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Donald Trump Won Because of Facebook (nymag.com) 499

Max Read makes his case via New York Magazine for how Facebook was the reason for Donald Trump's surprise victory on November 8th. Though, to be fair, "Facebook" is called out specifically due to its large online presence, but in reality all the "large and influential boards and social-media platforms where Americans now congregate to discuss politics" are to blame. The main reason why has to do with Facebook's "inability (or refusal) to address the problem of hoax or fake news" that is spread rampantly and effortlessly across the platform: Fake news is not a problem unique to Facebook, but Facebook's enormous audience, and the mechanisms of distribution on which the site relies -- i.e., the emotionally charged activity of sharing, and the show-me-more-like-this feedback loop of the news feed algorithm -- makes it the only site to support a genuinely lucrative market in which shady publishers arbitrage traffic by enticing people off of Facebook and onto ad-festooned websites, using stories that are alternately made up, incorrect, exaggerated beyond all relationship to truth, or all three. Many got hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of shares, likes, and comments; enough people clicked through to the posts to generate significant profits for their creators. The valiant efforts of Snopes and other debunking organizations were insufficient; Facebook's labyrinthine sharing and privacy settings mean that fact-checks get lost in the shuffle. Often, no one would even need to click on and read the story for the headline itself to become a widely distributed talking point, repeated elsewhere online, or, sometimes, in real life. When roughly 170 million people in North America use Facebook every day and nearly forty-four percent of all adults in the U.S. say they get news from Facebook, the spread of "fake news" is all the more detrimental. The problem is that Facebook seems "insecure about its power, unsure of its purpose, and unclear about what its responsibilities really are." Earlier this year, Facebook acted on what was right and wrong by censoring the iconic "napalm girl" photograph, later issuing a statement saying "These are difficult decisions and we don't always get it right." Of course, lies and exaggerations have always been central to real political campaigns; Facebook has simply made them easier to spread, and discovered that it suffers no particular market punishment for doing so -- humans seem to have a strong bias toward news that confirms their beliefs, and environments where those beliefs are unlikely to be challenged.
Government

Slashdot Asks: Should The US Abolish The Electoral College? 1081

Last night as votes were still being counted, statistician and editor-in-chief for FiveThirtyEight Nate Silver pointed out that while Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States, "it's possible, perhaps even likely, that [Hillary Clinton] will eventually win the popular vote as more votes come in from California." We now know that she has indeed won the popular vote by a slim margin. American journalist Carl Bialik adds via Silver's blog: Hillary Clinton could still conceivably win the election -- or she could lose the national popular vote. But since both outcomes look unlikely, we should start preparing ourselves for the possibility of the second split between the national popular vote and the electoral vote in the last five presidential elections. A coalition of 11 sates with 165 electoral votes between them has agreed to an interstate compact that, once signed by states with a combined 270 or more electoral votes, would bind their electors to vote for the winner of the national popular vote -- in effect ending the Electoral College. New York just joined this week. It wasn't enough to affect this election, but maybe today's result will spur more states to join. The results of this election echo the 2000 results, where Democrat Al Gore narrowly won the popular vote, but George W. Bush won the White House. It brings into question whether or not the Electoral College should be abolished in favor of the popular vote. As a refresher, the Electoral College is comprised of electors that cast their votes for president. Each state has a set number of electors that is based on the state's population -- the candidate who wins the state's popular vote gets those electors. Technically, on Election Day, the American people are electing the electors who elect the president. The New York Times has a lengthy article describing how the Electoral College works, which you can view here.

Comment Re:Analyzing... (Score 1) 79

Satellite communication is only required for long distance pager networks. A pager network with a local coverage can be done on site along with the other IT infrastructure. The antenna can even be installed on site as well depending on the coverage needs. Pager networks do not require public infrastructure at all.

