Social networks struggle to shut down racist abuse after England’s Euro Cup final loss

Social media users have been frustrated at having to perform moderation duties to keep racist abuse in check.

Bukayo Saka of England is consoled by head coach Gareth Southgate.

The vitriol presented a direct challenge to the social networks — an event-specific spike in hate speech that required them to refocus their moderation efforts to contain the damage. It marks just the latest incident for the social networks, which need to be on guard during highly charged political or cultural events. While these companies have a regular process that includes deploying machine-automated tools and human moderators to remove the content, this latest incident is just another source of frustration for those who believe the social networks aren’t quick enough to respond.

To plug the gap, companies rely on users to report content that violates guidelines. Following Sunday’s match, many users were sharing tips and guides about how to best report content, both to platforms and to the police. It was disheartening for those same users to be told that a company’s moderation technology hadn’t found anything wrong with the racist abuse they’d highlighted.

It also left many users wondering why, when Facebook, for example, is a billion-dollar company, it was unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the easily anticipated influx of racist content — instead leaving it to unpaid good Samaritan users to report.

For social media companies, moderation can fall into a gray area between protecting free speech and protecting users from hate speech. In these cases, they must judge whether user content violates their own platform policies. But this wasn’t one of those gray areas.

Racist abuse is classified as a hate crime in the UK, and London’s Met Police said in a statement that it will be investigating incidents that occurred online following the match. In a follow-up email, a spokesman for the Met said that the instances of abuse were being triaged by the Home Office and then disseminated to local police forces to deal with.

Twitter “swiftly” removed over 1,000 tweets through a combination of machine-based automation and human review, a spokesman said in a statement. In addition, it permanently suspended “a number” of accounts, “the vast majority” of which it proactively detected itself. “The abhorrent racist abuse directed at England players last night has absolutely no place on Twitter,” said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, there was frustration among Instagram users who were identifying and reporting, among other abusive content, strings of monkey emojis (a common racist trope) being posted on the accounts of Black players.

According to Instagram’s policies, using emojis to attack people based on protected characteristics, including race, is against the company’s hate speech policies. Human moderators working for the company take context into account when reviewing use of emojis.

But in many of the cases reported by Instagram users in which the platform failed to remove monkey emojis, it appears that the reviews weren’t conducted by human reviewers. Instead, their reports were dealt with by the company’s automated software, which told them “our technology has found that this comment probably doesn’t go against our community guidelines.”

A spokeswoman for Instagram said in a statement that “no one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram.”

“We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules,” she added. “In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs. No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.”

The social media companies shouldn’t have been surprised by the reaction.

Football professionals have been feeling the strain of the racist abuse they suffer online — and not just following this one England game. In April, England’s Football Association organized a social media boycott “in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.”

English football’s racism problem is not new. In 1993, the problem forced the Football Association, Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association to launch Kick It Out, a program to fight racism, which became a fully fledged organization in 1997. Under Southgate’s leadership, the current iteration of the England squad has embraced anti-racism more vocally than ever, taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before matches. Still, racism in the sport prevails — online and off.

On Monday, the Football Association strongly condemned the online abuse following Sunday’s match, saying it’s “appalled” at the racism aimed at players. “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team,” it said. “We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”

Social media users, politicians and rights organizations are demanding internet-specific tools to tackle online abuse — as well as for perpetrators of racist abuse to be prosecuted as they would be offline. As part of its “No Yellow Cards” campaign, the Center for Countering Digital Hate is calling for platforms to ban users who spout racist abuse for life.

In the UK, the government has been trying to introduce regulation that would force tech companies to take firmer action against harmful content, including racist abuse, in the form of the Online Safety Bill. But it has also been criticized for moving too slowly to get the legislation in place.

Tony Burnett, the CEO of the Kick It Out campaign (which Facebook and Twitter both publicly support), said in a statement Monday that both the social media companies and the government need to step up to shut down racist abuse online. His words were echoed by Julian Knight, member of Parliament and chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“The government needs to get on with legislating the tech giants,” Knight said in a statement. “Enough of the foot dragging, all those who suffer at the hands of racists, not just England players, deserve better protections now.”

As pressure mounted for them to take action, social networks have also been stepping up their own moderation efforts and building new tools — with varying degrees of success. The companies track and measure their own progress. Facebook employs its independent oversight board to assess its performance.

But critics of the social networks also point out that the way their business models are set up gives them very little incentive to discourage racism. Any and all engagement will increase ad revenue, they argue, even if that engagement is people liking and commenting on racist posts.

