Category Archives: Press Room

Recent press releases issued by Media Alliance. Sometimes we’ll post newspaper, radio and broadcast interviews here as well.

Want fair elections? Help us protest Facebook.

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by Ted Lewis and Tracy Rosenberg. Originally printed in the SF Examiner

Facebook looms over our coming elections, and not in a good way. The giant media company has tremendous power and influence — and a bad track record.

In 2016, Facebook was successfully used as part of multi-faceted election interference campaign. Called to account by Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that Russian ad buys and other efforts had little electoral impact in 2016, but the company later admitted that disinformation had reached 150 million Facebook and Instagram users in the United States.

The 2020 elections are already underway and protecting them now means more than deciding which candidates to support or pushing for ballot measures we believe in. This time, trust in our elections — the beating heart of our democracy – is at risk.

That is why protesting Facebook’s irresponsible policies is so urgent.

As a global media platform with billions of users, Facebook has the terrifying power to make or break the integrity of our elections. And in the near term are the only ones who can prevent the platform from being used to disrupt our elections — and elections around the world.

And while the Russian use of Facebook to interfere in the 2016 US elections is the most well-documented case of the company’s facilitation of efforts to sow discord, divisiveness, and disinformation, it is certainly not the only one.

In 2018, Facebook conceded its platform had been used to spread hate speech and disinformation that incited violence in Myanmar. The company commissioned a report about its role in human rights violations against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar, which stated that “Facebook has become a means for those seeking to spread hate and cause harm, and posts have been linked to offline violence.” Again in 2019, Facebook was used to amplify hate speech, harassment, and calls for violence in India against caste, religious, gender and queer minorities. The authors of a recent report by Equality Labs warn that without urgent intervention, hate speech on Facebook in India could trigger large-scale communal violence in that country.

Here in the US we must make sure Facebook does not again become a megaphone for disinformation and hate speech during the 2020 election.

But Facebook CEO Zuckerberg has made it clear that won’t be easy. Last October he announced the company would allow politicians and political parties to openly lie in their advertisements – meaning that Facebook now holds paid political advertisements to a lower standard than all others.

The time has surely come for Facebook’s monopoly to be broken up, but that is not going to happen before November 2020. So in the meantime it is up to us to pressure them directly. Corporations are susceptible to mass public pressure, and Facebook is no different. They don’t want their brand to be tarnished or to lose advertisers.

We have to start somewhere and conveniently, Facebook headquarters is in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there’s a long tradition of pressuring companies for change—whether to stop Gap and Nike from using sweatshop labor or convince Starbucks to buy coffee from Fair Trade farmers.

That’s why, on January 9, we’re kicking off a campaign that brings together human rights groups, media advocacy organizations, corporate campaigners and fed-up Facebook users to adopt the policies recommended by Facebook’s own employees in this public letter and to implement policies that discourage online hate, such as those recommended by Change the Terms.

Locally, we’ll be protesting outside of Facebook’s Menlo Park corporate headquarters under the banner, “Save Our Democracy: Protest Facebook.” Online, we’ll be “blacking out” Facebook on January 9 by replacing our Facebook cover and profile photos with a completely black box.

Some people say we should just abandon Facebook once and for all. But we’re not willing to cede a communications network that reaches billions of people to the unfettered practices of a corporation that cares more about its profits than about our democracy. Please join us in this fight.

Ted Lewis is the human rights director of Global Exchange. Tracy Rosenberg is the executive director of Media Alliance.

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40 Civil Rights Groups Ask Colleges to Keep Facial Recognition Off Campuses

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An open letter from an assortment of civil rights groups, including Media Alliance, asked university administrators to keep their campuses free of facial recognition.

On March 2, students and faculty at schools across the country will organize to reject facial recognition’s false promises of safety, and stand against the idea of biased 24/7 tracking and analysis of everyone on campus.

Dozens of schools have clarified that they don’t use or plan to use the technology, while about one third have not responded. Three schools—George Washington University, Duke University, and American University—gave vague statements that implied they may have plans to use facial recognition in the future. And UCLA and Tufts University currently use or have plans to use the technology on its campus.

