Showing posts with label Internet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Internet. Show all posts

Monday, 11 January 2021

All the social media platforms that have banned or restricted U.S. President J. Trump so far may have limited the reach of his venom, but this does not mean the violence he unleashed last week is over

 

"I think I wouldn't be here [as U.S. President] if I didn't have social media. The media is fake. And frankly if I didn't have social media I would have no way of getting out my voice."  [Donald Trump during U.S. "60 Minutes" interview, October 2020]


Donald J. Trump appears to have had a presence on social media since at least 2008-09.

At the time he was reasonably well-known to US mainstream media, but outside of America his name was not as recognisable to the average person.

However it was only once Senator Barack Obama stood in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries and then became the Democratic candidate in the 56th American presidential election that the rest of the world began to really notice Trump.

However, much of the coverage of his views came second-hand in the mainstream media until May 2009.

By then Donald Trump had become a parody of his younger self, but did not at first glance appear to be highly dysfunctional. He came across as an eccentric and egotistical individual fond of conspiracy theories – especially if those theories supported his aversion to the idea of an African-American being President of the United States of America.

His open dislike of Barack Obama raised his own social media profile and he became adept at using Twitter and Facebook to express his personal world view.

Sometime between 2008 and 2012 Donald Trump began to flirt with the idea of running for US president himself, but it wasn’t until 2015 that he fully committed to the idea of standing in the Republican presidential primaries.

First as a political candidate and then in 2016 as president-elect Donald Trump was allowed a lot of latitude by social media platforms and he began to use social media as a weapon against all those he perceived as enemies.

There was so little pushback by management of the social media platforms that he frequented that by the time he became president I’m sure he saw himself as unassailable and, in many respects as the highest office holder in the United States he was.

In May 2020 his personal Twitter account reportedly had over 80 million followers, even though by then it was filled almost entirely with self-praise, blatant lies, insults, threats and political conspiracy allegations.

Then came his political defeat in the 2020 presidential election and a growing realisation that no matter how hard he tried he could not reverse the will of the people or the Electoral College votes.

It was then, when he thought he had nothing left to lose, that he became even more vengeful and recklessly destructive, setting in motion the events of 6 January 2021 when pro-Trump domestic terrorists violently forced their way into the US Congress in an effort to stop a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and Senate formally recording the Electoral College vote count that confirmed Joe Biden as the new president-elect who would be inaugurated on 20 January 2021.

Before that Wednesday ended the giants of the Internet began to show Donald J. Trump that even he could go too far and began to starve him of what political oxygen he had left.

First Twitter pulled the plug on his incitement of violence and sedition with a 12-hour suspension which quickly turned into the permanent expulsion of his account @realDonaldTrump. Then the list began to grow until 16 social media platforms/Internet services have slammed the door in his face, or the faces of his supporters, to date.

Axios, 7 January 2020:

Platforms are rapidly removing Donald Trump’s account or accounts affiliated with pro-Trump violence and conspiracies, like QAnon and #StoptheSteal.

Here is a running list:

REDDIT:

WHAT: Reddit has banned the subreddit group "r/DonaldTrump," a spokesperson confirmed to Axios on Friday.

COMMENT: "Reddit's site-wide policies prohibit content that promotes hate, or encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence against groups of people or individuals. In accordance with this, we have been proactively reaching out to moderators to remind them of our policies and to offer support or resources as needed," a spokesperson tells Axios.

CONTEXT: While not an official group or page hosted by the president, it's one of the company's largest political communities dedicated to support for President Trump.

TWITCH:

WHAT: Twitch disabled Trump's channel, citing the move as a "necessary step" to protect its community and "prevent Twitch from being used to incite further violence."

COMMENT: “In light of yesterday’s shocking attack on the Capitol, we have disabled President Trump’s Twitch channel. Given the current extraordinary circumstances and the President's incendiary rhetoric, we believe this is a necessary step to protect our community and prevent Twitch from being used to incite further violence," a spokesperson told Axios.

CONTEXT: Twitch was one of the first platforms in June to temporarily ban Trump's channel for hateful content around the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.

SHOPIFY:

WHAT: Shopify took down two online stores affiliated with Trump — his organization and his campaign's merchandise sites — for violating its policies on supporting violence.

COMMENT: "Shopify does not tolerate actions that invite violence. Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause. As a result, we have terminated stores affiliated with President Trump." - a spokesperson told The Financial Times.