“Facebook made content moderation tough by making and ignoring their murky rules, and by amplifying harassment and hate to fuel its stock price,” former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao said on Twitter on Monday. “Negative PR is forcing them to address racism that has been on its platform from the start. I hope they really fix it.”

T-Mobile’s free MLB.TV offer is now available ahead of 2021 Opening Day

The carrier’s wireless customers will get free baseball as the long-running promotion continues.

Read more: MLB 2021: How to watch the Dodgers, Mets, Yankees and more baseball without cable

From there you will log into or create an MLB.com account that will link to the free MLB.TV offer and allow you to watch baseball on the MLB app on phones, tablets, computers, game consoles and smart TVs.

T-Mobile has offered the MLB promotion for years. Last year, alongside a pandemic-shortened baseball season, it also included a free one-year subscription to sports publication The Athletic.

Those interested in the free MLB.TV offer will need to sign up for the perk before it expires at 1:59 a.m. PT (4:59 a.m. ET) on Tuesday, April 6.

US Open 2021: How to watch today’s Djokovic-Medvedev match without cable

You can watch Novak Djokovic try to cement his legacy when he plays Daniil Medvedev in the men’s final on Sunday, no cable subscription required.

The US Open Men’s Final is set to start at 1 p.m. PT (4 p.m. ET) on Sunday on ESPN.

When he plays Daniil Medvedev in the US Open Men’s Final today, Novak Djokovic will attempt to become the first men’s player since 1969 to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in a single calendar year.

Here’s everything you need to know to watch all the tennis live without a cable subscription.

The championship match will be broadcast live on ESPN. You can livestream the match on WatchESPN.com or via the ESPN app, but you will need to prove you have a TV subscription that includes ESPN. If you don’t have a cable or satellite TV subscription, you can use a live-TV streaming service to watch the matches live; all the services listed here offer ESPN.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Orange package includes ESPN.

Read our Sling TV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes ESPN.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Hulu plus Live TV costs $65 a month and includes ESPN.

Read our Hulu plus Live TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes ESPN.

Read our FuboTV review.

AT&T TV Now’s basic $70-a-month package includes ESPN.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials, allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our massive streaming services guide.

Naomi Osaka drops out of Wimbledon

The withdrawal follows Osaka’s exit from the French Open last month.

Naomi Osaka serves in a tennis match at the French Open on May 30.

“Naomi Osaka will be greatly missed by all of us at Wimbledon this year, but we completely understand her decision,” Wimbledon told CNET in an emailed statement. “We wish her a happy time with her friends and family and look forward to welcoming her back to Wimbledon next year.”

The withdrawal follows Osaka dropping out of the French Open in May after facing a $15,000 fine from tournament organizers for declining to take part in media interviews. Osaka had cited mental health reasons for not wanting to meet with the press during the tennis tournament.

“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” Osaka, 23, wrote in a statement describing her struggles with depression. “I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018.”

Wimbledon is slated to take place from June 28 until July 11. Tournament organizers didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

UFC 260 Miocic vs. Ngannou: Start time, how to watch or stream online, full fight card

UFC 260 is just about to start. Here’s everything you need to know…

UFC 260 will be the second time Stipe Miocic has faced off against Francis Ngannou.

Sadly the co-main event, a compelling contest between featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski and jiu jitsu savant Brian Ortega has been cancelled after Volkanovski tested positive for COVID-19.

Here’s everything you need to know.

This year the UFC entered into a new partnership with ESPN. That’s great news for the UFC and the expansion of the sport of MMA, but bad news for consumer choice. Especially if you’re one of the UFC fans who want to watch UFC live in the US.

In the US, if you want to know how to watch UFC 260, you’ll only find the fight night on PPV through ESPN Plus. The cost structure is a bit confusing, but here are the options to watch UFC on ESPN, according to ESPN’s site:

You can do all of the above at the link below.

MMA fans in the UK can watch UFC 260 exclusively through BT Sport. There are more options if you live in Australia. You can watch UFC 260 through Main Event on Foxtel. You can also watch on the UFC website or using its app. You can even order using your PlayStation or using the UFC app on your Xbox.

Need more international viewing options? Try a VPN. See the best VPNs currently recommended by CNET editors.

Based on previous UFC times, this is the schedule we expect…

Given how volatile and fluid previous fight cards have been in the COVID-19 era, expect this one to chop and change. Here’s where we’re at right now…

Climbing at the Tokyo Olympics: Start times, finals schedule, how to watch

Next up for climbing: Men’s finals.

Adam Ondra is probably the best climber in the world right now.

Traditional climbing takes place outside without a predetermined route.

All the qualifiers have taken place. All that’s left is the finals. First up is the men’s finals, which starts at 4.30 a.m. August 5 EDT (1.30 a.m. PDT).

