collection of all-new content for both Fallout 4 and Skyrim. It features new items, abilities, and gameplay created by Bethesda Games Studios and outside development partners including the best community creators. Creation Club content is fully curated and compatible with the main game and official add-ons.
It appears then that CreationClub is not just a new iteration of Paid Mods, at least not directly. With that said however, and although paid content didn't work out quite so well the last time it was tried via Steam, it looks like Bethesda learned a few things from the experience nonetheless, that gamers;
  • do want new content and more frequently.
  • are more than happy to pay for it (subject to "3").
  • don't want to pay for previously free content (being especially leery of 'leaches'[1]).
  • wanted guaranties co-dependent mods worked properly.
  • and copyright/authorship wouldn't be an issue[2].
The only way to resolve a lot of these questions is for publishers to 'curate' or 'manage' User Generated Content to some degree. This is what Bethesda appears to have done with CreationClub; in limiting participation to a select few, proved, developers (individuals or otherwise)[3], Bethesda is then able to provide (premium/paid) content at an accelerated rate that works (subject to the usual caveats about games and content ordinarily working), absent ownership issues, whilst simultaneously leaving freely available community mods untouched.
Quote
Most of the Creation Club content is created internally, some with external partners who have worked on our games, and some by external Creators. All the content is approved, curated, and taken through the full internal dev cycle; including localization, polishing, and testing. This also guarantees that all content works together.

Further Reading
- Paid Mods and why they don't work


Footnotes:
[1] a big concern over paid mods was the potential it carried for the more unscrupulous to 'leach' from the community by simply reselling mods and content without change they had no hand in authoring, and the difficulties this subsequently presents from a remedial perspective (how to hold 'anon' individuals to account for misappropriation).

[2] from a creators point of view anytime publishing content involves money its becomes subject to abuse. Aside from concerns over content leaching, Copyright and Authorship can be difficult to prove, to such an extent that production can be stymied having to constantly deal with disputes over Copyright or ownership.

[3] participants in the program are likely treated as though they are commercial content developers, likely required to provide identifying information so they can be held to account should there be issues, especially so given the fact that money is involved.

YouTube Clarifying Demonetization & Controversial Content

June 03, 2017, 02:11:36 AM by kat
YouTube demonetization isn't censorship

Following on the previous post on the topic of YouTube using demonetization as a form of 'soft' censorship, it appears, at least from a public-facing perspective, that Google and YouTube are indeed demonetizing controversial topics simply as a means to "restore advertiser confidence" - notwithstanding the 'lack' of confidence this implies being used by certain corporations and advocacy groups as leverage against controversial topics (advertisers have always had the ability to 'block' certain content against which their adverts might have appeared) and their political opposition. But that's by-the-by as the real meat of the matter is the clarification on what Google/YouTube consider "controversial" content;

Quote
Hateful content: Content that promotes discrimination or disparages or humiliates an individual or group of people on the basis of the individual’s or group’s race, ethnicity, or ethnic origin, nationality, religion, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristic associated with systematic discrimination or marginalization.

Inappropriate use of family entertainment characters: Content that depicts family entertainment characters engaged in violent, sexual, vile, or otherwise inappropriate behavior, even if done for comedic or satirical purposes.

Incendiary and demeaning content: Content that is gratuitously incendiary, inflammatory, or demeaning. For example, video content that uses gratuitously disrespectful language that shames or insults an individual or group.

It's clear from this YouTube/Google are placing more of their eggs into the YouTube TV and "family-friendly" content basket (as is their 'right'), a move obligating them to tone-down or obfuscate troubling material so they can comfortably court the big networks (Disney, et al). In other words, they are shifting away from the politics of being the "platform for all voices" to one that's 'safe', more unified and neutered in outlook, at least from the outside.

For creators with contrarian or controversial politics, points of view or axes to grind, YouTube has made it quite clear that whilst such content is still welcome, it won't be promoted or easily monetised. It's up to Creators to decide what to do with this in mind as YouTubes loss of revenue, which prompted this change, isn't going anywhere.

Further Reading
- EU Commission & Restricting YouTube for the Public Good
- YouTube (Google), demonetization and censorship
- Illegal Hate Speech, the EU and Tech
- Improving Content ID for creators
- Twitters Trust & Safety Council and "free expression"
- Free Speech & Expectations of Privacy on Social Media
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