Sen Klobuchar proposes bill to help social media channel misinformation

Broadband Breakfast reports

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, introduced a bill Thursday that would remove online platforms’ Section 230 liability protections when the platforms are used to spread misinformation about coronavirus vaccines or other public-health emergencies.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online platforms like Facebook and Twitter from civil liability for third-party content posted on their platforms. The measure has come under intense scrutiny over the past year, with prominent figures from both major political parties calling for reform.

Klobuchar said she decided to pursue new legislation because previous attempts to persuade Facebook to regulate the content have not been successful, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Interesting to hear some of the reasoning…

The bill’s introduction cites a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which says that only 12 social media pages are responsible for a significant amount of false information being circulated about vaccines.

Last week, President Joe Biden said that Facebook was “killing people” by spreading misinformation about coronavirus vaccines. Biden later clarified his statement, saying that he wasn’t accusing the company of murder, but wanted them to “do something about the misinformation.”

The following day, Facebook rejected Biden’s criticism in a blog post, saying that 85 percent of its U.S. users either want to be or already have been vaccinated, citing this as evidence that Facebook was not the reason Biden’s goal of a 70 percent vaccination goal by July was not Facebook’s fault. Facebook said it was helping efforts to vaccinate the country by operating vaccine clinics in low-income communities in several states.

Blandin Broadband Lunch Bunch Digital Ready Communities Notes and Video

Thanks so much to everyone who came to the Lunch Bunch today and especially to Annie Cruz-Porter, Calla Jarvie and Emily Del Real for coming to talk about the Digital Ready Communities program. One fun offshoot of the Fall Broadband conference was that three Minnesota communities were able to work as pilots with the program at Purdue University. Today we got to loop back with the program and partners.

This is a fascinating program that helps communities focus on how folks in a community are connecting with each other and the outside world, especially online. It includes a assessment, a survey and creating a team to be more purposeful about building local, trusted channels for communication as well as creating a message that promotes the community to the outside world.

Register for future Lunches: Upcoming May 12 and May 26

And here’s the chat Continue reading

EVENT April 28: Blandin Broadband Lunch Bunch Digital Ready Communities

Just a reminder for folks that this conversation is happening on Wednesday. Should be a good one…

Digital Ready Communities (Apr 28 noon to 1pm CST)

Join us April 28 for our lunch bunch on Digital Ready Communities. As part of the Fall Broadband Conference, three MN communities participated in Purdue University Center for Regional Development’s Digital Ready Community program that helps communities assess the local digital environment and create a community-wide plan for better local digital communication. (Learn more.) We will be hearing from participants (Calla Bjorklund Jarvie from Rock County) and Annie Cruz-Porter from Purdue. Please come with questions and prepare to learn from their learning. Register here.

Judge, Jury and Facebook?

Yesterday former police officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of third degree murder of George Floyd. The deliberation was quick, but many, especially in Minneapolis had been planning for months. Planning for any outcome. Apparently Facebook was planning too. The Los Angeles Times reports…

As lawyers for both sides offered their closing statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin on Monday, a thousand miles away, executives at Facebook were preparing for the verdict to drop. …

As precautions, Facebook said it would “remove Pages, groups, Events and Instagram accounts that violate our violence and incitement policy,” and would also “remove events organized in temporary, high-risk locations that contain calls to bring arms.” It also promised to take down content violating prohibitions on “hate speech, bullying and harassment, graphic violence, and violence and incitement,” as well as “limit the spread” of posts its system predicts are likely to later be removed for violations.

This led to people asking why they don’t patrol the platform all of the time…

“Hate is an ongoing problem on Facebook, and the fact that Facebook, in response to this incident, is saying that it can apply specific controls to emergency situations means that there is more that they can do to address hate, and that … for the most part, Facebook is choosing not to do so,” said Daniel Kelley, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology and Society.

“It’s really disheartening to imagine that there are controls that they can put in place around so-called ‘emergency situations’ that would increase the sensitivity of their tools, their products, around hate and harassment [generally].”

Facebook seems conflicted. Turns out content that skates around safety norms gets attention and clicks, which is beneficial to Facebook. And they don’t want to interfere with legitimate discussion. They also say they are trying to get ahead of outbreaks of violence. Also…

Another incentive for Facebook to handle the Chauvin verdict with extreme caution is to avoid feeding into the inevitable criticism of its impending decision about whether former President Trump will remain banned from the platform. Trump was kicked off earlier this year for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots; the case is now being decided by Facebook’s third-party oversight committee.

Facebook isn’t the only platform doing this. It highlights the importance of social media platforms and the broadband and skills to use them.