Full schedule:

The women’s finals follow a similar schedule on August 6.

In the US, NBC will broadcast events, with the BBC securing rights in England and Channel Seven, 7Mate and 7Two in Australia. All events will take place at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo.

The finalists for the men are…

Bassa Mawem is expected to withdraw as a result of bicep injury inflicted during qualification.

Finalists for the women are…

Sport climbing will be broken up into three separate disciplines: speed climbing, lead climbing and bouldering. Not every country will be represented; only 20 athletes per gender (40 climbers total) will be allowed to compete at the Games, and only 2 athletes per gender per country will compete in any given event.

FYI, the International Olympic Committee currently recognizes only two genders — female and male. There are currently stipulations for athletes that identify as transgender, both female and male, to compete. But there aren’t any guidelines or rulings for athletes who don’t identify as female or male — including those who are nonbinary, agender and genderqueer.

The combined nature of climbing at the Olympics has been somewhat controversial. Speed climbing requires a completely different skillset compared to bouldering and lead climbing. In the next Olympics speed climbing is being broken out as a separate event, leaving bouldering and lead climbing as a combined event.

Two climbers, one wall.

Speed climbing is relatively simple: there are two climbers with safety ropes and one 15-meter wall set at a 95-degree angle. The climbers race against each other to get to the top, with the fastest one winning. The speed route is the exact same at all times: the same holds in the same position at the exact same angle. The addition of speed climbing has been somewhat controversial in the climbing community, because it requires a completely different skillset compared to other climbing disciplines.

Athletes use physical and mental precision to climb to the top of a bouldering route.

Bouldering takes place on an shorter wall, where climbers take turns attempting to scale as many routes on a four-meter-tall wall in 4 minutes. Each route (also called a bouldering problem) is laid out with hand and foot holds in a specific color, and they vary in difficulty based on the size of the holds and the way they are spaced out. A climber completes a problem by grabbing the top hold with both hands.

Bouldering has traditionally been about power and finger strength, but recently competition route setters have been creating problems that require delicate co-ordination and explosive gymnastic movements. This one will be fun to watch.

In Lead climbing, participants secure themselves with a rope as they climb higher.

Lead climbing is arguably the most recognizable of the three events. The climber has six minutes to climb as high on a wall that is taller than 15 meters. They use safety ropes that attach to quickdraws on their way up, allowing the rope to run freely while they stay anchored to the wall. If two athletes reach the same point on the wall, the person who got there first is the winner.

In both bouldering and lead climbing, climbers are not allowed to practice climbing on the routes before they compete or watch each other scale the wall, and they only have a couple of minutes to study the routes and decide their strategy before the timer begins.

The Olympic and Paralympic medals are made from recycled electronics. The Olympics won’t change the year on the medals, by the way.

If you thought the qualifying system was a bit complicated, take a deep breath. There’s only one set of medals awarded per gender, so all three events will go into determining which country gets the gold, silver and bronze.

The speed climbing discipline will be done in a bracket format, with athletes competing head to head, while bouldering is in a leaderboard format. Lead climbing will have a point system in which each hold on the wall counts as one point and the athlete who climbs the highest will obtain the highest score.

Once all the athletes are ordered by placement per event, their placement numbers will be multiplied, and the climbers with the lowest scores will win medals. Because of the scoring format, each climber will compete in each event. For example, if an athlete gets second place in speed climbing, third in bouldering and first in lead climbing their overall score would be six (2 times 3 times 1 equals 6).

In the men’s event the favourite is almost certainly Tomoa Narasaki. Some of the other climbers like Adam Ondra and Alex Megos are considered stronger climbers in terms of their performance on real rock, but this is competition climbing and it’s very different beast. Narasaki was born in the darkness of comp climbing. He’s the Bane of bouldering and, of all the strong climbers, he’s evolved to the weirdness of speed climbing the best. This gives him a great shot at claiming gold.

In the women’s event you’d have to pick Janja Garnbret. She’s been literally unbeatable in the competition scene, particularly in bouldering. There are plenty of others worth watching. From Japan both Akiyo Noguchi and Miho Nonaka have a great shot. Noguchi is probably the most decorated female comp climber of all time and Nonaka is a great all-rounder who competes well in speed — the boogie event most top climbers are nervous about.  

Can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

WWE is using TikTok to find its next SummerSlam ring announcer

Applicants with the “most entertaining” videos will win a trip to Vegas for the August event.

WWE is looking for fresh talent to serve as a ring announcer.

