Grad School (M230: Media Ethics & Legal Standards) First Issue with Bonus

           Graduate School

(M230: Media Ethics and Legal Standards)     

   First Issue with Bonus
      First Issue: A news report/ feature article/ news commentary/ interpretive report/ explanatory report/ investigative report etc. which shows one party raising a legal issue based on media ownership and/or management against a media organization (period covered: 2016-2019). For the full points, the class member should be prepared to give a critical discussion of the issues raised in class next meeting.

     Bonus: A news report/ feature article/ news commentary/ interpretive report/ explanatory report/ investigative report etcc Any legal issue raised against a social media platform (FB/ Twitter/ IG/ YouTube/ etc) which affects the constitutional rights/ any constitutional right of users / followers/ viewers/ audience (period covered: 2016-2019). For the full points, the class member should be  prepared to give a critical discussion of the issues raised in class next meeting.

    A class member may submit both a regular post and a bonus for extra points or may submit just one with deadline  next week on Thursday 5pm September 5, 2019. Any post submitted after 5pm of Sept. 5 is considered a “forfeit”, or for zero points.      Happy weekend!

14 comments

  1. FIRST ISSUE

    From a news commentary
    (http://manilastandard.net/mobile/article/256530)

    Three issues with Rappler

    posted January 18, 2018 at 12:01 am 
    by Emil Jurado

    The way I see it, the cancellation of Rappler’s web site brings to fore three crucial issues—violation of the constitutional provision on mass media, press freedom, and the wisdom of restricting foreigners from involvement in mass media.

    Under the 1987 Constitution and several Philippine laws, a media company must be owned and controlled 100 percent by Filipinos. If a media company gave foreigners any control at all, then that is a violation of the restrictions. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Rappler violated the Constitution; hence, it must be closed.

    Rappler insists that its board of directors and shareholders are 100-percent Filipinos.

    In 2013 and 2014, Rappler got commitments from foreign investors. It needed to legalize the receipt of foreign money. But it could not issue shares of stock or seats in the board. Thus, it spun off a new corporation called Rappler Holdings for the purpose of issuing what is called Philippine Depositary Receipts.

    A PDR is defined as a security that grants the holder the right to the delivery or sale of the underlying share, but not ownership.

    The PDRs are instruments that derive their value from equity and are used to raise funds. They are also used by other Philippine companies who are likewise affected by the restriction on foreign investments.

    Rappler Holdings then bought the share of Rappler in 2015 and then issued PDRs to North Base Media and Omidyar Network.

    But in 2015, the PDRs issued by Rappler to Omidyar was approved by the SEC itself.

    Former Press Secretary Francisco Tatad, in his column for another newspaper, asked whether the SEC’s understanding of PDRs changed just because the President ordered Rappler’s true ownership investigated?

    Assuming the SEC had erred, would it not be fairer and simpler to just cancel the PDRs?

    If indeed it was an honest mistake on the part of the SEC, why punish Rappler?

    The ON PDRs had provisions that granted a measure of control over both Rappler Holdings and Rappler Inc. The provisions included a condition that Rappler Holdings cannot alter, modify or change their Articles of Incorporation and Corporate By-Laws without discussion with the ON PDR holders and obtaining the approval of at least two thirds of all issued PDRs.

    My gulay, this constitutes a veto power contrary to restrictions in the Constitution!

    As stated by the SEC, Rappler is neither 100-percent owned by Filipinos, and neither is it 0-percent controlled by foreign PDR holders.

    Rappler defended itself by saying that the PDRs should not be considered as control. They argue that control is defined as ownership of shares and not simply management control.

    Another Rappler defense is that it is not a media company, nor a part of mass media. The SEC threw this argument out the window.

    Control of Rappler is the issue, not press freedom.

    Now we see a near-universal condemnation of the SEC’s decision. It is a threat to press freedom, they say. Was the President behind it?

    I don’t think so. The President may have been talking harsh against his critics, but he will not become a dictator. He should know better.

    Ultimately, he will just let the media be.

    The other issue is that given technology, restrictions on foreign control of the mass media should be lifted. They do not make sense anymore.

  2. FIRST ISSUE:

    From a News Report

    Inquirer Employees Surprised, Worried about Robert Ang Buyout
    Patty Pasion
    July 18, 2017

    (https://www.rappler.com/nation/175954-inquirer-employees-reaction-ramon-ang-buyout)

    MANILA, Philippines – Some employees of the Inquirer Group of Companies were heavy-hearted over the announcement that the Prieto family is selling its majority shares to San Miguel Corporation president Ramon Ang.

    Employees were told of the owners’ talks with Ang in a general assembly on Monday, July 17, where everyone was required to attend.

    “Karamihan talaga nalungkot (Many were saddened). Marixi [Prieto] was also emotional when she read the statement,” one of the employees who spoke to Rappler said.

    The news came as a shock to both the rank and file and the senior managers, said the employees we talked to, and who requested not to be named.

    One of the employees said no rumors about the negotiations leaked within the company, even to those covering the business beats.

    “We had a number of meetings where we were told to be brave, to soldier on. Never did we think we’d be sold off to a Duterte campaign donor at that. Just imagine our disbelief,” another employee said.

    What worries employees – at least those in the editorial units – is maintaining their independence.

    Inquirer has been the subject of threats from President Rodrigo Duterte, whose ire the newspaper earned for its critical coverage of the administration’s war on drugs. This also sparked online vitriol against the media outfit by supporters of the President.

    Duterte recently threatened to drop a bomb on the Prietos through an exposé.

    Editorial independence

    “There is worry that the new management would affect our editorial independence – something that the Prietos have valued and people from the editorial department live and strive by,” said an employee.

    They can only be hopeful their editors would be “strong enough, brave enough” to resist pressure from the management, if the latter tries to interfere later on.

    Some employees also worry about losing their jobs if some units of the media group are dissolved or merged with Ang’s other properties.

    The company, however, assured them in Monday’s statement that Ang committed to pursue “the highest standards of journalism.”

    “At the very least, employees hope that this change won’t be tantamount to censorship and the muzzling of the free, fierce and fair journalism that we stand by,” said one of the workers.

    A silver lining, one of them pointed out, would be better treatment of employees – something Ang is known for.

    One source said Inquirer workers have struggled with “meager increases in pay despite the increasing workload that goes with an ever competitive industry.” They could only hope the new management would provide better compensation for them.

    Change welcomed

    In the end, these workers, and even the labor union, said they will be open to what’s in store for them under Ang’s leadership.

    The Philippine Daily Inquirer Employees Union (PDIE) said its members expect the new owner to honor existing employment contracts, collective bargaining agreement, job security, and editorial independence.