CONTEXT: Shopify had until Friday gone the farthest in actually de-platforming Trump, as his stores were permanently removed, not temporarily disabled.

TWITTER:

WHAT: Twitter announced Friday the platform will permanently ban President Trump's account effective immediately.

COMMENT: "After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence," Twitter said in a statement.

CONTEXT: It's Twitter's strongest-ever action against the president's account and comes in response to the "risk of further incitement of violence," per the social media company.

GOOGLE:

WHAT: Google has pulled Parler, a social media app for conservatives and far-right extremists.

COMMENT: "In order to protect user safety on Google Play, our longstanding policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence," a Google spokesperson said.

CONTEXT: Google’s move immediately suspends Parler, going further than Apple's earlier decision to remove the app unless it submits a content moderation plan.

YOUTUBE:

WHAT: YouTube is accelerating its enforcement of election misinformation and voter fraud claims against Trump and other channels.

COMMENT: "Due to the extraordinary events that transpired yesterday, and given that the election results have been certified, any channel posting new videos with these false claims in violation of our policies will now receive a strike, a penalty which temporarily restricts uploading or live-streaming. Channels that receive three strikes in the same 90-day period will be permanently removed from YouTube," Alex Joseph, a YouTube spokesperson, told Axios.

CONTEXT: YouTube is typically slow to take action on bad content and accounts. Its response, while swift, was somewhat benign compared to competitors removing or disabling Trump's account. YouTube did remove the video Trump posted Wednesday that addressed the Capitol violence without fully condemning it.

FACEBOOK:

WHAT: Facebook banned Donald Trump from posting on his Facebook accounts for at least the next two weeks until the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden is complete.

COMMENT: "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post Thursday.

CONTEXT: On Wednesday, Facebook did remove the video Trump posted Wednesday addressing the violence without fully condemning it before taking greater action against Trump on Thursday.

INSTAGRAM:

WHAT: Instagram banned Donald Trump from posting on his Facebook accounts for at least the next two weeks until the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden is complete.

COMMENT: "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post Thursday.

CONTEXT: On Wednesday, Instagram's parent Facebook did remove the video Trump posted addressing the violence without fully condemning it before taking greater action against Trump on Thursday.

SNAPCHAT:

WHAT: Snapchat disabled Trump's Snapchat account Wednesday because it believes the account promotes and spreads hate and incites violence, a spokesperson said.

COMMENT: "We can confirm that earlier today we locked President Trump's Snapchat account," Snap spokesperson Rachel Racusen told Axios.

CONTEXT: Snapchat was one of the first major social platforms to take serious action on Trump's account for threats to democracy in June when the company said it stopped promoting his account in its "Discover" section, which features professional content and other prominent people.

TIKTOK:

WHAT: TikTok is removing content violations and redirecting hashtags like #stormthecapitol and #patriotparty to its community guidelines.

COMMENT: "Hateful behavior and violence have no place on TikTok. Content or accounts that seek to incite, glorify, or promote violence violate our Community Guidelines and will be removed," a TikTok spokesperson said.

CONTEXT: Other hashtags like #stopthesteal and #QAnon have been redirected since last year.

APPLE:

WHAT: Apple on Friday threatened to remove right-wing-friendly social media app Parler from its App Store if Parler doesn’t lay out a plan to moderate its content.

COMMENT: "We have received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content in your Parler service, accusations that the Parler app was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property,” Apple wrote to Parler in an email obtained by BuzzFeed News. “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”

CONTEXT: Apple is flexing its power to try to get Parler to moderate its content. [on 10 January 2021 Apple suspended the Parler App from its online store. This means the app can no longer be downloaded to an iPhone]

DISCORD:

WHAT: Discord says it has banned server The Donald, per journalist Casey Newton.

COMMENT: "While there is no evidence of the server being used to organize the Jan 6 riots, Discord decided to ban the entire server today due to its overt connection to an online forum used to incite violence and plan an armed insurrection in the United States," per Mother Jones' Ali Breland.

CONTEXT: The Discord account was connected to the pro-Trump social network TheDonald.Win and the r/theDonald subreddit that was banned Friday.

PINTEREST:

WHAT: Pinterest has been limiting hashtags related to pro-Trump topics such as #StopTheSteal since around the November election, a spokesperson said.

COMMENT: "Pinterest isn’t a place for threats, promotion of violence or hateful content," a Pinterest spokesperson said. "Our team is continuing to monitor and removing harmful content, including misinformation and conspiracy theories that may incite violence.”

