UK News

2019: Oct-Dec

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You can't say that...

Researchers at King’s College London (KCL) have published research confirming that free speech has been lost at British Universities


Link Here 5th December 2019
Researchers at King's College London (KCL) asked over 2,000 students about their views on free speech on campus and in society.

The majority (59%) of Conservative-voting students said they believe that those who share their views are reluctant to express themselves at university. This compared with 36% of those voted Labour and 37% of those who voted for the Liberal Democrats. Students who voted for the Green Party were the most comfortable with expressing their views, with just 32% saying that their like-minded peers would self-censor on campus.

A quarter of students, irrespective of their political persuasion, said they are unable to express their views at university because they are scared of disagreeing with their peers, according to the KCL study.

Half think that free speech is under threat in society as a whole.

 

 

Updated: Screened in the wrong postcode...

Vue Cinemas ban the gangland film Blue Story after violence breaks out at a Birmingham screening


Link Here 28th November 2019
Blue Story is a 2019 UK crime drama by Andrew Onwubolu.
Starring Stephen Odubola, Micheal Ward and Khali Best. BBFC link IMDb

Blue Story is a tragic tale of a friendship between Timmy and Marco, two young boys from opposing postcodes. Timmy, a shy, smart, naive and timid young boy from Deptford, goes to school in Peckham where he strikes up a friendship with Marco, a charismatic, streetwise kid from the local area. Although from warring postcodes, the two quickly form a firm friendship until it is tested and they wind up on rival sides of a street war. Blue Story depicts elements of Rapman's own personal experiences and aspects of his childhood.

Vue Cinema bosses have decided to pull the controversial gang film Blue Story from all its venues after gangs with machetes terrified families when the film was being screened at an inner city cinema in Birmingham.

Two schoolgirls, a boy and a man were arrested and seven police officers suffered minor  injuries as dozens of officers swarmed the area just after 5.30pm on November 23. People were evacuated as Vue cinema managers decided to close the venue.

Showcase Cinemas later announced that it was following suit and cancelling all screenings at its cinemas, but soon changed its mind and resumed screenings. Odeon is continuing to screen the film but with extra security staff on hand.

The cinema film was passed 15 uncut by the BBFC for very strong language, strong violence, threat, sex, drug misuse.

Update: Resuming

28th November 2019. See article from bbc.com

The boss of the Vue cinema chain that banned a London gang film after a mass brawl in Birmingham has told the BBC he plans to resume screenings by the weekend. And indeed the film was once again being screened by the weekend.

Vue banned Blue Story after saying there had been 25 serious incidents in 16 of its cinemas. But its chief executive, Tim Richards, said it was now looking at beefing up security to restart screenings.

 

 

UK film directors trade group introduces strict rules about nudity in auditions...

Guardian feminists hope that the extra hassle will mean the end of the nude scene


Link Here 24th November 2019
The professional body for UK directors has released its first set of guidelines for directing nudity and simulated sex in TV and film.

Directors UK has advised a ban on full nudity in any audition or call back and no semi-nudity in first auditions, and have instead suggested performers wear a bikini or trunks and bring a chaperone.

The group also suggested that if a recall requires semi-nudity, the performer and their agent must have 48 hours' notice and the full script.

And that the production must also obtain explicit written consent from the performer prior to them being filmed or photographed nude or semi-nude.

The release of guidelines follows the #MeToo movement, and the revelation that some in the industry demanded sexual favours for work.

It all seems reasonable enough, but a feminist columnist in the Guardian is rather hoping that the rules will lead to the end of the nude scene. Barbara Ellen writes in an article from theguardian.com :

All of which is commendable, but shouldn't audiences also change their attitudes? As it is, certain men weirdly seem to presume that they have a right to see women naked. Guys, calm down -- you bought a television subscription or a cinema ticket, not a VIP seat at a lap-dancing show.

Let's face it, most nude scenes are gratuitous -- even when integral to the story, nudity could usually be suggested without anyone actually being naked. Yet here we are, two years since #MeToo, and actresses are still not only having to strip but being denounced for hating doing it. While on-screen nudity is a choice, and some are fine about it, too many others feel uncomfortable and obliged.

Perhaps the new guidelines will help people such as Clarke in the simplest, most effective way possible -- making it a damn sight more difficult to justify asking them to get undressed in the first place.

 

 

A bit draconian...

Drill rapper banned from using the words bandoe, trapping, Booj, connect, shotting, whipping and Kitty


Link Here 21st October 2019
A drill rapper has been banned from using specific slang words in music videos in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.

Ervine Kimpalu, who goes by the artist name Rico Racks, was issued with a special five year Criminal Behaviour Order when he appeared at Blackfriars Crown Court on Friday preventing him from referring to several drug-related words in his online rap videos. The words were bandoe, trapping, Booj, connect, shotting, whipping and Kitty .

It also bans him from possessing articles linked to drug dealing and from owning more than one mobile phone.

Racks, of Kings Cross, central London, features in several music videos posted on social media in which he is said to glamourise drug dealing.

 

 

More about monitoring politicians' 'disinformation' rather than unrealistically trying to stop it...

Oxford researchers make recommendations to control politician's social media campaigners during elections


Link Here 14th October 2019

The Market of Disinformation , a report produced by Oxford Information Labs on behalf of OxTEC, examines the impact of algorithmic changes made by social media platforms, designed to curb the spread of disinformation, through the lens of digital marketing.

The report highlights some of the techniques used by campaigners to attract, retain and persuade online audiences. It also sets out recommendations for the UK Electoral Commission.

Key findings:

  • Despite over 125 announcements in three years aimed at demoting disinformation and junk news, algorithmic changes made by platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter have not significantly altered brands' and companies digital marketing

  • Election campaigns continue to generate a significant amount of organic engagement, with people typically accessing content that has not been supported by paid placement

  • Political campaigns blend paid and organic material to maximise reach and minimise spend

  • There has been growth in digital marketing techniques combining online and offline data to reach specific audiences

Stacie Hoffmann, cyber security and policy expert at Oxford Information Labs, said:

Today's successful online campaigns effectively blend organic and paid-for elements, standing or falling by the levels of engagement they provoke amongst users. Self-regulation of social media platforms has only succeeded in achieving higher profits for the platforms by reducing organic reach and increasing the amount of paid content required by advertisers to reach new audiences.

Professor Philip Howard, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and OxTEC Commissioner said:

The report highlights how the algorithmic changes made by social media platforms have been inadequate in curbing the spread of low-quality content online. Those actors spreading disinformation have quickly identified algorithmic changes and have adjusted their strategies accordingly. Fundamentally self-regulation by social media platforms has failed to achieve the promised public policy benefit of improving the quality of the information ecosystem.

The Oxford Information Labs report also sets out a series of recommendations for consideration by OxTEC on how to protect the integrity of elections. The recommendations are based on developing and implementing guidance related to four distinct areas, digital imprints, sanctions, financial reporting and campaign spend, foreign interference and location verification.

OxTEC, convened by the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, consists of academics, researchers, technology experts and policymakers, and was established to explore how to protect the integrity of democracy in a digital age. It is due to publish a full report shortly.

 

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