Category Archives: Media

Online Harms Bill could be Johnson government’s only USEFUL new law

Social media trolls could be neutered by incoming Online Harms legislation by the Tory government. It could be the most useful thing Boris Johnson ever does.

I’m not just publishing the above headline because, if the Online Harms Bill had been an active law in 2019, Rachel Riley’s followers – and allegedly Riley herself – would have been prevented from abusing a teenage girl with mental health issues who supported Jeremy Corbyn.

There are some very good ideas in here, including a demand that political content must be policed impartially, which is startling.

Consider:

All social media sites, websites, apps and other services hosting user-generated content or allowing people to talk to others online will have a duty of care towards their users so that what is unacceptable offline will also be unacceptable online.

They will need to consider the risks their sites may pose to the youngest and most vulnerable people and act to protect children from inappropriate content and harmful activity.

They will need to take robust action to tackle illegal abuse, including swift and effective action against hate crimes, harassment and threats directed at individuals and keep their promises to users about their standards.

The largest and most popular social media sites will need to act on content that is lawful but still harmful such as abuse that falls below the threshold of a criminal offence, encouragement of self-harm and mis/disinformation.

The final legislation… will contain provisions that require companies to report child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) content identified on their services.

That takes care of the kind of abuse received by the teenage girl in Rachel Riley’s libel case against me (from Riley’s supporters), and also of the gaslighting (allegedly) carried out against her by Riley herself.

All in-scope companies will need to consider and put in place safeguards for freedom of expression when fulfilling their duties.

People using their services will need to have access to effective routes of appeal for content removed without good reason and companies must reinstate that content if it has been removed unfairly. Users will also be able to appeal to Ofcom.

Category 1 services [the largest and most popular social media sites] will need to conduct and publish up-to-date assessments of their impact on freedom of expression and demonstrate they have taken steps to mitigate any adverse effects.

These measures remove the risk that online companies adopt restrictive measures or over-remove content in their efforts to meet their new online safety duties. An example of this could be AI moderation technologies falsely flagging innocuous content as harmful, such as satire.

Content on news publishers’ websites is not in scope. This includes both their own articles and user comments on these articles.

Articles by recognised news publishers shared on in-scope services will be exempted and Category 1 companies will now have a statutory duty to safeguard UK users’ access to journalistic content shared on their platforms.

This means they will have to consider the importance of journalism when undertaking content moderation, have a fast-track appeals process for journalists’ removed content, and will be held to account by Ofcom for the arbitrary removal of journalistic content. Citizen journalists’ content will have the same protections as professional journalists’ content.

This is handy for people like This Writer, who have had our accounts on Twitter (for example) suspended because of vexatious complaints by (in my case) people who described themselves as supporters of Riley.

Ministers have added new and specific duties to the Bill for Category 1 services to protect content defined as ‘democratically important’. This will include content promoting or opposing government policy or a political party ahead of a vote in Parliament, election or referendum, or campaigning on a live political issue.

Companies will also be forbidden from discriminating against particular political viewpoints and will need to apply protections equally to a range of political opinions, no matter their affiliation. Policies to protect such content will need to be set out in clear and accessible terms and conditions and firms will need to stick to them or face enforcement action from Ofcom.

When moderating content, companies will need to take into account the political context around why the content is being shared and give it a high level of protection if it is democratically important.

For example, a major social media company may choose to prohibit all deadly or graphic violence. A campaign group could release violent footage to raise awareness about violence against a specific group. Given its importance to democratic debate, the company might choose to keep that content up, subject to warnings, but it would need to be upfront about the policy and ensure it is applied consistently.

This is the part that amazes me, coming as it does from a right-wing – fascist – government.

As with everything in politics, the proof of its usefulness is in practice, so I can’t give it my unqualified support.

On paper, it means the court case currently taking up a certain unwanted amount of my time won’t happen again, because the abuse caused to the teenager at its centre would break the law.

Whether the activities provoking that abuse would also be against the new law is an element that may have to be tested, though.