    While they look forward to the coming changes, they urged their members to continue defending their rights and interests.

    The company said that their negotiations with the businessman started in 2014.

    They explained it was a “strategic business decision” to “maximize growth opportunities” for the company.

    Ang had previously sought to buy majority shares of media giant GMA Network Incorporated, but talks collapsed in 2015.

    He heads the San Miguel conglomerate, which has a wide range of business interests from food and beverage to telecommunications. (READ: Ramon Ang and his media interests) – Rappler.com

  3. FIRST ISSUE

    News Article
    https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2018/snopes-has-its-site-back-but-the-legal-battle-over-its-ownership-will-drag-on-for-months/

    One of the oldest American fact-checking projects has regained control of its hosting and majority control of its parent company. But an ongoing legal battle over its ownership isn’t likely to resolve anytime soon.

    That’s according to David Mikkelson, founder and editor of Snopes.com. He told Poynter that a trial date for its ongoing legal dispute with the digital services company Proper Media has been set for August — exactly one year after the lawsuit’s first hearing.

    But let’s back up. Over the summer, a legal skirmish began when Proper Media, which initially did some development work for Snopes on contract, filed a complaint against Bardav Inc. — the company behind the debunking site — for what it called “a lengthy scheme of concealment and subterfuge to gain control of the company and to drain its profits.” Bardav filed a cross-complaint alleging that Proper Media was keeping its site hostage.

    In August, Poynter reported that the heart of the messy legal fight resided in three questions: “Who owns Snopes? Did Bardav CEO David Mikkelson have the right to cancel the company’s contract with Proper Media? And is Mikkelson fit to own the company?” And it seems that Bardav has already won at least two of the three questions.

    In an update last week, Snopes published a timeline of its alleged legal victories against Proper Media over the past several months. From being granted a temporary restraining order against Proper Media in July to regaining control of its advertising platform and hosting in October, things have generally played out in Bardav’s favor.

    Here’s the timeline, as portrayed by Snopes. Proper Media’s attorney confirmed the basic details, while disputing the outlook of the last two bullets:

    On 12 July 2017, the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, granted our request for a Temporary Restraining Order in favor of Bardav, Inc. (Snopes.com’s parent corporation) and against Proper Media. As a result, Proper Media released $100,000 in revenue procured from the placement of advertisement on the Snopes.com website that they had been withholding. The court’s order provided much-needed funds that allowed Snopes.com to continue operating without having to lay off any staff.
    On 22 August 2017, the Superior Court granted our request for a Preliminary Injunction against Proper Media and its principals. The injunction required Proper Media to transfer hosting of the Snopes.com web site back to our control and to cease withholding from us revenues procured from the placement of advertisements on the Snopes.com website. On the same day that our motion for preliminary injunction was granted, the court denied Proper Media’s request for an order that would have forced Bardav to continue a business relationship with Proper Media, and denied Proper Media’s request to remove David Mikkelson from Bardav’s board of directors.
    On 18 October 2017, we successfully migrated Snopes.com to a new hosting provider and regained control of our advertising revenue stream.
    On 15 February 2018, the Superior Court ruled that Proper Media is not a Bardav shareholder, and upheld the appointment of Brad Westbrook to Bardav’s board of directors.
    On 22 February 2018, the Superior Court entered a judgment in favor of David Mikkelson dismissing all causes of action brought against him by Proper Media.
    The post was also published to Snopes’ GoFundMe page, which launched in July in an effort to raise $500,000 for legal fees and operating costs the fact-checker said it needed while Proper Media was withholding advertising revenue. It raised the money in one day.

    Now, Snopes is asking its readers to contribute $2 million so it can stay afloat.

    “We still face significant challenges,” the explanation reads. “As our efforts continue, so does our need for funding to sustain our ongoing operations, cover our legal fees and help us expand to stem the rising tide of misinformation.”

    Contributions to Snopes’ GoFundMe, which had stagnated around August and had grown to a little more than $740,000 as of publication, will be used to pay its ongoing legal fees, Mikkelson said. While it’s an eye-popping figure, $2 million is not necessarily an unlikely cost of legal counsel in private suits.

    Michael Chasalow, director of the Small Business Clinic at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law, told Poynter that, assuming Bardav is working with some of the best corporate defense lawyers, it’s not unlikely that the company’s fees could cost millions.

    “If someone is threatening your very existence, you want the best lawyers,” he said. “I’m sure Snopes is using every legal resource available to them because it involves their survival. And for that to cost millions of dollars is shocking but not surprising.”

    But despite the update’s air of hopefulness, and Snopes’ fundraising success, Proper Media’s attorney disputes its outlook entirely.

    “David Mikkelson’s recent update to the GoFundMe page is highly misleading, and it is disheartening to see David and (Vice President of Operations) Vinny Green abuse the Snopes brand by raising funds under false pretenses, without releasing all the facts,” Karl Kronenberger told Poynter in an email.

    Among the update’s misleading claims is the notion that the court dismissed all “causes of action” by Proper Media against Mikkelson, Kronenberger said. In fact, it replaced Proper Media as a plaintiff in the case with individual Bardav shareholders Chris Richmond and Drew Schoentrup — who both work at Proper Media — as part of a technical move.

    Richmond and Schoentrup became partial owners of Bardav after purchasing portions of a 50 percent share from former Bardav co-owner Barbara Mikkelson, David’s ex-wife. Green purchased another portion of that share and later left Proper Media for Snopes, pushing Bardav into majority control of the company.

    Kronenberger said Richmond and Schoentrup’s claims of corporate waste, breach of fiduciary duty, intentional interference with contract and removal of director against Mikkelson — whom he compared to an elephant with a coprophagous condition — still stand. His clients’ goal is to limit his influence at Bardav because they feel like he’s “hurting the brand.”

    “I think the position has stayed the same with what Proper Media wants — it wants to protect its investment,” Kronenberger said.

    And Chasalow said that, while it appears the court has ruled in favor of Bardav when it comes to the ownership part of the lawsuit, Richmond and Schoentrup could still have a case against Mikkelson.

    “Basically they’re saying that, as shareholders, they don’t like how he has been acting as someone on the board of directors. And shareholders do have a right to bring a claim,” Chasalow said.

    Stemming from Proper Media’s claims against Mikkelson is an argument that he is unfit to run the company — the third question that could help determine the lawsuit’s outcome. Kronenberger told Poynter that was Proper Media’s primary argument, and that the court’s rulings in favor of Bardav could potentially be reversed by a later finding in their favor.

    “These rulings are only preliminary, and as discovery continues more evidence is surfacing that may well change these early decisions and additionally result in David reimbursing Bardav for various expenses,” he said. “There are also important questions to ask about the viability of Bardav under its current management.”

