The White House announced updates from YouTube, Meta and more tech companies aimed at combatting violent extremism as part of a Thursday summit.
We’ll also explore the takedown of harassment website Kiwi Farms and a newly signed California law establishing guidelines for kids’ online safety and data privacy.
The latest tech-led efforts to combat hate
YouTube, Twitch, Microsoft and Meta launched updates aimed at combating violent extremism online, the White House announced Thursday as part of a summit to counter hate-fueled violence.
The updates come after pressure from the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress and state offices on tech platforms to revamp their policies to address online hate, especially after mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas.
- YouTube will expand its policies by removing content glorifying violent acts for the purpose of inspiring others to commit harm, even if the creator of that content is not related to a designated terrorist group, according to the White House announcement.
- Twitch, an Amazon-owned livestreaming platform, will launch a tool this year that “empowers its streamers and their communities to help counter hate and harassment and further individualize the safety experience of their channels.” The announcement did not expand on the specific details of the new tool for Twitch users.
The Kiwi Farms internet erasure
In 2013, users on an online trolling and harassment chat forum known as Kiwi Farms began a campaign against Chloe Sagal, a transgender game developer.
Kiwi Farms targeted Sagal, known for developing a popular indie horror game called Homesick, after she began raising money for gender reassignment surgery. They created a thread to target her and then users harassed and stalked Sagal for years.
In 2018, Sagal set herself on fire at a park in downtown Portland, Ore. She was 31 when she died.
Joshua Moon, the owner of Kiwi Farms, posted a live YouTube video celebrating Sagal’s death while other Kiwi Farms users laughed and mocked the game developer, according to screenshots of chat forums and videos shared by DropKiwiFarms.net, a campaign dedicated to taking the site down. Some Kiwi Farms users increased the “kill count” on their profile pages.
“I do hope they blame us for literally murdering another [obscenity],” one user wrote. “Dibs on credit.”
- Earlier this month — more than four years after Sagal’s death — American cybersecurity firm Cloudflare dropped security services for Kiwi Farms, taking the forum offline by stripping it of needed internet security protections that kept the site running.
- A few days later, Russian firm DDoS-Guard also dropped security services for the website, and by the end of the week the country of Iceland had removed the website domain. Internet archive site Wayback Machine even blocked access to archived information on Kiwi Farms.
- The domino effect has effectively shuttered the website, marking one of the internet’s most successful takedown campaigns.
NEWSON SIGNS NATION LEADING KIDS’ SAFETY BILL
Tech companies will have to put extra safety features and data privacy measures in place for California children on their platforms based on a bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
The law establishes the California Age Appropriate Design Code Act, which will put limits on the type of data tech companies collect on minors and set the highest default privacy settings for young users.
The bill also requires that privacy information, terms of service, policies and community standards are easily accessible and upheld.
“We’re taking aggressive action in California to protect the health and wellbeing of our kids,” Newsom said in a statement. “As a father of four, I’m familiar with the real issues our children are experiencing online, and I’m thankful to Assemblymembers [Buffy] Wicks (D) and [Jordan] Cunningham (R) and the tech industry for pushing these protections and putting the wellbeing of our kids first.”
SENATE CONFIRMS US CYBER AMBASSADOR
The Senate on Thursday unanimously confirmed Nathaniel Fick to head the State Department’s new cyber bureau.
Fick will be the bureau’s first-ever ambassador-at-large following its launch in April. The bureau was established to deal with international issues related to cyber and emerging technologies.
- “Today, with the confirmation of Cape Elizabeth’s Nate Fick, the United States has taken a historic, long overdue step to address our rapidly-changing cyber environment,” said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) in a statement.
- “Our country has lagged behind in shaping policies beyond our shores to defend us in this war without borders. I hope that ends today,” he added.
During his confirmation hearing last month, Fick vowed to establish a culture within his bureau and the entire agency in which expertise in cyber and digital technologies is a must. He also promised to focus on foreign threats, including Russian cyberattacks and the U.S. digital competition with China.
BITS & PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: The FCC is working just fine without Gigi Sohn
Notable links from around the web:
Silicon Valley can’t keep track of your data (The Washington Post / Elizabeth Dwoskin)
The Shaky Future of a Post-Roe Federal Privacy Law (Wired / Matt Laslo)
TikTok’s New Spontaneous Photo Feature Looks a Lot Like BeReal (Bloomberg / Sabiq Shahidullah)
🛶 Lighter click: Reasons to retire early
One more thing: Blocking Chinese money in US tech
President Biden signed an executive order Thursday bolstering a regulatory committee’s powers to review and take action on foreign investment in the U.S. economy, including in the tech sector where officials are increasingly concerned about Chinese actors.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency panel, will further scrutinize foreign investments and transactions related to national supply chains as well as in tech sectors such as microelectronics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and advanced clean energy.
CFIUS will also more closely review foreign acquisitions of companies and firms over concerns that an investor could slowly gain control of a sector or technology, investments that pose cybersecurity risks and foreign investors who could exploit data on American citizens.