Ernie Piper, sent us a press request by email yesterday. He plans on publishing an, “…investigation into Disclose.tv” soon. This is our public response.
Piper, a former travel reporter who now works for UK-based Logically as a “disinformation reporter,” says the company he works for, “…fights misinformation.” We’ve never heard of them, but the Logically website lists “Fact-Checking as a Service” or FCAAS, at the top of the list of their services.
As a matter of fact, they also entered into a “fact-checking partnership” with Facebook in July 2021, and hired former Senior DHS official and former FBI Executive Brian Murphy as their Vice President of Strategic Operations, “…to lead, and expand, Logically’s threat intelligence business in the US.”
Ernie Piper has a lot of unanswered questions in his email to us. We will now try to help shed some light on them. For him, it is important to know who is behind the Disclose.tv operations. It seems in his view, we’re very bad people doing very bad things.
Uwe Braun from Germany is the founder and managing director of Futurebytes GmbH & Co. KG, the parent company of Disclose.tv. Before Futurebytes, he co-founded a company that evolved into one of the largest Internet hosting providers in Europe. The company was eventually acquired by Nasdaq-listed GoDaddy (GDDY). At the same time, Uwe booked a flight with Virgin Galactic, to space, to see if the Earth is flat or not with his own eyes [hint: irony].
This brings us to Ernie Piper’s next concern: He says Disclose.tv, “amplifies and provides a platform for conspiracy theories, anti-vax disinformation, and hate speech on Telegram and Discord.”
“We at Disclose.tv embrace the Truth, and distance ourselves from misinformation, and violent speech of any kind. In addition, we consider freedom of expression to be the most valuable and inalienable human right that we have. It must also remain resilient to its legal limits.”Uwe Braun, Futurebytes GmbH & Co. KG
Regarding our Discord community. We must admit, we lost sight of it. The small community there developed a life of its own. Like in many Discord servers. Unfortunately, this resulted in us having to close it down due to a lack of proper moderation resources. So, Mr. Piper has a point, however; we have not maliciously or even intentionally failed to act here, as he seems to accuse us of in his email.
Now, Telegram. That is a completely different ball game and is another reason why we could not take care of the Discord server anymore. In the last 12 months, our Telegram channel and community grew from 0 to almost 400,000 subscribers. That is a massive and rapid growth. Our 25 moderators, and our two security bots, currently clean up thousands of comments per day. Over 1,000 interventions are logged daily. Is it possible that we miss a few here and there? Most probably, but we are not robots… yet! Even with lots of eyes up to 17,000 comments in one day is a lot to manage. Even Facebook and Twitter can’t get it right, that’s why they’ve contracted Logically, right?
Our rules for comments in our public chat group on Telegram are:
English, please.These rules are listed in the description of the group
No unlawful discussions.
No incitement to violence.
No left or right-wing BS.
No Nazi and Hitler BS.
No porn, no gore.
No spam, no channel advertising.
Respect gender, race, and religion.
Just for the record: our largest communities on Twitter, Facebook, and Telegram with a combined followership of 4.21 million followers, do not have any active strikes for policy violations!
Ernie Piper does not like that we use AI-generated profile pictures for the four NPC authors on our website. He wants to know who they really are – and we’re sure that’s not because he wants to give them any positive remarks for their fantastic work. To be clear, they are ghost-writers. They want to remain anonymous and we respect people’s privacy. Also, publishing our own articles is a completely new thing for us. Until mid-last year, our old website hosted a forum (like Reddit) where users could register and post all sorts of content. When we looked at redesigning our website, it was decided that it did not fit our trajectory anymore; it was removed.
We are still in the learning process of becoming a proper publisher, and we plan to hire staff editors sometime in the future. If they too wish to remain anonymous, they may do so, and we fully respect that decision. If anyone is reading this and would like to help us take our publishing to a more professional level, please contact us.
And yes, we migrated a handful of unvetted user-generated content from our previous Reddit-style forum website to the new website post relaunch. We needed something to learn the new WordPress thing. Ernie Piper says, we plagiarized the content or failed to link to the original source. Fair enough: those articles got nuked. We promise to do better in the future. We are already looking into the appropriate tools and processes.
Ernie Piper, also complains that Disclose.tv sometimes, “…posts news headlines from other outlets without attribution on its social media feeds.”
In fact, Disclose.tv is a news aggregator and media company. There is really nothing wrong with this business model. The Bielefeld Regional Court in Germany (decision of January 3, 2017, Case No. 4 O 144/16) ruled that a tweet is only protected by copyright if it has reached a certain, “level of creation” – in other words, a tweet must be original and stand out from the general public to be original content. Certainly, short news headlines do not fall into this category at all. Not to mention that we often give credit when credit is due and add links to other media outlets.
Here comes the next issue: Ernie Piper, assumes that we don’t have offices at the location for the registered address of our company. He thinks we want to hide, so nobody can hold us accountable. Not so fast. We have a proper imprint, according to German law, on our website. The imprint transparently states our address with legal capacity, who is responsible for the content, the company registration number, and various options to contact us. Finding us is quite easy!
About our offices: our employees, freelancers, and volunteers work from home. This has become a feasible thing for many online businesses nowadays.
Ernie Piper also does not like that we use a US phone number. It’s a voice box, provided by the American SAAS provider Zendesk. We use the same service for email ticketing. It’s a miracle that these two together make our life easier because a ticket is generated for every incoming voice message. What’s so wrong with efficiency?
On your final question, Mr. Piper: The other individuals you mentioned do not work for our company and we have no business relationship with the company you listed.
Finally, we note that you plan to write an article about Disclose.tv, and we note the fact that everyone has the right to free speech, however; given that you have put this on a very formal basis, the obligation of publication also carries with it the obligation of the writer to “fact-check,” and ensure that what is published is correct. In doing so, making sure that it does not cause harm to either us, Disclose.tv, or any individual associated with Disclose.tv.
In that regard, where you posit the position that you are exercising a high standard, we hope and would expect that your article will adhere to the same. In that regard, we reserve our right to protect Disclose.tv and any individual associated with Disclose.tv. If your article is found to fall short, and as a result causes damage to Disclose.tv, and anyone associated with Disclose.tv, we will then consider our position. We look forward to reading your article and hope this does not transpire.