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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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Chinese Spy Balloon: Tensions rise between the U.S. and China



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A strange object was spotted Wednesday over Billings Montana. The Pentagon confirmed Thursday that the strange object was, in fact, a Chinese spy balloon. According to a report from KPAX, a western Montana news outlet, the balloon had been on the governments radar for days.

On Friday, the Chinese government released a statement saying that the balloon spotted in Billings is a “civilian airship” that’s sole purpose is used to collect research on weather and that it had just blown off course. The balloon was not shot down by orders of the Pentagon due to the risk of falling debris injuring people on the ground.

Sara Carter, who has spoken frequently on the Chinese government’s threat and expansion to the West, stated on Twitter that the United States has failed to stop China from purchasing land near military installations, vital agricultural land, as well as, allowing Chinese linked companies, such as Huawei, to install technology in cellular towers. Those cellular towers are located in Montana, along side more than 150 ICBM nuclear silos.

China said, “The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure.” Majeure meaning that it was out of there control. It blew off course due to limited “self-steering” capabilities according the Ministry. The ministry also stated that the balloon, “deviated far from its planned course.”

This incident is adding fuel to the fire of what is already a tense relationship between the worlds two largest economies. China already lays claim to approximately 80% of the South China Sea, and is seeking full control over Taiwan after assuming full control of Hong Kong. China’s belt and road initiative has invested copious amounts of money into building infrastructure in other countries and uses it as economic blackmail. China’s transportation of fentanyl into Mexico is yet again another example of how they are seeking to damage the US.

Is this just a weather ballon that blew off course? US officials at the White House seem to be unconvinced and will continue to monitor the balloon, as reported.

UPDATED: Statement from the Pentagon was jaw dropping when a reporter asked if the public has a right to know about Beijing’s balloon.

“The public certainly has the ability to look up in the sky and see where the balloon is,” a DOD official responded.


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