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Climate change deniers banned from Google and YouTube

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Climate Change

For the past decade, a large debate has circulated social media platforms over whether climate change is an actual thing that might reap dire consequences on the world as we know it. While science has stood by climate change, a great number of people still believe none of it exists. 

Well, it looks like YouTube and its parent company Google are standing strong with science, as news broke out that advertisers, publishers, and YouTube creators will no longer be able to monetize content that denies the existence of climate change. 

On Thursday, Google explained the news in a document posted on its official support page, announcing that “a new monetization policy for Google advertisers, publishers and YouTube creators that will prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change.” 

“This includes content referring to climate change as a hoax or a scam, claims denying that long-term trends show the global climate is warming, and claims denying that greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change,” the Google Ads team added. 

The search engine giant noted that it will utilize a mix of automated tools and human reviews to make sure everyone is following the policy. “When evaluating content against this new policy, we’ll look carefully at the context in which claims are made, differentiating between content that states a false claim as fact, versus content that reports on or discusses that claim,” Google said. 

According to the tech giant, ads on climate topics will still circulate only if it insinuates for a public debate on climate policy, research, and other objective areas. 

The change in Google’s regulations against climate change deniers’ marks the search engine’s second big misinformation policy change, following YouTube’s antivaxxers ban.  

Rim is an experienced content writer with a demonstrated history of working in various niche industries.

Ethical Tech

Facebook personnel were asked to restrain news

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Once more, the social networking giant is under the spotlight.

Facebook’s employees have effortlessly acted to restrain right-wing platforms, ignoring managers’ objections to prevent any future political clash on its platform, reported by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

In-house debates between the tech giant’s managers and employees were driven by recent worries that Facebook is inversely dealing with news outlets based on their political stance.

The WSJ’s report highlighted how Facebook dealt with Breitbart’s news, with the titan’s employees pursuing the website’s News Tab function, by removing certain information following protests concerning George Floyd’s death last year.

“I can also tell you that saw drops in trust in CNN 2 years ago: would we take the same approach for them too?” a senior researcher responded after following an employee’s question about removing Breitbart from Facebook.

Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, informed employees that “we need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the upcoming days, I’m afraid.”

Clegg’s statement comes as a follow-up to WSJ’s latest report in a series of groundbreaking blows around Facebook’s way of managing news on its platform, in addition to its ever-growing thirst for profit at the expense of its users.

It seems that voices are rising against the titan’s misconduct towards its users, as a new whistleblower emerged to the scene on Friday and informed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the company has endlessly disregarded worries around spreading hate speech and the infectious rollout of false information out of fear it would jeopardize its monetary growth.

While the new whistleblower’s name has yet to be revealed, the individual submitted the testimony under oath. In addition, the testimony added that one Facebook communications official, Tucker Bunds, perceived hate speech as a “flash in the pan” and went further to say that even though “some legislation will get pissy,” Facebook is “printing money in the basement.”

In parallel, an employee who worked at the company informed The Post that the whistleblower’s statements about Tucker Bounds are truthful.

“That’s how Tucker talks,” the former employee stated.

“The Tucker quote, as much as I disagree with it, really does reflect the attitude during 2017,” he added.

Facebook’s whistleblower Frances Haugen’s statement to the SEC encouraged other employees to come forward and speak against the company’s misconduct to enlarge its financial growth at the expense of its users. At the end of the day, the social networking giant managed to grow its supremacy while operating in the dark.

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Energy crunch hits global recovery as winter approaches

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Power shortages are turning out streetlights and shutting down factories in China. The poor in Brazil are choosing between paying for food or electricity. German corn and wheat farmers can’t find fertilizer, made using natural gas. And fears are rising that Europe will have to ration electricity if it’s a cold winter.

The world is gripped by an energy crunch — a fierce squeeze on some of the key markets for natural gas, oil and other fuels that keep the global economy running and the lights and heat on in homes. Heading into winter, that has meant higher utility bills, more expensive products and growing concern about how energy-consuming Europe and China will recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rising energy costs are another pressure point on businesses and consumers already feeling the pinch of higher prices from supply chain and labor constraints.

The biggest squeeze is on natural gas in Europe, which imports 90% of its supply — largely from Russia — and where prices have risen to five times what they were at the start of the year, to 95 euros from about 19 euros per megawatt hour.

