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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Social Media"

Facebook Fails to Appease Organizers of Ad Boycott

Westlake Legal Group merlin_163184988_d0c0828c-e510-47a6-a0f8-a260464cf95e-facebookJumbo Facebook Fails to Appease Organizers of Ad Boycott Zuckerberg, Mark E Social Media Sandberg, Sheryl K Rumors and Misinformation National Assn for the Advancement of Colored People Hate Crimes Facebook Inc Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet Color of Change (Nonprofit) Civil Rights and Liberties Boycotts Anti-Defamation League Advertising and Marketing

SAN FRANCISCO — Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s two top executives, met with civil rights groups on Tuesday in an attempt to mollify them over how the social network treats hate speech on its site.

But Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and Ms. Sandberg, the chief operating officer, failed to win its critics over.

For more than an hour, Mr. Zuckerberg, Ms. Sandberg and other Facebook executives discussed the company’s handling of hate speech over Zoom with representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Color of Change. Those groups have helped push hundreds of companies, such as Unilever and Best Buy, to pause their advertising on Facebook in recent weeks to protest its handling of toxic speech and misinformation.

The groups said they discussed their demands with Facebook’s leaders, including the hiring a top executive with a civil rights background, submitting to regular independent audits and updating its community standards, according to a statement from the Free Press advocacy group, whose co-chief executive, Jessica J. González, was on the call.

But Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg did not agree to all of those requests, representatives of the groups said. Instead, they said, the Facebook executives reverted to “spin” and firing up its “powerful P.R. machine.”

“Instead of committing to a timeline to root out hate and disinformation on Facebook, the company’s leaders delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands,” Ms. González said.

“They showed up to the meeting expecting an A for attendance,” said Rashad Robinson, head of Color of Change, in a call after the meeting. “Attending alone is not enough.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For weeks, Facebook has faced increasing pressure to tackle hate speech and misinformation across its site. Rivals like Twitter and Snap have recently taken action against untruthful or inflammatory posts from President Trump on their platforms, but Facebook has resisted doing anything, citing the importance of free speech. Facebook employees have pushed back against the lack of action, staging a virtual “walkout” last month. And in the weeks since, more than 300 advertisers have joined the effort to boycott Facebook.

Facebook executives have taken an increasingly conciliatory tone as the boycott has grown. On Wednesday, the company also plans to release the final part of a yearslong audit of its civil rights policies and practices. The auditors have been examining how Facebook handles issues like hate speech, election interference and algorithmic bias.

Mike Isaac reported from San Francisco and Tiffany Hsu from Hoboken, N.J.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

TikTok to Withdraw From Hong Kong as Tech Giants Halt Data Requests

Westlake Legal Group merlin_174186102_b2707e58-d1fc-458c-88be-99a8b38b96c9-facebookJumbo TikTok to Withdraw From Hong Kong as Tech Giants Halt Data Requests WhatsApp Inc Telegram LLC Social Media Politics and Government Human Rights and Human Rights Violations Hong Kong Freedom of Speech and Expression Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Computer Security

Google, Facebook and Twitter said on Monday that they would temporarily stop processing Hong Kong government requests for user data as the companies reviewed a sweeping national security law that has chilled political expression in the city.

The companies said they were still assessing the law, which has already been used to arrest people who have called for Hong Kong independence. Facebook said its review would include human rights considerations.

The surprising consensus from the rival American internet giants, which each used similar language in each statement, was a rare public questioning of Chinese policy. It was also a stark illustration of the deep quandaries the companies face with the sweeping, punitive law.

TikTok went even further than the American companies on Monday, saying it would withdraw its app from stores in Hong Kong and make the app inoperable to users there within a few days.

The video app is owned by the Chinese internet giant ByteDance but is not available in mainland China. TikTok has said that managers outside China call the shots on key aspects of its business, including rules about content.

Late Monday, Hong Kong released new rules that give the police powers to take down internet posts and punish internet companies that do not comply with data requests. The new rules explicitly give the authorities the ability to jail employees at internet companies if the firms do not comply with requests for user data. Because the new rules apply across the world, they open up the prospect of tech companies having to choose between releasing data on people writing from places like the United States or face a six-month jail sentence for an employee.

The American companies did not say whether they would ultimately decide to cooperate with parts of the law, just that they had temporarily stopped fielding government requests as they decided. What they decide and the ensuing legal challenges from Hong Kong’s government will most likely chart a course for the future of internet freedoms in the city, where the web has not been tightly censored as it has in mainland China. Many fear the law could lead to suffocating new controls like those in China, where Facebook, Twitter and Google are all blocked.

The companies have much to lose. Despite the blocks, Google, Facebook and Twitter have large advertising businesses in the country.

“We are pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts,” Facebook wrote in a statement.

“We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions,” the statement added. The suspension of data reviews also applies to the messaging app WhatsApp, the company said.

On Monday, a Google spokesman said the company had paused processing data requests from the Hong Kong authorities on Wednesday, and Twitter said it had also stopped processing the requests. Telegram, a messaging app popular with Hong Kong’s protesters, said on Sunday that it would suspend the provision of user data until a consensus was reached on the new law. Telegram has offices in the Middle East and Europe.

The national security law, adopted in part to quash the antigovernment demonstrations that have smoldered in Hong Kong for more than a year, was introduced last week on the anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese control. Though officials insist that the sweeping and punitive new rules will affect only a small number of offenders, many worry that it will be used to widely curb dissent in Hong Kong, which, unlike mainland China, continues to have an array of civil liberties.

Riva Sciuto, a Google spokeswoman, said, “Last Wednesday, when the law took effect, we paused production on any new data requests from Hong Kong authorities, and we’ll continue to review the details of the new law.”

The law has already cast a pall over the city’s internet. Seeking safer ways to communicate, legions have downloaded the encrypted messaging app Signal, pushing it to the top of the list of app store downloads. Others, fearing prosecution for speech crimes, have deleted online posts, likes and even whole accounts.

The new rules announced by Hong Kong on Monday made clearer how the law would apply to online discussion.

The government said that if an internet company failed to comply with a court order to turn over data in cases related to national security, it could be fined almost $13,000 and an employee could face six months in prison. If a person is ordered to remove a post and he or she refuses, that person can face a jail sentence of one year. A separate provision also gave the police wide powers to order the deletion of internet posts that threaten national security. How widely the rules will be enforced remains unclear.

The rules leave internet giants like Facebook in a tricky place. The companies regularly provide user data to local law enforcement, yet the vaguely written national security law has criminalized certain types of political speech and branded some forms of vandalism terror crimes.

