Facebook manipulation experiment has connections to DoD "emotional contagion" research


Here's a new wrinkle on the massive emotion-manipulation study that Facebook conducted in concert with researchers from Cornell and UCSF: one of its researchers is funded under a US Department of Defense program to study "emotional contagion" and civil unrest.

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Big Telco uses shills to smear book about Net Neutrality and telcoms corruption

Susan Crawford is an eminent telcoms scholar, former government official (who resigned because of corruption in telcoms policy) and the author, recently, of an important book on telcoms corruption and net neutrality called Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. This book has scared the pants off of big telcos.

Their anti-Net-Neutrality front groups like NetCompetition, Broadband For America, and Media Freedom have been smearing Crawford and her book since it was published, and now, at least 31 people have posted highly similar one-star reviews of her book to Amazon, quoting talking points from these organizations. Most of these reviewers are not in Amazon's "real name" program, and the ones that are work for big telcos and the think-tanks they fund. Mike Masnick investigated the reviews in detail and it's pretty clear that nearly all the five-star reviews are from legit, named, disinterested parties (albeit with a few people who have a dog in the fight, like activists and scholars, and a couple more who say they are trying to balance out the one-star smears); meanwhile, nearly all the one-star reviews are from shills or telco people.

America has some of the worst Internet infrastructure in the developed world, and it's getting worse year by year. It's thanks to the crooked phone companies and their corrupt pals in Congress, the state houses, and the regulators. These titans have the country by its nervous system, and they're so afraid of criticism that they engage in petty, corrupt astroturfing to attack books that call them out. Now is a great time to buy Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, read it, and give it an honest review.

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Bots flood Twitter with noise to drown out anti-Kremlin tweets

Russia's contested election have roused the ire of the Russian people, who have risked brutal crackdowns to take to the streets and protest irregularities like ballot-stuffing, which returned Putin to power.

Some of that anger is being vented on the Web. Russia's power-brokers may be thugs, but they aren't technologically naive or unsophisticated. A network of Twitterbots have taken to Twitter to flood the service with junk messages that pollute anti-Kremlin hashtags.

Meanwhile, someone (perhaps Russian President Dmitry Medvedev) used Medvedev's official Twitter account to tweet, "It has become clear that if a person writes the expression ‘party of swindlers and thieves’ in their blog then they are a stupid sheep getting f****d in the mouth :)." The smiley face is a nice touch.

I’ve been working with a few security researchers inside of Russia who asked not to be named for fear of retribution by patriotic Russian hackers or the government. Since Trend’s posting, they’ve identified thousands of additional accounts (e.g., @ALanskoy, @APoluyan, @AUstickiy, @AbbotRama, @AbrahamCaldwell…a much longer list is available here) that are rapidly posting anti-protester or pro-Kremlin sentiments to more than a dozen hashtags and keywords that protesters are using to share news, including #Navalny.

A review of the 2,000 Twitter accounts linked above indicates that most of them were created at the beginning of July 2011, and have very few tweets other than those meant to counter the protesters, or to simply fill the hashtag feeds with meaningless garbage. Some of the bot messages include completely unrelated hashtags or keywords, seemingly to pollute the news stream for the protester hashtags.

In addition, almost all of the bot accounts are mostly following each other, with a handful of exceptions: It appears that most of the auto-created accounts that are flooding the protester hashtags are following the Twitter account @master_boot, which looks like it belongs to an actual user. In fact, one of Master_boot’s 17,000+ followers recently tweeted to inquire about Twitter bots. The person behind the @master_boot account did not immediately respond to requests.

Twitter Bots Drown Out Anti-Kremlin Tweets (via /.)

Deceptive "independent research" from Hollywood front suggests Australians are easily frightened

A press release from a mysterious "independent" Australian research outfit announced that if Aussie ISPs would help the movie industry by threatening the families that Hollywood says are downloading without permission, copyright infringement would fall by a whopping 72 percent.

This is a big number. A very big number. Especially since the same poll question, when asked in France (where the motion picture lobby has succeeded in passing a "disconnect anyone we don't like from the Internet" law) showed that only four percent of downloaders changed their habits out of fear of detection.

No, it's not that Australians are easily frightened. Rather, the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation (an "independent" firm that lists the MPAA on its board and has no visible clients apart from the entertainment industry) included responses from people who don't download in its poll -- that is, they lumped in the very small number of people (zero, possibly) who said, "I download, and this would make me stop" with the very large number of people who said, "I don't download, but, well, hypothetically, if I did, this might make me stop."

If 72 percent say they would stop sharing after a warning, then 28 percent didn’t agree with this statement. And since only 22 percent of the people said they used file-sharing software in 2011 (the only people who would be affected by a three strikes system), this means that warnings from ISPs wouldn’t even deter people who aren’t the target of this system in the first place.

Or put differently, it could very well be that none of the 22 percent file-sharers indicated that they would stop doing so when notified by their ISP.

Now that’s an entirely different conclusion isn’t it?

Anti-Piracy Lobby Misleads Aussie Press for Three-Strikes Campaign