CONTEXT: Trump doesn't have a Pinterest account, and the platform has tried to stay away from political content, but Pinterest hasn't been able to squelch it completely.

The bottom line: Trump is quickly losing access to all the platforms where he once was able to spread his message freely, but groups of his supporters will still be able to gather online. [my red annotations]

Donald Trump joined Triller (an American video making & social networking platform) in mid-2020 but this site is yet to announce its position.

However, Twitch affiliate PornHub Update recently announced it too was banning Trump.

When Twitter removed Donald Trump’s personal account it appears to have cut off an est. 88,770,584 social media users from receiving his views directly into their timelines each day.

Gary Corby, the Trump campaign’s digital director tried to give Trump his account. Twitter promptly suspended him.

Twitter has also removed the Team Trump account and is selectively removing attempts by Donald Trump to place tweets on @POTUS which violate Twitter’s terms and conditions.

Individual Trump supporter accounts such as @linwoods, @FightBackLaw and @TheRISEofROD have been suspended for either spreading untruths about the 2020 presidential election or advocating lethal violence members of the US Congress.

According to Techcrunch, PayPal has been deactivating the accounts of some groups of Trump supporters since last week, who were using the money-transfer fintech to coordinate payments to underwrite the rioters’ actions on Capitol Hill. PayPal has been increasingly banning some political accounts, banning a far-right activist in 2019 and also banning a spate of far-right organizations in the wake of violent protests in Charlottesville in 2017. These bans so far do not appear to extend directly to the president himself.

Parler which apparently refuses to moderate its platform is also full of such threats - including incitement to assassinate the current US Vice-President for his perceived failure to support Donald Trump - according to Input. On Sunday 9 January 2021 alarmed at the proliferation of violent images and posts on this platform Amazon Web Services announced it would cut Parler from it cloud hosting as of 11:59pm, US Pacific Time (6pm Sydney Time, Monday 11 January 2021). Parler is then potentially offline for up to a week until it rebuild its website.

The naked violence that Donald Trump unleashed on 6 January which left five people dead is still a very real threat…….


"Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021." [Twitter Inc, 8 January 2021]

Parler, 6 January 2021



BACKGROUND







Tuesday, 26 May 2020

From the moment then Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott became Australia's prime minister the National Broadband Network became one enormous rolling disaster


This is what est. $50 billion dollar spend of taxpayer money by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has delivered in rural and regional Australia.....

Clarence Valley Independent, 21 May 2020:

As far as stories about inept management go, the bungled provision of National Broadband Network (NBN) services for the residents of Woombah features a tangled web of politics, bureaucracy, obfuscation and buck passing. 


Seven years after the process began; a recent survey conducted by the Woombah Residents Association has revealed that 60 per cent of the village’s residents are still unable to connect to the NBN. 

The association has written to Page MP Kevin Hogan, Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Mc Cormack expressing their dissatisfaction. 

The COVID-19 lockdown has served to amplify the problem, with one frustrated couple, Robin and Einion Thomas, writing to Mr Hogan: “After contacting your office my email was sent to [NBN Co’s regional manager] Ian Scott. 

“He phoned me and suggested, as we had been unable to connect to the fixed wireless tower, a satellite service would be a good option, [however], a 300Mb plan I saw was for $200 per month. 

“It was also suggested we keep our ADSL line, as satellite is limited and ADSL would be needed if we wanted to do streaming, video conferencing and working with cloud-based services. 

“…Right now [the ADSL] is struggling and this is putting additional pressures on us in our home-based working environment. 

 “Neither of the suggestions made by Ian [is] workable, acceptable or affordable to us.” 

The saga began in April 2013 when Woombah residents were informed that a 40 metre high fixed wireless (NBN) tower was going to be erected at 97 West Street – within weeks a group of residents known as the Woombah Tower Action Group (WTAG), began lobbying to prevent its construction. 

The tower was erected in December 2013 and was commissioned in March 2015. 

As it turned out WTAG’s failed campaign was on the money when it was revealed that fewer than two in ten residences were covered by the tower’s broadcast footprint. 

One of the group’s members, Dane Webb, wrote to Page MP Kevin Hogan, declaring at the time: “This has to go down in history as one of the most ridiculous exercises ever, as it [the tower’s service area] covers – wait for it – TWO complete streets and a few partial streets.” (‘NBN tower fails to deliver’, Clarence Valley Review, March 23, 2015).... 

