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Submission + - Does Google Hate Old People? (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: No. Google doesn't hate old people. I know Google well enough to be pretty damned sure about that.

Is Google "indifferent" to old people? Does Google simply not appreciate, or somehow devalue, the needs of older users?

Those are much tougher calls ...

Submission + - Call for Participation: Internet Political Trolls Collection Project 2016 (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: It's no secret that vile political trolls remain massively at large in the social media landscape during this USA 2016 presidential election season.

But who are they? Who are their targets? Who do they support? What are the specific aspects of their attacks in social media comments and their other postings?

I've begun a survey to collect some detailed data on these and related questions from anyone who has themselves observed politically-oriented trolls on social media. It should take only a few minutes to complete, and you can return as often as desired to report additional trolls.

Comment Google and non-SSL site warnings (Score 3, Informative) 216

I'm forced to agree with this Slashdot poster. The use of a red X in this context will confuse users about perfectly correct and properly working websites, particularly legacy sites that carry no practical risks and contain widely referenced information, but that cannot be upgraded to SSL in a practical manner. The most likely outcome will be users learning to ignore such warnings completely because they will be so widely present and widely viewed as "crying wolf." It is also likely that many sites will push back against Google on this by posting explicit messages on their pages explaining to users that Google is playing Mommy and that nothing is wrong with their sites. It is perfectly acceptable and reasonable for Google to encourage the use of SSL. However, the approach being discussed is not helpful and is likely to even be counterproductive. REFERENCE: "When Google Thinks They're Your Mommy" - http://lauren.vortex.com/archi...

Submission + - Why Does Twitter Refuse to Shut Down Donald Trump? (vortex.com) 4

Lauren Weinstein writes: The conclusion appears inescapable. Twitter apparently has voluntarily chosen to "look the other way" while Donald Trump spews forth a trolling stream of hate and other abuses that would cause any average Twitter user to be terminated in a heartbeat.

There's always room to argue the proprietary or desirability of any given social media content terms of service — or the policy precepts through which they are applied.

It is also utterly clear that if such rules are not applied to everyone with the same vigor, particularly when there's an appearance of profiting by making exceptions for particular individuals, the moral authority on which those rules are presumably based is decimated, pointless, and becomes a mere fiction.

Submission + - Why I'm a Defender of YouTube (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: In a time of fascist politicians spouting simplistic slogans about race, religion, terrorism, and censorship, along with whatever other pandering platitudes they believe will win them votes, prestige, power, and control — it's worth remembering how much good the Internet brings us, and how much poorer we'd all be in so many ways for the shackling of Internet services like YouTube, in the name of such self-serving proclamations and damaging false solutions.

Submission + - Senators Prepare to Push Through Encryption Backdoors Without Commission Study (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: This morning I reported on the proposal for a Commission to study crypto backdoors and how such backdoors would put us all at risk. Now comes word (http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/266517-senate-intel-leaders-worry-encryption-commission-too-slow) that the Senate is preparing to bypass the commission idea entirely. As I said in my blog post this morning, it has all been a smokescreen. Q.E.D.

Submission + - The Politicians' Encryption Backdoor Fantasies Continue -- and Legislating Pi (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: "I Got You Babe."

I've written about law enforcement, politicians, and their hopeless fantasies of "safe" encryption backdoors so many times — and have become so disgusted at the endlessly repeating nature of the situation — that I really do feel like I'm hearing that old Sonny and Cher song in much the way Bill Murray did in his 1993 classic film "Groundhog Day" — again, and again ... and yet again.

But the crypto backdoor "hits" just keep on comin' — and today is no exception.

Now comes word that a bipartisan pair of lawmakers is introducing federal legislation to establish a national commission to figure out "how police can get at encrypted data of honest citizens without endangering those citizen's privacy at the same time."

Submission + - Understandable & Wrong: Google Enables YouTube Censorship in Pakistan (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: I absolutely understand the pragmatic realities of having to obey laws in those countries in which Google chooses — voluntarily — to operate, but I find the newly announced and apparently Google-endorsed government controls over YouTube content in Pakistan to be extremely disturbing, and a horrific precedent for other countries going forward.