I think we can all look forward to some interesting debates on this in the Commons, where I hope MPs will examine how the new legislation would relate to some of the more infamous online incidents in recent history…

Including those involving me.

Source: Landmark laws to protect children and stop abuse online published – GOV.UK

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Starmer ROASTED by Twitter user who’s seen through his lies [STRONG LANGUAGE]

Keir Starmer: A suit, a haircut, and flag-waving fascism. Labour supporters – and the whole of the UK – deserve much, much better and we won’t get it from this gaslighting fake.

If Keir Starmer really thought he could deflect criticism by reshuffling his cabinet and removing any remaining socialists from control of the Labour Party, he was badly mistaken.

The following Twitter thread was written before the reshuffle but identifies the reasons Labour members and supporters are not going to accept Starmer’s leadership any more.

Already, CLPs (local party units) across the UK are preparing motions of “no confidence” in his leadership. Anticipating that the party’s unelected general secretary, David Evans, will undemocratically try to rule them “out of order”, they are being advised to frame them as motions of confidence, with wording like, “This party has 0.1 per cent confidence in Keir Starmer’s leadership” – and then vote against those motions to show that they don’t have any confidence in him at all.

“Roadside Mum”, below, provides many reasons party members have no confidence in the man who has been dubbed Labour’s worst ever leader, a betrayer of the values that brought the party into being and a deceiver who is trying to hoodwink voters into supporting the removal of their democratic rights.

These include:

  • The campaign to punish Labour left-wingers.
  • The campaign to silence criticism.
  • The erosion of Labour’s share of the electorate.
  • Starmer’s support for the loss of our right to protest.
  • Starmer’s attempt to gaslight us into thinking Jeremy Corbyn is responsible for Labour’s loss of support.
  • Starmer’s sustained support of Conservative policies and legislation.
  • Starmer’s support of the so-called Spycops Bill in particular.
  • Starmer’s adoption of fascist symbolism, in line with the Tories – flags, haircuts and suits preferred over socialist policies.
  • Efforts by right-wing Labour Party officers and representatives – many of them unelected – to disenfranchise party members and deny them representation.
  • And an attitude of entitlement that tries to tell us that we must accept Starmer sneering at us because he thinks he knows better.

There is even an addendum copying in a message, presumably from a Starmer supporter, actually proving the last point: “These elections are a lot more complicated than you think.” No, they’re not.

It’s a statement that insults the intelligence of “Roadside Mum” and every other Labour voter who expected – and deserved – better from Starmer, from his leadership team, and from every other party officer who enabled the betrayal that the party has endured for more than a year.

Labour won’t improve with the removal of left-wingers from positions of power and their replacement by anti-Semite-supporting fascists like Rachel Reeves, that’s for sure.

It can only get worse.

And the rot is seeping down from the top.

This is not simply about removing a bad leader.

It is about saving a political movement – and saving a nation from sliding into Boris Johnson-controlled fascism that Keir Starmer supports with all of his heart.

Here’s the thread. Read it for yourself.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Is time running out for ‘evasion’ politicians like Nadhim Zahawi?

Nadhim Zahawi: this is from 2016, but relevant to today, when he appeared on TV to defend prime minister Boris Johnson’s weird financial arrangements in the run-up to local elections.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was on ‘morning media junket’ duty today (May 5) and duly toured the studios showing us how the BBC toes the Tory line rather than doing anything useful.

He made a big thing of the possibility that everybody over 50 could have a third Covid-19 vaccine injection by the autumn (I’m still waiting for my second, although I know autumn is still a long way away), but became the world’s biggest ignoramus when asked about anything else, such as Boris Johnson’s weird finances.

The performances – or rather,  the public reaction to them – suggested more than he wanted, though:

They suggested that time is running out for this kind of evasion. People are wise to it and, through the social media, we are making other people wise to it too.

Consider the following. Here’s how he started out:

And here’s the commentary on it:

Notice that Zahawi had an easy ride on the BBC in comparison with elsewhere:

Ultimately, all the minister achieved was to get people to examine his own record – and it was found wanting:

So it seems the game has been given away and Zahawi’s selfish politics is on the way out.

