Extremists exploit a loophole in social moderation: Podcasts – The Associated Press6 min read

https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-conspiracy-theories-media-misinformation-social-media-b7bb0ace8a617af733357f6ee15aca03

The day before the Capitol riot, a more popular podcast, X22 Report, spoke with confidence about a Trump second term, described that Trump would need to “eliminate” numerous members of Congress to advance his plans, and stated “We the people, we are the storm, and were coming to DC.”Both are available on Apple and Google podcast platforms.Podcasting “plays an especially outsized role” in propagating white supremacy, said a 2018 report from the Anti-Defamation League. Apple and Spotify are the dominant players in the U.S., with other gamers far behind, stated Dave Zohrob, CEO of the podcast analytics firm Chartable. Despite its name recognition, Google stays a tiny presence.Spotify stated it takes down podcasts that violate its policies versus hate speech, copyright violations or break any laws, using “human and algorithmic detection measures” to determine infractions. Apple did not reply to repeated questions about its content guidelines or moderation.Google declined to discuss the discrepancy between whats offered on YouTube and whats on Google Podcasts, saying just that its podcast service “indexes audio readily available on the web” much the way its search engine indexes web pages.

Major social platforms have been splitting down on the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories in the leadup to the presidential election, and expanded their efforts in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. However Apple and Google, amongst others, have actually left open a significant loophole for this product: Podcasts.Podcasts made offered by the 2 Big Tech companies let you tune into the world of the QAnon conspiracy theory, wallow in President Donald Trumps false claims of a stolen election and bask in other extremism. Accounts that have been banned on social media for election misinformation, threatening or bullying, and breaking other rules also still live on as podcasts readily available on the tech giants platforms.Conspiracy theorists have marketed stolen-election dreams, coronavirus conspiracies and violent rhetoric. One podcaster, RedPill78, called the Capitol siege a “staged event” in a Jan. 11 episode of Red Pill News. The day prior to the Capitol riot, a more popular podcast, X22 Report, spoke with confidence about a Trump 2nd term, described that Trump would need to “remove” many members of Congress to further his strategies, and stated “We the people, we are the storm, and were coming to DC.”Both are readily available on Apple and Google podcast platforms.Podcasting “plays a particularly outsized function” in propagating white supremacy, stated a 2018 report from the Anti-Defamation League. Many white supremacists, like QAnon adherents, assistance Trump. Podcastings an intimate, humanizing mode of communication that lets extremists expound on their concepts for hours at a time, stated Oren Segal of ADLs Center on Extremism.Elsewhere on social networks, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have actually been splitting down on accounts magnifying unfounded QAnon declares that Trump is combating deep state enemies and cannibals operating a child-sex trafficking ring. A significant talk radio company, Cumulus, informed its hosts to tone down rhetoric about taken elections and violent uprisings or risk termination, although its not clear what impact that dictate has had.Google-owned YouTube axed “Bannons War Room,” a channel run by Trump patriot Steve Bannon on Jan. 8 after he spread false election claims and required the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious-disease professional. Podcast variations of Bannons show live on at Apple and Google. Spotify took it down in November, according to one of its hosts. “Podcasts filled with hatred and incitement to violence ought to not be treated any in a different way than any other material,” Segal said. “If youre going to take a strong stance versus hate and extremism in the platform in any method, it ought to be all-inclusive.”Apple, Spotify and Google curate lists of top podcasts and advise them to users. Apple and Spotify are the dominant gamers in the U.S., with other gamers far behind, said Dave Zohrob, CEO of the podcast analytics firm Chartable. In spite of its name recognition, Google remains a tiny presence.Spotify said it takes down podcasts that violate its policies versus hate speech, copyright infractions or break any laws, using “human and algorithmic detection procedures” to identify violations. Apples standards prohibit material that is illegal or promotes violence, graphic sex or drugs or is “otherwise considered obscene, objectionable, or in bad taste.” Apple did not respond to duplicated questions about its material guidelines or moderation.Google decreased to explain the disparity between whats readily available on YouTube and whats on Google Podcasts, stating just that its podcast service “indexes audio readily available online” much the way its search engine indexes web pages. The company stated it gets rid of podcasts from its platform “in really uncommon scenarios, largely guided by regional law.”X22 Report and Bannons War Room were No. 20 and No. 32 on Apples list of top podcasts on Friday. (Experts say that list determines a podcasts momentum rather than overall listeners.) X22 Report stated in October that it was suspended by YouTube and Spotify and recently by Twitter. Its no longer offered on Facebook, either. It is supported by advertisements for items such as survivalist food, unlicensed food supplements and gold coins, which run before and during the podcasts.The website for Red Pill News stated YouTube banned its videos in October and that a Twitter suspension followed. The podcast is offered on Apple and Google, however not Spotify.Several QAnon supporters impacted by the crackdown sued YouTube in October, calling its actions a “huge de-platforming.” Amongst the plaintiffs are X22 Report, RedPill78 and David Hayes, who runs another conspiracy podcast called Praying Medic thats available on Apple and Google, however not Spotify.Melody Torres, who podcasts at SoulWarrior Uncensored, self-identifies as a longtime QAnon fan and stated in a recent episode that her podcast is “simply my way of not being censored.” She stated she was kicked off Twitter in January and booted from Instagram four times last year. She presently has Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts; her podcast is available on Apple and Google. It was no longer available on Spotify late Friday after The Associated Press asked about it.X22 Report, RedPill78 and Hayes did not respond to requests for remark sent out through their websites. Torres did not respond to a Facebook message.Podcasts struggle with the exact same false information problem as other platforms, said Shane Creevey, head of editorial for Kinzen, a startup created by former Facebook and Twitter executives that provides a disinformation tracker to companies, including some that host or curate podcasts.Creevey explain that its harder to examine misinformation from video and audio than from text. Podcasts can likewise run for hours, making them hard to keep an eye on. And podcasting has extra obstacles in that there are no reliable stats on their audience, unlike a YouTube stream, which shows views, or a tweet or Facebook post, which shows likes and shares, Creevey said.But some argue that tech-company small amounts is nontransparent and irregular, producing a new set of problems. Censorship “goes with the tide against whats popular in any given moment,” stated Jillian York, a specialist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights group. Right now, she said, “that tide protests the speech of right-wing extremists … but tomorrow the tide might be against opposition activists.” ___ AP Technology Editor David Hamilton added to this article.

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