Even hotter off the press

Mark Zuckerberg is now agreeing to tighter regulation of the internet with the caveat that if really offensive, harmful, extreme content does get past their moderators or algorithms (their own gatekeepers), they, the Tech Giants, should still not be prosecuted. Read the full article by clicking on the headline.

Zuckerberg suggests ‘thoughtful reform’ of Section 230 – big tech’s liability shield – and says platforms should have to prove they have systems in place to identify and remove unlawful content

  • In testimony prepared for a congressional hearing on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg laid out steps for ‘thoughtful reform’ for the Section 230 law
  • He acknowledged calls from lawmakers for changes to the law, which gives companies like Facebook immunity from liability over content posted by users 
  • He said companies should follow best practices for removing damaging material from platforms and demonstrate they have systems in place for identifying it
  • But he said that online services still shouldn’t be held liable for ‘if a particular piece of content evades its detection’
  • Zuckerberg argued that it wasn’t feasible for platforms like Facebook because it has billions of posts per day

Trump, having been banned from Twitter, is going to set up his OWN MEDIA PLATFORM – in light of his banning and the right wing TV channel FOX NEWS even criticizing his recent behaviour. With all his money, he can go somewhere else and create his own media platforms. So will Media ever be regulated with moneyed men in suits being able to ‘rule the roost’?

Read the full article here:

Former Cabinet Minister, Dr Liam Fox has come out to defend free speech on line and protect those who are bullied on line as a result of the J K Rowling recent row. There are some really good phrases and quotes you can use in this article.

Dr Liam Fox MP (@LiamFox) | Twitter

He says it would be dangerous to allow a situation to take hold in which ‘newspapers are operating under much stricter laws than their digital counterparts’.

And he will also call on the Government to tackle the social media giants over the ease with which people can use anonymous accounts to pump out messages that would otherwise be illegal.

Dr Fox describes free speech as a ‘basic human right’, adding: ‘Freedom of expression, especially a free press, is a means of underpinning other human rights through the ability to expose abuses and persecution.’ But he points out it has always had some limits, such as incitement to crime and libel.

Read the full article here:

Did you know that in the 1930’s when King Edward VIII was wanting to marry a previously twice divorced American heiress, Mrs Simpson, the newsagents were required to cut out any images of her and articles about her from any imported American newspapers?  The British Press had a gentleman’s agreement with the Monarchy to avoid any ‘gossip’ stories about the Royal Family but of course, the American Press did not. In the end the story got so big, when he abdicated that the previous gentlemen’s agreement was shelved.  A form of Royal regulation existed – a great example of regulation being impacted by the cultural, political and religious zeitgeist of the time.  The Royal Family today though are seen as ‘fair game’ for whatever the press want to publish about them.

How Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson spoke of his 1936 abdication in 1970 interview | Daily Mail Online

Case studies on China censorship and Tech Giants banning Trump.

Chinese State Regulation (Censorship).
Click on the image to see the whole article

‘There have been almost daily anti-BBC articles in Chinese state media since mid-February.

It follows a decision by the UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom to revoke the licence for China’s state-run overseas broadcaster, CGTN. For years, China has broadly criticised Western outlets for reports on affairs in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, saying they should not intervene in China’s “internal affairs”.

But these latest attacks on Western media are a clear escalation.

Chinese domestic media outlets have praised their government for banning the BBC’s World News channel, although it was only available in some international hotels and residential compounds where foreigners live.’

So Chinese Government censorship of the internet is alive and kicking. Do these actions seem justifiable to protect it’s Digital Sovereignty or is the impact harmful for its citizens?

What about The Western Model of Online Regulation?

And you all remember Trump being ceremoniously dethroned by Twitter who argued he was inciting citizens to violent action. This article in Forbes in the USA, argues this was neither an illegal or unfair action. Platforms can ‘dethrone’ whoever they like – terrorists, abusers, extreme political groups – so in this case, it just happened to be the President of the USA!


This is Twitter’s Explaination in a nutshell:

“After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.”


Many Trump supporters were arguing it was against the 1st Amendment and therefore an illegal act – however, platforms can apparently refer to their own terms and conditions and this is exactly what they did.

Trump moved to Parler, an app that encouraged free speech, but Parler itself was taken down by down by Amazon, Apple and Google!  The companies pulled support for the “free speech” social network, all but killing the service. Platforms regulating platforms.

This could be a good case study for how internet platforms are endeavoring to tow the line and perhaps do have our best interests at heart. But make sure you put this in context to the fact that in the UK, the new laws on internet harm, won’t be in place to next year and indeed tech giants do not want to ‘police themselves’, Mark Zuckerberg himself is requesting legislation, which at once protects free speech and also regulate against online harm and disinformation.

Online Harms – Laws to be passed in UK to regulate against this

The UK parliament has been debating new laws that should take effect next year in order to regulate the ‘harmful’ side of the internet without encroaching on freedom of speech and pluralism.

It appears that even the ‘Tech Giants’ are going to be included in these new laws where huge fines and even criminal proceedings will be the result of any offensive material that appears on someone’s platform.

Have a read of it and see the key points highlighted with comments by the side.  The technology involved in this process is going to have to be immense as is the ‘gatekeeping’ of it, but the onus seems to be on the platforms themselves, so perhaps the Tech Giants will no longer be able to hide behind Section 230. Smaller companies will have to invest huge amounts of money to ensure their platforms are as ‘safe’ as possible and their responses to complaints etc are as robust as possible.

