Racism and Abuse on Twitter

Racism and Abuse on Twitter
Twitter CEO faces Prison; Still Lets Criminals Run Amok on Twitter
by Sue Basko, esq

Update: July 15, 2013: Twitter has finally turned over to the French court the Twitter account information to help identify users who were posting anti-Semitic tweets.  French groups want the offending Twitter users to be prosecuted.  Earlier, Twitter's lawyers had incorrectly argued that Twitter was not subject to French law or French courts, but only to U.S. courts.    Perhaps the reported fact that Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was facing 3 years in a French prison for defying the French court order may have finally spurred him on to getting some solid legal advice.
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Racists have run amok on Twitter. The Twitter Legal and Safety departments have come up with "solutions" that leave the site and its users violating laws in every nation and have everyone, racists and their victims alike, dissatisfied.  The problem  seems to stem from a basic lack of understanding of law and practicalities.  Twitter ought to take a practical clue from better-established Social Media, or at least bother to read up on internet law.

It's time for Twitter to face that there are some malicious people who are not qualified to use a communications device like Twitter, because of their tendency to disrespect the rights of others.  As the saying goes, some people just don't know how to internet.

French Jewish student union filed a $50 million lawsuit against Twitter and Dick Costolo, its CEO, for failing to reveal the identity of those widely posting a racist hashtag.  Earlier negotiations had resulted (finally) in Twitter removing the offensive tweets.  Still, Twitter refused to reveal the contact information it had on the offending accounts.

Then, a court ordered Twitter and Mr. Costolo to reveal the names; they have thus far refused.  It has been reported that Mr Costolo now faces 3 years in prison for his failure to obey this court order.  Granted, that's three years in a French prison, where he may be given croissants and red wine.  While we wish prison on no one, the soon-to-be Monsieur Costolo has refused to take the helm and change Twitter to make it socially and legally responsible.  Peut-être qu'il a besoin d'être envoyé en prison.  Avec croissants.

NOTE: I have been harassed and stalked on Twitter by a vulgar, disgusting group of neo-Nazi racists, which I have written about elsewhere.  The group and its members and supporters have posted literally thousands of racist, stalking, mocking,  harassing, threatening, and /or obscene tweets @ me or using my name. They have also created harassment accounts using my name and photo, posted death threats, and posted nonstop defamation.  Through this terrible experience, I've become a bit of an expert on Twitter's deficiencies in handling such anti-social people and their vile postings.

Twitter has become a minefield.  Twitter allows certain malicious users to post lots of hate toward Jews and Blacks and women.  Twitter does not remove the content.  That seems to be the crux of the problem.  Twitter refuses to remove death threats, taunts, obscenity, malicious attacks, and other disgusting tweets.   Twitter may eventually suspend the account,  which  means delete the account. The same malicious user will simply start a new account.  I have watched it happen dozens of times.  Instead, Twitter should be removing the offensive material immediately and getting injunctions to keep repeat abusers off Twitter. Twitter cannot simply ban IPs, since the abusers tend to use VPNs.

Twitter also has an inane policy of allowing malicious users to create accounts in the name of others.  This is illegal under California law, yet Twitter, located in California, blatantly ignores the law.  This same group of racist stalker/ harassers that I described above created dozens of accounts using my name and/ or photo. I am not a public figure or elected official, where making such an account might be allowed under the First Amendment.  I am a private person.  I do not even know my attackers and have never had any dealings whatever with them.  They are socially-deficient people who enjoy stalking victims for fun.   Most of the ones I have learned about are, in fact, already convicted criminals, and the others are knee-deep in illegal and antisocial activity.  Some have a history as serious mental patients.  Some openly abuse drugs or alcohol. The ones I have come to learn about are widely loathed, except by those in their little group of offenders.  They create many sock puppet accounts, so they have "people" agreeing with their malicious behaviors.   It's a hate-support group.  Why does Twitter allow them to defame, stalk, harass others who are not even part of their group?   Twitter has a problem.

The proof is in the pudding.  Normal people who respect others do not need to post @ others or use others' names when they know their tweets are not welcome.  Normal people are not "members" of groups whose main purpose is to show hate toward other racial or religious groups.

