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July 2020
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Stone Brewing Is Very Upset That People Don't Like Its Trademark Bullying

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It was just days ago that we were discussing Stone Brewing's new campaign to jealously protect all uses of the word "stone" on alcohol branding. The one time advocate brewer claiming to stand up for craft brewing against "Big Beer" has since devolved into a corporate gorilla smashing up the USPTO to get trademarks cancelled and firing off cease and desist notices to small breweries. All this, mind you, as it also wages war on a second front with MillerCoors over Keystone's rebranding as simply "Stone". In that suit, MillerCoors complained that lots of breweries use the word "stone", which appears to have set Stone Brewing off on its bout of aggression.When Sawstone Brewing pushed back on a C&D and failed to work out an agreement with Stone Brewing, the latter initiated an attempt to cancel the former's trademark. Sawstone complained publicly. And now Stone Brewing is busy complaining that the public is being mean to it as a result.

Stone Brewing published a lengthy statement on its website Monday night regarding its trademark dispute with Sawstone Brewing Co. in Morehead, Ky., saying that Stone has become the “subject of a vicious online harassment and smear campaign.”In a newly published statement, Greg Koch, the CEO of Stone Brewing, acknowledged the company’s multiple trademark disputes, noting that “this kind of thing is just part of owning a brand name and a company identity,” but he claimed that Sawstone’s version of events is not how the situation unfolded.
We'll get into that last bit in a second, but its worth pointing out that Koch's claim that this is all somehow necessary due to owning a brand name is demonstrably false. MillerCoors itself argued against this, admittedly disingenuously. After all, while I think I'd argue that turning Keystone to Stone probably is too close to Stone Brewing so as to cause confusion, MillerCoors' claim that lots of other breweries have used the word "stone" within their brands for a long, long time is absolutely true. And if Stone Brewing not only survived, but thrived, with all those other uses in existence, it negates completely the claim that Stone Brewing had no choice but to act as it has. Were that true, Stone Brewing wouldn't be the behemoth it now is.Now, on to Koch's claim that Sawstone Brewing's description of events wasn't accurate... it's all in the petty details. Essentially, Koch claims that this all started when Sawstone Brewing attempted to trademark its name and that Stone Brewing tried to amicably work out a settlement of the trademark issues over the course of a few months. In addition, Sawstone missed a couple of deadlines for which it had promised settlement proposals. And... that's it.All of which completely misses the point. Stone Brewing didn't have to take this action at all. And while the reported claims of online stalking and threats sent to Stone Brewing are reprehensible if true, a public backlash to bullying behavior by a brewer that was supposed to be standing up to these types of corporate actions is perfectly valid. If Stone Brewing doesn't like that version of the backlash, it can cease playing the bully. Unfortunately...
As for the trademark dispute, Koch said that Stone will not back down and that the decision will ultimately lie with the USPTO.
Well, then enjoy the continued backlash, you Arrogant Bastards.

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posted at: 12:00am on 30-Jul-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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Moderation Of Racist Content Leads To Removal Of Non-Racist Pages & Posts (2020)

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Summary: Social media platforms are constantly seeking to remove racist, bigoted, or hateful content. Unfortunately, these efforts can cause unintended collateral damage to users who share surface similarities to hate groups, even though many of these users take a firmly anti-racist stance.A recent attempt by Facebook to remove hundreds of pages associated with bigoted groups resulted in the unintended deactivation of accounts belonging to historically anti-racist groups and public figures.The unintentional removal of non-racist pages occurred shortly after Facebook engaged in a large-scale deletion of accounts linked to white supremacists, as reported by OneZero:

Hundreds of anti-racist skinheads are reporting that Facebook has purged their accounts for allegedly violating its community standards. This week, members of ska, reggae, and SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) communities that oppose white supremacy are accusing the platform of wrongfully targeting them. Many believe that Facebook has mistakenly conflated their subculture with neo-Nazi groups because of the term skinhead.
The suspensions occurred days after Facebook removed 200 accounts connected to white supremacist groups and as Mark Zuckerberg continues to be scrutinized for his selective moderation of hate speech.Dozens of Facebook users from around the world reported having their accounts locked or their pages disabled due to their association with the "skinhead" subculture. This subculture dates back to the 1960s and predates the racist/fascist tendencies now commonly associated with that term.
Facebook's policies have long forbidden the posting of racist or hateful content. Its ban on "hate speech" encompasses the white supremacist groups it targeted during its purge of these accounts. The removals of accounts not linked to racism -- but linked to the term "skinhead' -- were accidental, presumably triggered by a term now commonly associated with hate groups.Questions to consider:
  • How should a site handle the removal of racist groups and content?
  • Should a site use terms commonly associated with hate groups to search for content/accounts to remove?
  • If certain terms are used to target accounts, should moderators be made aware of alternate uses that may not relate to hateful activity?
  • Should moderators be asked to consider the context surrounding targeted terms when seeking to remove pages or content?
  • Should Facebook provide users whose accounts are disabled with more information as to why this has happened? (Multiple users reported receiving nothing more than a blanket statement about pages/accounts "not following Community Standards.")
  • If context or more information is provided, should Facebook allow users to remove the content (or challenge the moderation decision) prior to disabling their accounts or pages?
Resolution: Facebook's response was nearly immediate. Facebook apologized to users shortly after OneZero reported the apparently-erroneous deletion of non-racist pages. Guy Rosen (VP- Integrity at Facebook) also apologized for the deletion on Twitter to the author of the OneZero post, saying the company had removed these pages in error during its mass deletion of white supremacists pages/accounts and said the company is looking into the error.

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posted at: 12:00am on 30-Jul-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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