A panacea to the problem appeared to be close in March/April 2019 when NBN Co’s regional manager, Ian Scott, advised the Woombah Residents Association that two towers – one at Mororo and another at Palmers Island – would provide NBN services to Woombah residents. 

However, according to residents, things have not improved since the towers were commissioned. 

On May 12 the residents association wrote in its media release and/or correspondence: “Despite the huge expense involved in building these additional towers fewer than 40 per cent of our community members can successfully access the NBN fixed wireless internet. 

“Woombah has a population of approximately 1,000 residents and is dependent on tourism, farming and fishing. “It is the second fastest growing community in the Clarence. 

“The population is set to expand over the next year with the development of 147 new homes in a caravan park in the village. 

“…We note that a recent media release from [Communications Minister Paul Fletcher’s] office stated: ‘The importance of fast, affordable broadband delivered quickly has never been clearer than during the current COVID-19 pandemic (27/4/2020).’ 

“We agree wholeheartedly with your statement and would like to draw your attention to the problems we in Woombah face connecting to the NBN.”

According to finder on 21 May 2020, by the end of June 2020 it is expected that:

By the end of the rollout, roughly 40% of premises will be connected via Fibre to the Node or Fibre to the Basement (also known as Fibre to the Building) – the vast majority of these will be Fibre to the Node. 

Fibre to the Node connections still rely on the copper phone lines to cover the last few hundred metres, while Fibre to the Basement runs copper into the basement of multi-dwelling buildings and relies on the building's copper wiring. 

Meanwhile, around 12% will be dependent on Fibre to the Curb, reliant on much shorter copper runs, while 19% will be lucky enough to have Fibre to the Premises running all the way into their home. 

That leaves 21% using the HFC (hybrid fiber-coaxial) cable networks, 5% on fixed-wireless and 3% on SkyMuster satellite.

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, Broadband Performance Data, May 2020:



Monday, 27 April 2020

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch yells ‘Jump!’ Frydenberg and Fletcher respond by leaping into battle


News Corp is an $8.6 billion corporation run from Sixth Avenue in New York. It is controlled by the (American) Murdoch family. Its exploits over seven decades have been as brutal and Darwinian as any media company in history. It has regularly dispensed “we will wipe you out” threats to small and large competitors across the world. Now, we’re told, “international platforms” who have “no commitment to local communities” are responsible for depriving 60 Australian local communities of the news they have depended on for decades. At some point in Australian history, the malevolent abuse of power by the billionaire family who milks its former colony will be exposed.” [Crikey Editor Eric Beecher, News Corp’s abuse of power must be exposed — and stopped, 3 April 2020]

Australian Treasurer & Liberal MP for Kooyong Josh Frydenberg speaking at a joint doorstop interview on 20 April 2020:

Well, good morning. It’s a real pleasure to be here with my friend and colleague, the Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher. It’s time the tech titans were held to account and we had genuine competition, we have a level playing field, we have more transparency and we get payment for original journalistic content. The rise of the digital platforms, and in particular Google and Facebook have delivered real and significant benefits to consumers. But it’s has also been a period of great disruption. And it’s called into question the adequacy of our existing regulatory frameworks and the viability of traditional media outlets. This is why Scott Morrison, when he was Treasurer,= tasked the ACCC to undertake a ground-breaking report, a report that took them 18 months to put together, into the digital platforms. The ACCC led by Rod Sims, produced an outstanding report which made a number of recommendations. Recommendations that the Government has accepted. One of those key areas of focus for the ACCC was to develop a voluntary code between the traditional media businesses and the digital platforms to govern their relationships. Last year, the Government announced that it hoped a voluntary code would be reached by November of this year. Well those negotiations were held and no meaningful progress was made on the most significant component of which the code was to deal with, namely payment for content. And in the words of the ACCC, they did not believe that progress would be made and a deal would be done with a voluntary code. So the Government's taken a decision to move to a mandatory code, with a draft mandatory code to be released by the end of July and to be put together by the ACCC. We hope it will be legislated soon thereafter. We’re very conscious of the challenges we face and that we are dealing with some of the most valuable and powerful companies in the world. In France and in Spain and in other countries where they have tried to bring these tech titans to the table to pay for content they haven't been successful. But we believe this is a battle worth fighting. We believe this is critical for the future viability of our media sector and it's all about competition and creating a level playing field. So together with Minister Fletcher and our colleagues led by the Prime Minister, we will move with the ACCC to put together this mandatory code in the weeks ahead and hopefully it will deliver lasting reform for the sector and importantly, ensure that we have a level playing field into the future…

the ACCC is going to be looking at the method by which the payment for content would occur. There are a number of different options. You can do it on a value option or you can do it on a cost option, meaning that the tech titans would end up paying a fraction of what the cost was for producing that original content every time that they use it. The other alternative is in terms of the value to that particular digital platform that they get from getting eyeballs onto their sites by using that content. So this is to be worked out by the ACCC over the next three months. This is a very significant reform. It’s about holding these tech titans to account. It’s about ensuring genuine competition. It’s about delivering a level playing field. It’s about keeping jobs in journalism, and it’s about ensuring a fair outcome for all….

