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YouTube Bans Holocaust Denial Videos in Policy Reversal

YouTube said on Wednesday it would remove videos that deny the Holocaust, school shootings and other “well-documented violent events,” a major reversal in policy as it fights criticism that it provides a platform for hate speech and harassment.

The streaming service, owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, also said it would remove videos that glorify Nazi ideology or promote groups that claim superiority to others to justify several forms of discrimination.

In addition, video creators that repeatedly brush up against YouTube’s hate speech policies, even without violating them, will be removed from its advertising revenue-sharing program, YouTube spokesman Farshad Shadloo said.

YouTube for years has stood by allowing diverse commentary on history, race and other fraught issues, even if some of it was objectionable to many users.

But regulators, advertisers and users have complained that free speech should have its limits online, where conspiracies and hate travel fast and can radicalize viewers. The threat of widespread regulation, and a few advertiser boycotts, appear to have spurred more focus on the issue from YouTube and researchers.

In a blog post, the company did not explain why it changed its stance but said “we’ve been taking a close look at our approach towards hateful content in consultation with dozens of experts in subjects like violent extremism, supremacism, civil rights and free speech.”

YouTube acknowledged the new policies could hurt researchers who seek out objectionable videos “to understand hate in order to combat it.” The policies could also frustrate free speech advocates who say hate speech should not be censored.

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, which researches anti-Semitism, said it had provided input to YouTube on the policy change.

“While this is an important step forward, this move alone is insufficient and must be followed by many more changes from YouTube and other tech companies to adequately counter the scourge of online hate and extremism,” Greenblatt said in a statement.

Other types of videos to be removed under YouTube’s new rules include conspiracy theories about Jews running the world, calls for denying women civil rights because of claims they are less intelligent than men, and some white nationalist content, Shadloo said.

YouTube said creators in the revenue-sharing program who are repeatedly found posting borderline hate content would be notified when they do it one too many times and could appeal their termination. The company did not immediately respond to questions about what the limit on such postings would be.

 

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China Launches 1st Rocket From Mobile Platform in Yellow Sea

China on Wednesday launched a rocket from a mobile platform at sea for the first time, sending a five commercial satellites and two others containing experimental technology into space.

The Long March 11 rocket blasted off from a launch pad aboard a commercial ship in the Yellow Sea off the coast of Shandong province, marking the 306th launch of a rocket in the Long March series, but the first one at sea.

 

China is the third country after the U.S. and Russia to master sea launch technology.

 

Sea launches offer advantages such as the ability to position closer to the equator, requiring less fuel to reach orbit and thereby lowering overall launch costs. It also reduces the possibility of damage on the ground from falling rocket debris.

 

The official Xinhua News Agency cited experts as saying seaborne launch technology will meet the growing demand for launches of low inclination satellites.

 

China’s space program has developed rapidly, especially since it conducted its first crewed mission in 2003, becoming just the third country following Russia and the U.S. to put humans into space using its own technology.

 

It has put two space stations into orbit and plans to launch a Mars rover in the mid-2020s. Its space program suffered a rare setback last year with the failed launch of a Long March 5 rocket.

 

 

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American Lawmakers Try To Balance Security Benefits of Facial Recognition Against Privacy Rights

Lawmakers in Washington DC met Tuesday to discuss facial recognition software. Law enforcement says the technology helps to identify and track suspected criminals. But privacy advocates say the technology intrudes on the privacy of average citizens who aren’t lawbreakers. Arash Arabasadi reports from Washington.

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Virtual Reality Films Pave the Way for Next-Gen History Lessons

At the Tribeca Film Fest in New York, filmmakers are mining current and historical events for inspiration. For tech-savvy youth, it’s one way to ensure the lessons of history won’t be forgotten. Tina Trinh reports.

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Apple to Preview New Software as It Makes Big Transition

Apple will preview upcoming changes to its phone and computer software Monday as it undergoes a major transition intended to offset eroding sales of its bedrock iPhone.

The company’s software showcase is an annual rite. But Apple is currently grappling with its biggest challenge since its visionary co-founder, Steve Jobs, died nearly eight years ago.

Many of the software updates are expected to be tailored for the digital services that Apple is rolling out to lessen its iPhone dependence.

Although still popular, the iPhone is no longer reliably driving Apple’s profits higher.  sales have fallen sharply for the past two quarters and there’s little reason to expect a quick turnaround.

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Google Server Trouble Snarls YouTube, Snapchat

Congested Google servers in the eastern United States caused problems for users of Snapchat and YouTube on Sunday, with complaints on social media that the popular apps weren’t accessible.

Google acknowledged the issue, writing in a statement on its Cloud Platform status page that it was dealing with “high levels of network congestion in the eastern USA, affecting multiple services in Google Cloud, G Suite and YouTube.”

“Users may see slow performance or intermittent errors,” it said, adding that engineers had completed the first of two steps to restore normal operations.

Earlier in the day, social media users complained of trouble loading a slew of popular websites and apps.

“Google, YouTube, Snapchat, Shopify, all currently down. Is the internet melting?” asked one Twitter post.

Snapchat and Google-owned YouTube both acknowledged the server issue on their Twitter accounts.

Cloud computing is one of Google’s most lucrative services, but faces stiff competition from other technology companies like Amazon and Microsoft.

In March, the world’s largest social network, Facebook, blamed a “server configuration change” for a massive outage affecting its applications around the world.

The outage affected users for at least 12 hours in most areas of the world, with the biggest impact in North America and Europe, a tracking website said at the time.

 

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Report: US Regulators Divide up Scrutiny of Google, Amazon

U.S. antitrust regulators have divided oversight of Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, putting Amazon under the watch of the Federal Trade Commission and Google under the Justice Department, the Washington Post said Saturday.

Amazon could face heightened antitrust scrutiny under a new agreement between U.S. regulators that puts the e-commerce giant under the watch of the trade commission, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The development is the result of the FTC and Justice Department quietly dividing up competition oversight on both of the American tech giants, Amazon and Google, the newspaper said, adding that the FTC’s plans for Amazon and the Justice Department’s interest in Google were not immediately clear.

The news comes after Reuters and other media reported Friday that the Justice Department is preparing an investigation into Google in order to ascertain whether the company broke antitrust law in operating its online businesses.

Google said it had no comment on the report, while Amazon, the FTC and Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.