Seriousness and sincerity: how to tell jesters from trolls


Trolls, when cornered, often excuse themselves as Shakespearean fools of the modern age, as jesters. Given that the term "troll" spans a vast expanse from cute to abusive, this grasp at virtue seems legit. But there's a plain difference between jesters and trolls: sincerity. Jesters are unserious – a good thing! – but that doesn't mean their performance is insincere. Trolls, though, are both of these things.

How, then, do you see a troll for what they are? Unseriousness is visible, but insincerity is often not.

Mercifully, the excuse itself is a clue. Trolls don't really get the difference between themselves and the noble, world-improving court fools of their imagination.

So, when scrutinized in ways that require sincerity, they stop being unserious as well. Instead of proving themselves to be Jesters, they become Squares, serious and sincere, explaining themselves at sententious length until they can retreat back to the Troll corner and resume normal operations.

The people to really watch out for, though, the truly Machiavellian types, are people who are serious yet insincere. These Worms (lots in Silicon Valley!) slide across the opposite diagonal: whenever cornered for their shenanigans, they're disturbingly good at excusing themselves as Jesters – unserious in tone, yet ostentatiously moral.

The corollaries are also true, I find. When otherwise happy, decent, respectable Squares get defensive, they transform into amazingly unpleasant Trolls. And true Jesters, in their weak hours, tend to moonlight as Worms, manipulating others with affected seriousness.

This is just a dumb chart on the internet, of course, even dumber than the Mills Boon personality test or whatever it's called. Read the rest

Associated Press Style: No more capitalizing internet and web

On Saturday, the Associated Press announced that in the 2016 edition of their widely-used AP Stylebook guide to English grammar and usage, the words "internet" and "web" will no longer be capitalized.

"The changes reflect a growing trend toward lowercasing both words, which have become generic terms," AP Standards Editor Thomas Kent told Poynter.

Please note that Boing Boing will continue to capitalize Information Superhighway. Read the rest

Privacy concerns at the heart of the evolving web


Hulk Hogan's courtroom sex-tape victory signifies how much the web has already changed, writes John Hermann: casual privacy invasion only disgusts readers who are all-too-aware that they might be next.

In 2012, the vast majority of Twitter posts that linked to Gawker’s video were lighthearted jokes — about Mr. Bollea’s physique, about the humiliation of a childhood idol, about fame-seeking… [but by] 2014, when hackers posted hundreds of photos obtained from celebrities’ private accounts. Publications that had previously trafficked in leaked nude photos — including Gawker Media properties and sites like BuzzFeed — shied away from publishing them.

Lurking in the background: Facebook, its policies and preferences. Read the rest

Bloomberg reporter Dune Lawrence on being smeared online

Photo: Chighsmith / Wikipedia

Bloomberg reporter Dune Lawrence relates her two-year online ordeal at the hands of Benjamin Wey, a disgraced financier and harasser who posts crudely libelous "news" stories about her (and other targets) on a fake tabloid news site established for that purpose.

In September 2015 the FBI arrested the man behind TheBlot, one Benjamin Wey. Not for smearing me or the other people he imagined were his enemies. He’s primarily a financier, and he was charged with securities fraud and other financial crimes involving Chinese companies he helped to list on U.S. stock markets. The U.S. Department of Justice alleges Wey pocketed tens of millions of dollars in illicit profits that he funneled through associates overseas and back into accounts in the U.S. Wey denies the charges. A trial has been set for March 2017.

Meanwhile, TheBlot’s lies about me still pop up online. The same is true for a young woman who won an $18 million judgment against Wey and his companies for sexual harassment and defamation, a journalist who wrote about her, a retired Nasdaq official, and a Georgetown University law professor. As Wey, 44, awaits trial, he regularly posts Blot articles calling all of us, and others, frauds, racists, and extortionists. He’s found a way to exact revenge with few consequences, and he’s milking it.