It’s hitting the Italian food chain hard, with methane prices expected to increase sixfold and push up the cost of drying grains. That could eventually raise the price of bread and pasta at supermarkets, but meat and dairy aisles are more vulnerable as beef and dairy farmers are forced to pay more for grain to feed their animals and pass the cost along to customers.

“From October we are starting to suffer a lot,” said Valentino Miotto of the AIRES association that represents the grain sector.

Analysts blame a confluence of events for the gas crunch: Demand rose sharply as the economy rebounded from the pandemic. A cold winter depleted reserves, then the summer was less windy than usual, so wind turbines didn’t generate as much energy as expected. Europe’s chief supplier, Russia’s Gazprom, held back extra summer supplies beyond its long-term contracts to fill reserves at home for winter. China’s electricity demand has come roaring back, vacuuming up limited supplies of liquid natural gas, which moves by ship, not pipeline. There also are limited facilities to export natural gas from the United States.

Costlier natural gas has even pushed up oil prices because some power generators in Asia can switch from using gas to oil-based products. U.S. crude is over $83 per barrel, the highest in seven years, while international benchmark Brent is around $85, with oil cartel OPEC and allied countries cautious about restoring production cuts made during the pandemic.

The crunch is likely short term but it’s difficult to say how long higher fossil fuel prices will last, said Claudia Kemfert, an energy economics expert at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin.

But “the long-term answer that has to be taken out of this is to invest in renewables and energy saving,” she said.

The European Union’s executive commission urged member nations last week to speed up approvals for renewable energy projects like wind and solar, saying the “clean energy transition is the best insurance against price shocks in the future and needs to be accelerated.”

In the meantime, some gas-dependent European industries are throttling back production. German chemical companies BASF and SKW Piesteritz have cut output of ammonia, a key ingredient in fertilizer.

That left Hermann Greif, a farmer in the village of Pinzberg in Germany’s southern Bavaria region, unexpectedly emptyhanded when he tried to order fertilizer for next year.

“There’s no product, no price, not even a contract,” he said. “It’s a situation we’ve never seen before.” One thing is certain: “If I don’t give the crops the food they need, they react with lower yields. It’s as simple as that.”

High energy prices already were hitting the region’s farmers, who need diesel to operate machinery and heat to keep animals warm, said Greif, who grows corn to feed a bioenergy power facility that feeds emission-free energy into the power grid.

Likewise in Italy, the cost of energy to process wheat and corn is expected to go up more than 600% for the three months ending Dec. 31, according to the grain association. That includes turning wheat into flour, and corn into feed for cows and pigs.

Giampietro Scusato, an energy consultant who negotiates contracts for the AIRES association and others, expects the volatility and high prices to persist for the coming year.

High energy prices also seep into bread and pasta production through transport costs and electricity use, which could eventually affect store prices. Dairy and meat sections are especially exposed because prices are low now and farmers may be forced to pass along the higher cost of animal feed to shoppers.

People worldwide also are facing higher utility bills this winter, including in the U.S., where officials have warned home heating prices could jump as much as 54%. Governments in Spain, France, Italy and Greece have announced measures to help low-income households, while the European Union has urged similar aid.

Much depends on the weather. Europe’s gas reserves, usually replenished in summer, are at unusually low levels.

“A cold winter in both Europe and Asia would risk European storage levels dropping to zero,” says Massimo Di Odoardo at research firm Wood Mackenzie.

That would leave Europe dependent on additional natural gas from a just-completed Russian pipeline or on Russian willingness to send more through pipelines across Ukraine. But the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline has not passed regulatory approval in Europe and may not be contributing gas until next year.

Russian suppliers’ decision to sell less gas on spot markets reflects “an intention to put pressure on the early certification of Nord Stream 2,” said Kemfert, the energy economics expert.

In China, outages have followed high prices for coal and gas as electric companies power down amid limits in passing costs to customers or government orders to stay under emission thresholds.

Factories in Jiangsu province, northwest of Shanghai, and Zhejiang in the southeast shut down in mid-September, and dozens warned deliveries might be delayed ahead of the Christmas shopping season.

Chenchen Jewelry Factory in Dongyang, a city in Zhejiang, faced power cuts over 10 days, general manager Joanna Lan said. The factory makes hairbands, stationery and promotional gifts and exports 80% to 90% of its goods to the U.S., Europe and other markets.