...these are very profitable platforms so this may eat into their profitability, to the Facebook’s and to the Google’s. But it’s only understandable that they would be paying for that content that they use to get traffic through their websites. You see the way Google and Facebook operate is that they don’t necessarily charge a fee for their service but they attract eyeballs onto their sites and then sell the advertising that goes with it. So this is about ensuring that they are genuinely rewarding and compensating the content that they use….

...but what was clear from the ACCC is that on the key issue of payment for content, there wasn’t a hope that there would be a deal reached between the parties. And the fact that we could not see a light at the end of that tunnel meant that we would move from a voluntary code which was the original intention, to a mandatory code which would be legislated through the Parliament.

One independent media company did not agree with Frydenberg’s assessment of the situation.

Crikey, 23 April 2020:

Earlier this week, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher got up and struck a blow for foreign multinational News Corp in its ongoing war with the tech giants that have used innovation and the internet to wreck the Murdochs’ media business model….

...government has recycled demonstrable lies peddled by News Corp about how it is being robbed by Google and Facebook, with the aim of helping prop up News Corp’s failing Australian media businesses….

News Corp charges that when Google (mostly) and Facebook use its headlines and automatically generated “snippets” of News Corp stories on their sites, they are stealing content, and should be made to pay for it via a licence fee that will “reflect the financial benefit digital platforms derive from using snippets”.

It also complains that longer “snippets” deter people from clicking through the attached link to the original story because they get all they need from what’s displayed.

Except the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) digital platforms inquiry found that News Corp’s claims don’t stack up.

Headlines and snippets aren’t theft of content: “generally, digital platforms’ use of article headlines is unlikely to infringe copyright protections in Australia,” the ACCC noted. “Digital platforms reproducing a snippet of a copyright-protected news article does not infringe copyright protections if the snippet does not reproduce a substantial part of the article.”

And the ACCC found that the tech companies, media organisations and consumers all benefit from the use of snippets. Specifically, “media businesses benefit because a snippet provides context and an indication to the user of the value of that content, increasing the likelihood of consumers clicking through”.

Real-world evidence backed this up. “As a result of a German copyright law requiring Google to pay fees to publish snippets from news media websites, Google stopped showing snippets from [media company Axel Springer’s] news articles. Axel Springer noted that the lack of snippets led to a nearly 40% decline in referral traffic from Google Search and an almost 80% decline in referral traffic from the Google News user interface”.

The ACCC also “does not agree that longer snippet lengths necessarily have a negative effect on referral traffic, with users remaining on an aggregator or search platform rather than clicking through to a news media business’s website”. As a result, it did not recommend that a mandatory licence fee be imposed.

Where it did agree with media companies is that they have little bargaining power with Google et al when it comes to the length and composition of snippets. They can block Google from automatically generating snippets, but beyond being able to “opt out”, they have no way of managing them, or maximising click-through.

The ACCC thus proposed the industry-led development of a code of conduct to be agreed between media and tech companies to address this “imbalance of power” and enable media companies to get access to data and negotiate more effectively with the likes of Google.

Such a code of conduct might also cover how revenue is shared “where the digital platform obtains value, directly or indirectly, from content produced by news media”.

How much value do digital platforms obtain from news content? Google doesn’t show any ads on its news feed, and “does not generally sell advertising opportunities next to search queries that are considered by Google as having a ‘news intent’”. In other countries where it has been ordered to pay fees, it has simply stopped carrying snippets if it can’t do so for free. In Spain, it shut down Google News.

Interestingly, the result in Spain — and one echoed elsewhere — was that smaller media sites lost a large volume of traffic while major media sites suffered relatively little loss. 