Wey seems to be a consummate internet creep. Here's how he reportedly responded to the official request for comment that Bloomberg insisted she send him:

“Howdy! Ni Hao! Hello! I am Benjamin Wey—your old friend.
Read the rest

Gripping article about Tumblr, teens and the rise and fall of bloggers


Read Elspeth Reeve's fabulous article about Pizza, one of the most popular Tumblogs, the "secret lives" of Tumblr Teens, and mistakes made.

It has everything. The wonderful creativity of the users; its incomprehensible architecture; the emergent support mechanisms; the toxic call-out culture; and everything ultimately, inevitably being ruined after Yahoo buys it.

Then it happened. On August 19, just days before his twentieth birthday, Lilley tried to log in to So-Relatable but couldn’t. Greenfield checked the site, which redirected to an error page: “There’s nothing here. Whatever you were looking for doesn’t currently exist at this address.” They’d been terminated, their blogs revoked by Tumblr for violating its terms of service.

Tumblr had just dissolved the sites of some of its most popular teenage users, an estimated 30 million follows gone. Including Pizza. Blogs that had brought relief from unremitting high school agony and then miraculously made their teen creators more money than they could have ever imagined, were erased from the internet, except for fragments reblogged on other sites. The day before, if they’d had a funny thought, they could share it with half a million people. And now, nothing.

The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens [New Republic] Read the rest

Chester Cheetah embraces furries spurned by Tony the Tiger


On Twitter, Kelloggs mascot Tony the Tiger began blocking furries who made lustful remarks about the hunky cartoon feline, ultimately telling them to knock it off because cereal is "family-friendly."

Enter Cheetos mascot Chester Cheetah.

Let there be no doubt about what Chester is up for.

The world is a wonderful place. Read the rest

Hackers release data from Fraternal Order of Police, largest U.S. police union

Fraternal Order of Police president says the union had called in security contractors to investigate, and the hack was traced to an IP address in the UK. Photo: Reuters

Sensitive electronic files from America’s biggest police union were posted online this week after a hacker breached the Fraternal Order of Police website. The ill-gotten dump includes officers' names and addresses, message board posts bashing Barack Obama, and details of eyebrow-raising contracts made between the union and city authorities.

Read the rest

2015's worst password was 123456


SplashData's report on the most commonly-used passwords finds a number of traditional disastrously bad choices performing well: "123456" comes out on top, followed by "password".

Other popular choices this year were sports, like "football" and "baseball." And "starwars," a newcomer to the list, ranked as the 25th most popular breached password, probably thanks to excitement over the release of the newest movie in the franchise.

Passwords are the banes of our increasingly online lives: Nearly everything we sign up for needs a password, and creating a secure one can be a pain. Even when we come up with a good one, we always need more because reusing passwords can leave us exposed if a service we use gets breached.

Read the rest

Corgi Orgy

Corgy Orgy—the work of @labelmaker and @ebaynetflix—is the perfect way to recover from Blue Monday. Best of all, you can make your own GIF orgy! Here's a Jackhammer Jill one I just made for you. Read the rest

How Twitter "quietly banned" harassment and hate speech


Sarah Jeong reports on how Twitter has begun to take control of the hatred, harassment and general horseshit posted on its site.

Twitter talked some big talk, but it has buckled under both lawsuits and media outrage, tweaking and changing the Rules around speech whenever something threatened its bottom line. For a business, free speech can only be a meaningful value if it doesn’t really cost anything. … The Twitter of today strikes an uneasy balance between its old self and the unapologetic, ideologically-unburdened censoriousness of Facebook and Instagram. It remains yet to be seen whether the company has the vision and creativity to live out its new identity.

The "free speech wing of the free speech party" couldn't have done this but two years ago. They had to wait until the issues at hand were understood (at least by and large) not as abstractions to be dealt with on principle, but as practical issues of everyday human suffering. Read the rest

David Bowie, Internet Service Provider: Interview with the guy who ran BowieNet ISP


When artist and pop star David Bowie launched an Internet service provider firm in the heady dot-com runup days of 1998, a guy named Ron Roy helped Bowie run the ISP. Days after the music icon's death from cancer at age 69, Ars Technica interviews Roy about how "BowieNet" came to life, and why Bowie wanted to be in the ISP business in the first place.