Going along with the law may be unpopular in the United States, where it has received bipartisan condemnation. Yet, standing up against it could raise the ire of Beijing, hurt companies’ bottom lines and put local employees at risk.

Daisuke Wakabayashi contributed reporting from Oakland, Calif.; Mike Isaac from San Francisco; and Raymond Zhong from Taipei, Taiwan.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Google, Facebook and Twitter Stop Hong Kong Data Requests

Westlake Legal Group google-facebook-and-twitter-stop-hong-kong-data-requests Google, Facebook and Twitter Stop Hong Kong Data Requests WhatsApp Inc Telegram LLC Social Media Politics and Government Human Rights and Human Rights Violations Hong Kong Freedom of Speech and Expression Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Computer Security
Westlake Legal Group merlin_174186102_b2707e58-d1fc-458c-88be-99a8b38b96c9-facebookJumbo Google, Facebook and Twitter Stop Hong Kong Data Requests WhatsApp Inc Telegram LLC Social Media Politics and Government Human Rights and Human Rights Violations Hong Kong Freedom of Speech and Expression Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Computer Security

Google, Facebook and Twitter said on Monday that they would temporarily stop processing Hong Kong government requests for user data as the companies reviewed a sweeping national security law that has chilled political expression in the city.

The companies said they were still assessing the law, which has already been used to arrest people who have called for Hong Kong independence. Facebook said its review would include human rights considerations.

The surprising consensus from the rival American internet giants, which each used similar language in each statement, was a rare public questioning of Chinese policy. It was also a stark illustration of the deep quandaries the companies face with the sweeping, punitive law.

Late Monday, Hong Kong released new rules that give the police powers to take down internet posts and punish internet companies that do not comply with data requests. The new rules explicitly give the authorities the ability to jail employees at internet companies if the firms do not comply with requests for user data. Because the new rules apply across the world, they open up the prospect of tech companies having to choose between releasing data on people writing from places like the United States or face a six-month jail sentence for an employee.

The companies did not say whether they would ultimately decide to cooperate with parts of the law, just that they had temporarily stopped fielding government requests as they decided. What they decide and the ensuing legal challenges from Hong Kong’s government will most likely chart a course for the future of internet freedoms in the city, where the web has not been tightly censored as it has in mainland China. Many fear the law could lead to suffocating new controls like those in China, where Facebook, Twitter and Google are all blocked.

The companies have much to lose. Despite the blocks, Google, Facebook and Twitter have large advertising businesses in the country.

“We are pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts,” Facebook wrote in a statement.

“We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions,” the statement added. The suspension of data reviews also applies to the messaging app WhatsApp, the company said.

On Monday, a Google spokesman said the company had paused processing data requests from the Hong Kong authorities on Wednesday, and Twitter said it had also stopped processing the requests. Telegram, a messaging app popular with Hong Kong’s protesters, said on Sunday that it would suspend the provision of user data until a consensus was reached on the new law. Telegram has offices in the Middle East and Europe.

The national security law, adopted in part to quash the antigovernment demonstrations that have smoldered in Hong Kong for more than a year, was introduced last week on the anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese control. Though officials insist that the sweeping and punitive new rules will affect only a small number of offenders, many worry that it will be used to widely curb dissent in Hong Kong, which, unlike mainland China, continues to have an array of civil liberties.

Riva Sciuto, a Google spokeswoman, said, “Last Wednesday, when the law took effect, we paused production on any new data requests from Hong Kong authorities, and we’ll continue to review the details of the new law.”

The law has already cast a pall over the city’s internet. Seeking safer ways to communicate, legions have downloaded the encrypted messaging app Signal, pushing it to the top of the list of app store downloads. Others, fearing prosecution for speech crimes, have deleted online posts, likes and even whole accounts.

The new rules announced by Hong Kong on Monday made clearer how the law would apply to online discussion.

The government said that if an internet company failed to comply with a court order to turn over data in cases related to national security, it could be fined almost $13,000 and an employee could face six months in prison. If a person is ordered to remove a post and he or she refuses, that person can face a jail sentence of one year. A separate provision also gave the police wide powers to order the deletion of internet posts that threaten national security. How widely the rules will be enforced remains unclear.

The rules leave internet giants like Facebook in a tricky place. The companies regularly provide user data to local law enforcement, yet the vaguely written national security law has criminalized certain types of political speech and branded some forms of vandalism terror crimes.

Going along with the law may be unpopular in the United States, where it has received bipartisan condemnation. Yet, standing up against it could raise the ire of Beijing, hurt companies’ bottom lines and put local employees at risk.

Daisuke Wakabayashi contributed reporting from Oakland, Calif., and Mike Isaac from San Francisco.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Facebook Temporarily Stops Hong Kong Data Requests

Westlake Legal Group merlin_174186102_b2707e58-d1fc-458c-88be-99a8b38b96c9-facebookJumbo Facebook Temporarily Stops Hong Kong Data Requests WhatsApp Inc Telegram LLC Social Media Politics and Government Human Rights and Human Rights Violations Hong Kong Freedom of Speech and Expression Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Computer Security

Facebook said on Monday that it would temporarily stop processing Hong Kong government requests for user data as the company reviews a sweeping national security law that has chilled political expression in the city.

The social network’s assessment of the law, which has already been used to arrest people who have called for Hong Kong independence, would include human rights considerations, the company said.

The Facebook decision is a rare public questioning of Chinese policy by a large American internet company, and it raises questions about how the security law will be applied online in Hong Kong, where the internet is not censored as it is in the rest of China. Although the social network may ultimately decide to cooperate with some forms of the law, the expression of uncertainty alone is likely to raise hackles in Beijing.

Late Monday, Hong Kong released new rules that give the police powers to take down internet posts and punish internet companies that do not comply with data requests.

Facebook’s move underscores the awkward position of American tech giants, which are blocked in mainland China but have large advertising businesses in the country. On Monday, a Google spokesman said the company paused processing data requests from Hong Kong authorities on Wednesday, and Twitter said it had also stopped processing the requests.

Telegram, a messaging app popular with Hong Kong’s protesters, said on Sunday that it would suspend the provision of user data until a consensus was reached on the new law. Telegram has offices in the Middle East and Europe.

The national security law, adopted in part to quash the antigovernment demonstrations that have smoldered in Hong Kong for more than a year, was introduced last week on the anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese control. Though officials insist that the sweeping and punitive new rules will affect only a small number of offenders, many worry that it will be used to widely curb dissent in Hong Kong, which, unlike mainland China, continues to enjoy an array of civil liberties.