WWE will review each video submission before selecting two winners from its TikTok channel, which has more than 11 million followers, on Aug. 16. The company has also been using TikTok’s Resumes feature, which lets job seekers post video resumes to TikTok for positions with partner companies like Chipotle and Target, to find and recruit its next generation of Superstars. Selected applicants will attend a multiday talent tryout in Vegas as part of SummerSlam.

SummerSlam will stream live at 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET) on Peacock in the US and on WWE Network everywhere else.

See also: TikTok has a new resume feature for job seekers

Electrify your commute with these Fluid Freeride Black Friday scooter deals

Get some serious savings on these scooters.

Note all scooters’ travel estimates will vary depending on travel speed, terrain, rider weight and other factors.

The Cityrider is a last-mile scooter powered by a 350-watt motor with a top speed of 18 mph and a listed travel distance of 15 miles. It’s lightweight and easy to store.

The Fluid Horizon is powered by a 500-watt motor, can hit a top speed of 23 mph and has an estimated travel range of 30 miles.

More than a commuter, this scooter has two 500-watt motors with tubeless tires that never go flat. This scooter has a top speed of 26 mph and a travel distance of 30 miles.

For those wanting to go faster, the Apollo Explore can reach a top speed of 31 mph. It has a 1000-watt motor allowing riders to travel up to 35 miles on their commute.

The Inokim Ox is an excellent scooter for anyone needing a little speed in their life without the herky-jerky take-offs. It has a top speed of 28 mph and a travel distance of 30 miles. The Ox runs on a single 800-watt motor and has unique single-sided swingarms that absorb bumps exceptionally well.

The Mantis Fluid Edition is a dual 1000-watt scooter with a top speed of 40 mph that weighs 65 pounds. Most scooters that can hit that speed weigh about 77 pounds; believe me, that makes a difference. It can travel approximately 33 miles on a full charge. This deal throws in a free Cityrider scooter — a $499 value.

The Mantis Pro Fluid Edition runs on dual 1000-watt motors with a top speed of 40 mph and can travel 45 miles on a full charge, making it a great choice for long commutes. Once again, a $499 Cityrider scooter is getting thrown in at no extra charge.

The aptly-named Kaabo Wolf Warrior 11 is a beast of a scooter. It has dual 1200-watt motors, can travel up to 50 mph with a travel distance of 60 miles. Just note that it weighs in at 101 pounds. Right now, The Wolf Warrior is bundled with a free Horizon scooter — a $799 value.

The Nami Burn-E is one of my favorites. Equipped with dual 1500-watt motors, it has a top speed of 60 mph and a travel distance of 90 miles. It also has a suspension that can easily be adjusted for on- and off-road travel and its smart weight distribution keeps the front wheel down when aggressively accelerating.

The Fluid Board is powered by dual 350-watt motors and can hit a top speed of 23 mph. It can travel 20 miles on a single charge. The entire board weighs 17 pounds.

Preakness Stakes 2021: Post time, TV schedule, how to watch horse racing without cable

You don’t need cable to watch the second leg of the Triple Crown today on NBC.

The 2021 Preakness Stakes takes place later today and will be broadcast on NBC. Here’s how you can watch live without cable.

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit will attempt to capture the second leg of the Triple Crown at the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

The Preakness Stakes takes place today, Saturday, May 15. TV coverage starts at 5 p.m. ET on NBC. Post time is set for 6:50 p.m. ET (3:50 p.m. PT).

If you don’t have cable, you still have plenty of options. The least expensive that doesn’t require streaming is to connect an over-the-air antenna to your TV and watch your local NBC station. You could also check out a live TV streaming service, all of which offer free trials and offer NBC. Not every service carries your local NBC station, however, so check the links below to make sure it’s available in your area.

Shandful of marketsling TV’s $35-a-month Sling Blue package includes local NBC stations but only in a handful of markets.

Read our Sling TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

AT&T Now TVs $70-a-month Plus package includes NBC in most markets. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

Facebook eyes sports for its next push in online events

A pay-per-view-like option for sports leagues wouldn’t be out of the question, apparently.

The next sports event you watch may be on Facebook.

The social network launched its paid online events product last summer, inviting some people running Facebook pages to use tools designed to create, promote, host and monetize virtual live events. Since launch, event hosts have received 100% of revenue from ticket sales through Facebook Pay. However, that is set to expire in August, after which Facebook may take a cut.

Facebook is reportedly targeting smaller leagues and sports events since the top sports leagues — such as the National Football League and National Basketball Association — are restricted by broadcast media rights. The social network sees potential for monetizing things outside of games, such as team practices or behind-the-scenes videos, Shaw told CNBC.

A Facebook spokesperson on Wednesday said the company’s paid online events feature is available to all publishers, and sports is one area where it’s being adopted.