It would be to News Corp’s considerable advantage if that same result eventuated in Australia, with smaller competitors in an already marginal economic environment suffering a major loss in traffic…..
[my yellow highlighting]

Monday, 3 February 2020

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison & his merry band of cost cutters decided to save $9.2 million a year by cutting off CapTel phones for the profoundly deaf. Luckily this new front in Morrison's ongoing war on the poor & vulnerable was something of a fizzer


"The Commonwealth Government has awarded American company, Concentrix Services a contract to deliver the National Relay Service (NRS). One of the first things Concentrix is contracted to do is to shut down the CapTel handset service on 1 February 2020." [Deaf Forum of Australia, July 2019]

ABC News, 31 January 2020: 

Thousands of hearing-impaired Australians could face a return to 1980s technology from today after the Federal Government cancelled a deal to support text-captioning telephones. 

Phones with CapTel captioning display words on a large screen in near real time, so deaf and hearing-impaired users can make calls and see the responses. 

But in a decision criticised by disability advocates, the phones will not work as of February 1, after the Department of Communications declined to renew the service provider's contract with the National Relay Service (NRS).  
A new company won the contract. [Concentrix Services Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the SYNNEX Corporation]

It will force users to take up alternative options, with many choosing to revert back to what are known as TTY teletypewriter phones — technology first introduced in the 1980s. 

For Christine O'Reilly, the CapTel phone changed her life. Ms O'Reilly's hearing has been deteriorating since childhood and now at 62, she is profoundly hearing impaired. 

"When I received the CapTel I was so overjoyed I burst into tears," she said..... 

Critics say the decision has come down to one thing: money. 

The cost of the NRS has blown out in recent years, from $26.3 million in 2015-16, to $31.2 million in 2017-18...... 

The new NRS contract awarded last June provides for $22 million per year over three years. 

Until recently there were more than 3,500 CapTel handsets distributed across Australia. The Department of Communications estimates about 1,000 are still active. 

"I certainly acknowledge any transition of this kind is challenging, particularly for older Australians who may not be as familiar with technology," 

Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said. "We've retained a team of trainers who've been going to meet individually with CapTel users to brief them on their alternatives." .....

It is expected many users will switch to TTY teletypewriter phones, which have a small two-line screen for text above the number pad. 

"We're having to go backwards in time, and everyone else can get the latest iPhone," said Dr Alex Harrison, a profoundly deaf veterinarian in Adelaide. 

"[I feel] enormously frustrated and discriminated against," he said. 

Dr Harrison said the CapTel phone had revolutionised his practice, allowing him to easily make up to 10 calls a day. 

Making a call on a TTY phone is much more complicated. "If I want to make a phone call on the TTY, I have to call a 133 number first … and they'll put me through to an operator," he explained. 

Once you do that, you may be put on hold or told you are in a queue to make a call. 

On January 7, the department acknowledged wait times to get through were unacceptable. 

"We understand and acknowledge community disappointment about these issues and can assure you that we are focused on resolving these concerns as a priority," it said. 

To address the wait times, the relay service provider Concentrix is currently hiring and training additional staff. 

New staff took their first calls just prior to Christmas and more staff will commence during the rest of January. 

Other options offered by the Department of Communications are internet-based call captioning and apps designed to work on mobile phones and tablets. 

But users said many of the online options were much slower and less user-friendly, requiring them to fill in multiple fields just to initiate a phone call. 

"The other options are far too slow. They're primitive," Ms O'Reilly said. 

 And advocates point out the average age of CapTel phone users is more than 80. 

"For an elderly person who's not tech savvy, [these options] can be very intimidating, and often they can't do it. Some of these people are 80 or 90, and they really struggle with that," Dr Harrison said..... [my annotation in red]

"It is indeed a big shock to many Australians, and myself, who rely and need the Captel handset. It seems to me that this section of people with a hearing loss have been sacrificed in a big way so that the TTY can be ‘re-introduced’ and then plunge those who went deaf later in life and whom can speak, right back in the dark ages. It is also a direct insult to the intelligence of the people who worked long and hard to get Captel up and running in Australia. Many of our members have spoken of their dismay and disgust, particularly being isolated and the loss of their independence. In the long run, this move will cost the Australian government much more than it does now." [Deaf Forum of Australia, July 2019]


Thankfully, Captioned Telephone International, the company whose contact the Morrison Government refused to renew and, its president Rob Engelke, have bigger, kinder hearts than either Prime Minister Scott Morrison or Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher, as Mr. Engelke has committed the company to maintaining the CapTel system for those Australians who would otherwise lose their handsets by arranging for the routing of all calls through the company's U.S. captioning centres, while it investigates long-term options based in Australia.