Or is it?

The only reliable yardstick of public opinion is the result of an election, and we have a huge series of polls across the UK tomorrow (May 6).

On the basis of what they have done, the Conservatives should go down like the proverbial lead balloon.

But will they?

Or are there still enough drones out there – who will vote for them no matter how corrupt they prove to be – to see them through?

I fear the latter. The BBC has to be preaching to someone, after all – and it has the lion’s share of the news audience.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Tory campaign goes down in flames. #VoteConservative ? Check out these alternative suggestions

Not the new Tory logo: but should it be?


Here’s a good, moderate policy for a brighter Britain:

Apparently some genius at Conservative Central HQ thought it would be a good idea to start the hashtag #VoteConservative, without taking into consideration the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Here are some of the consequences this person didn’t intend, but got anyway. Enjoy them. I did:

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Let the ridicule pile high: social media destroy Boris Johnson over Downing Street flat redecoration

Loadsamoney: the controversy over Boris Johnson’s flat has concentrated attention on the fact that Tories always find cash for their own benefit, while depriving members of the general public of the funding that a proper government should provide to them.

The Electoral Commission has announced that it is investigating the funding of redecoration work on Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat, saying it has “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.

And our friends on the social media have gone into satire overdrive.

Today they have targeted the prime ministerial consort, Carrie Symonds, under the hashtag #CarrieAntoinette – on the grounds that she was the driving force behind the astonishingly-expensive changes.

So we see this:

And, indeed, this:

The claim that Symonds demanded the use of wallpaper costing £840 per roll has been particularly inflammatory:

Many have pointed out the hypocrisy of being funded with huge amounts of cash to pay for the redecoration of a Tory prime minister’s flat, while the Tory government still refuses to fund safety improvements to blocks of flats afflicted with inflammable cladding that makes them as likely to go up in flames as Grenfell Tower (due to decisions by Tories, most likely):

But possibly the best snipe of the lot came from department store chain John Lewis:

The image is of a John Lewis van outside the gates of Downing Street.

The way events are moving, in a few days we’ll be seeing a removal van there.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Riley appeal hearing: at last, the details!

The Royal Courts of Justice in London: you don’t have to go there to watch my appeal – it’s happening on YouTube.

The April 27 appeal hearing has been listed at “not before 10.30”, so it would be sensible to have the YouTube link open by 10.30am.

This is the link:

The Court of Appeal (Civil Division) – Live streaming of court hearings

We also know the identity of the judges! They are:

1. Dame Victoria Sharp: the President of the Queen’s Bench Division. I understand that Sharp is quite experienced in these sorts of cases. Hopefully, she will be slow to allow a public interest defence to be struck out when that defence expressly depends on a reasonable belief which has yet to be articulated in my own words, let alone tested at court.

2. Lord Justice Launcelot Henderson. Henderson is an incredibly intelligent and academic commercial judge. Hopefully, this works in my favour because the technical analysis of a public interest defence should require the court to hear and test my evidence.

3. Lord Justice Mark Warby. He is a highly specialised defamation lawyer.

In theory, I have good reason to feel optimistic. However: it is impossible to guess the outcome based on the identity of the judges.

The appeal will stand or fall on the basis of the legal arguments.

I am heartened that my solicitor thinks we have put forward a compelling argument – and that the High Court’s judgment is a dangerous precedent for other public interest defences.

How will it all resolve itself?

Tune in and find out.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Twitter is ordered to answer Vox Political’s Subject Access Request. This could be embarrassing!

Remember when Twitter suspended This Writer’s account back in December?

It was connected with my reporting of Rachel Riley’s attempt to strike out my defence against her libel claim.

Apparently, this person complained to Twitter about it –

Identified? This person posted screenshots that appear to show they are responsible for the complaint that had Vox Political’s Mike Sivier suspended from Twitter. Mike has no idea who this person is and a Twitter search provides no evidence of any contact.

– and Twitter suspended me on the spot.

I then submitted a Subject Access Request which Twitter failed to honour, despite being legally obliged to do so – and that’s where the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) came in.