Everyone everywhere who is concerned about the responsible exercise of free speech should be alarmed at these developments.

Submission + - Despite Politicians, the Internet Can Save Us from Ourselves (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: For if there's one lesson I've learned spending my entire adult life watching the Internet grow from a few IMPs, Teletypes, and dial-up modems into the vast wonder it is today, it's that with very few exceptions the cure for problematic information is not restrictions on the ability to communicate.

Rather, we need more and better information, more communications, more one-to-one contact between individuals mutually connected by the largely unseen instrumentalities of fiber cables, routers, data centers, and Wi-Fi signals around planet Earth.

And this holds true whether we're looking for help with a personal problem, assistance with an errant circuit board — or if we merely seek to try save the world from mutually assured destruction.

If we permit our leaders and politicians to continue building their walls between us, walls figuratively electronic, or physically brick and mortar and steel, we will have squandered the Internet's promise as a tool for the benefit of humanity.

We can surrender to fear and demagoguery, or we can grasp the nettle and do our utmost to assure the Internet's place in a bright future for the world, rather than standing by and permitting it to be twisted into a tool of political censorship and governmental oppression.

Submission + - How Accessibility Standards Enable Poor User Interfaces (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: The observant reader might wonder ... how can this situation persist? Why aren't there accessibility standards for websites?

In fact, there are such standards.

But the irony is that by encouraging a "one size fits all" view of user interfaces — typically with few or no user control options, such standards can provide an excuse for not making interfaces more customizable, more targeted to users with particular needs, and overall better than what the standards provide for.

Submission + - Social Media & Terrorism & Ourselves: The Post I Didn't Want to Write To (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: I had not planned to post this item this evening. I actually started on it earlier today, but put it aside for another time. It's Friday, I'm tired, and the topic is just too depressing.

But when I flicked on the television a few minutes ago, I saw CNN covering the live spectacle of a Muslim woman in a hijab, who stood silently wearing a yellow star labeled Muslim, being evicted from a Donald Trump rally by a boisterous crowd of Trump supporters who would have fit right in during 1930s Germany.

And so I've pulled my depressing text back up in Google Docs, and I'll finish it here and now.

Submission + - T-Mobile's CEO John Legere and the Big Lie About Internet Video (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: The bottom line appears to be that T-Mobile may have been caught in a lie, and when they were called out on it, their CEO let loose an array of obscene, incoherent rants like some sort of nightmarish telecom industry incarnation of Donald Trump.

Unfortunately, this leaves in something of a bind the legions of T-Mobile USA customers, many of whom moved to T-Mobile specifically because they despised the various practices of T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. Thanks to the tiny oligarchy of mobile carriers here in the U.S., we seem to be well and truly screwed.

Submission + - T-Mobile's Tampering with Video Is Bad for Everyone, Not Just Google (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: Current controversies regarding T-Mobile's new "Binge On" service can be more complicated to explain, because they combine key aspects of bandwidth cap issues like those mentioned above, with another aspect entirely — T-Mobile is apparently actually tampering with outside services' video streams and slowing them down.

Google's YouTube has been particular vocal in expressing concerns about this, and with excellent reasons.

Because what T-Mobile is doing threatens fundamental precepts of net neutrality that are crucial to avoid Internet consumers from being — frankly — shafted, whether they realize it at the time or not.

Submission + - -Mobile's Tampering with Video Is Bad for Everyone, Not Just Google (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: Current controversies regarding T-Mobile's new "Binge On" service can be more complicated to explain, because they combine key aspects of bandwidth cap issues like those mentioned above, with another aspect entirely — T-Mobile is apparently actually tampering with outside services' video streams and slowing them down.

Google's YouTube has been particular vocal in expressing concerns about this, and with excellent reasons.

Because what T-Mobile is doing threatens fundamental precepts of net neutrality that are crucial to avoid Internet consumers from being — frankly — shafted, whether they realize it at the time or not.

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