“We are pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts,” Facebook wrote in a statement.

“We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions,” the statement added. The suspension of data reviews also applies to the messaging app WhatsApp, the company said.

Riva Sciuto, a Google spokeswoman, said, “Last Wednesday, when the law took effect, we paused production on any new data requests from Hong Kong authorities, and we’ll continue to review the details of the new law.”

The law has already cast a pall over the city’s internet. Seeking safer ways to communicate, legions have downloaded the encrypted messaging app Signal, pushing it to the top of app store download lists. Others, fearing prosecution for speech crimes, have deleted online posts, likes and even whole accounts.

The new rules announced by Hong Kong on Monday made clearer how the law will apply to online discussion.

The government said that if an internet company failed to comply with a court order to turn over data in cases related to national security, it could be fined almost $13,000 and an employee could face six months in prison. If a person is ordered to remove a post and he or she refuses, that person can face a jail sentence of one year. A separate provision also gave the police wide powers to order the deletion of internet posts that threaten national security. How widely the rules will be enforced remains unclear.

The rules leave internet giants like Facebook in a tricky place. The companies regularly provide user data to local law enforcement, yet the vaguely written national security law has criminalized certain types of political speech and branded some forms of vandalism terror crimes.

Going along with the law may be unpopular in the United States, where it has received bipartisan condemnation. Yet standing up against it could raise the ire of Beijing, hurt companies’ bottom lines and put local employees at risk.

Daisuke Wakabayashi contributed reporting from Oakland, Calif., and Mike Isaac from San Francisco.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Facebook, Liz Truss and future challenges with the internet giants

In recent weeks, Facebook has been up against huge pressure to control hate speech and groups on its site. Much of this increased after President Donald Trump posted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, in response to protests in Minneapolis, on both Twitter and Facebook. The aftermath exemplified, among many things, that the two dominant social media sites had taken very different strategies to tackling inflammatory content.

Twitter went for the cautious approach. It added a warning label for the post to say that it had glorified violence, and hid the content unless it was clicked on. Facebook, on the other hand, kept Trump’s post up, on the basis that it was not an incitement of violence, but an announcement of state use of force.

Facebook’s “hands-off” approach to Trump only changed when a number of powerful companies pulled out of advertising with the site, such as Coca-Cola, Verizon and Ford, in a campaign co-ordinated by Stop Hate for Profit. Some have called these organisations opportunistic – Covid-19 has eaten into advertising budgets, and surely any company will jump on the chance to look socially righteous – but it’s still an expensive wobble that Facebook no doubt wants to avoid.

As a result, the social media has said that it will add a label to tell people that content may violate its policies; it’s a watered down version of what Twitter is offering. Even so, Zuckerberg has been fairly resilient in dealing with Stop Hate for Profit, which has set out a list of content it wants gone from Facebook and other sites. Zuckerberg said that he would not change Facebook’s policies; that he thinks advertisers will be back “soon enough”, and that he remains committed to democracy and free speech.

In spite of this, one strange area Facebook has increasingly delved into is political affairs, especially in anticipation of the upcoming US election. Some of this is to right the wrongs of 2016, in which there was foreign interference, with Russia attempting to “undermine the voting power of left-leaning African-American citizens, by spreading misinformation about the electoral process”, among other activitiesFacebook has since spent “billions of dollars in technology” and hired “tens of thousands of people” to fix this. (Incidentally, the UK is still waiting for its report on the alleged Russian interference in politics to understand the extent of it here.)

But more strikingly, Facebook has ventured into interventionist territory, with the new aim to “help 4 million people register to vote”. In doing this, Zuckerberg is taking the organisation much further away from its initial design. Many users, like myself (aged 17 when it first came out), will think of it predominantly as a tool for making friends online and posting photographs; a type of social peacocking, in many ways.

Zuckerberg, however, clearly has more profound visions. He says he wants to boost “authoritative information” for voting that he expects “160 million people in the US to see”. The goal sounds altruistic on the face of it, but it also poses big questions, like, who gets to categories “authoritative”? And should social media giants be involved in democracy at all?

Increasingly there’s been accusations from conservatives that in delving into the political realm, social media sites tend to show biases in favour of liberals, most notably Trump, who said “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH” after it fact-checked one of his Tweets. 

One writer suggests that out of “22 prominent, politically active individuals who are known to have been suspended since 2005 and who expressed a preference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, 21 supported Donald Trump”. In UnHerd, the author and commentator Douglas Murray goes further, revealing his own suspicions that Twitter is penalising right-leaning writers, such as hiding “likes” (a way of showing support for posts) from their posts.

Some say that there is no evidence of social media biases, with Kevin Roose, a tech journalist, noting yesterday that the best performing accounts on Facebook are all conservative. A tech expert tells me that the “exact opposite viewpoint (of social media bias) is shared in various countries, where the view is that the anti-capitalist left is censored by American tech giants”.

None of this has reassured Trump, however, who is proposing a bill to make social media giants take legal liability for material that their users post. But this could crush free speech, to a certain extent, making companies more likely to remove content to protect against litigation.

Even if there is not algorithmic censorship, many people were concerned last week after Google UK launched into Liz Truss, the Conservative MP, on social media. On June 18 it posted a petition trying to lobby her on the Gender Recognition Act.

This event should have rung serious alarm bells; a tech giant coming for a Conservative politician is seriously bad news, although – tellingly – there was a dearth of news stories about it. One suspects if Google UK had attacked a Remainer politician on refusing to leave the EU, it would have received the proportion response. This was, after all, perhaps the world’s biggest holder of personal information interfering in UK democracy.

One concern that has been pointed out repeatedly about Silicon Valley, and its companies, is that the demographic make-up of its tech talent could influence the ways in which content is censored. Even Zuckerberg has called it “an extremely left-leaning place”, and many will wonder how this affects their role in deciding the terms of “offence” on social media sites, and otherwise. 

In the UK, perhaps the most significant issue is that we are just so removed from these authors of our (online) reality, even if they have domestic offices. We know little about the algorithms they use – and it suits tech companies this way, limiting others’ abilities to get into the sector.

Here brings us to the biggest question: how should UK politicians deal with Facebook and other tech giants? Much of the focus on these companies has been on their involvement in elections, but they also have an impact on Joe Bloggs’ income, too, as one report by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) elucidates on.