The George Floyd conviction was made possible with the video taken by Darnell Frazier and shared all over the world. Supporters have been mobilized by social media from day one, we got word of protests and rallies from social media. We watched rallies we couldn’t attend via social media, citizen journalism and organizations such as Unicorn Riot, who livestream events via social media. Standing outside of the courtroom yesterday, we heard the verdict, in small groups huddled over cell phones from video streaming from the courtroom.

Social media is here to stay in one form or another.

Who is using which social media? Facebook and YouTube are winners but there are some others

Pew Research reports…

Despite a string of controversies and the public’s relatively negative sentiments about aspects of social media, roughly seven-in-ten Americans say they ever use any kind of social media site – a share that has remained relatively stable over the past five years, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults.

The chart shows that YouTube and Facebook continue to be the forerunners but…

Even as other platforms do not nearly match the overall reach of YouTube or Facebook, there are certain sites or apps, most notably Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, that have an especially strong following among young adults. In fact, a majority of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram (71%) or Snapchat (65%), while roughly half say the same for TikTok.

These findings come from a nationally representative survey of 1,502 U.S. adults conducted via telephone Jan. 25-Feb.8, 2021.

The demographics is interesting, especially if you are looking to reach a specific demographic. The chart shows demographics of users …

MN Senate introduces SF1253 a bill to prohibit social media bans

Senators Chamberlain, Mathews, Ruud, Kiffmeyer and Gazelka introduce:

SF1253 – Online content discrimination prohibition and civil action authorization

Here’s the full text…

A bill for an act relating to civil law; prohibiting online content discrimination; authorizing civil action; proposing coding for new law as Minnesota Statutes, chapter 363B.



Continue reading

The 411 on the proposed Sec. 230 rewrite (trying to rein in social media)

Ars Technica tackles Section 230 proposed reform, including the intentions of the authors and the various loopholes and unintended consequences that could follow. It’s an interesting read; I’m only including the introduction…

A trio of Democratic Senators has taken this administration’s first stab at Section 230 reform with a new bill that would make platforms, including giants such as Facebook and Twitter, liable for certain limited categories of dangerous content. Unfortunately, although the bill’s authors try to thread a tricky needle carefully, critics warn that bad-faith actors could nonetheless easily weaponize the bill as written against both platforms and other users.

The bill (PDF), dubbed the SAFE TECH Act, seeks not to repeal Section 230 (as some Republicans have proposed) but instead to amend it with new definitions of speakers and new exceptions from the law’s infamous liability shield.

“A law meant to encourage service providers to develop tools and policies to support effective moderation has instead conferred sweeping immunity on online providers even when they do nothing to address foreseeable, obvious and repeated misuse of their products and services to cause harm,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who introduced the bill. “This bill doesn’t interfere with free speech—it’s about allowing these platforms to finally be held accountable for harmful, often criminal behavior enabled by their platforms to which they have turned a blind eye for too long.”

Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also co-sponsored the bill.

The topic is wonky – a fine blend of technology and policy but the author explains that a proposed change turns…

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.


No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any speech provided by another information content provider, except to the extent the provider or user has accepted payment to make the speech available or, in whole or in part, created or funded the creation of the speech.

There are some other changes as well..

The proposal also explicitly creates new carve-outs from the “Good Samaritan” liability shield that protects platforms from lawsuits. Users would be able to file lawsuits for injunctive relief (i.e., a court order requiring someone to stop doing something) for unmoderated material that “is likely to cause irreparable harm.” Basically, if someone is harassing you on Twitter, and every report to Twitter about the offending tweets is returned with a version of “this doesn’t violate our guidelines,” you could in theory go to court to demand Twitter take the harassing posts down.

SAFE TECH also adds a litany of new exceptions to the section of the law that governs how it interacts with other laws, adding civil rights laws; antitrust laws; stalking, harassment, or intimidation laws; international human rights law; and wrongful death actions to the list of laws on which Sec. 230 has no effect.

The “red-lined” version of the bill (PDF) shows where the edits would fit into the current law.

Twitter is looking to crowdsource truthiness

USA Today reports…

Twitter is enlisting its users to help combat misinformation on its service by flagging and notating misleading and false tweets.

The pilot program unveiled Monday, called Birdwatch, allows a preselected group of users – for now, only in the U.S. – who sign up through Twitter. Those who want to sign up must have a U.S.-based phone carrier, verified email and phone number, and no recent Twitter rule violations.

Twitter said it wants both experts and non-experts to write Birdwatch notes. It cited Wikipedia as a site that thrives with non-expert contributions.

“In concept testing, we’ve seen non-experts write concise, helpful and easy-to-understand notes, often citing valuable expert sources,” the company wrote in a blog post.

