Things That Matter

A Police Department In South Carolina Is In Hot Water After Sending Out A Tweet About AOC

Last Wednesday, the Summerville, South Carolina Police Department experienced a pretty serious glitch when someone tweeted “AOC is an idiot” from the department’s official Twitter account.

The tweet appeared in response to a series of posts from New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about parental leave in the United States.

Since the mishap came to light, the erroneous tweet has been deleted. Captain Rick Gebhardt of the Summerville Police Deparment told ABC News 4 that “a member of [the department’s] social media team inadvertently posted on [the department’s] official page instead of their own,” before adding that “[the employee’s] comments in no way represent those of the agency.”

To the credit—or detriment?—of the Department, their Twitter bio does clearly state that their account is “not monitored 24/7.” But, after this little mishap, maybe it should be?

Regardless, the Summerville incident is definitely not the first time (nor the worst time) that AOC has been criticized on social media.

Credit: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Instagram

In fact, just a few months ago, AOC was at the center of a legal maelstrom regarding her decision to block online users from posting to her personal account (@AOC). She made this decision after receiving extensive criticism from individuals and organizations alike, referring to some interactions as straight up harassment. But in August, Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute sent her a letter that claimed she was violating her critics’ Constitutional rights by revoking access to her handle, arguing that Twitter is a “public forum” and her status as a political figure makes hers an essential space for promoting discourse and sharing information.

“Many of your tweets staking out positions on issues such as immigration, the environment, and impeachment have made headline news,” the letter noted. “The @AOC account is important to you as a legislator, to your constituents, and to others who seek to understand and influence your legislative decisions and priorities.”

Of course, because the internet is the most meta medium ever, AOC took to Twitter to respond to Columbia University’s missive. 

It’s also not uncommon for lawmakers to block critics on social networks. In 2017, ProPublica—a nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative reporting—asked all 50 governors and 22 federal agencies if they had ever blocked users on social media. Over half of those surveyed didn’t respond, but five Republican governors, four Democratic governors, and four agencies said that they had, indeed, blocked users in the past. And like AOC in the tweet above, they also provided information about who they had blocked and why.

In the midst of multiple lawsuits, AOC’s lawyers argued that because her @AOC handle is not her official government account, it should not be subject to the same rules that her government account must adhere to. But due to the fact that her @AOC account is used primarily for government purposes, that claim wasn’t exactly convincing to a judge. (The same issue emerged in July when a federal appeals panel ruled that Donald Trump had violated the Constitution when he blocked certain Twitter followers after they criticized him.)

After several First Amendment experts encouraged her to reassess her stance on blocking critics on social media, AOC made a pretty classy move and apologized to one of her main detractors, a former assemblyman named Dov Hikind.

“I have reconsidered my decision to block Dov Hikind from my Twitter account,” AOC said in a statement made the day before she was scheduled to testify in Brooklyn federal court. “Mr. Hikind has a First Amendment right to express his views and should not be blocked for them.”

“It was wrong and improper and does not reflect the values I cherish,” she added.

However, AOC remained adamant about not permitting users to harass or verbally abuse her (or others) through her social media pages. She affirmed that she would continue to block users from following her in the future if they behaved inappropriately, ultimately making it less of a forum for productive democratic discussion.

“I reserve the right to block users who engage in actual harassment or exploit my personal/campaign account, @AOC, for commercial or other improper purposes,” she said.

The letter from Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute also acknowledged the importance of this issue, drawing attention to the nuanced issue of what type of speech should not be allowed under the First Amendment—especially when directed at public figures online.

“We recognize that abuse and harassment are significant problems on social media, especially for women and minorities, and that this abuse and harassment can deter speech and political participation that are crucial to our democracy,” said the letter.

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Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

Things That Matter

Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

Ever notice how on some social platforms like Twitter or Instagram that you yourself are mysteriously unable to crop your display images on your own? That’s because Twitter prefers to let their algorithms make the decision. Over the weekend users on Twitter discovered the surprising dangers of letting algorithms crop your own images.

