Lauren Weinstein writes: Action Items: What Google, Facebook, and Others Should Be Doing RIGHT NOW About Fake News
Today is action items day, and there isn’t a moment to lose before someone gets killed as a result of the fake news scourge. It nearly happened a couple of days ago, when some wacko invaded a pizza restaurant and shot it up looking for the youthful “sex slaves” that the fake “Pizzagate” story claims exist (a total fabrication created out of whole cloth and part of the complex of fake anti-Hillary sex stories even being promoted by highly-placed wackos in Trump’s White House circle). In fact, there are already new fake stories circulating regarding the shooting itself.
There are some ongoing efforts to begin dealing with fake and false news at the big firms. Facebook appears to be running an experiment asking some users to rate how “misleading” some link titles might be. This will no doubt collect some interesting data and may be a small portion of solutions, but of course cannot alone solve the underlying problems...
to report fake or false news found on traditional websites and/or in social media postings.
Any information submitted via this form may be made public after verification, with the exception of your name and/or email address if provided (which will be kept private and will not be used for any purposes other than this study)...
Lauren Weinstein writes: Two days ago, I uploaded the YouTube video linked below, which recorded the insightful response I received from Google Home to the highly relevant question: “Is Donald Trump Insane?” I noted Google’s accurate appraisal on Google+ and in my various public mailing lists. The next day (yesterday) the response was (and currently is) gone for the same query to Home — replaced by the generic: “I can do a search for that.”...
Lauren Weinstein writes: Labeling, tagging, and downranking of clearly false or fake posts is an approach that can help to reduce the tendency for outright lies to be treated equivalently with truth in social media and search engines. These techniques also avoid invoking the actual removal of lying items themselves and the “censorship” issues that then may come into play (though private firms quite appropriately are indeed free to determine what materials they wish to permit and host — the First Amendment only applies to governmental restraints on speech in the USA).
Lauren Weinstein writes: Lately, Twitter has been taking the brunt of public criticism regarding harassment and hate speech — and their newly announced measures to supposedly combat these problems seem to mostly be potentially counterproductive “ostrich head in the sand” tools that would permit offending tweets to continue largely unabated.
But all social media suffers from these problems to one degree or another, and I feel it is fair to say that no major social media firm really takes hate speech and harassment seriously — or at least as seriously as ethical firms must.
Lauren Weinstein writes: There are times when Google is in the right. There are times when Google is in the wrong. By far, they’re usually on the angels’ side of most issues. But there’s one area where they’ve had consistent problems dating back for years: Cutting off users from those users’ own data when there’s a dispute regarding Google Account status.
Lauren Weinstein writes: Facebook, Twitter, and other social media posts are continually promulgating outright lies about individuals or situations. Via social media personalization and associated posting “surfacing” systems, these lies can reach enormous audiences in a matter of minutes, and even push such completely false materials to the top of otherwise legitimate search engine results.
And once that damage is done, it’s almost impossible to repair. You can virtually never get as many people to see follow-ups that expose the lying posts as who saw the original lies themselves.
Lauren Weinstein writes: Much has recently been written about Google Home, the little vase-like cylinder that started landing in consumers’ hands only a week or so ago. Home’s mandate sounds simple enough in theory — listen to a room for commands or queries, then respond by voice and/or with appropriate actions.
What hasn’t been much discussed however, is how the Home ecosystem is going to change for the better the lives of millions to billions of people over time, in ways that most of us couldn’t even imagine today. It will drastically improve the lives of vast numbers of persons with visual and/or motor impairments, but ultimately will dramatically and positively affect the lives of everyone else as well.
Lauren Weinstein writes: Pretty much at top of Trump’s technology-related enemies list is Google. The Trump team despises Google with a ferocious antipathy.
Google represents pretty much everything that Trump and his team hates: Information that Trump and his associates can’t control. Intelligent, largely liberal-leaning employees for whom facts and data are not overridden by political exigencies of the moment. Privacy and security teams who won’t bend over and grab their ankles whenever anyone in the government simply says “jump” without appropriate legal authority. And so on.
Lauren Weinstein writes: What actually happens when you ask the newly released Google Home Appliance about legendary comedian George Carlin’s famous Seven Dirty Words That You Can Never Say on Television? Link to Original Source
Lauren Weinstein writes: We techies tend to be blinded by our own science, to the point where we undervalue or simply don’t recognize the disparities between our view of technology and the ways that ordinary, non-techie folks with their own lives use our services and tools.
It’s a disgraceful situation on our part. And it’s our fault.
Most people increasingly view the Internet as they would a refrigerator, or an ordinary TV set. They just expect it to work. And that’s a completely reasonable attitude given how much absolutely necessary day-to-day functionality we’ve pushed onto the Web. Link to Original Source
Lauren Weinstein writes: There’s a rising controversy right now — I’ve received a couple of dozen queries about this in the last few days — regarding Facebook’s permitting advertisers to block particular ads from specific “ethnic affinity” groups, e.g. African American.
Facebook insists that these aren’t actually racial categories per se since they don’t directly ask users about their race. Rather, Facebook insists that they “merely” assign a kind of racial “score” to users based on user activities.
That’s Facebook double-talk of course. Look at stuff that Facebook figures mainly interests whites, and Facebook sorts you into the white club. Look at materials that Facebook assumes mainly attract blacks, and Facebook relegates you to the black shack. Same idea for Hispanics, and so on. Link to Original Source
Lauren Weinstein writes: Word is out from multiple intelligence sources and security researchers that Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account was hacked by (you guessed it!) Russian hackers under the direction of the Russian government (aka Vladimir Putin), for public distribution of Podesta’s email messages via Putin’s propaganda publishing arm: Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks. All of this in furtherance of Putin’s “Get Ignorant Puppet Trump Elected U.S. President!” project.
Apparently Podesta fell victim to a typical “spear phishing” attack, typing his Google Gmail credentials into a convincing (but fake) Google login page.
Lauren Weinstein writes: Just when you’re thinking that the situation couldn’t get worse for once venerable Yahoo — the company has been sold at fire sale prices, they’ve announced historically enormous user account security breaches, and so on — comes word that Yahoo may have permitted mass scanning of users’ email contents by unnamed federal intelligence agencies.
Unattributed, unsourced stories — particularly dramatic ones like this — must be viewed with extreme skepticism. Very often these days some nobody throws out a baseless rumor, it’s mirrored around the Web in minutes, and sometimes is even picked up by mainstream news sources without any sort of realistic fact checking. If every individual or firm subjected to this sort of abuse responded formally to every such unfounded attack, they often wouldn’t have time to do much else.