#IMWeekly: February 6, 2015

by Rebekah Heacock Jones

Reddit releases first transparency report

Reddit recently released its first transparency report (PDF), detailing the requests for user information and content removal the site received in 2014. It an announcement, the company notes that it refused to supply user information in response to just over two-fifths of government and civil requests for private information, and refused to remove content in response to more than two thirds of content removal requests.

Twitter CEO says he is "ashamed" of how site handles abuse and trolling

In an post to an internal Twitter employee forum (later obtained by The Verge), Twitter CEO Dick Costolo acknowledged that Twitter "suck[s] at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform." Costolo went on to pledge to "start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them."

United States: FCC Chairman proposes strongest-ever net neutrality protections

On Wednesday, US Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed a new set of net neutrality regulations that would, among other things, classify Internet service as a telecommunications service, rather than an information service. This classification would empower the FCC to use its powers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act to regulate against so-called Internet "fast lanes" for certain types of web traffic. The new regulations would also prohibit ISPs from blocking content. The Washington Post has labeled the proposal "the most significant intervention ever undertaken by federal regulators to make sure the Web remains a level playing field." (Relatedly: on Monday, Sir Tim Berners-Lee blogged in support of net neutrality on the European Commission's blog, stating, "Maintaining this net neutrality is critical for the future of the Web and the future of human rights, innovation and progress in Europe.")

Japan: Journalists call for continued freedom of expression after ISIS crisis

The recent murder of two Japanese men by ISIS have sparked tensions around freedom of expression in Japan, as those who criticize the government's handling of the situation are being called out and encouraged to practice "self-restraint." Journalists in the country have launched a petition in response, stating that the current "level of control of public discourse is deeply worrying for our democratic society in Japan" and noting that a policy of "self-restraint" was used to silence dissent during World War II. The petition has garnered over 1000 signatures in the past week.

United Kingdom: British Army recruits "Facebook Warriors"

The British Army will be assembling roughly 1500 soldiers to serve in the new 77th Brigade, which will "draw together a host of existing and developing capabilities essential to meet the challenges of modern conflict and warfare." The unit, which is scheduled to launch in April, will conduct operations including "social media campaigns on Twitter and Facebook, spreading disinformation or exposing truths in war zones, 'false flag' incidents—which are designed to fool people into thinking they were carried out by someone else—and intelligence gathering."

#IMweekly is a weekly round-up of news about Internet content controls and activity around the world. For more, click here.