I’m glad that they are looking into checks and balances in the system. But I’ve worked as a librarian and I’ve done search engine optimization; they are similar, but not the same. SEO can sell books and a librarian can get you the right book. One is easier to monetize.

How do we make social media safe again?

The Guardian looks at recently highlighted negative use of social media and asks 10 experts in the field what we can do to prevent people from using social media as a tool to spread hate and misinformation. Below are 10 recommendations…

  1. Hire 10,000 librarians for the internet
  2. Fund training for teachers, our ‘informational first responders’. I’ll add that librarian learn how to teach information literacy. It was my favorite class when I was doing my Master’s in Library and Information Science.
  3. Understand the limitations of the first amendment …
  4. … and think beyond the US and Europe
  5. Protect the journalists and researchers who study platforms
  6. Change recommendation algorithms to promote accurate information – and reward those who fight online harms
  7. Implement strong rules against harassment, hate, and harm
  8. Enforce the rules platforms already have
  9. Address the ‘architectural exclusion’ of marginalized communities from platforms
  10. Reform tech’s liability shield to create accountability for the conduct – not speech – of users

I’m going to add more form the final point, since it gets discussed in tech forums already and the Guardian has a nice, succinct description…

Section 230 [the US law that shields tech platforms from liability for third-party content] allows powerful tech companies to invoke the laissez-faire principles of the first amendment to absolve themselves of responsibility for abuse and extremism that flourish on their platforms, undermining the concept of collective responsibility necessary for a functioning society, both online and off. Section 230 should be amended so that online platforms are no longer immunized from liability for the conduct, as opposed to speech, of their users, or when these platforms encourage, profit from, or demonstrate deliberate indifference to harmful content.

I could talk about this for hours – but I’ll let it sit. Making online work safe is as important as making the real world safe and we’ve

Social media being used to identify individuals at US Capitol on Jan 6

Input Magazine reports on an innovative use of social media…

An Instagram account entitled @homegrownterrorists has been set up to identify and track those involved in yesterday’s armed riot that escalated into an attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC. The account has amassed more than 8,000 followers by the time of writing and has created more than 100 posts.

It’s unclear who, exactly, is running the account, which appears to have been created not long after yesterday’s riots began. Most of the page’s posts follow a simple formula: a few photographs of someone present at yesterday’s activities along with a caption pleading for any information at all about the person’s identity. There is also a Cash App link in the account’s bio section, though it includes no identifying information or instructions.

The account has, in its brief existence, already managed to identify a number of those present at the riots. But it’s unclear whether this crowdsourced sleuthing has the potential to provide actual accountability for the crimes committed on January 6 at the Capitol.

Also on Twitter.

Can we change habits with a hashtag? #MaskUpMN

The connection to broadband is tenuous here – except it’s a great use of technology to help keep our businesses open and our people healthy! Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has started a social media campaign – #MaskUpMN…

With COVID-19 cases surging in other states, and with the busy Fourth of July weekend ahead of us, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect your customers and your employees. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage customers to wear masks. The Walz-Flanagan Administration is helping businesses spread the word that by masking up, your customers are helping your business stay open.

We invite you to participate in the #MaskUpMN campaign this weekend to raise awareness that the best way we can keep our economy open is to wear masks. …

But masks are more than just a courtesy – they are the most effective tool we have against the spread of COVID-19. CDC recommends that you wear a cloth mask over your nose and mouth in restaurants, bars and all other public places where it is hard to stay 6 feet away from others. The Minnesota Department of Health offers up-to-date guidance on when and how to wear a mask here.

As Minnesota makes progress towards fully reopening the economy, we’ve continued to release updated guidance on best safe practices for businesses. From protocol for managing occupancy to general food safety, you can find stay safe guidance for businesses and organizations here.

They even offer a few suggestions, I’ll include my fave…

Please share the following social media messaging on your channels and encourage your networks to celebrate safely this holiday weekend. We’ve also provided some graphics to accompany these posts, which you can find here.

  • Happy Fourth of July, Minnesota! This weekend, please remember to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep your friends, family and neighbors safe. #MaskUpMN

This might be a message readers can share with their constituents, clients and favorite businesses.

Minnesota Children’s Press Story Scouts use Instagram to encourage COVID precautions in the community

Happy to share a sun story from Anne Brataas in Grand Marais about the Story Scouts, young  writers, editors, artists, community historians and more in grades 4-12. Anne works with these kids on interesting projects – such as making tourists feel welcome and promote good health with Instagram.

This week, the Minnesota Children’s Press’ (MCP) Story Scouts group in Cook County rolled out an Instagram feed that has a community focus of gentle, friendly positive health messaging to build positive community revival of their summer tourist industry, while teaching kids practical communication skills.