Twitter also has a problem with users linking to illegal content, in fact, running criminal operations on Twitter.  There are sites that specialize in posting peoples' personal information in order to make them easy prey for hackers, thieves, stalkers, swatters, rapists, murderers, etc.  This is called doxing or d0xing.  Such information is sold in bundles on tor.  These sites link through on Twitter.  Want to get one of these Twitter accounts removed?  You can file a Twitter Abuse Report, but Twitter requires you to check a box agreeing that your complaint may be shown to the criminals. Are you likely to become the victim of  greatly expanded attacks by these criminals as payback for filing a complaint? Of course. Twitter has suspended (removed) accounts that link to such materials, but the users immediately start new accounts.  Twitter needs to have such people arrested or go into court and have them permanently enjoined from using Twitter.

Twitter allows users to post or link peoples' social security numbers so their identities might be stolen, their addresses so they might be attacked, their IP addresses so they might be dos'd, knocked offline, or their computers rooted. Twitter allows graphic death threats. I have the proof.  I have the screen shots and the idiotic responses from "Twitter Safety."

Twitter also allows abusive users to post obscenity and revenge porn against others.  Again, Twitter fails to remove the content.  This is ludicrous.  Twitter also fails to permanently ban these bad users.  This is a fact.  A young man in the group attacking me created an obscene picture using my photo, which he stole off my website. Twitter repeatedly refused to remove the picture, even as I made Twitter Abuse report after report.  How is it in accord with Twitter "standards" that this man took my photo and turned it extraordinarily, shockingly obscene and posted it?  This is what Twitter "Safety" is all about -- encouraging abuse and crime.   Twitter eventually suspended the young man's account. The young man simply made a new account, which he still has.

Twitter aids, abets, and supports criminal acts.  It cannot be denied.  I love Twitter. But I have thousands of screen shots of criminal acts committed against me on Twitter, and hundreds of inane replies from the Twitter crew about how the crime does not violate Twitter "standards." Twitter is engaged in supporting organized, planned crime.  It seems inevitably just a matter of time before Twitter will be in a U.S. court on a RICO civil complaint or criminal charge.

Twitter also allows accounts that link to sites that are used for extortion.  I don't want to give publicity to such sites, but they were created by some of the same malicious users doing the other things mentioned in this essay.  The sites are used to degrade, harass, humiliate, defame, and shame people who are, for whatever reason, disliked by the racist, sexist, hate-filled people who run the sites.  In other words, basically anyone who is a decent human is likely to be targeted to have pages filled with lies, obscenity, and disrespect aimed at them. And Twitter allows accounts that link to these things. And if any of the victims wish to complain using a Twitter Abuse Report, Twitter requires the victim to agree to allow Twitter to show the complaint to the predator.  Twitter sets up the victims for increased abuse.

The same goes for death threats on Twitter. Twitter does not remove the threats.  Twitter shows the Abuse Reports to the predators, who then create more and ever more vicious abuse. Finally Twitter suspends the account, and the predator creates a new account and starts again.  

Twitter claims that it does not mediate content and that it wants to be a communications platform.  Every major communications platform eventually finds that, if it wants to thrive and survive, it must remove abusive content and ban abusive users.  It's just how it is.  The major newspapers have figured this out with their online Comments sections.   Intelligent discourse ends when a Comments section allows online  predators to harass and stalk other users.  Most of these news outlets got smart, and now require a link up with a Facebook or Google+ account, and quickly remove content that attacks other users.   Youtube figured it out and now has a policy of quick and easy removal of anything that uses another's name or likeness.  Facebook is figuring it out.  Myspace learned it the hard way, by having most decent users flee.  Twitter has not learned it yet and seems to deny it.  