    That primary argument rests upon accusations about Mikkelson’s past behavior, particularly as it relates to a Daily Mail article from December 2016 that reported he had used company money to pay for his honeymoon, fund his divorce expenses and buy prostitutes. A September profile of Snopes in Wired also shed light on David and Barbara’s messy divorce.

    Barbara Mikkelson declined to comment for this story.

    David Mikkelson has disputed the allegations and — in addition to August’s ruling against removing him as Bardav director — it’s unlikely they’ll have a major effect on the suit.

    “I think those claims arose before the Proper people became shareholders,” Chasalow said. “So I’m not even sure that those are the strongest of claims.”

    Ultimately, he doubts that Proper Media will successfully show that Mikkelson is unfit to run Bardav.

    “Those standards are relatively high. So as long as David is acting in the best interests of the company and in good faith, his position is relatively strong,” Chasalow said. “Nothing is jumping out at me that this is a significant claim that this is going to fell Snopes.”

    Clarification: A previous version of this story stated that some of Proper Media’s claims against Mikkelson still stand. It’s more accurate to say that the claims of individual Proper Media employees Richmond and Schoentrup still stand, as they’re now the primary plaintiffs on the case.

  4. REPOSTING

    FIRST ISSUE

    News Article
    https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2018/snopes-has-its-site-back-but-the-legal-battle-over-its-ownership-will-drag-on-for-months/

    One of the oldest American fact-checking projects has regained control of its hosting and majority control of its parent company. But an ongoing legal battle over its ownership isn’t likely to resolve anytime soon.
    That’s according to David Mikkelson, founder and editor of Snopes.com. He told Poynter that a trial date for its ongoing legal dispute with the digital services company Proper Media has been set for August — exactly one year after the lawsuit’s first hearing.

  5. FIRST ISSUE

    Investigative Report
    Link: https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/179107-duterte-abs-cbn-franchise-congress-press-freedom

    After winning the 2016, election, President Duterte has become known as the “punisher”, a monicker he earned for instituting Oplan Tokhang. He also became controversial when he gave Ferdinand Marcos the heroes burial. Having established these, the author of the report, begins to recall press freedom issues of the past committed by Marcos and is now being committed by the President.

    Hence, the case of ABS-CBN who the president expressed anger because of ABS-CBN’s refusal to air his political advertisements. His supporters even label the network as “dilawan”. The president and the pro-duterte congress is blocking the renewal of franchise of the company which will expire in 2020.

    The author also recalls Duterte’s tirade when criticised for his threat to block the franchise as an act to curtail press freedom. The president got angry and calls ABS-CBN as a “swindler” and a “thief”and does not operate on journalistic standard, hence is deserving to be closed down.

    However, the author also interviewed experts on press freedom and have expressed that the move of Duterte and his supporters in the congress to block the franchise of ABS-CBN is indeed an attack to press freedom.

  6. For bonus point

    News Article

    Devin Nunes Sues Twitter for Allowing Accounts to Insult Him
    (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/19/us/politics/devin-nunes-twitter-lawsuit.html)

    By Daniel Victor

    March 19, 2019

    Stung by obscene and pointed criticism, Representative Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, has sued Twitter and three users for defamation, claiming the users smeared him and the platform allowed it to happen because of a political agenda.

    The complaint, which was filed in Henrico County Circuit Court in Virginia on Tuesday, seeks $250 million in damages. In making his case, Mr. Nunes, a loyal ally of President Trump and the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, repeated several common Republican complaints that Twitter has repeatedly denied: that it censors Republicans, “shadow bans” their accounts and actively helps their opponents.

    Though absorbing criticism comes with the territory for politicians, the complaint described the objectionable tweets from the three users as something “that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life.”

    To make his case, he cited a wide variety of tweets that included accusations of criminal misconduct, crude jokes at his expense and relatively banal criticism. The complaint says the tweets “falsely stated” that Mr. Nunes had brought “shame” to his family and that he was voted “Most Likely to Commit Treason” in high school, and that one of them included a cartoon image of a sexual act with Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. The complaint lists dozens of other tweets he found insulting.

    Mr. Nunes singled out Liz Mair, a Republican strategist who said on Twitter that she would not comment on the lawsuit, and two parody accounts: @DevinNunesMom, which was suspended last year, and @DevinCow, which is still active. The complaint says that Ms. Mair coordinated with the anonymous accounts on “a vicious defamation campaign” but did not offer evidence she was behind them or communicated with them, except for one tweet encouraging people to follow @DevinCow.

    Experts generally say the law protects large internet platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube from liability based on what their users publish. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act says they should not “be treated as the publisher or speaker” of the content — allowing the platforms to exist without having to preapprove every post for potential legal issues.

    But the complaint by Mr. Nunes seeks to portray the tweets directed at him as evidence of larger efforts by Twitter to undermine Republicans — a frequent rallying cry of conservatives. Mr. Nunes was a key figure in the House’s Russia investigation, and a frequent target for critics who said he was abusing his authority by impeding investigations to protect Mr. Trump.

    “As part of its agenda to squelch Nunes’ voice, cause him extreme pain and suffering, influence the 2018 Congressional election, and distract, intimidate and interfere with Nunes’ investigation into corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election, Twitter did absolutely nothing,” the complaint said.

    Twitter declined to comment on the lawsuit. But in public statements, including contentious House committee hearings in September, executives have denied any political bias or agendas. Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter, told the House committee they had found no difference in the reach of tweets by Democrats and those by Republicans.

    Mr. Nunes repeated the debunked claim that the social network was “shadow banning” Republicans, including him. Shadow banning — the act of a platform allowing someone to post but not allowing others to see the post, effectively making them invisible — became a political catch phrase in July, when a Vice News article used the term to characterize a Twitter bug that was affecting some prominent conservatives.

    In fact, the bug affected their accounts only briefly by not showing up on the network’s search results when a user searched for their names; the reach of their posts was unaffected. But the assertion was still used by many, including Mr. Trump, as evidence of bias against conservatives.

    The lawsuit by Mr. Nunes had the perhaps unintended effect of sharply increasing the reach of @DevinCow, the parody account that had around 1,200 followers before the lawsuit was filed. The account was up to 46,000 followers as of Tuesday morning and rapidly growing.

    “I’m not quitting my day job,” the account posted on Monday.

