Monday, August 29, 2016

Black Lives and the Facebook Censor

Originally published at The Root

Earlier this month, Baltimore County police tried to serve a black mother with an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court for a traffic violation. But the picture many saw told only one side of the story.

Police killed the woman, Korryn Gaines, while her 5-year-old son was wounded in the altercation. She had attempted to share her encounter with police using Instagram. The police urged Facebook, which owns Instagram, to deactivate her accounts. In response, Facebook cut Gaines’ live stream from its feed.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. In July, Diamond Reynolds used Facebook Live to record the immediate aftermath of the horrific police shooting of her boyfriend, Philando Castile. Once footage hit 1 million views, Facebook temporarily removed the video. A Facebook spokesperson claimed this was due to a “technical glitch,” but many media reports suggest otherwise

Read the rest at The Root >>

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Democrats, Republicans and the Internet

Reading between the lines of the party platforms

Party platforms are the wallflowers of the four-day infomercials we’ve come to know as national conventions. During the run-up to these events, partisan functionaries and delegates pore over drafts and tweak language only to see the candidates too often ignore the resulting policy statements in their march to Election Day.

Consider Donald Trump’s convention-closing attempt at a peace offering to the LGBT community in light of the Republican Party platform’s call to abolish gay marriage and nationalize state laws allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT people.

To read too much into a platform would be a mistake, especially when trying to predict the policies of the next administration. Still, platforms establish a benchmark against which we can measure the success of any president. They also reveal important shifts in party culture, offering us a glimpse at the evolving priorities of the body politic. This year, for the first time, internet policy is prominent in both major-party platforms.