Campuses that have stated they have no intention of using facial recognition include Boston College, Brown University, Columbia University, Colorado State University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, DePaul University, MIT, Michigan State University, Georgia Tech, NYU, Hampshire College, Kent State University, Rice University, University of Florida, Oregon State University, UPenn, and John Hopkins University. University of San Francisco clarified that it abandoned its controversial facial recognition program in 2016. Activists made multiple attempts to contact every institution on the scorecard. More than 30 schools did not respond after multiple attempts, including Harvard, Yale, Oberlin, Howard University, Ohio State, Reed, and Sarah Lawrence College.

Letter-from-40-civil-society-organizations_-ban-facial-recognition-on-college-campuses

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A Nonprofit Alliance Becomes an Ally of Big Telecom

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How well-meaning, public-serving groups wound up as part of an alliance aimed at undermining state regulation of broadband and privacy laws.

BY CHRIS WITTEMAN AND TRACY ROSENBERG -NOVEMBER 24, 2019

Originally published in 48 Hills.

It’s not unusual for businesses to spend princely sums lobbying government to free them from regulations, which generally means consumer protections are reduced or eliminated.  In a nutshell, that’s much of what goes on in the halls of government, as we’ve previously reported.

But it is a bit more unconventional when a self-described coalition of nonprofit organizations promotes the same agenda as large telecom companies, putting consumers at the short end of the stick.

Continue reading A Nonprofit Alliance Becomes an Ally of Big Telecom
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As Reliance on Biometric Grows, So Does Opposition

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Eleanor J. Bader
Truthout PUBLISHEDJune 30, 2019

Sports enthusiasts heading to Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics beware: Japan intends to install hundreds of thousands of facial recognition cameras to identify everyone in attendance. The software, initially used when Tokyo hosted the Paralympic games in 2018, is meant to weed out, in real time, people suspected of being potential terrorists — and anyone with a criminal record or questionable immigration status.

Continue reading As Reliance on Biometric Grows, So Does Opposition
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Protesters Block Palantir’s Cafeteria To Pressure Big Data Company

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Originally published in Business Insider August 9, 2019

Protesters blocked the entrance to Silicon Valley tech company Palantir’s cafeteria on Friday, denouncing its work aiding the US government’s immigration crackdown and urging employees to speak out.

About 70 protesters swarmed Palantir’s Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters in the early afternoon, bearing signs criticizing the company for doing business with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and chanting slogans.

“Immigrants are welcome here, time to cancel Palantir,” the protesters shouted. “Dirty data company, drop ICE contracts, that’s our plea,” they sang.

Continue reading Protesters Block Palantir’s Cafeteria To Pressure Big Data Company
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Politico Pro: Privacy Bills Go Straight to Senate Floor

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This report first appeared on POLITICO California Pro on Aug. 15, 2019.

SACRAMENTO — Soon after lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week, a slate of Privacy Act bills originally set to be heard by the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee instead went straight to the Senate floor, closing off a well-worn backchannel for end-of-session deal-making.

Continue reading Politico Pro: Privacy Bills Go Straight to Senate Floor
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Best of Counterspin 2018

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MA’s ED is very pleased to have been included in Counterspin’s 2018 “Best of” wrap-up show and we encourage you to listen to the whole compilation.

Counterspin – Best of 2018

Each week, CounterSpin looks behind the headlines, asking what context is missing, what assumptions glossed over…and who is being excluded who might challenge that. It’s not a rhetorical exercise: Understanding the limits of the dialogue possible in the elite but influential press is crucial to understanding our political lives…and the importance of maintaining spaces where we can openly debate and challenge a status quo that is harming millions of people and the planet. We hope all of our shows advance that effort; in our annual year-end review, we can only revisit a very few—what we call the Best of CounterSpin 2018. You’ll find the whole year’s worth online at FAIR.org/counterspin/.

Featured interviews:

  • Tina Vasquez, immigration reporter at Rewire.news, on family separation and abuses at the border.
  • Marjorie Cohn, law professor and author, on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
  • Andrew Pulrang, cofounder of #cripthevote, on the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Teresa Basilio Gaztambide, director of Resilient Just Technologies, on Puerto Rico’s communications infrastructure and hurricanes Irma and Maria.
  • Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and co-coordinator of the group Oakland Privacy, on  surveillance technologies.
  • Shireen Al-Adeimi, peace activist, on US support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
  • Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com, on black athletes and the politics of patriotism.

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