  7. FIRST ISSUE

    News Commentary

    Link: https://www.manilatimes.net/2019/04/15/opinion/columnists/topanalysis/pcij-vera-files-and-cmfr-violating-constitution-ban-on-foreign-funds-in-media/540537/

    PCIJ, Vera Files and CMFR violating Constitution ban on foreign funds in media

    Posted April 15, 2019 by Rigoberto D. Tiglao

    THE misnamed Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Rappler and two other media outfits which have been stridently critical of President Duterte are violating the constitutional ban on foreign presence in media by receiving substantial funds from US entities.

    These media outfits are Vera Files and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).

    Vera Files was also designated by Facebook as one of its “fact checkers.” I dare it to fact-check the claims in this column.

    These outfits are in the same legal quagmire as Rappler, which the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2018 had ruled was in violation of that constitutional ban owing to its $1.5 million funding from an American enterprise.

    The SEC pointed out: “The constitutional and statutory prohibition…means to isolate the Filipino masses from all foreign influence (even apparently ‘harmless’ ones) sent via “any medium of communication.” It ruled—which the Court of Appeals later affirmed—that the Constitution stipulates a “zero foreign control standard,” which means that a media entity cannot accept a single peso or dollar of foreign money.

    I don’t think these outfits could have survived for a month without foreign funding. They do not have an income stream to sustain them. In contrast to wealthy US tycoons funding similar media institutions, rich Filipinos or companies aren’t interested at all in media that they would financially support such outfits.

    PCIJ, Vera Files and CMFR violating Constitution ban on foreign funds in media 2
    What do these media outfits have in common?
    Asia Foundation
    The PCIJ had received substantial funds from the Asia Foundation in its early years after it was founded in 1989. Its executive director hasn’t responded at all to my request for information on how much it has received from foreign funds after those years. However, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) documents show that it gave the PCIJ $106,000 from 2015 to 2017.

    Vera Files, which describes itself in its website as an “independent media organization registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission” also received $70,000 from NED for those years, as well as another $50,000 from Reporters without Borders, which is also a recipient of NED money.

    The CMFR has been the biggest recipient of foreign funding among the three, getting $278,000. While it claims to be a “center” that undertakes programs “to uphold press freedom, promote responsible journalism, and encourage journalistic excellence,” it has a website that is undoubtedly a news website. Its Philippine Journalism Review regularly posts articles critical of Duterte that had been published in Rappler and PCIJ, as well as those hiding under the byline “CMFR.” The Philippine Journalism Review has never posted a positive article on the Duterte presidency.

    I emailed last week the heads of Vera Files and CMFR—Ellen Tordesillas and Melinda Quintos-de Jesus, respectively—to ask them for the sake of the ideal of transparency that they have demanded of government, to disclose how much they have received in foreign funds since their establishment, and from which entities. They haven’t even bothered to reply. And they complain that government officials aren’t giving them information they have been asking.

    The NED’s reason for funding these outfits is indicated in a statement in its website’s section that narrates its operations: “In the Philippines, the Duterte administration represents a sharp break from the Aquino administration and its emphasis on good governance.”

    Security issue
    The NED’s funding of the three media outfits is even a national security issue. There have been allegations that it is a conduit for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operations in molding public opinion in countries whose heads of state they want to topple.

    Among the many respected investigative journalists who have exposed the NED as a CIA conduit is Robert Perry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for the Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 and the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence by Harvard’s Nieman Foundation in 2015.

    PCIJ, Vera Files and CMFR violating Constitution ban on foreign funds in media 3
    PCIJ’s Severino (encircled) with his comrades at the wedding of Aquino’s favorite blogger.
    In a 2014 article in consortiumnews.com, the first investigative news magazine in the Internet, Perry wrote:

    “NED is a US government-funded organization created in 1983 to do what the Central Intelligence Agency previously had done in financing organizations inside target countries to advance US policy interests and, if needed, help in ‘regime change.’

    It was founded at the initiative of Cold War hardliners in the Reagan administration, including then-CIA Director William J. Casey. Essentially, NED took over what had been the domain of the CIA, i.e. funneling money to support foreign political movements that would take the US side against the Soviet Union.”

    Convinced that it was a CIA front, Russia banned NED in 2015, claiming that it “poses a threat to the constitutional order of the Russian Federation and the defensive capability and security of the government.”

    An editorial in the Washington Times in 2017 even urged President Trump to stop Congress’ funding of NED: “Killing the NED would have another big benefit to America and the world. It would end the meddlesome activities of the endowment’s longtime leader, Carl Gershman, who as president of the organization since its founding, has acted as a kind of grand-scale global busybody, dispensing some $100 million a year in behalf of efforts to undermine governments around the world.”

    The PCIJ hasn’t responded at all to my column last Friday which pointed out—based on a simple perusal of their articles since 1998—that it is essentially a propaganda vehicle of the Yellow Cult. In contrast to its scores of articles vociferously critical of the administrations of presidents Estrada, Gloria Arroyo and Rodrigo Duterte, it did not have a single posting on the allegations of corruption during President Aquino 3rd’s term.

    It had nothing on the graft allegations under that administration which outraged the country, such as those involving the MRT-III and Dengvaxia defective vaccine. It had nothing on Noynoy Aquino’s monumental incompetence that led to such disasters as the massacre of 44 Special Action troops and the loss of Scarborough Shoal to China. That reminds me of a book critical of the Supreme Court, especially against the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, by a Rappler editor and a PCIJ co-founder. It bashed every Supreme Court justice except one – Antonio Caprio.

    A photo that was sent to me recently has convinced me more than ever that the PCIJ is a Yellow media outfit. It showed its chairman Howie Severino — also a GMA-7 journalist — in a group photo smiling ear to ear with known personalities and propagandists of the Yellow Cult, among them Jim Paredes, Inday Varona, Tonyo Cruz, Florin Hilbay and Mae Paner. The photo was taken at the strident Yellow blogger Jover Laurio’s wedding, which was practically an exclusive party for Duterte bashers.

  8. BONUS

    News Report

    Link: https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/06/07/1924427/fb-youtube-execs-summoned-over-bikoy

    FB, YouTube execs summoned over ‘Bikoy’

    Posted June 7, 2019 by Edu Punay

    MANILA, Philippines — Government prosecutors summoned the country heads of social media giants Facebook and YouTube to answer the P1-billion damage suit filed by the owner of Misibis Bay Resort in Albay over the viral “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos that had linked the firm to the illegal drug trade.

    The National Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed yesterday that summons have been sent to Facebook Philippines country director John Rubio and Google Philippines (administrator of YouTube Philippines) country manager Kenneth Lingan last May 21 at their respective offices in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.

    They were specifically ordered to submit their counter-affidavits to the cyber libel complaint filed by Bicolano businessman Elizaldy Co and Misibis Bay Resort before the Legazpi City prosecutor’s office.

