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Instagram toughening penalties for sending ‘hateful’ private messages

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Instagram on Wednesday announced that it will begin disabling the accounts of users who repeatedly send “hateful” direct messages (DMs) and content to others in an effort to combat hate speech after users sent racist messages to British soccer players.

While first-time offenders won’t be allowed to send DMs for an undefined timespan, their account will be disabled if they send hateful messages again.

“We’ll also disable new accounts created to get around our messaging restrictions, and will continue to disable accounts we find that are created purely to send abusive messages,” Instagram noted in its announcement.

The image-centric platform’s hate speech policy, as reiterated in its announcement, prohibits attacks on people based on “protected characteristics,” including race or religion, as well as “more implicit forms of hate speech,” like content depicting blackface and antisemitic tropes. In its announcement, Instagram doubled down on its commitment to “cooperation with UK law enforcement authorities on hate speech.”

The Premier League on Thursday called on other social media platforms to “take action against online abuse” in a letter to Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg, the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook respectively, asking them to adopt stricter hateful content policies. Facebook

Citing the online abuse many soccer players have faced, the League said “we write to ask that for reasons of basic human decency you use the power of your global systems to bring this to an end.”

The League noted the “current assurances” from Facebook, who owns Instagram, that its “standards will be tightened,” but pressed that “far more is needed to drive change.”

Prince William, who also acts as the president of England’s Football Association, last month issued a statement saying “racist abuse – whether on the pitch, in the stands, or on social media – is despicable and it must stop now.”

The second-in-line for the British monarchy also called on social media platforms to take more responsibility, saying: “We all have a responsibility to create an environment where such abuse is not tolerated, and those who choose to spread hate and division are held accountable for their actions. That responsibility extends to the platforms where so much of this activity now takes place.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Biden frees Venezuelan President Maduro’s drug dealing relatives in prisoner swap

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Joe Biden

President Biden freed two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s relatives Saturday in exchange for seven jailed Americans. The two nephews of Maduro’s wife Cilia Flores, had been convicted in the United States for drug dealing and sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the BBC.

According to the report, the swap was in exchange for five American oil executives. Those Americans were “exchanged for two of Mr Maduro’s wife’s nephews, who were serving 18-year sentences in the US on drug charges,” the officials told the BBC. Maduro’s nephews were convicted under the Trump administration and the Venezuelan government claims that they were “unjustly” jailed in the United States.

In a statement from the White House Saturday, Biden said the American’s were  “wrongfully detained.”  He said the American’s  would soon be reunited with their relatives, according to reports.

“Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” the Biden statement added.

Meanwhile, 13 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting more information on “the intelligence report” that alleges Maduro is emptying his prisons and allowing them to head to the United States in the caravans that crossing the porous border.

The letter states that the report warns Border Patrol agents to be on the look-out for “violent criminals from Venezuela among the migrant caravans heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“It has been widely reported that the Venezuelan regime, under the control of Nicolás Maduro Moros, is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape, and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States,” the letter states.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC.

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