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Tech newsletter: Biden’s big broadband push, TikTok’s troll problem

Here is a look at tech and politics news from the last week.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Published Apr 6, 2021   Updated Apr 7, 2021, 12:06 pm CDT

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Welcome to the Tuesday edition of Internet Insider, where we dissect tech and politics unfolding online. Today:

  • TikTokers report losing 90% of their views after trolls flag their videos
  • Biden’s infrastructure proposal includes plan to get all Americans affordable broadband
  • The agency that controls U.S. nukes had its Twitter account accessed by a child

A woman looks out the window with a phone in her hands.

BREAK THE INTERNET

TikTokers report losing 90% of their views after trolls flag their videos

TikTok creator @Zevulous (Zev) is waiting. It’s been over 66 days since he first posted a video asking TikTok to release its content moderator guidelines to explain why creators have recently been having their videos taken down. 

It all started when Zev began posting videos to help people recognize Nazi and white supremacy dog whistles in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. His friends felt there was a white supremacy problem on the platform and he wanted to help TikTokers recognize symbols that would clue them in on what to watch out for in particular creators.

But his video about the “flag of Kekistan,” an alt-right symbol, was taken down.

So he decided to post a video every day asking TikTok directly to release their internal moderation standards so the community could have greater transparency and also allow users to educate people about white supremacy. 

Zev soon found out that he was not the only one suffering from this problem. Many creators who talked about racism, sexism, transphobia, and other issues were finding themselves censored and/or suppressed by the platform, while creators who advocated racist, sexist, transphobic things, even animal abuse, were not similarly impacted. 

And TikTokers are finding out that having a video taken down can have a lasting impact on their reach. Creators ascribe a combination of weaponized reporting and automated moderation as a big part of the problem.

Read more here

Elisa Shoenberger, contributing writer


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READ MORE


Joe Biden in the Oval Office with his hand up to his face.

INTERNET RIGHTS

Biden’s infrastructure proposal includes plan to get all Americans affordable broadband

President Joe Biden announced a large infrastructure proposal that includes a plan to connect all Americans to high-speed broadband.

Biden’s plan calls for investing $100 billion to help close the digital divide in the United States, which is the gap between Americans who have access to high-speed and affordable broadband and those who don’t.

The digital divide in the country was highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic. Biden’s plan prioritizes building in underserved and unserved areas of the country and supports local-owned, non-profit, and cooperative broadband networks, according to the White House. It also sets money aside for tribal lands and tribal nations.

“Broadband internet is the new electricity,” the White House said in a fact sheet about Biden’s infrastructure plan. “It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected.”

Andrew Wyrich, deputy tech editor


A tweet from USSTRATCOM

LOLITICS

The agency that controls U.S. nukes had its Twitter account accessed by a child

An unintelligible tweet made by U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) on Sunday was produced by a small child, the Daily Dot has learned.

USSTRATCOM, which is responsible for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, stirred confusion after releasing a tweet that appeared to be gibberish: “;l;;gmlxzssaw.”

The tweet was deleted shortly after. USSTRATCOM issued an apology in a follow-up tweet and asked users to “disregard” the previous post.

The Daily Dot filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with USSTRATCOM and learned that a small child had produced the tweet.

“The Command’s Twitter manager, while in a telework status, momentarily left the Command’s Twitter account open and unattended,” the response reads. “His very young child took advantage of the situation and started playing with the keys and unfortunately, and unknowingly, posted the tweet.”

Mikael Thalen, contributing writer

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*First Published: Apr 6, 2021, 11:15 am CDT