The abusive Twitter users harass others and tend to be very aggressive in their hate-filled and offensive attacks.  When a Social Media platform refuses to police itself,  the decent and respectful users shy away, and so do advertisers.  Twitter is now pushing sales of advertisements.  Who wants their ad on a platform that a group of malicious users are using to run criminal operations, racism, and stalking?
Twitter's failure to remove the offending tweets promptly does everyone a disservice.  The victim continues to be victimized as long as the assaultive material remains.  The perpetrators fail to be taught what is acceptable and what is not.  My Twitter attackers are neo-Nazis, and openly admit to hating "Jews and niggers," and thus, are obviously socially stunted.  As a well-educated and socialized person, I find it incomprehensible what sort of background leads to such enclosed thinking and such malicious action.  I assume my attackers are uneducated and socially unworldly.  

 One cannot go too far in the modern world of school or work, being a white person who calls people "niggers" or "filthy Jew cunt."   However, it should not be assumed my attackers, and others like them,  are unteachable.  Their hate will likely forever fill their hearts, but they might be taught that it is socially unacceptable and how to behave in relation to others.  Why is Twitter nursing their dangerous antisocial behavior?  What is behind this?  I am really curious.   

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives immunity to Twitter for torts enacted by its users.  However, Section 230 does not immunize Twitter for aiding or abetting the criminal acts of its users.  The French Student Union has stated that Twitter is welcoming the criminal racist attacks. I have to agree.  Even if Section 230 were applicable against criminal liability, which it is not, it is a U.S. law and does not apply in Europe.

The criminal culpability of Twitter in the U.S. is palpable.  Much of what I have seen, and been the victim of, violates the harassment and cyberstalking provisions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) or various state laws.  Should Twitter be concerned about its willingness to give a hand to malicious, vicious online stalker/ harassers?  I think so.

Twitter has not amended its Community Standards to make violations of things such as death threats, posting personal information of others, racist attacks, sex attacks, extortion, taunts, obscenity, and  other such dangerous, highly offensive tweets.  By its lack of normal, legal, decent standards, Twitter invites the abusive predators onto Twitter.  Twitter is a place where, on any given day, you can watch people openly planning or engaging in crimes or noxious behaviors.  

Twitter also seems to have confusion about what it means to be a communications platform.  "Free speech" applies between the government and the citizens.  Twitter is a private company and not a party to the U.S. Constitution.  Twitter can most certainly disallow racist hate speech.  One of the racist boys who attacked me with obscenity and non-stop stalking wrote a string of about 40 tweets boldly declaring it his "free speech right" to post obscenity, defamation, and threats at me.   He's just clueless.  Our Constitutional free speech includes no such "rights. "  And even if the Constitutional free speech rights did include such things, which it most certainly does not, Twitter is not the U.S. government. Twitter is a private company looking for advertisers. 

I've had a Twitter account almost since Twitter started, back when it was quite simple.  Since then, Twitter has grown and become a nesting spot for abusers, people who don't know how to internet. Twitter needs to grow up and address this situation.

Is Twitter intentionally aiding crime, or is it through negligence, and does it matter?  A $50 million lawsuit and potential 3 year prison stint for Dick Costolo says it's time for Twitter to get serious.  And  it's possibly high time for Twitter to invest in some real legal advice, instead of the pathetic, joke-worthy situation it now has going at its Legal and Safety department.

How to Make It in Music Today

How to Make It in Music Today
by Sue Basko, esq. 

 “Making it” in music today does not mean the same thing it did in past generations.  Back then, signing a record label deal was a sign of “making it.”  In the meantime, musicians have figured out that most traditional record label contracts constrict their creativity and pay them a pittance for making money for a corporation.  Today there are new types of record labels that may present a more balanced, if less immediately lucrative and flashy, situation. 

Today, “making it” in music means having the skills and connections to pursue music as a career, whether or not significant money is made.  The keys to making it today are the same at any level of financial remuneration.  And here is the list.

How to Make It in Music Today:

1.  Start young.  If you can start playing music and / or singing by age 3, that is great.  Age 17 to 30 is the prime time for developing professional music careers, so you need your basic foundation laid before then.  However, do not try to be a child star.  Instead, spend your early years building a solid foundation of skills.

2.  Own a musical instrument.  Get a piano or keyboard, a guitar, a cello, a flute, a harmonica.  Ask for these things as gifts.  Save up your own money and buy them.  If you want to help someone else become a musician, give them a musical instrument.