    A separate subpoena was sent to Peter Advincula, the self-confessed “Bikoy” in the videos, who was also named respondent in the complaint.

    All respondents were directed to answer the charges of violations of cyber libel under Section 4 of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, in relation to libel under Articles 353, 354 and 356 of the Revised Penal Code, against them.

    No specific dates have been set for the preliminary investigation hearing yet, according to Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon.

    This is the first prominent suit filed against social media giants Facebook and YouTube in the Philippines amid efforts to combat the spread of fake news in the online sites.

    Co and Misibis Bay filed two separate complaints following the recantation by Advincula of his claims in the videos, calling it a “vindication.”

    The complaint sought civil damages from the respondents amounting to P150 million in moral damages and P100 million in exemplary damages as well as payment of 10 percent for attorney’s fee for each of the two complainants, or a total of P550 million.

    The second complaint, on the other hand, named Advincula, Google Philippines as owner of YouTube where the videos circulated, through its country manager Kenneth Lingan, and other unidentified persons as respondents.

    Co and Misibis Resort management likewise demanded the same amount of damages of P500 million and P50 million in attorney’s fee from the second set of respondents, for total civil damage claims of at least P1.1 billion.

    The complainants stressed that the “false, malicious and libelous accusations in the video” that went viral on Facebook and YouTube affected not only Co’s good reputation in the business field but also the operations of the popular resort destination in Albay.

    The complainants said they asked Facebook and YouTube to take down the video last April 26, but both social media giants ignored the request and the video has remained online.

    They said this was why they impleaded Facebook and YouTube in the complaint.

    The complainants stressed that all necessary elements of cyber libel under the law are present in this case to make the respondents criminally and civilly liable.

    Co also lamented how the video destroyed the reputation he built for many years.

    In the video – the fifth episode in the series – Advincula said a drug syndicate working out of Bicol was called the “Quadrangle Group” and included former politicians and businessmen.

    Advincula identified Co as the supposed leader of the group and claimed that the illegal operations were conducted inside the Misibis resort.

    He also identified the other members as Albay Rep. Fernando Gonzalez, Camarines Norte Gov. Edgardo Tallado, former Camarines Sur congressman and governor Luis Villafuerte, Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua, Sorsogon senior provincial board member Krunimar Escudero, Victor Lorenzo Rosales, Naga businessman Thomas Enrile and businesswoman Tess Rañola.

    But when he surrendered to the Philippine National Police last May 23, Advincula confessed his allegations in the videos were not true and that he was only paid by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and the opposition as part of the so-called Oplan Sodoma to oust President Duterte.

  9. FOR BONUS POINTS

    News Feature
    Link: https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/28/18285178/facebook-hud-lawsuit-fair-housing-discrimination

    Facebook is being charged by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) because of housing discrimination. The HUD believe that Facebook violates Fair Housing Act through its ads that targets specific ethnicities.

    The report says that in 2016 reporters found that the “ethnic affinities” tool could be used to exclude black or hispanic users from seeing specific ads.

    Here’s an excerpt from the report.

    “According to the HUD complaint, many of the options for targeting or excluding audiences are shockingly direct, including a map tool that explicitly echoes redlining practices. “[Facebook] has provided a toggle button that enables advertisers to exclude men or women from seeing an ad, a search-box to exclude people who do not speak a specific language from seeing an ad, and a map tool to exclude people who live in a specified area from seeing an ad by drawing a red line around that area,” the complaint reads.”

    The report also highlights this as the first federal discrimination lawsuit that deals with racial bias in targeted advertising.

  10. FIRST ISSUE

    A News Report
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/aug/07/trump-praises-new-york-times-headline-that-sparked-uproar-after-shootings

    Trump praises New York Times headline that sparked uproar after shootings

    by Jessica Glenza in New York and Joan E Greve in Washington DC
    Wed 7 Aug 2019 15.10 BST

    Trump says initial headline, which the newspaper was forced to change amid backlash, was ‘the correct description’

    Donald Trump has criticised the New York Times after the newspaper was forced to change its front-page headline amid an intense backlash over its sympathetic portrayal of the president’s statement on the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that left 31 people dead.

    The headline, which first splashed across page the front page in the New York Times print edition Tuesday, read “Trump urges unity vs racism”. The headline was changed to “Assailing hate but not guns”, in the paper’s second edition, but the change failed to quell the uproar.

    Many readers complained that the wording fed Trump’s claims that those who criticised his persistent anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric – some of which was repeated in the El Paso gunman’s alleged manifesto – were playing politics.

    Trump blamed “the glorification of violence” in a speech that identified video games, the internet and mental illness – but not guns – as the cause of the slaughter that left at least 31 dead and 53 injured in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in less than 24 hours over the weekend. He did not address the criticisms of his own divisive rhetoric.

    On Wednesday Trump praised the initial headline in a tweet, saying it “was the correct description… by the Failing New York Times”. He said the paper was forced to change the description because “Radical Left Democrats went absolutely CRAZY! Fake News – That’s what we’re up against…”

    Trump is expected to face a backlash when he visits El Paso and Dayton on Wednesday, to meet with officials, first responders and members of the community. Authorities are investigating the El Paso shooting as domestic terrorism, while the Dayton shooting is being treated as homicide.

    The executive editor of the New York Times accepted responsibility after the paper changed its headline.
    The headline appeared in the print edition of the New York Times, which Dean Baquet said has become less of a focus for the paper’s leadership, known as the masthead within the industry.

    “The print hub is not right in the middle of the news desk anymore,” Baquet told the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR). “I don’t lay out the page. I don’t pick the front-page stories. I don’t think that’s the role of the executive editor anymore.”

    He added: “It’s important for me to say, if anyone is at fault, the executive editor is at fault,” and said: “It didn’t have enough skepticism of what the president said.”

    The headline failed to capture the “reasons to be skeptical” of Trump’s call for Americans to come together following the shootings, and white supremacy as an “evident problem”, Baquet told the CJR.

    Leading up to the shootings, Trump was under intense criticism for racist comments directed to four congresswomen of color. He tweeted the women should “go back” to where they came from, a longtime racist trope. All but one of the women was born in the United States.

    Many people complained the headline legitimized Trump’s supporters, who argued critics were playing politics rather than rightfully denouncing inflammatory anti-immigrant sentiment. Trump’s rhetoric was quoted in a screed by a shooter in El Paso.

    The headline first gained widespread attention when it was tweeted by the prominent statistician Nate Silver, of the website FiveThirtyEight, which was previously published by the New York Times.

    The headline also lead to criticism by 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including the New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who tweeted: “That’s not what happened”, and the New Jersey senator Cory Booker.

