Why Facebook blocks porn — but lets you watch a murder

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Jonathan Taplin — director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC and author of new book, “Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy” — spoke at a Lotos Club reception for his book on Monday. Here are some of his remarks during a Q&A moderated by Jeffrey Toobin, as well as a subsequent interview with The Post’s Ian Mohr, on the dangers of YouTube and Facebook:

‘There is a kind of nefarious block of the ‘safe harbor’ act — the Digital Millennium Copyright Act — that basically says that nobody, no musician, no individual can sue Facebook or Google, or YouTube, for posting stuff that they don’t have permission to. So this is why there are 55,000 ISIS videos on YouTube. Right? They claim, ‘We have no responsibility . . . it’s First Amendment rights. We don’t know.’ The only pushback they’ve gotten is from advertisers. Procter & Gamble said, ‘Hey, we’re not so comfortable with our advertising being on terrorist videos. Stop it, please.’ Now they say, ‘Oh, there’s too many videos being uploaded to YouTube, we can’t control it.’

“But you notice there’s no porn on YouTube. So why is that? That’s because they have A.I., artificial intelligence algorithms, that when someone tries to upload porn, it sees a bare breast and it stops it and puts it into a separate queue where a human looks at it and says, ‘Well, is this National Geographic video? Or is this porn?’ And if it’s porn, it doesn’t go up, and if it’s National Geographic it does go up. Well, they could do the same thing with ISIS videos. As you well know — any of you who’ve ever used [the music recognition app] Shazam — they can do the same thing with every tune, every movie, that someone doesn’t want up there, in three seconds the audio signature would tell them this is something we don’t want and stop it.

“But that’s not their business model. Their business model is that, ‘We want everybody on there and we want all the content so we can sell more advertising.’ And of course these are by far the largest advertising companies in the world. Google dwarfs the Walt Disney Company with all its ABC, ESPN networks. Google’s like five times as big. So we just don’t realize that these companies are the giants. Tom [Freston] and I were talking about when he was running Viacom, everyone was worried, ‘There’s only seven media companies in the country. They’re dominating everything.’ Last year, Facebook and Google took 78 percent of all digital advertising money. In the whole year. So that’s a monopoly.”

Alex Poucher
Ron Howard and Jonathan Taplin

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Alex Poucher
Jonathan Taplin and Jeffrey Toobin

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Alex Poucher
Paul Feig and Ethan Coen

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Alex Poucher
Ron Howard, Jonathan Taplin, Sam Waksal and Jeffrey Toobin

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Alex Poucher
Jonathan Taplin and Paul Holdengraber

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Alex Poucher
Jonathan Taplin and Ari Melber

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Alex Poucher
John Stossel and Jonathan Taplin

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Later, to The Post, on the murder uploaded to Facebook:

“This is not the first time this has happened. If people who have mental illness or want to get fame use this platform to do horrible things, what is the good of it? This is the first broadcaster to claim they have no control. If it was a TV network . . . they’d have their license pulled. They’d be out of business the next day.

“People who own these platforms need to be more careful. We have to wonder if teaching these lone wolves is helpful to society? I don’t think I’m in the minority anymore. There is beginning to be a resistance. There was a point about a year-and-a-half ago where there were 44,000 ISIS videos . . . no porn, but plenty of beheadings under the guise of the First Amendment.”

– Ian Mohr

Click to view the original article on the New York Post.

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