3.  Get lessons.  Most great songwriters play piano.  They learn to play piano by taking lessons in childhood.  It is great to have a person teach you, if you can afford this.  If not, pursue anyway.  Your lessons can also be self-taught. There are lessons online and there are also lessons on youtube for free.  There are video lessons and book lessons you can buy or check out of a library. 

4.  Practice every day.  You will only become skilled if you train.  Most good musicians practice 3 to 8 hours per day.

5. Sing.  Even if singing is not your main strength, sing.  If you think of yourself as a singer, get lessons and practice every day.

6.  Write songs. 

7.  Listen to many kinds of music.   This is so easy now with the internet.  Make a point of expanding your listening experience, even if the music is not immediately enjoyable  to you.  Develop an expansive, rather than a limiting, mindset.  Listen to music from many genres, from many regions and cultural groups, from many time eras.  

8.  Learn to play or sing music outside your comfort zone.  Jump into other genres, other languages, try out a new instrument.

9. Get a computer and develop skills you will need for music production and business.  Learn to record, mix, and create music on a computer.  Learn how to make videos and put them up online.  Learn how to make digital photos, web pages, email lists, etc.  The more computer skills you have, the more you can place your music online and promote yourself as a musician.

10.  Become proficient at home recording, mixing, and mastering on a computer.  Learn how to use loops, create and lay music beds.  Look into the great products for creating drum and string tracks.

11.  Learn the basics of music law and business.  Read books and websites on these topics.

12.  Get a good music lawyer early on.  This is crucial.  If you are co-songwriting, get a contract written that reflects your agreement.  If you start or join a band, get a band contract.  Before you sign a contract or agree to anything, have a music lawyer read it.  Do not rely on a manager, parent, or friend to do this for you.  Get a music lawyer.  The effects of signing something bad will often harm you for decades to come.

13.  Do not fall for music scams.  Music scams take a musician’s money in promise for a dream.  These scams can destroy or halt a burgeoning music career.   Have a music lawyer look it over before you agree to it.

14.  Make use of performance opportunities.  The only way to learn how to put on a good show before an audience is through practice.   

15.  Avoid drugs and alcohol.  Eat right and get fit.  Look and feel your best.  Take care of stress and psychological issues early on.  Avoid troublesome people.  The music industry, moreso than ever before, is a business.  You are expected to be on time and in excellent performance shape with totally professional behavior.  Music contracts now include cancellation clauses that can be invoked if a performer starts to have substance abuse, mental, or behavioral issues.  If one of these clauses is invoked against you or at your option, you may also be banned from performing music for a period of time.

16.  Be you.  Try to have any contracts written so you have creative control over your music, songwriting, and appearance.  One of the silliest things I ever saw was when one of my favorite rappers, who makes amazing music and truly clever lyrics that are of the sort that absolutely cannot be played on the radio, signed a deal with a major record label.  Then, the record label people acted surprised that he was writing songs that cannot be played on the radio, when that is the only kind of songs he writes.   What were they thinking?  He should have gotten a deal with a record label that was not trying to change his music, a label that does not rely on radio airplay to promote music. 

17.  Don’t try to be someone else.  If you want to sound like some already famous artist, start a cover band.  That is totally legit and good cover bands get lots of bookings. 

18. Avoid making music your second choice.  If you want to go into music, do not instead go to law school or engineering school as a practical choice and develop a career in that field, telling yourself that you will pursue music later or in addition to this other career.  This almost never happens.  (Yes, you will most likely have to do other things besides music to make money, but launching a major career in a different field means you spend your time and energy on that other career.)

19.  Don’t quit. You may have interruptions, but don’t quit.   The surest way to quit is by selling your musical instruments.  Only sell the instruments if you are upgrading. 

20. Develop an online presence.  However, only put good things online.  Make sure all the videos you put up have good audio.  Make sure all photos convey the right image you are trying to portray.  Avoid profanity or violent images or words.  These mark you as unprofessional and rule you out for most bookings and other opportunities.