It points out that Google has “more than a 90 per cent share of £7.3 billion search advertising market in UK, while Facebook has over 50% of the £5.5 billion display advertising market”. The report suggests that by dominating the market, these organisations control the default prices for advertising, which are arguably higher than they need to be – and in turn effect the consumer, as advertisers keep their product costs high.

CMA sets out numerous ways in which the Government can start to break up these giants and encourage competition. It is quite alarming in the ways in which it highlights tech giants’ control over many things – from prices, to regulation. And all of this has to change.

Ultimately, along with the current 5G issues the Government is dwelling on, they are going to increasingly need the knowledge, and foresight, to intercept some of these tech powers before they become so dominant as to make their powers irreversible.

Already the Government has found that Apple stifled the approach it wanted to take to contact tracing, and this is just a taste of what’s to come – as the tech giants, sometimes working in conjunction, block out competition. There is a mammoth amount of information to take on board, changing all the time. Along with Brexit and Coronavirus, Tories will have their work cut out.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Goodbye to the Wild Wild Web

It felt like a dam breaking, or the changing of a guard.

Within a 48-hour period this week, many of the world’s internet giants took steps that would have been unthinkable for them even months earlier. Reddit, which spent most of its life as a lawless free-for-all, banned thousands of forums for hate speech, including the largest pro-Trump forum on the internet. Twitch — an Amazon-owned video-gaming platform not known for its political courage — suspended President Trump’s official account for “hateful conduct,” while YouTube purged a handful of notorious racists and punished a popular creator with a history of problematic videos. Facebook, under pressure from a growing advertiser boycott, took down a network of violent anti-government insurrectionists who had set up shop on its platform.

Taken independently, these changes might have felt incremental and isolated — the kind of refereeing and line-drawing that happens every day on social media.

But arriving all at once, they felt like something much bigger: a sign that the Wild Wild Web — the tech industry’s decade-long experiment in unregulated growth and laissez-faire platform governance — is coming to an end. In its place, a new culture is taking shape that is more accountable, more self-aware and less willfully naïve than the one that came before it.

You can glimpse this shift in the words of technologists like Steve Huffman, the chief executive of Reddit. He said he had recently rejected one of the Wild Wild Web’s core values — the idea that private internet platforms exist to provide a forum for all ideas, no matter how toxic.

“When we started Reddit 15 years ago, we didn’t ban things,” Mr. Huffman told me in an interview this week. “And it was easy, as it is for many young people, to make statements like that because, one, I had more rigid political beliefs and, two, I lacked perspective and real-world experience.”

Now, Mr. Huffman says he understands that some speech — hate, harassment, bullying — prevents others from speaking, and that a no-limits platform culture often empowers those least committed to civil conversation. It’s a position that reflects a more mature understanding of the dynamics of online communities, and the many ways a powerful platform’s inaction can be weaponized.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_163981983_befd13a8-c15f-48bc-a42a-ea996b1a89de-articleLarge Goodbye to the Wild Wild Web Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Reddit Inc Mobile Applications Facebook Inc Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet
Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

I don’t mean to suggest that Reddit, or any other tech company, has fully matured, or fixed its problems overnight. (Some companies may be beyond reform, in fact.) But the world is changing, and the tech industry is being forced to change along with it. A tech monoculture that once celebrated its recklessness and irreverence — move fast and break things! — is being pushed aside by a younger and more politically conscious generation of tech workers who actually want their companies’ products to reflect their values. Lawmakers and activists have realized the tech industry’s influence, and they are finding points of leverage to force much-needed reforms. Users are savvier, too, and a generation of young people who grew up on the Wild Wild Web are demanding new rules and more attentive referees.

It’s hard to define the Wild Wild Web exactly, or say precisely when it began. I usually mark it as starting in September 2006, when Facebook opened its doors beyond college students and introduced a new feature called the News Feed — a home screen that showed users a personalized, dynamic list of their friends’ activities. That kind of feed — curated by an algorithm and designed for virality and addiction — coupled with Facebook’s increasingly unmanageable scale created the perfect environment for misbehavior, and became the template for nearly every successful internet company of the 2010s.

More recently, the hallmark of the Wild Wild Web became a kind of shoot-first, aim-later approach to corporate strategy. Terms like “permissionless innovation” and “blitzscaling” entered the tech lexicon, and companies used lofty mission statements to paper over their more craven aspirations for dominance and profit. When things went wrong — privacy scandals, legal missteps, the occasional genocide — an apology and a five-point plan to do better next time usually sufficed.

The Wild Wild Web hasn’t been all bad. Expanded access to information and convenience, the dismantling of problematic and exclusionary gatekeepers and a decade-plus of economic growth have all been all positive results. But every benefit has come with costs. The same tools that produced personalized recommendations, engagement-optimized feeds and the Internet of Things also produced political polarization, viral misinformation and pervasive surveillance. The internet giants’ unwillingness to make rules (and then, later, their inability to enforce them) empowered a generation of bigots and media manipulators who are now among our most influential public figures.

Just like the California gold rush, the Wild Wild Web started an enormous accumulation of personal and corporate power, transforming our social order overnight. Power shifted from the czars of government and the creaky moguls of the Fortune 500 to the engineers who built the machines and the executives who gave them their marching orders. These people were not prepared to run empires, and most of them deflected their newfound responsibility, or pretended to be less powerful than they were. Few were willing to question the 2010s Silicon Valley orthodoxy that connection was a de facto good, even as counter-evidence piled up.

There are still some stubborn holdouts. (Facebook, in particular, still appears attached to the narrative that social media simply reflects offline society, rather than driving it.) But among the public, there is no more mistaking Goliaths for Davids. The secret of the tech industry’s influence is out, and the critics who have been begging tech leaders to take more responsibility for their creations are finally being heard.

It’s hard to say what caused this change. Joan Donovan, a research director at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, wrote in Wired that the coronavirus pandemic had helped platform leaders locate their spines by raising the stakes of inaction.

“Not so long ago, before the pandemic hit, each platform would only tend to its specific user base, keeping up with a triple bottom line by balancing profits with social and environmental impact,” Ms. Donovan wrote. “Now, having witnessed the terrifying results of unchecked medical misinformation, the same companies understand the importance of ensuring access to timely, local, and relevant facts.”

Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

The nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, and the calls for racial justice they have inspired, also helped empower rank-and-file tech employees to demand more from their bosses. Two weeks ago, after I wrote that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were undermining the fight for racial justice, even as their leaders publicly proclaimed support for it, I got dozens of messages from tech employees who were frustrated with their own companies’ hypocrisy.