Deliveries were delayed “by at least a week,” Lan said. “We had to buy generators.”

The biggest city in the northeast, Shenyang, shut down streetlights and elevators and cut power to restaurants and shops a few hours a day.

China’s gas imports have jumped, but surging demand in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan also helped push up global prices, said Jenny Yang, research manager for the gas, power and energy futures team for China at IHS Markit.

In Brazil, higher gas and oil prices have been compounded by the worst drought in 91 years, which has left hydropower plants unable to supply electricity and more expensive bills.

Rosa Benta, a 67-year-old from a Sao Paulo working-class neighborhood, fears she will no longer be able to provide for her unemployed children and grandkids.

“Several times, (energy company) Enel called me saying I had debt. I told them: ‘I’m not going to stop feeding my son to pay you,'” Benta said outside her concrete house on a steep, narrow street. “If they want to cut the electricity, they can come.”

Benta lives on 1,400 reais (about $250) a month and says she often has to choose between buying gas for cooking or rice and beans.

“I don’t know what we are going to do with our lives,” she said.


GERMANY (AP)

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Ethical Tech

U.S. Senate anti-discrimination bill weighs on Big Tech firms

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On Thursday, a bipartisan entity of senators revealed plans to welcome a nondiscrimination bill as pressure rises on the U.S. Senate to legislate a new set of laws prohibiting tech platforms from preferencing the company’s commodities and services over their rivals.

After months of negotiations and hearings, the Senate has finally spoken, and its latest bill targets global retail giant Amazon.

The American Choice and Innovation Online Act, ushered by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley will forbid Big Tech firms such Apple, Google, and Amazon from abusing their sovereignty to detriment competitor firms that employ their platforms to promote their products.

While the recently legislated bill holds a similar dialect and shares the same name from the Judiciary Committee, the Senate’s version is slightly more distinctive.

“When dominant tech companies exclude rivals and kill competition, it hurts small businesses and can increase costs for YOU,” Klobuchar said in a tweet.

“My new bipartisan legislation with [Grassley] will establish new rules of the road to prevent large companies from boxing out their smaller competitors,” she added.

The legislation news surfaced after Reuters reported Wednesday that the e-commerce titan was abusing marketplace search engine data to replicate famous merchandise and exploit findings leaning towards Amazon’s own replicate products.

In parallel, an examination from The Markup revealed that the retail company positions its commodities before its rivals.

It is worth noting that this isn’t the first time these allegations surfaced. Third-party users have always vocalized their opposition to the way Amazon handles its business. These competitive conducts were a part of an antitrust investigation led by the House for almost a year now.

Apart from Amazon, the bill is also directed at implementing change into Apple and Google’s way of managing their app stores. These tech moguls have excelled at prohibiting other firms from obtaining preference for companies’ first-party apps and software.

The Epic Games butterfly effect

While in this legal case, Apple was the bigger beneficiary from the court’s ruling, yet one thing did not go according to plan for the iPhone parent company, and the same goes for Alphabet’s unit, Google.

Earlier this year, the iOS developer was ordered to permit developers to direct its software developers to send consumers a payment option different than the one extended by Apple. The case that managed to break down the competitive walls the company has set for itself to expand its dominion on the market. 

One month after the U.S. federal court revealed its verdict, the iOS developer appealed the ruling, a move that put on hold any future legal actions on the case. Apple’s appeal came after judge Yvonne Rogers governed that the company is abusing its position to relish in anti-competitive behavior.

On another note, the household gaming company revealed in August, court documentation during an anti-trust lawsuit against Google. Within it, Epic laid out an elaborate plot presented by the search engine, showing its tactical scheme to acquire the gaming firm to empower Play Store’s supremacy, after the gaming platform refused to succumb to Google’s Premier Device Program deal.

A deal that offers Android manufacturers exclusive rights to adopt Play Store as a default store, resulting in the substation of third-party payment options.

Even though the ruling was appealed, it still managed to demonstrate to tech companies that competitive behavior from their part will be faced with scrutinizing examination by the federal court.

Heavy tension is on the rise for Congress to execute its authority on online e-commerce platforms and Big Tech app stores, as tech companies are feeding their hunger for power at the expense of small to medium-sized enterprises.

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