Education tech researcher Colin Madland drew attention to the issue while speaking out about how the video-calling program Zoom, often crops the head out of his black person coworker while on calls.

It didn’t take long for Madland and other users to discover that Twitter’s AIs use discriminatory equations to prioritize certain faces as well. In short, the social platform’s AIs prefer white faces over Black ones.

In response to the discoveries, a Twitter spokesperson acknowledged that the company was looking into the issue “Our team did test for bias before shipping the model and did not find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing. But it’s clear from these examples that we’ve got more analysis to do. We’re looking into this and will continue to share what we learn and what actions we take,” they stated.

Of course, Madland’s discovery is nothing new. In 2019, test results from the National Institute of Standards and Technology revealed that some of the strongest algorithms online were much more likely to confuse the faces of Black women than those of white women, or Black or white men. “The NIST test challenged algorithms to verify that two photos showed the same face, similar to how a border agent would check passports,” Wired points out. “At sensitivity settings where Idemia’s algorithms falsely matched different white women’s faces at a rate of one in 10,000, it falsely matched black women’s faces about once in 1,000—10 times more frequently. A one in 10,000 false match rate is often used to evaluate facial recognition systems.”

Still, it didn’t take long for users on the platform to ask what other physical preferences Twitter has.

Turns out the AIs prefer Ted Cruz with large anime breasts over a normal-looking Ted Cruz.

(To better understand this Tweet, click the link above)

The user who tested the image of Cruz, found that Twitter’s algorithm on the back end selected what part of the picture it would showcase in the preview and ultimately chose both images of Cruz with a large anime chest.

It’s nothing new that Twitter has its massive problems.

For a platform that so controls and oversees so much of what we consume and how we now operate, it’s scary to know how Twitter chooses to display people with different skin tones. The round of jokes and Twitter experiments by users has only revived concerns on how “learning” computer algorithms fuel real-world biases like racism and sexism.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Response To GOP House Candidate’s ‘Dumb Blonde’ Joke Will Leave You Breathless

Things That Matter

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Response To GOP House Candidate’s ‘Dumb Blonde’ Joke Will Leave You Breathless

BRITTANY GREESON / GETTY

Dumb blonde jokes. They’re overwrought, trite, and pretty outdated. So it’s no surprise that one that came straight from the mouth of a GOP House candidate and directed at Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez didn’t go over so well.

GOP House candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene attempted a joke at Ocasio-Cortez’s expense on Twitter Monday and it failed miserably.

Greene, whose Georgia campaign is being supported by Donald Trump, attempted to hit at AOC’s intelligence on Monday in a tweet.

“As a blonde woman, I would like to take a moment to thank Congresswoman @AOC. She has single handily [sic] put an end to all ‘dumb blonde’ jokes. Blondes everywhere appreciate your service and your sacrifice!” Greene tweeted.

In response, Ocasio-Cortez retweeted Greene, writing, “Don’t worry Mrs. Greene, I completely understand why you need to swing + miss at my intellect to make yourself feel better. You seem to have some trouble spelling your own insults correctly. Next time try ‘single-handedly,’ it’ll work better.”

She signed off her tweet writing “Good luck writing legislation!”

It’s not the first time Greene has come for AOC and failed.

Greene attempted and failed to get under AOC’s skin earlier this month.

Facebook.com

In September, the candidate shared a photo of herself holding a rifle next to images of AOC and other Democratic lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to her Facebook page.

She captioned the post “Squad’s worst nightmare.” It was soon removed by Facebook who cited violations of its policies.

It didn’t take long for AOC’s supporters to strike back at Green to defend the congresswoman.

“Those who are jealous and envious of others typical attack those whom they envy because they need to feel important and try to gain some attention for themselves,” one user commented in the thread. “You are where you are @AOC because of your work and dedication. Mrs Greene knows she can’t compete so she attacks.”

According to People, “Greene has a track record of embracing false stories publicized by QAnon, a conspiracy theory-fueled group which alleges there’s a group of Democratic pedophiles operating around the country.”

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