21.  Develop a strong sense of gratitude.  Thank people for their help.  Be courteous.   

22. Love what you are doing.  If you love what you are doing, you will attract the right people and opportunities.              

Streamer Journalist Code of Ethics

Streamer Journalist Code of Ethics

This is a Code of Ethics for journalists who work as live streamers at events such as protests.  It originated in the Occupy movement.  It was written by @Cross_X-Bones, a highly experienced streamer journalist from Occupy Los Angeles.  He got input from @PMBeers, who has covered a tremendous number of Occupy events, including overnight camping occupations on the streets of Los Angeles.  Also contributing was @Rebelutionary_Z of Chicago, who has streamed protests in Chicago and nationwide, including 2012 NATO in Chicago.  The document itself can be found below and also at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nwX_bLxV1hZU93YGtwx-6ijU1B7Ojq36ZVwZHBuPvn4/edit

As you read the Code of Ethics, please notice the care and detail that have gone into it.  Live streamers are a crucial element of today's Freedom of Assembly.  The live streamers provide a witnessing element so those not present can participate. They also give a protective element in providing evidence of what really happened.  Live streamer footage has been used in numerous court cases nationwide as evidence for the defendants.  Live streamers are truly independent media makers.  

Live streamer footage provided much evidence for the U.S. leg of the  OSCE ODIHR Report on Monitoring of Freedom of Peaceful Assembly in Selected OSCE Participating States May 2011- June 2012.  This is a study with which I assisted.   In the U.S., the study covered the 2012 NATO Protest in Chicago, the 2012 G8 Protest near Camp David in Maryland, Occupy Wall Street New York City, Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Oakland, and Occupy Chicago.  In each location, ample video footage was provided by live streamers, making this perhaps the first study of human rights in protest that was backed up by audio and video live on-site documentation.

The importance of live streamers to human rights in public assembly cannot be overstated.  Live streamers are crucial to our democracy and freedoms.  These people have voluntarily undertaken this important role in our society.  They do so at their own expense and with the help of donations from viewers.  Below are the Guidelines they have set out for themselves.  You will see they expect a lot of themselves and their fellow live streamers.   

Streamer Journalist
Code of Ethics
The act of streaming may be used for journalism, documentation of controversial events or for entertainment purposes. Streaming can provide personal protection when involved in situations that may have legal implications. Those engaged in one or more of these activities may be a considered a Streamer or a Citizen Journalist. Due to the many categories of streaming, as well as differing journalistic styles, which may include advocacy journalism and gonzo journalism, the technique is sometimes treated with contempt by law enforcement as well as the traditional journalistic community.
One who is claiming to be a Streamer Journalist needs to operate under the established journalistic framework despite possibly using streaming for other purposes. It would behoove a Streamer Journalist to adhere to a code of ethics to that will establish a recognized credibility.
The rise of Streamer Journalism represent a need for public information in a journalistic landscape that is either unable or refuses to report on relevant events in an unedited way. Complete coverage of under-reported news is needed in order for a free, open, transparent and fair society to exist. Streamer Journalists therefore must hold themselves to the highest journalistic standards when streaming or reporting on events and should do so with the principles of Vigilance, Honesty, Fairness, Courage, Compassion, Respect, Integrity, Accountability and Humility.
This document represents a Code of Ethics that adherents can uniformly adopt to insure journalistic credibility as well as a framework under which one can make ethical decisions.
Principle of Vigilance
Vigilance keeps the Streamer's news reporting relevant.
Streamers should:
  • Be clear about what is verifiable information, and what is speculation. Information moves quickly, but so do rumors.
  • State sources of information so that they may be independently verified.
  • Give the public open access to governmental and authority conduct.
  • Persist in holding those with power accountable for their actions.
  • Seek truth no matter where it lies, but do so with respect, and compassion.
Principle of Honesty
Honesty helps the Streamer build credibility.
Streamers should:
  • Represent biases truthfully to give proper context.
  • Avoid highlighting, editing, or recording footage in a way that removes proper context, or distorts events.
  • Make a clear distinction between advocacy, opinion, and news. This clarifies the context with which such comments should be understood. Do not misrepresent which is being given.
  • Properly attribute all broadcasted or mirrored footage. Only use this footage based on the licensing terms of originator.
  • Keep all journalistic promises.
  • Visibly show when streaming video or audio in all but the most extreme circumstances. If hiding streaming, make sure that the reason for doing so is made clear.
  • Cover a diverse set of opinions during an event even if those opinions are not popular.
Principle of Fairness
Fairness allows a Streamer to protect credibility by acknowledging bias.
Streamers should:
  • Recognize differences in values and keep from judging other's values.
  • Give equal opportunity to unofficial sources of information to be heard.
  • Avoid loaded language and belittling commentary, and let facts stand for themselves.
  • Avoid stereotypes, especially in regards to race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, economic or social status, and political or ideological beliefs.
Principle of Courage
Courage helps keep the Streamer's news noble.
Streamers should:
  • Report honestly in the face of coercion.
  • Balance a need for personal protection with the need to report on events which may be physically, emotionally, or mentally threatening.
  • Stand up for journalistic principles and ethics.
  • Protect sources from intimidation.
Principle of Compassion
Compassion helps keep the Streamer's news reporting viable.
Streamers should:
  • Be compassionate to those who may be negatively affected in the course of covering the news. Be even more sensitive to those who may be emotionally compromised in understanding the events in which they are exposed to, especially children and the mentally ill.
  • Be aware of the impact that the presence of a stream may have on those grieving or dealing with tragic events.
  • Be understanding when reporting on issues that may cause harm or make others feel uncomfortable.
  • Avoid getting information that is not news worthy when it's only function is entertainment at the expense of others. In the course of covering news one may capture personal moments that are unrelated to the event. Under these circumstances editing archived coverage may be permissible.