Twitter emailed me on December 17. Its statement – and what I wrote in response on This Site – are as follows:

“Thank you. Our record indicates that your account is not suspended. This case will now be closed.

“It really won’t, you know.

“Yes, my account was restored on Thursday (December 17), but it had still been unavailable to me for five days and I want to know why. I have a right to know why. Remember, Twitter never contacted me with a reason for my suspension.

“I submitted a Subject Access Request, which is a legal requirement. By UK law, Twitter has one calendar month from the date I submitted my request (December 12) to honour it. No excuses. No apologies. If it fails to provide the information, Twitter will have broken the law.”

At the time, Twitter had been collecting a huge amount of criticism for suspending accounts belonging to left-wing writers, apparently after receiving co-ordinated complaints from users who were making false claims of anti-Semitism.

The message from Mr(?) Grunspan, above, clearly appears to be connected with this as it deliberately makes a connection with Rachel Riley’s court case against me and reasserts the false claims of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial against me.

I had to wait a while for the ICO to get back to me.

In the meantime, Twitter suspended my account again at the beginning of February – again with no notification. I had to wait a whole month before it was restored this time and, as with the December suspension, I was told that investigations showed I had not, in fact, done anything against the site’s rules.

Today (April 21) I received an email from the ICO. Here are the relevant parts [boldings theirs]:

“We have considered the issues that you have raised with us and our decision is that there is more work for the organisation to do.

“We have therefore raised your issues with the Chief Executive, via the Data Protection Officer, explaining that we want them to work with you to resolve any outstanding matters.

We expect the organisation to fully address your complaint by telling you what they are going to do to put things right, or if they believe they have met their data protection obligations by explaining fully how they have done so.

“We have allowed the organisation 28 days to consider the issues that you have raised with us, and to consider next steps in your case. Many organisations will contact individuals sooner than that, however, if you have allowed 28 days, and there is no contact at all then please let us know.”

I look forward with interest to finding out how Twitter will say it honoured my Subject Access Request. I expect you will, too.

The clock is ticking. Do you think I will even receive a response by (checks calendar) May 19?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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£2.6 million was spent on Downing Street TV studio for nothing as media briefings scrapped

The briefest of briefing rooms: your local parish council could have done a better job, and cheaper, but Boris Johnson gave the contract to a company based in a hostile state. Now it is being withdrawn from service. How many times was it used?

Boris Johnson has scrapped plans for White House-style press briefings from a new £2.6 million TV studio in Downing Street – meaning he spent all that public money for nothing.

Apparently the room will be used for internal government briefings by Johnson and his ministers instead. They could do that in any ordinary Whitehall office.

Most of us have been doing much the same from our own homes, using Zoom, Skype, or even Facebook Messenger.

The decision confirms what This Writer believed – that this was nothing but another hugely expensive vanity project for Johnson.

His overspending on fripperies like this, described by some as “spaffing cash up the wall”, has brought a new meaning to the phrase “quantitative easing” (which is what the Bank of England has been having to do in order to allow the nation to cover the cost).

Johnson was shamed into admitting the existence of the studio in February, after it was reported on the social media that, after the huge expense, the space was going unused.

Last month he announced that he would be using the studio after all – and we all warned that he doesn’t have the personality to pull it off.

And then we discovered that the studio had been fitted out by a tech firm based in Russia. Who knows what surveillance equipment was installed there?

(I suppose we’ll find out soon enough, if Johnson really intends to have private briefings there instead of public, press affairs; any really embarrassing secrets will soon get out if the place is full of bugs.)

The whole sorry saga has been a national embarrassment.

Our man-child of a prime minister wanted to play with a new toy that he thought would make him look good – and has wound up looking like a spoilt brat squatting in his own mess.

Source: Downing Street scraps plans for White House-style press briefings – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Chauvin guilty of George Floyd murder – and what it means for people in the UK

Derek Chauvin: this image was taken from video footage of him choking George Floyd to death by kneeling on his throat for nine minutes.