Read the rest

Watch Tor traffic flow around the world


Tor, the internet anonymity network you can use to hide your activity from prying eyes, is beautiful in blue. Torflow is a visualization of the vast amounts of traffic streaming between its many nodes, delineating a map of the internet as it can't otherwise be seen.

You can add and remove activity associated with different components of the Tor network, and then watch as thousands of on-screen particles rapidly drain your mobile device's batteries.

Read the rest

The Internet's absence of meaning is a feature


Paul Ford mounts a defense of the Internet’s absence of meaning

The most meaningful experiences I have, the experiences that give me the greatest insight into the operation of culture over time—something over which historians used to hold a monopoly—are the results of database queries. I go in, I search for a term, I click some links, and the resulting stream of options is not even a narrative, just a bag of odds and ends. Then I begin a gentle pawing-through. What I like most is to skim through things that were intended to be transient. The ads, the newsy bits from beekeeping journals, the announcements of 1940s automobiles. You could call me an ephemeralist.

Life is ephemeral, and so is the Internet. But the internet has advantages… Read the rest

Powerful new tool literally blasts mean internet comments to smithereens


Tanner Stokes of Herp Derp fame has done it again. He invented what we have all longed for, since the internet began: an effective way to shut people up.

“Plasma ball destroys the web.”

Yes, friends, Tanner's latest creation is the answer to unfriendly YouTube comments, harassing or abusive Facebook posts, douchey viral ads, you name it. Whatever on the internet is wrong. Read the rest

Eternal September and the broadening of horizons

Illo: Brad

"Eternal September" refers to the Internet as it has been since 1993, when AOL began providing access to USENET. The flood of newbies made the newsgroups feel like the first month of school—but this time, the flood never ceased. Though USENET is a thing of the past, Jason Koebler remembers what it felt like to be a member of a group that saw itself as a deserving incumbent elite, but wasn't really any of those things.

"My memories of early 90s Usenet are of a vibrant, enlightened world of serious discourse. But I was a confused arrogant geek in my early 20s, so that's mostly heavy rose-tinting and confirmation bias," Fischer said. "When you're deeply immersed in an elitist clique, it often feels like you're in an open welcoming community. From your perspective, everything's great."

"People look back on it like it was some kind of CyberAthens," he added.

It wasn’t, of course.

The same techniques used to exclude and assimilate outsiders are still in use. Now, as then, they're failing under the sheer weight of numbers. Read the rest

What the Internet looks like when it's not a patent drawing


In contrast to yesterday's post about the way the Internet is depicted in patent drawings, check out these photos of the Internet's secret actual infrastructure. Read the rest

Fake traffic is "rotting" the Internet


Traffic is for sale. You can buy "good" traffic and "bad" traffic. But much of it is, as they say, "nonhuman"—and amounts to the normalization of click fraud on an epic scale.

During the interview, ["Boris"] freely admits he buys many of the visitors to his websites. He spends about $50,000 per year buying high-quality traffic … Bloomberg Businessweek asked two traffic-fraud-detection firms to assess recent traffic to MyTopFace; they agreed on the condition that their names not be used. One found that 94 percent of 30,000 visitors were bots; the other put the bot traffic at 74 percent. Boris didn’t dispute the findings or appear at all concerned. “If I can buy some traffic and it gets accepted, why not?” he says. And if advertisers don’t like it, he adds, “they should go buy somewhere else. They want to pay only a little and get a lot of traffic and results. If they want all human traffic, they should go direct to the publisher and pay more.”

The trick appears to be to game the ratios of good (eyeballs bought from Facebook) and bad (botnets bought from dodgy forums) to keep everyone unsure.

If God's up there, he just loves it. Typhoid and swans, it all comes from the same place. Read the rest

More posts