Other motivations may be more practical. Regulators and lawmakers, especially Democrats, are eager to cut Silicon Valley down to size, and some U.S. tech companies may be hedging their bets in case Mr. Trump loses his re-election bid in November.

The end of the Wild Wild Web may not be all positive, either. The next phase of the internet is likely to be more balkanized, as countries like China and India tighten their digital borders. Increased scrutiny of social media platforms in the United States may cause them to splinter along ideological lines, in ways that will increase polarization and civic unrest. There is no guarantee that the new rules will be fairly applied, or that the new algorithms won’t end up supporting some other form of antisocial behavior.

But there is no turning back. The people who build transformative technologies can no longer credibly claim that their creations are “just tools,” any more than Supreme Court justices can claim that their opinions are “just words.” Governments that once embraced innovation as an unalloyed good — like India, which this week banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese-owned apps to protect its “sovereignty and integrity” — now recognize, correctly, that letting someone else build your apps is tantamount to letting them shape your society. Users, too, are ready to live in a more responsible internet. They understand that there are drawbacks to lawlessness, and that scale is no excuse for negligence.

To the people who loved the Wild Wild Web — and, for a time, I was one of them — the coming wave of change may feel like the bittersweet end of an era. There was something romantic and thrilling about the idea of a digital realm that carried none of the baggage of the physical world, that played by different rules and obeyed different authorities.

But the internet is no longer a world distinct and apart from the physical world. We all live online, and it’s long past time for the world on our screens to be managed as thoughtfully, and with as much accountability, as our roads and schools and hospitals. The Wild Wild Web may be over, but the real building has just begun.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ben Roback: When masks become memes: The partisan political climate has hurt America’s fight against coronavirus

Westlake Legal Group ben-roback-when-masks-become-memes-the-partisan-political-climate-has-hurt-americas-fight-against-coronavirus Ben Roback: When masks become memes: The partisan political climate has hurt America’s fight against coronavirus World Health Organisation US Republicans United States Social Media Opinion Polls New York donald trump coronavirus Columnists

Ben Roback is Head of Trade and International Policy at Cicero Group.

You wouldn’t necessarily expect a Governor to become a reliable source of memes on social media, but Andrew Cuomo is doing things differently. The Democratic Governor of New York has harnessed his social media following to spread the COVID-19 mitigation message to New Yorkers, (primarily) young and (occasionally tech-savvy) old. There aren’t many politicians who become memes for a good reason. With respect, Cuomo has hardly broken the internet in a manner that threatens the dominance of Dwayne Johnson or Kylie Jenner on Instagram. But he has harnessed the platform to communicate a clear message to his 987,000 followers.

Shareable content is even more powerful at a time when politicians are – with one notable exception – campaigning remotely online. Whilst becoming the source of a meme and the butt of all jokes online had once been the bête noire of the political class, Cuomo is getting good at it.

But the focus here is not so much on digital campaigning, as much as the topic is worthy of words on this site. Instead, it shows how something as simple as wearing a mask during a global pandemic has been politicised in the United States.

Wearing a mask ought not to be controversial, especially when the guidance is now unequivocal. The World Health Organisation acknowledges that ‘Non-medical, fabric masks are being used by many people in public areas, but there has been limited evidence on their effectiveness and WHO does not recommend their widespread use among the public for control of COVID-19.’ However, in instances where social distancing is not possible, ‘WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to use non-medical fabric masks.’

In the United States, the advice from government has changed over time, which has created room for confusion. The anti-maskers are well aware of this. The government’s leading infectious disease authority, Dr Anthony Fauci, initially opposed mask-wearing by the American public for fear of draining supplies needed for health care workers, but later reversed course. Since then, he has criticised those reluctant to wear a mask and urged them to “get past” political objections. Research has since squashed any further wiggle room for doubt. A University of Washington health institute study suggests that if 95 per cent of Americans wore masks now, 33,0000 fewer people would die by October 1.

This ought not to have prompted political debate

The mask has become a symbol of political attitudes to the binary ‘health vs recovery’ debate that now looms large over the United States. The president has gone to great lengths to avoid being seen wearing a mask in public, famously refusing to do so when touring a Ford plant in Michigan – despite official state and local requirements to do so. Surrounded by executives wearing masks, President Trump told reporters: “I had one on before. I wore one in the back area. I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.” It is unclear why being seen in a mask by the press would represent a form of defeat for the president, short of an infringement on his civil liberties. Some GOP governors are following the president’s lead. Of 20 states that have implemented broad mask-wearing requirements, just four have Republican governors.

The response to the pandemic has descended into political point-scoring – not a shocking statement to make in an election year after all. In refusing to wear a mask, the president wants to become the physical embodiment of the national recovery he hopes will return him to office for four more years. It has become abundantly clear that, even in the simplest form of responding to COVID-19 like wearing a mask, there would be no unity forged between Democrats and Republicans.

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The president could be convinced that there is still time to lead

The Republican leadership and membership appear to be bending on the question of masks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says there should be no stigma associated with covering one’s face and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says doing so is essential to fully reopening the economy. Even Fox News host Sean Hannity, one of the president’s most vocal and influential supporters, has said he will wear one. Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy, another media friend of the president, went a step further and said:

“I think that if the president wore one [a mask], it would just set a good example. He’d be a good role model. I don’t see any downside to the president wearing a mask in public.”

There is no sign that a change in course from the president would be frowned upon by voters. A new Fox News poll showed 68 per cent of Republicans have a favourable view of mask-wearers, and 61 per cent of those who strongly approve of President Trump’s job performance. Incidentally, perhaps more alarmingly, by a 36-point margin, voters say presidential candidates holding large political events and rallies is a bad idea.

The evidence therefore suggests that there is still time for the president to show leadership on this issue, but the window of opportunity is narrowing. What is more, a volte-face would be jumped on by the president’s opponents as the sign of a spectacular U-turn. What is, in fact, a victory for common sense would be seized upon by the Biden campaign and the likes of Governor Cuomo as a great victory for the Democrats looking ahead to the November election. Policy changes are so often sensationalised as admissions of defeat, whereas often it is simply a victory for common sense – see Downing Street’s concession on the Marcus Rashford campaign for free school meals, for example.

Those hoping for a change of tack from the president are likely to be disappointed. To wear a mask would be to admit that the United States is still in the eye of the COVID-19 storm, enduring the first wave before worrying about the second, at a time when the president wants to focus on the economic rebound. States that previously opened up to a flood of economic activity at bars, restaurants and salons are now facing a tsunami of new cases. For as long as daily cases rise – and Dr Fauci warned yesterday they could creep up to 100,000 per day in short order – the president will look disjointed and out of touch in focussing on the economic recovery. Can a nation’s economy begin to heal while its citizens are still dying?