    The furor has also lead to calls on social media to cancel subscriptions to the New York Times. A spokesperson for the newspaper conceded to CJR the outlet was experiencing a “higher volume of cancellations” than is “typical”.

    The uproar spotlighted how newsrooms’ focus has shifted from print editions to digital, and the rift between Times readers’ expectations and the sensibilities of the masthead, CJR argued.
    “I don’t believe our role is to be the leaders of the opposition party,” Baquet told CJR.

  11. BONUS

    https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-21740386

    The founder of a so-called “revenge porn” website has been ordered to pay $250,000 (£170,000) in damages for defamation.
    Hunter Moore was found to have made false claims about the chief executive of an anti-bullying website.
    Mr Moore used Twitter to falsely claim James McGibney was a paedophile who possessed child pornography.
    Mr Moore’s website used to post naked images of people without their permission. He closed it in 2012.
    At the time, the site’s closure seemed a sudden and dramatic change of heart – Mr Moore sold the domain, IsAnyoneUp.com, to Mr McGibney’s website Bullyville.com.
    “Back in April of this year, I convinced Hunter to shut down his now infamous “IsAnyoneUp.com” revenge porn website for a nominal fee,” wrote Mr McGibney in a blog post about the recent lawsuit.
    “Hunter was so convincing that he was going to turn over a new leaf and be an advocate against bullying, especially under-age bullying.
    “Within 72 hours of that transaction being complete, Hunter was on Twitter cyberbullying kids worse than ever before.
    “Telling kids that they should ‘kill themselves’ using vulgar, racist language and advocating more violence and revenge.”
    Las Vegas court documents filed on Friday, and reported on by Ars Technica, showed Mr Moore did not contest the charges.

    Mr Moore used his Twitter account, which has almost 150,000 followers, to make several derogatory comments about Mr McGibney.
    Mr Moore encouraged others to post the claims in return for free clothing – Mr McGibney said he would be taking action against those that did so.
    “‘Internet tough guys’ are also legally accountable for their actions,” Mr McGibney wrote.
    “Hunter and some of his followers now realise this, along with their parents since some of his followers appear to be under the age of 18.”
    The settlement amount was said to be a “conservative estimate” of reputational damage caused by Mr Moore’s comments.
    The money would donated to women’s shelters across the US, Mr McGibney added.
    Direct action
    Other sites, heavily inspired by Mr Moore’s, carry out a similar purpose of posting naked images, often together with the victim’s social-media profiles.
    Mr Moore, and others like him, have typically been able to avoid direct action thanks to complex rules regarding uploading such images.
    Typically, in cases where images are removed, it is because of breaches of copyright rather than because of the content of the photographs.
    In an interview with the BBC last year, Mr Moore said of his site: “People obviously want it, and I’m going to give the people what they want.
    “I’m just a businessman.
    “I just monetise people’s mistakes that they made and it’s kind of a shady business. But if it wasn’t me, somebody else was going to do it. All I did was really perfected the way to monetise people’s naked pictures.”
    He has made repeated claims that he would relaunch his website – but this has not materialised, in part due to action by hacktivist collective Anonymous, who targeted the planned site towards the end of last year.
    In addition to the defamation claim, Mr McGibney has launched a class action lawsuit against the site, and has invited users to come forward to share their complaints.
    “We’re doing this mostly for the completely powerless, under-age women who were verbally harassed after Hunter posted their completely naked, unedited photos on his site.
    “We’ll soon be launching a brand new site for IsAnyoneUp.com that not only shows the history and eventual dismantling of this disturbing website, but also brings valuable information to people who have been wronged by similar behaviour.”
    Mr Moore has yet to comment on the court order.
    Lawyer Marc Randazza, who represented Mr McGibney in the case, has said he will help Las Vegas-based revenge porn victims for no charge.
    In a blog post, he wrote: “If anyone out there has been scammed by these crooks, contact me.”

  12. For Bonus:

    News Report
    Memo from a ‘Facebook nation’ to Mark Zuckerberg: You moved fast and broke our country.
    Eric Johnson
    Dec. 11, 2018
    ( https://www.vox.com/2018/11/26/18111859/maria-ressa-rappler-facebook-mark-zuckerberg-philippines-kara-swisher-recode-decode-podcast )

    Maria Ressa, the journalist who co-founded Rappler in the Philippines, warns that her country is a “cautionary tale” for the United States.
    Editor’s note: Maria Ressa has been named a Time magazine Person of the Year, one of several journalist “Guardians” in the “War on Truth.”

    In August of 2016, investigative journalist Maria Ressa contacted Facebook with some “alarming” data: Rampant harassment and threats targeted via Facebook at people, predominantly women, in the Philippines who were critical of the “drug war” being waged by the newly elected president, Rodrigo Duterte.

    “It’s targeting journalists. It’s targeting anyone who’s perceived to be critical of President Duterte,” Ressa said on the latest episode of Recode Decode with Kara Swisher. “Those attacks are heinous. It brings out the worst of human nature. [They are] very personal, criminal, actually: ‘I will kill you. I will rape you.’ I mean, I think I’ve been called every animal you can think of.”

    Other accounts falsely claimed that Duterte’s political enemies were working with the CIA, and Ressa’s data suggested this could be an organized bot campaign at work. Social media, she told Recode’s Kara Swisher, has been the “fertilizer” of democratic collapse in the Philippines, which should be a “cautionary tale for the United States.”

    However, the company did not take down the suspicious pages until a few weeks ago, more than two years after her first report. And Ressa, the co-founder of the Filipino media company Rappler, had more access to Facebook than most political journalists: Last year, she and five other media CEOs had lunch with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s annual F8 conference.

    “I said, ‘Mark, 97 percent of Filipinos on the internet are on Facebook,’” Ressa recalled. “I invited him to come to the Philippines because he had to see the impact of this. You have to understand the impact … He was frowning while I was saying that. I said, ‘Why, why?’ He said, ‘Oh well. What are the other 3 percent doing, Maria?’”

    “We trained our whole lives on standards and ethics,” she added. “We live to the mission of journalism and we cleaned up the public’s fear. We made sure that democracy could stay alive. Well, now the platforms have it. The technology platforms have this. They don’t want to do the work. They don’t want to spend the money on it, even though they make a lot of money.”

  13. FIRST ISSUE

    A News Report

    https://www.manilatimes.net/2016/04/12/opinion/columnists/topanalysis/an-indonesian-tycoons-media-empire-in-the-philippines-exposed/255745/

    An Indonesian tycoon’s media empire in the Philippines exposed

    BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

    APRIL 12, 2016

    Part II

    My column on Monday talked about the so-called SWS Mobile “Survey” as being anomalous since it is not really a survey, but involves the same permanent panel of about 750 people whose views are extracted for each survey run. That’s not all, however. I also reported that the technical operators of this project are media firms that belong to the biggest conglomerate of public utilities in the country, owned by an Indonesian tycoon, Anthoni Salim.