Click on this link to see comments too on the new proposals. 

Media Regulation – in historical context

Some of the questions in the Media Regulation section of Component 4, are based around examining how regulation works today and how it used to work and the reasons for the changes over time. Read the infographic for some information on just some of the pivotal moments in the history of publishing, news and freedom of speech. It not a definitive list but gives a basic guideline to some key moments.
































































































How regulation on the internet happens without us even knowing it!

Whilst, there are no formal regulations to monitor and censor the internet and the tech giants continue to argue, they do a good job of ‘self-regulating’ content, there are ways that the internet IS BEING REGULATED far beyond our knowledge, reasoning and understanding.

Every time Mrs C, watches a ‘rescue dog’ video on instagram, strange things happen. More dog videos appear!  And it is the same with all our viewing and clicking content – the control of what ‘pops up’ is not within our control

However, what is more worrying is that it is not just the tech giants getting involved in surveillance, algorithms that direct our engagement, governments too are quietly and carefully curating our content.  China is alleged to be a master of this craft. See below.

So the Tech Giants understand our concerns at our fear of being ‘directed’ and ‘managed’ by them and also being at their mercy of seeing harmful, offensive and misleading content. So there are plans afoot to start to self regulate more in the UK – but will these measures go far enough?

So, even though there are no specific laws, rules, legal codes to enforce internet regulation, the regulation will continue to be at the mercy of the platforms and even more worryingly, governments themselves.

WATCH THESE VIDEOS AND MAKE NOTES – they will help with case studies, references, terms to use in any question on Media Regulation, particularly if it relates to how regulation reflects society, reflects changes in politics, reflects the ‘zeitgeist’ of the time or how changes in technology are making it harder for the internet to be regulated. 

Week 4: Task 12, 13 and 14 – Media Regulation – The essay

So we will be back with face to face (mask to mask) teaching tomorrow but we do intend to keep this class blog system going with tasks for the week and classroom resources and tasks, until we are back in Stage 3. This way if any of you are off ill, or waiting for test results, you won’t be disadvantaged and as we can’t do any practical tasks, this system works well.

We will go through this slideshare in person tomorrow and recap on what we have done so far.

In the meantime, you can make sure the previous Media Regulation tasks are complete and if they are, then work on the Quizlet key terms, theories and concepts in classroom in readiness for our Essay writing week etc.

Really looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow.

  • Task 11:  Quizlet on key terms, theories and conceptsSUBMIT MARK ON CLASSROOM FOR THE LEARN QUIZ –  1 hour – Can do today at home.
  • Task 12:  Essay plans x 4SUBMIT ON CLASSROOM 2 hours – wait until we are in the classsroom.
  • Task 13:  Complete the essay allocated to your class and submit on classroom for feedback. We will choose an exemplar from each class to share amongst you so that you will then have 4 really good essays to use as a reference point for revision – Resources and advice on Classroom – SUBMIT ON CLASSROOM – 1 hr – wait until we are in the classroom.

Week 3: Tasks 9, 10 & 11. Online Regulation

News is expensive! and people expect it for free! News broadcasters and papers have, like the music industry before them, lost control of their distribution!

Here is our last case study. Social Media regulation, but in this case there is no regulatory body! Except the social media platforms themselves!

The problem stems from one significant difference between social media and our previous case studies. Social media companies are global organisations. So, whilst it’s relatively easy to regulate adverts and news within the borders of a country, global regulation is highly problematic.

The other essential issue which prevents social media companies from being regulated is, are they a publisher or are they a platform?

Essential watching: A quiz from Mrs Cobb to follow – See Task 10 below:

It is impossible to regulate these American companies who have the protection offered by Section 230 of the American Communications and Decency Act 1996, which states platforms cannot be prosecuted for content posted by their users.

what has been the impact of this? Fake news? Hate speech? Racism? A divided society and weakened democracies?

Here is an opinion piece from Jennifer Cobbe in The Guardian, in which she explains how Facebook and other players in the, “surveillance economy”  have challenged the democracy we take for granted. It suggests:

“We need to confront their surveillance business models, their increasingly central position in digital society, and the power they now hold as a result.”

“As a result, some platforms’ algorithms systematically recommend disinformation, conspiracy theories white supremacism, and neo-Nazism.”

“At a minimum, behavioural advertising should be banned; other, less damaging forms of advertising are available. The algorithms platforms use to recommend content should be heavily regulated.”

A counter argument

As with news regulation, this is not a cut and dried argument. After all should we be allowing our governments to decide what ‘Truth’ should be available to us online?

The video below offers a counter argument to those demanding online regulation and quotes 17th century poet John Milton:

“Truth and understand are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded by tickets or statute, better to let truth and falsehood grapple”

He is suggesting we should not muzzle what we believe to be false or fake news, but allow argument and debate to flourish and in that process truth and greater understanding will come out.

Task 9: Watch the 2 videos and make notes – Social Media and Content Regulation/Don’t Regulate Social Media: 1 hr

Task 10:  Answer the questions on the Newsnight video ‘So Should the Internet be regulated?’ and submit the answers on the sheet in Classroom – SUBMIT TO CLASSSROOM: 1 hr

Task 11:  Internet Regulation – THE GREAT DEBATE. See classroom for instructions –  SUBMIT ON CLASSROOM ON CLASS SLIDESHARE: 2hr.