Comment Re:sea-fiber + microwave towers = partial fix (Score 1) 101

While towers tall enough for line of sight is ideal, microwave communication can also occur with what is called Tropospheric Scatter. This is a propagation mode where signals are transmitted above the horizon of the receiving station. Some of the energy is reflected by water vapor back to the receiving station completing the link. Troposcatter links can work for a few hundred miles and used to link remote communities such as Nome, Alaska. A troposcatter link was also used to connect West Berlin to West Germany during the cold war since cables could not be laid on East German Territory.

Comment Re:Poll Ideas (Score 1) 301

Obamacare - Repeal
Immigration reform - Make legal immigration easier
Same-sex marriage - Leave it alone
Abortion - Leave to the states
Gun control - Revert to Second Amendment, replace federal gun laws with a law prohibiting states from restricting guns
Building a wall - Why didn't we do this a century ago?
Death taxes - Repeal
CowboyNeal - Transfer ownership of slashdot to

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Humble Bundle Announces 'Hacker' Pay-What-You-Want Sale (humblebundle.com) 52

An anonymous reader writes: Humble Bundle announced a special "pay what you want" sale for four ebooks from No Starch Press, with proceeds going to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (or to the charity of your choice). This "hacker edition" sale includes two relatively new titles from 2015 -- "Automate the Boring Stuff with Python" and Violet Blue's "Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy," as well as "Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering" by Andrew "bunnie" Huang, and "The Linux Command Line".

Hackers who are willing to pay "more than the average" -- currently $14.87 -- can also unlock a set of five more books, which includes "The Maker's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse: Defend Your Base with Simple Circuits, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi". (This level also includes "Bitcoin for the Befuddled" and "Designing BSD Rootkits: An Introduction to Kernel Hacking".) And at the $15 level -- just 13 cents more -- four additional books are unlocked. "Practical Malware Analysis: The Hands-On Guide to Dissecting Malicious Software" is available at this level, as well as "Hacking: The Art of Exploitation" and "Black Hat Python."

Nice to see they've already sold 28,506 bundles, which are DRM-free and available in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI format. (I still remember Slashdot's 2012 interview with Make magazine's Andrew "bunnie" Huang, who Samzenpus described as "one of the most famous hardware and software hackers in the world.")
Desktops (Apple)

Kim Jong-Un Found To Be Mac User 195

jones_supa writes: He might hate the United States, but he sure digs those designed-in-California computers. You probably wouldn't take Kim Jong-un as a Mac user. Usually, in photos of him checking out military computers, we see the North Korean dictator in front of a PC with a Dell monitor. However, a handful of photos of the supreme leader at his own desk show him with Macs, leading to the assumption that while the military may use PCs, his personal preference is Mac. Reuters correspondent James Pearson, who covers both Koreas, tweeted out a fresh image of little Kim using a MacBook Pro inside an aircraft. There are other images, including a 2013 image of Kim Jong-un at his desk with an iMac. That same year, the South Korean newspaper Chosun published a photo from North Korean Central News Agency, which features an Apple iMac. This might also explain why the country's home-grown Linux distribution Red Star imitates OS X.
Transportation

France To Pave 1000km of Road With Solar Panels (solarcrunch.org) 407

An anonymous reader writes: France is planning on a project to build 1000 kilometers of road with specially designed solar panels. This project will supply 5 million people in France with electricity if it is successful. Though many solar experts are skeptical of this project, the French government has given the go-ahead to this venture. According to France's minister of ecology and energy, Ségolène Royal, the tender for this project is already issued under the "Positive Energy" initiative and the test for the solar panels will begin by this spring.The photo voltaic solar panels called "Wattway" which will be used in the project are jointly developed by the French infrastructure firm "Colas" and the National Institute for Solar Energy. The specialty of "Wattway" is that its very sturdy and can let heavy trucks pass over it, also offering a good grip to avoid an accident. Interestingly, this project will not remove road surfaces but instead, the solar panels will be glued to the existing pavement.

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