    I had received feedback from people who couldn’t believe such media firms could be controlled by a foreigner, since the Constitution bars foreigners from owning a single share in a media enterprise: “The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines.” (Article 16, Section 11)

    The reality established by indisputable facts, though, is that the Indonesian Salim has practically skirted our laws and the Constitution to control a local media conglomerate, just as he has in the case of his telecom, power and water companies in the country, in which foreign ownership is limited to 40 percent.

    Indeed, that we have lost our sense of nationalism and the respect for the rule of law has been clearly demonstrated by the Filipinos’ nonchalance over an Indonesian tycoon’s control of a media empire.

    Salim, through intermediary firms, controls 18 percent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 77 percent of BusinessWorld and 51 percent of the Philippine Star.

    Salim is the country’s first multi-media mogul having control not only of print media outfits but two television and radio networks, TV5 and AksyonTV, which includes more than two dozen radio stations all over the country, the nation’s largest satellite-to-home Cignal TV, and even an internet-only news site, interaksyon.com.

    With his takeover of the Philippine Star in 2014, Salim has become the biggest media mogul in the country, dwarfing the Prieto-Delgado clan of the Inquirer, Emilio Yap’s heirs in the Manila Bulletin, the Lopezes of ABS-CBN, and the three families owning GMA-7.
    salim20160413Indonesian tycoon Salim’s media empire in the Philippines
    How has Salim been able to defy the Constitutional ban on foreigners in media? Through PLDT, of which he is the biggest controlling stockholder and as such, wields the power to determine who make up the telecom giant’s management. His control of PLDT itself is now on flimsy grounds because of the 2012 Supreme Court ruling that the firm violated the 40 percent limit on foreign ownership. The Court, strangely though, has not implemented this ruling.

    With Salim’s First Pacific Co.’s 25.6 percent stake in PLDT, the 20 percent shares held by two Japanese NTT subsidiaries, and 28 percent by other foreign stockholders (mostly via the stock market), foreign ownership of the country’s biggest telecom totals 74 percent – a situation which, to use the Supreme Court’s words in its decision on the issue, “makes a mockery of our Constitution.”

    PLDT’s management controls the pension trust fund, called the Beneficial Trust Fund (BTF), for its 20,000 employees. When BTF started buying into the media sector, its chairman was the same person who had been serving as adviser to Salim and his top executive Manuel V. Pangilinan since they came into the country in 1984 – Albert del Rosario, President Benigno S. Aquino’s foreign secretary since 2010 until he resigned a few months ago.

    By 2012, BTF had invested P14.5 billion — or 80 percent of P18.4 billion of its cash assets at the time — in a company called MediaQuest, the holding firm for Salim’s media companies.

    MediaQuest is the investing company for the two broadcast enterprises. The first is ABC Development Corp., which owns VHF TV5, its flagship, and the AM Radyo5 broadcast enterprise. The second is Nation Broadcasting Corp, which operates 10 UHF “Aksyon TV” stations and 15 FM radio outfits based in the country’s major cities outside metropolitan Manila.

    It is also MediaQuest which owns an investing company, Satventures, which, in turn, owns Cignal TV, now the country’s largest satellite-to-home TV company with 1 million subscribers as of September last year. MediaQuest’s subsidiary, Hastings Holdings Inc., is the holding company for the group’s newspaper investments.

    Clever use of pension fund
    It has been obviously clever for Salim to use the PLDT employees’ trust fund to set up his media empire, which most probably has aims other than mere profits.

    By having the BTF as investor in the media empire, Salim can pretend that his print and broadcast media empire does not violate the constitutional ban on foreign investors in local media enterprises.

    Yet, through his power over PLDT as the biggest single stockholder, he controls the media empire through BTF’s Board of Trustees, which has been chaired since del Rosario stepped down to become the Aquino government’s foreign secretary – by Ray Espinosa, chief legal counsel of PLDT, said to be Salim’s and Pangilinan’s top legal adviser.

    MediaQuest President Espinosa has been Salim’s man running the media conglomerate. He has been the publisher of Philippine Star and BusinessWorld.

    It is astonishing how the Philippine ruling elite pretends that Salim isn’t in control of one of the biggest multi-media conglomerates in the country today, in violation of our Constitution.

    BTF’s resources, however, were not enough to fund the huge requirements of Salim’s media enterprises. Its investment in MediaQuest already made up 80 percent of its assets. So Salim borrowed a page from his competitor, broadcast company ABS-CBN Holdings book, which first used in 2013 the so-called Philippine Depository Receipts (PDRs) to get foreign equity injected into its media conglomerate.

    PDRs have been a recent invention by the country’s tycoons to go around the constitutional ban or limit on foreign investment in restricted industries. Each PDR represents a share in a restricted company, and when bought by a foreign entity, gives the buyer the right to all the dividends due the shares of stock acquired. The foreigner, therefore, does not technically own a share to create the legal fiction of compliance with the Constitutional restrictions, but will receive the income due that share.

    Why would an investor hold a PDR if such paper does not give him a share of the company it represents? The answer is obvious in the case of PLDT’s subsidiary, ePLDT. It does not need to have any control of MediaScape or its subsidiaries since its mother firm, PLDT, already controls this media entity.

    P10B for Cignal TV
    By September 2013, ePLDT had invested P9.6 billion in MediaQuest to fund Cignal TV, a direct-to-home satellite television service. The massive infusion of funds explains why Cignal TV in just four years became the largest Direct to Home (DTH) Pay-TV operator in the country, with a claimed 1 million subscribers by September 2014.

    In March 2013 and then March 2014, ePLDT put in a further P2.45 billion in the form of MediaQuest PDRs, in order to fund its subsidiary Hastings Holdings, Salim’s holding firm for his print enterprises. Some of the P2.45 billion new funding was apparently used as payment to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte in exchange for his family’s holdings in Philippine Star in 2014.

    PLDT, however, took a different tack in funding its TV5 unit. PLDT and its subsidiary Smart Telecommunications made advertising placements with it, paid in advance, which it committed to total P868 million in 2013 and a further P758 million in 2014.

    PLDT’s contract with TV5 for these advertising placements started in 2010 for a five-year term, and has been renewed for another five years, to continue up to 2021.

    PLDT’s advertising-money support for TV5 has worried the broadcast media industry, as it is obviously the template for channeling not only PLDT’s funds to finance Salim’s media outfits but those of his other firms, especially Meralco.