A policeman from the United States has been found guilty of all charges related to the murder of African-American George Floyd.

Derek Chauvin, 45, was found guilty on three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.

He will remain in custody until he is sentenced and could spend decades in jail.

The death of Mr Floyd sparked an international wave of protest that resulted in multiple mass “Black Lives Matter” protests here in the United Kingdom and the toppling of statues celebrating slavers – like that of Edward Colston in Bristol.

But here’s the reason the verdict matters directly to people here in the UK:

Derek Chauvin, 45, was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during his arrest last May.

The widely watched footage sparked worldwide protests against racism and excessive use of force by police.

If members of the public hadn’t taken video of Chauvin choking Mr Floyd to death, it is almost certain that Chauvin would have been able to avoid any charges at all; it would have been the word of a few black people against that of a police officer.

Meanwhile, here in the UK, a police union – the Metropolitan Police Federation – has been campaigning to prevent what it calls “trial by social media”.

These people mean the practice of posting video evidence of police misdeeds on Facebook and (particularly) Twitter.

I wrote about this less than a week ago. At that time, I quoted this tweet –

– and added:

“Two good points, don’t you think? For clarity, they are:

“1. If nobody had taken footage of George Floyd being throttled under the knee of a US police officer, nothing would have been done about it.

“2. It is hypocritical of the MetFed to complain about the sharing of images that shame the police when its own officers have shared images of them behaving inappropriately (to say the least) with the dead bodies of members of the public.

“If the police did not behave inappropriately; if they weren’t prone to violence against the public they are meant to protect; and if we didn’t have reason to believe the system was corruptly supporting them, then nobody would be recording these images – they simply would not happen.

“So, before these people demand what are frankly fascist measures to stop us from holding them to account – and remember, they can still record us (although I understand footage from cop cameras is likely to be restricted due to failings in policing by the officers involved) – it seems clear they should try cleaning up their act instead.

“But I suppose that would take all the fun out of it.”

Well, I reckon they’re going to have all the fun taken out of it now.

Because, after the Chauvin verdict, nobody will have the nerve to suggest banning footage of police brutality from the social media.

Source: George Floyd: Jury finds Derek Chauvin guilty of murder – BBC News

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Red faces over ‘RedThroat’ as reporters line up to say Greensill leaks were NOT from Labour mole

David Cameron: there are genuine concerns about his conduct on behalf of Greensill – so why is a columnist for a Tory rag trying to make trouble for the whistleblowers?

The trouble with Dan Hodges’ assertion that a Labour Party mole leaked embarrassing information about the Greensill scandal is that a falsehood can go around the world before the facts have got their boots on.

In this case, the refutations have come fast – and there have been a lot of them – but the implication that this huge scandal has been fabricated by Labour will undoubtedly be taken up by the Tory-supporting trolls for use in the future.

Here’s Hodges:

In the article, he writes:

‘It’s pretty clear we’ve got a Labour mole inside Government,’ a Minister tells me. ‘There were suspicions before the Greensill affair, but this has basically confirmed it. It’s the only explanation for where all this stuff is coming from.’

Alternatively…

Tim Fenton, over on Zelo Street, has described the Tory frenzy to find Labour moles as “Amateur hour at the paranoia bar” and his article is well worth reading.

Even Gabriel Pogrund over at The Sunday Times, who seems to hate Labour so much that he published lies about This Writer (for which the paper later had to publish a humiliatingly-lengthy retraction), had to agree that Hodges is wrong here:

I wonder whether this is a thinly-veiled attempt to unmask the alleged moles, so the Tories can root them out of Whitehall.

If so, it is to be resisted.

Tory corruption is rampant and they are hardly likely to broadcast their misdeeds willingly.

We need whistleblowers in Whitehall to tell us what these people are really doing with our money.

We should not sit back and allow them to be punished for their honesty.

Of course, Hodges won’t take any punishment for publishing a falsehood.

Undoubtedly his article has boosted sales/reads of his rag, the Mail on Sunday.

As an ex-newspaper hack, This Writer can assure you that such a boost was all that its bosses wanted.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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