Story Scouts are working with MCP mentors to create signage and posters; some inspired by Burma-Shave! They are documenting project on Instagram. They have already received some good press and have plans to expand the signage.

Can broadband ring in a rural renaissance? If not, why not? #Rural2pt0

Spirit of full disclosure – I think Roberto Gallardo is inspiring. He spoke at the Minnesota Broadband conference last fall. I love the idea of the digital era making way for a rural renaissance. So I wanted to share a piece of work he did recently (but recommend you check out the whole article), which was reprinted in the Daily Yonder and I wanted to invite folks to start using the hashtag #Rural2pt0 when you share something that feels like rural renaissance in action…

You see, the digital age and its applications has the potential to eliminate density and geographic proximity requirements, that were so critical during the industrial age.

It is possible then, in the digital age, for a rural community to maintain its “rural” feel and continue to leverage its natural amenities while taking advantage of what only dense urban areas enjoyed last century. Things like access to funding (crowdfunding), worldwide markets (e-commerce), savvy employees (teleworkers) and real-time information; collaboration and innovation (videoconferencing and soon mixed reality); certain level of healthcare (telehealth); and educational opportunities (massive open online courses, online certifications).

So, what is in our way to achieve #Rural2pt0?

For starters, ubiquitous ultra-fast internet connectivity. Just like electricity, internet connectivity needs to be everywhere. Data limits need to go. We have a long way to go before reaching parity regarding broadband infrastructure between urban and rural.

Another thing getting in the way to #Rural2pt0 are digital skills. The vast majority of digital savvy workers are located in urban areas. Investments to improve digital skills in rural are lacking, or very inadequate. This needs to change. A digital literate rural society is a must.

Lastly and the most serious challenge, is that the traditional 20th century mindset still exists in rural communities. A change in mindset, that better understands the implications of the digital age, is a key ingredient for #Rural2pt0. This change in mindset can take place through increasing awareness, be it through spreading the word, education, presentations and/or formal or informal conversations helping rural communities transition to, plan for and prosper in the digital age.

Two hackfest events are coming to Bemidji

I’m pleased to share info on these fun events…

A Youth Game Design Challenge
A 2 hour workshop followed by a game design mini-challenge. Enjoy exhibits of cool technology including virtual reality, robotics, and more.
The youth game design challenge schedule is Friday, 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm.

True North Hackfest
A fast-paced event where teams of creatives, coders, programmers, designers, marketers, and alike compete to design and build a technological solution to a perceived problem or need.


LaunchPad – Mayflower Building
April 7 – 7:00 PM – 11:00 PM
April 8 – 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Please visit the True North Hackfest website for more information and to register!

Martin County provides social media training to residents with disabilities

I’m pleased to share a guest post – and curriculum (agenda and details) from Ramona Harper, who has been working with the Martin County BBC initiative on a project with MRCI. MRCI provides employment services and training to individuals with disabilities and/or disadvantages. They are very focused on getting people out into jobs in the community and competitive wages. One of their concerns has been that the people they work with understand that prospective employers can view their social media pages which can affect their hiring decisions. Their instructor, Rita Craven spent time explaining safety and security in a training and open dialogue.   She explained some of the pitfalls, as well as helpful tools or apps to use.   They did 3 sessions with a total of 36 individuals.

Last week MRCI WorkSource Fairmont hosted 3 sessions of free training for 36 participants on internet safety and security. This was funded through a Blandin Foundation grant awarded to Martin County to provide technology training education to its citizens.   Two one hour sessions took place on April 5 and another on April 8.   Instructor Rita Craven went over what is social networking ; risks of using social networks; techniques used by predators; and safety measures you can to use to protect your personal information.   The last part of each session was spent discussing a variety of useful apps such as companion apps ; google maps for walking; games; sports updates; weather apps; Level Money for budgeting; food/health apps; music, camera; “any list” or “ out of milk” apps for grocery shopping; and tools such as flashlight, alarm & pedometer.   Individual participants also shared their thoughts on apps they frequently like to use.

Following the sessions, a few individuals commented on how much they enjoyed learning about this and would like to have similar trainings brought to MRCI Fairmont.

I want to thank Rita Craven for doing a wonderful job in communicating this information to the individuals we work with at MRCI. It was enlightening and well received by all. Kay Wrucke and Diana Scott have both been instrumental in organizing and spreading the good news via several Coffee Connection events throughout our county with instructors John Landsteiner and Rita Craven.   I am grateful that MRCI was able to be a recipient of this recent training.   I also want thank Martin County and the Blandin Foundation for providing the grant that enabled people with disabilities to be included in this county-wide technology training and education project.


Ramona Harper, Branch Manager
MRCI WorkSource – Fairmont