    With advertising funds limited in the country, Salim’s competitors in the media industry could be hit badly, even driven to the ground if the Indonesian tycoon decides for two years to devote the entire amount of advertising funds of PLDT, Smart and Meralco to TV5 and its newspaper, the Philippine Star.

    Why has Salim gone into a crowded industry, whose profits would never be really stellar because of the Philippines’ small market, and where the country’s richest tycoons such as the Sys, Gokongweis and the Ayalas haven’t dared to go?

    Public opinion
    One important reason involves the obvious fact that media plays a dominant role in forming public opinion in the modern era. It is also a major force in politics. Political leaders in the country all woo the friendship of owners and editors of the major broadsheets and TV networks as their media outfits have the power to demonize a political leader and prettify a preferred one.

    Salim, in fact, now has in place a perfect machine for controlling a population’s mind. First, a content generator made up of his news enterprises in print, broadcast and the internet; and second, a content disseminator consisting of his cellphone firms Smart Communications, the biggest in the country (with Sun as a cheaper brand) and his direct-to-home satellite television service Cignal TV and his cable news network.

    Never in our history has there been such a magnate controlling companies in all forms of media and communications.

    The First Pacific conglomerate has become so huge in the Philippines, even if the legality of its controlling stake in public utility firms rests on flimsy legal grounds. Public opinion sympathetic with Salim, no matter if his companies violate the spirit of the Constitution, would be crucial for the holding company’s continued presence in the country. That makes me very curious if he has been a major player in our recent presidential elections.

    An Indonesian disregards our Constitution and laws by skirting its regulatory, legal loopholes with the help of the best and brightest of Filipinos. An Indonesian controls a media conglomerate in an industry where the Constitution totally bans all foreign participation.

    His conglomerate consists almost entirely of telecommunications, power, water services and infrastructure companies and, therefore, is heavily dependent on government regulation, the implementation, or lack of it, of which depends on the President.

    Yet the Philippine elite looks the other way and pretends there is no conglomerate in strategic public utilities and in media controlled by an Indonesian tycoon.

    What kind of a country have we become?

    tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com

  14. FOR BONUS

    https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/14/20805283/lgbtq-youtuber-lawsuit-discrimination-alleged-video-recommendations-demonetization

    LGBTQ YouTubers are suing YouTube over alleged discrimination

    By Julia Alexander

    A group of YouTube creators is suing YouTube for allegedly discriminating against their LGBTQ-focused videos by suppressing recommendations and making it difficult to earn ad revenue.

    The lawsuit alleges that YouTube uses “unlawful content regulation, distribution, and monetization practices that stigmatize, restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the LGBT Plaintiffs and the greater LGBT Community.” The lawsuit also alleges that both YouTube’s machine learning moderation tools and human reviewers unfairly target channels that have words such as “gay,” “bisexual,” or “transgender” in the title.

    “YouTube is engaged in discriminatory, anticompetitive, and unlawful conduct that harms a protected class of persons under California law,” the lawsuit states. It alleges that YouTube’s actions have violated federal and California laws around speech, discrimination, and false advertising. A YouTube spokesperson told The Verge that the company’s policies “have no notion of sexual orientation or gender identity and our systems do not restrict or demonetize videos based on these factors or the inclusion of terms like ‘gay’ or ‘transgender.’”

    The complainants — including Amp Somers, Lindsay Amer, Chris Knight, Celso Dulay, Cameron Stiehl, Chrissy Chambers, and Chase Ross — have spoken out about YouTube’s alleged treatment of the LGBTQ creator community in the past. In June 2018, Ross accused YouTube of age-gating and demonetizing his videos simply because he used the term “transgender” in his video titles and metadata. YouTube’s alleged discrimination pushed Ross to publish a lengthy video on the subject.

    “I DON’T FEEL LIKE PEOPLE TAKE US SERIOUSLY AND IT NEEDS TO CHANGE.”
    “I don’t feel like people take us seriously and it needs to change,” Ross told The Verge at the time. “YouTube really needs to start paying attention to this community … I don’t feel like I belong on a platform that I and other LGBTQ+ individuals helped build.”

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said just last week that YouTube does “not automatically demonetize LGBTQ content.”

    “There’s no policies that say ‘If you put certain words in a title that will be demonetized.’” Wojcicki told vlogger Alfie Deyes. “We work incredibly hard to make sure that when our machines learn something — because a lot of our decisions are made algorithmically — that our machines are fair. There shouldn’t be [any automatic demonetization].”

    Wojcicki also said that two of YouTube’s biggest moderation tools — one that focuses on recommending videos and the other that determines whether a video is appropriate for ads — operate independently. The systems, Wojcicki added, are set up separately to ensure that the “systems are fair.”

    Still, Wojcicki’s comments come after years of frustration from the LGBTQ community. Many creators first voiced their concerns with the company in 2017, arguing that their content was seemingly hidden and demonetized. Just a couple of months later, YouTube found itself in another controversy after anti-LGBTQ ads started appearing on videos from LGBTQ creators.

    “THERE’S NO POLICIES THAT SAY ‘IF YOU PUT CERTAIN WORDS IN A TITLE THAT WILL BE DEMONETIZED.’”
    YouTube was recently embroiled in a controversy after the company allowed conservative pundit Steven Crowder to continue uploading videos, despite using his channel to make homophobic remarks against Vox journalist Carlos Maza in June. Despite finding language that was “clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies,” the company tweeted a couple of days after Maza made his case public on Twitter. (Disclosure: Vox is a publication of Vox Media, which also owns The Verge.)

    “As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone–from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts–to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies,” read follow-up tweets from YouTube. “Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site.”

    YouTube revoked ad privileges on Crowder’s channel, but the LGBTQ community — both on YouTube and within Google, YouTube’s parent company — felt like executives didn’t do enough. Wojcicki later apologized to the community in an interview with Recode’s Peter Kafka at the Code Conference. (Disclosure: Recode is a publication of Vox Media, which also owns The Verge.)

    “I’m really, personally very sorry,” Wojcicki said. “YouTube has always been a home of so many LGBTQ creators, and that’s why it was so emotional … We’ve always wanted to openly support this community.”

    The creators who launched the lawsuit believe YouTube hasn’t lived up to its words of support. The lawsuit states that YouTube’s “control and regulation of speech on YouTube has resulted in a chaotic cesspool where popular, compliant, top quality, and protected LGBTQ+ content is restricted, stigmatized, and demonetized as ‘shocking,’ ‘inappropriate,’ ‘offensive,’ and ‘sexually explicit,’ while homophobic and racist hatemongers run wild and are free to post vile and obscene content.”

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