Covering one’s face should be a simple way of limiting the spread of the disease, above political debate, discourse, or disagreement. The fact that something as obvious as wearing a mask has become a symbol of the political divide that now surrounds COVID-19 embodies the hyper-partisan climate that continues to threaten America’s chances of getting on top of COVID-19. The crossover of politics into pop culture, coupled with the fact that the president appears to consider wearing a mask the antithesis to the economic recovery, makes it hard to foresee a change in approach. That is going to make it harder, not easier, for the United States to get on top of a health pandemic that once again is spiralling out of control.

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Facebook to Ban Network With ‘Boogaloo’ Ties

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Facebook said on Tuesday that it was taking down a network of accounts, groups and pages connected to an antigovernment movement in the United States that encourages violence.

People and groups associated with the decentralized movement, called boogaloo, will be banned from Facebook and Instagram, which it also owns, the company said. Facebook said it would remove 220 Facebook accounts, 95 Instagram accounts, 28 pages and 106 groups as a result of the decision. It is also designating boogaloo as a dangerous organization on the social network, meaning it shares the same classification as terrorist activity, organized hate and large-scale criminal organizations on Facebook.

The boogaloo network promoted “violence against civilians, law enforcement, and government officials and institutions,” the company wrote in a blog post. “Members of this network seek to recruit others within the broader boogaloo movement, sharing the same content online and adopting the same offline appearance as others in the movement to do so.”

The decision is the latest in a flurry of recent moves by tech companies to tighten the speech allowed on their popular services and more aggressively police extreme movements. The issue has become more pronounced in recent weeks after the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who was killed in police custody last month. The killing set off major protests across the country demanding changes to police departments and the treatment of Black people more broadly.

On Monday, Reddit said it was banning roughly 2,000 communities from across the political spectrum that attacked people or regularly engaged in hate speech, including “r/The_Donald,” a community devoted to President Trump. YouTube said it barred six channels for violating its policies, including those of two prominent white supremacists, David Duke and Richard Spencer.

Facebook’s changes have largely focused on the boogaloo movement and white supremacy hate groups so far. In May, Facebook said it updated its policies to ban the use of “boogaloo” and related terms when used in posts that contain depictions of armed violence. The company has also identified over 800 posts tied to boogaloo that defied its Violence and Incitement policy and did not recommend them to other users. And this month, the company said that it had removed two networks of accounts connected to white supremacy groups that encouraged real-world violence.

Followers of the boogaloo movement seek to exploit public unrest to incite a race war that will bring about a new government. Its adherents are usually staunch defenders of the Second Amendment, and some use Nazi iconography and its extremist symbols, according to organizations that track hate groups.

“Boogaloo” is a pop culture reference derived from a 1984 movie called “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” that became a cult classic. Online, it has been connected to what some consider sarcastic and humorous memes, as well as with occasional physical violence and militaristic shows of force.

In June, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested three men in Nevada who called themselves members of the boogaloo movement, accusing them of trying to incite violence at an anti-police protest in Las Vegas. In May, police officers in Denver seized three assault rifles, magazines, several bulletproof vests and other military equipment from the car trunk of a self-identified boogaloo follower who was headed to a Black Lives Matter protest — and had previously live-streamed his support for armed confrontations with the police.

In addition to the boogaloo network, Facebook said it would also remove 400 additional groups and more than a hundred pages that also violate its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy.

The company said it would continue to identify and remove attempts by members of the movement to return to the social network, the company said.

Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, applauded Facebook’s crackdown on Tuesday.

“The Dangerous Individuals policy at Facebook mirrors the language of law enforcement, and meets a high threshold of online harms that lead to direct action in the real world,” Mr. Brookie said. “Limiting the online conversation that leads to that action is a good thing and a public safety issue.”

Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and the former chief security officer at Facebook, said the decentralized nature of the boogaloo movement and its tendency to use irony and euphemism in posts could make enforcing the policy difficult.

“Deciding who is actually a boogaloo member now that they are motivated to obfuscate their allegiances will be a huge, ongoing challenge,” Mr. Stamos said.

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Reddit’s Steve Huffman on Banning ‘The_Donald’ Subreddit

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On Monday, Reddit — a site that for years was considered one of the internet’s dirtiest sludge pits — barred more than 2,000 communities as part of a broad crackdown on hate speech.

The crackdown’s most notable casualty was Reddit’s largest pro-Trump community, r/The_Donald. The group, which had nearly 800,000 subscribers, served as a virtual gathering place for President Trump’s fans, and a source of countless memes, slogans and conspiracy theories that made their way into the broader online conversation. (In more recent years, it had devolved into a cesspool of racism, violent threats and targeted harassment.)

These actions were a major shift for Reddit, which spent years resisting the idea of moderating users’ posts and refused to remove all but the worst content on its platform. Steve Huffman, Reddit’s co-founder and chief executive since 2015, when he returned to the company after six years away, has faced pressure to reckon with the site’s legacy of bigotry. This year, hundreds of Reddit moderators signed an open letter to Mr. Huffman and Reddit’s board demanding changes to the site’s policies.

On Monday, after the bans were announced, I interviewed Mr. Huffman about the decision to take down The_Donald and many other subreddits. These are edited excerpts from our conversation.

Can you explain, in the most succinct way possible, why you decided to take down these subreddits?

STEVE HUFFMAN Yes. We updated our content policy to add an explicit rule banning hate on Reddit, which has long been an implicit rule, somewhat by design. But not being explicit about it, I think, has caused all sorts of confusion over the years. And so we updated the rule.

And then any time we make a rule change, we evaluate communities against the rule change. And so, as a result, there were a number of communities we ended up banning.

A few weeks ago, you wrote a letter to your employees about Black Lives Matter and where Reddit stood on issues like hate and racism. How much do you think the political climate and the protests and the kind of reckoning we’re seeing played into this decision?

The current events certainly added more urgency to it. Now, that said, we’ve been working on an update to our content policy for quite some time, and we had a sense of where the gaps were, and the rough patches.

A few years ago, you were asked about banning The_Donald specifically, and you said “there are arguments on both sides, but ultimately, my view is that their anger comes from feeling like they don’t have a voice, so it won’t solve anything if I take away their voice.” What changed?