Principle of Respect
Respect allows a Streamer continued access to communities, organizations, and individuals.
Streamers should:
  • Encourage open discourse, even when the views may seem difficult to agree with.
  • Respect a source’s wishes to be anonymous, but be aware of the source's possible motives.
  • Be respectful by not identifying a victim of a crime unless allowed to do so. Especially if this may cause them unwanted attention or trauma.
  • Refrain from identifying or accusing someone, by name, who may be involved in illegal activities, especially prior to formal charges being made. Use aliases or identifying characteristics instead.
  • Respect the private individual's rights to privacy over those who are in power or act as public representatives.
  • Balance an individual’s right to a fair treatment and the need to inform the public.
  • Respect the right to privacy for those who are receiving medical treatment.
Principle of Integrity
Integrity allows a Streamer to operate without destroying credibility.
Streamers should:
  • Openly and quickly disclose potential or real conflicts of interest. Avoid all unnecessary conflicts of interest.
  • Be transparent and reveal biases when involved in actions, activities, and associations  which may cause others to questions journalistic intentions.
  • Disclose all gifts, favors, free travel, donations when contributed by individuals or organizations whenever possible as they could hurt credibility by representing a conflict of interest.
  • Be honest about any political involvement, public office, community organizations or activism, as these may be conflicts of interest.
  • Disclose all unavoidable conflicts of interest honestly and in a timely manner.
  • Refuse all gifts, favors, free travel, donations when contributed by individuals or organizations if there is an expectation of special treatment or influence by those entities.
  • Be careful when discussing equipment or services being used. This can appear to be advertising. Be clear if sponsored to use equipment or services, or if preferences exist for one over another. Refrain from saying negative things about another product or service.
  • Be transparent about paying or giving favors to sources for information.
Principle of Accountability
Accountability assures participants, viewers, and sources that a Streamer holds true to all principles.
Streamers should:
• Provide all raw live footage in an open-source manner.
• Give explanations and invite participation on your stream and through other means about journalistic conduct.
• Encourage and listen to public grievances against the news. Try to improve when possible.
• Admit mistakes in a timely, honest, and open manner.
• Reveal any unethical institutional journalistic practices, but also try to hold to the highest standards in all journalistic actions. Do so with an eye toward restorative justice.
Principle of Humility
Humility provides a Streamer a continued place in the emerging social media news community.
Streamers should:
• Acknowledge the contributions of sources, participants, viewers, and other journalists.
• Balance the need for competition with the need for cooperation.
• Not overstate accomplishments.
• Help others learn about the streaming medium.