So The_Donald is complex, and I think reducing that community or any large political group to one thing or one viewpoint is impossible. One aspect of The_Donald is that it’s a very large political community that, at one point in time, represented the views of many Americans. Political speech is sacred in this country, and we applied that to Reddit as well.

At the same time, that community had rule-breaking content — content that was harassing or violence or bullying. And so our strategy has been to try to get that community to come in line with our content policies. We made moderator changes, different technical changes to try to bring The_Donald into line, some more successful than others, but ultimately not to the extent that we needed.

Something I’ve said many times is that the only way to scale moderation online is by working alongside our community members and the moderators, because they have the context to decide whether an individual piece of content is hateful or not, for example. Which means that if we don’t have agreement from our moderators and our communities that these are the rules that we’re all going to abide by, then a community that’s not willing to work with us has no place on Reddit. And I think that became abundantly clear with The_Donald over the years, and even the past few months.

Right now, Facebook is facing an advertiser boycott — companies pulling their ads in protest of the company’s policies and their failures to keep misinformation and hate speech off the platform. Reddit also has advertisers, who presumably have some of the same concerns. Was this a business decision?

No, although, of course, what you say is true — we have advertisers who care about these things. But this was a decision — a series of decisions, really — to make Reddit better.

The mission of Reddit is to bring community and belonging to everybody in the world. And we’ve long had this debate on Reddit and internally, weighing the trade-offs between speech and safety. There’s certain speech — for example, harassment and hate — that prevents other people from speaking. And if we have individuals and communities on Reddit that are preventing other people from using Reddit the way we intend, then that means they’re working directly against our mission.

In a call this week, you said something about how you were struggling to balance your values as an American with your values around human decency. Can you explain more what you meant by that?

I think this is something that a lot of people in the United States are going through right now.

When we started Reddit 15 years ago, we didn’t ban things. And it was easy, as it is for many young people, to make statements like that because: 1) I had more rigid political beliefs; and 2) I lacked perspective and real-world experience.

Over the years, we’ve been increasingly confronted with difficult decisions, and we have to weigh these trade-offs. And so here we are, believing that free speech and free expression are really important, and that’s one of the things that makes Reddit special, but at the same time, seeing that allowing everything is working against our mission.

The way out, for us, has been through our mission: What are we trying to accomplish on Reddit? And what’s the best path to get there?

You used to joke that you were Reddit’s “totally politically neutral C.E.O.” For a long time, it seemed like neutrality was sort of the aspirational goal of being a social media platform. And now it seems like a lot of platform leaders, you included, are admitting that that’s not a good goal, or at least not one that produces good outcomes. Do you think the era of the neutral platform is over?

I’m going to reject that statement just a little bit, in that banning hate and violence and bullying and harassment is less a political statement and more a statement of what are largely common values in this country. And there’s certainly the political debate over how far free speech should go. But just as in the United States, there’s no such thing as unfettered free speech, there are limits. And I will point out that the Supreme Court has also wrestled with this over hundreds of years, because these are really challenging debates.

I’m baiting you a little bit, so don’t ask the obvious follow-up question, but … although I have political views, they don’t surface through Reddit. And nobody, in all of my years on Reddit, has actually asked me my political views.

Well, OK What are your political views?

You’d have to give me a specific case. But I think my previous point stands, which is that working in service of our mission is not a hot take. Banning harassment is not a hot take.

But in today’s political environment, even saying something like “Black Lives Matter” places you on one side of a cultural divide and political divide. So how do you think about the fact that even if you don’t mean for these to be partisan decisions, people will interpret them as such?

You know, I think the answer is in your question. I think making statements, or making changes to our policies in the name of human decency, may be perceived as political statements. But for us, it’s doing the right thing and doing the practical thing.

In the past couple of weeks, the President has threatened to revoke legal protections for online companies, and he’s gone after Snapchat and Twitter and other platforms that have taken action against him. Are you worried about becoming a target of the president and his allies?

Well, I believe the latest thing through the Department of Justice was demanding that these platforms consistently enforce their terms of service. And so we are simply doing what he asked by enforcing our own terms of service.

I’m sure that will be a satisfactory answer to everyone in the Trump administration.

[Laughs] I think we’re good, right?

One thing that was said about social media for a long time, and that some platforms are still saying, is that social media is just a mirror for society. Like, the problems that exist on social media are just a reflection of the problems that exist in society, and the good things are a reflection as well. Do you think that analogy still holds?

Yes, but let me expand on that a little bit.

So when one looks into a mirror, the first thing they do is they see themselves. And the second thing they do is they fix their appearance. They brush their hair a little bit, or whatever. Mirrors aren’t one way, in that sense. It’s an opportunity to see what we really look like and decide, is that what we really want to be?

Nilay Patel, the editor in chief of The Verge, had an interesting tweet. The conversation was all about the political and legal and financial reasons that platforms might want to crack down on objectionable speech. And he said, “sometimes the answer is as simple as people looking at the thing that they’ve made and deciding that they would like to be more proud of it than they are.” Does that resonate with you?

It does. And to be honest, I’ve said those words at Reddit. When I came back my first day of 2015, I told the company “one of my goals is for you to be proud to work here.” Because back then, the company was not in a good place. The people who worked at Reddit simultaneously loved Reddit — you wouldn’t be at Reddit in 2015 unless you loved Reddit — and were not willing to wear their swag in public.

Like, their Reddit sweatshirts and T-shirts?

Precisely. And that made me sad. It’s, I think, a very natural human thing to want to make the world a better place. I know those words are cheap in this town, but some of us believe it.

Your general counsel said on Monday that there’s a place for President Trump on Reddit. But given how the president has been testing the limits and rules of all the platforms that he’s on, and creating all these headaches for their leaders, do you really want Mr. Trump on Reddit?

Look, nobody wants to be in an echo chamber, right? It’s boring and unhelpful to read a one-sided view of any issue. So we welcome political views across the spectrum. I think Trump’s rhetoric and campaign style is deliberately antagonistic, and that makes it easy to run afoul of our policies. But we have many conservatives on Reddit, and we have Trump supporters on Reddit who are perfectly capable of staying within our rules. And we hope that continues to be the case going forward.

Your co-founder Alexis Ohanian recently stepped down from Reddit’s board, saying that he wanted to make space for a Black board member. And when he made that announcement, he said that part of the reason that he did that was so that he’d have an answer when his daughter asked, “What did you do?” I don’t think you have kids, but when you’re making decisions like these, how much are you thinking about how future generations will look back on Reddit?

You know, when I look back on this time, and — hopefully — if I get to tell my kids about it, I can say that I didn’t quit, I was a part of this, and I did everything I could to stand up for my and our values, even though at times it’s very difficult.

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India Bans TikTok of China, Tightening Digital Borders

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The global internet is fracturing. And people like Anusmita Dutta are paying the price.

Ms. Dutta, 24, joined TikTok three years ago and now has more than 350,000 followers on the video app. From her home in Kolkata, in eastern India, she records funny skits, monologues, slice-of-life sketches — all stuff, she says, that people can easily relate to. She also finds videos from every corner of the earth using the app’s “Discover” feature.

TikTok makes her feel connected to the wider world. Which is why India’s decision this week to ban TikTok and scores of other Chinese apps was such a disappointment.

“Real talent came from this app in India,” Ms. Dutta said. Seeing it come to a sudden end was “obviously disheartening.”

TikTok, the first Chinese internet service to have a truly global fan base, is rapidly falling victim to China’s worsening diplomatic relations around the globe. It is yet another sign that the digital world, once thought of as a unifying space that transcended old divisions, is being carved up along the same national lines that split the physical one.

Tensions between India and China have run hot ever since a border clash in the Himalayas this month left 20 Indian soldiers dead. The government in New Delhi announced a ban on 59 Chinese apps late Monday, saying they were secretly transmitting users’ data to servers outside India.

India’s decision strikes at a number of China’s leading technology companies, including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu. But perhaps none will be more affected than TikTok and its Beijing-based parent, ByteDance, which has built a huge audience in India as part of an aggressive and well-funded expansion around the world. TikTok has been installed more than 610 million times in India, according to estimates by the data firm Sensor Tower. In the United States, the app has been installed 165 million times.

China itself began putting up walls within the global internet years ago. By blocking Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook, Beijing created a controlled environment in which homegrown upstarts could flourish, and where the Communist Party could keep a tight grip on online conversation.

Now, though, Chinese tech businesses are trying to make it big overseas at a time when distrust of the Communist Party is growing in Washington and other Western capitals. The tensions have ensnared ByteDance as well as companies in computer chips, artificial intelligence and more. Huawei, the Chinese maker of smartphones and telecom equipment, has been largely cut off from American technology suppliers and is fighting to defend its business from accusations that it is a Trojan Horse for Beijing’s cyberspies.

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Credit…China Stringer Network/Reuters

Governments worldwide are also becoming more interested in reclaiming control over digital speech and commerce, adding to the internet’s increasingly Balkanized landscape. The European Union has taken a tough line on overseeing American giants such as Apple and Google, forcing them to adapt to local rules.

Dev Khare, a partner at the venture firm Lightspeed India, acknowledged that India’s app ban was a populist, “feel-good” step in some ways. He does not, however, see it as a bolt out of the blue.

“It’s something that China did a long time ago,” Mr. Khare said. “If this is what China does to the rest of the world, then the rest of the world has the right to do it to China.”

As of Tuesday evening, some TikTok users in India were receiving error messages when they tried to access the app.

Nikhil Gandhi, the head of TikTok for India, said in a statement that the company had been invited to meet with Indian officials and respond to the decision. He added that TikTok had not shared information on its Indian users with the Chinese government or any other foreign government.

When it comes to using the consumer marketplace as a geopolitical cudgel, China is far more used to giving than receiving.

After an N.B.A. executive tweeted support for the Hong Kong protests last year, Chinese state-run television canceled broadcasts of basketball games. After police in Canada arrested a Huawei executive in 2018, Beijing halted shipments of Canadian canola oil. After a committee in Norway awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident, China curbed imports of Norwegian salmon.

India buys a wide variety of goods from China. But by targeting Chinese-made mobile apps, the nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gone after a sector of special importance to Beijing. China’s giant internet companies are running out of new internet users to win over at home. They see in India a chance to apply lessons from their growth in China to another huge market brimming with potential.

Indians, in return, have taken to many Chinese apps with gusto — TikTok in particular.

Ankush Bahuguna, a TikTok user in New Delhi who is in his late twenties, said other platforms might be able to scoop up the app’s fans in India if TikTok becomes unavailable. But it would take time for them to develop into something as special as TikTok.

“TikTok is one of the most accepting platforms when it comes to embracing different people,” Mr. Bahuguna said. “I’ve never seen a platform celebrate so many male belly dancers or male makeup artists or gay couples. Literally anyone.”

Credit…Manjunath Kiran/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

TikTok’s ease of use made it a uniquely democratic platform for users, he said. “It empowered them in a way where you don’t really need to speak English to be a content creator or have a fancy camera.”

One such creator is Saddam Khan, 22, who works as a porter at a New Delhi railway station and has more than 41,000 TikTok followers. He was carrying two briefcases on his head for a customer when he heard that India had banned the app.

“I just wanted to throw the bag away and cry,” Mr. Khan said.

Having such a large following on TikTok has not yet changed his life, he said. But he is sad that his shot at fame now seems dashed.

“There is a ripple effect in TikTok,” Mr. Khan said. “Boys from small villages become overnight heroes. It changed their lives. Their status in society grew.”

Indian officials have long had suspicions about the app. Last year, it was removed from Indian app stores after a court ruled that the app spread pornography, though it was later reinstated. Indian politicians have also criticized the platform for hosting hateful and inflammatory material.

Executives at Indian internet companies largely cheered the government’s move against their Chinese competitors this week. Naveen Tewari is the founder and chief executive of InMobi, a company in Bengaluru that operates two digital platforms, Glance and Roposo.

As tensions between India and China worsened over the past few weeks, video creators in India had already begun to rethink their choice of platform and migrate to Roposo, Mr. Tewari said. Now that TikTok seems down for the count, he is eager to capitalize.

“The first thing we’re doing is just to assure the millions of users of TikTok that they have a platform that is homegrown,” Mr. Tewari said. “They can absolutely come there and continue their entertainment that they always had, probably in a slightly more responsible way.”

Watchdog groups, however, have noted with concern the Modi government’s tendency to use sweeping policy instruments for political ends.

“In terms of being a singular act of web censorship, it’s impacted more Indians than any before,” said Apar Gupta, executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, which promotes digital liberties in India.

The current political climate in India is one in which nationalist sentiment is likely to be accommodated above other considerations, Mr. Gupta said.

“Any kind of public policy response which is premised on grounds of national security needs to emerge from well-defined criteria, which seems to be absent here,” he said.

Sameer Yasir contributed reporting.

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