Ever since I read Laurie Penny's scathing, insider account of Milo Yiannopoulos and his schtick, I knew that she had his number like no one else -- and now that Yiannopoulos has been disbarred from his position as the useful idiot of the hard-right, I've been wondering what Penny made of the fall from grace. Read the rest
Milo as “Ivana Wall,” speaking at Louisiana State University on Sep. 21, 2016. Say the name out loud and you'll get the joke. “Right about now your dick is probably confused,” read one of the slides on stage during the performance. Image: Reddit.
Pro-Trump and extremist right wing/white supremacist personality Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to deliver a speech at U.C. Berkeley, but his appearance was canceled by university officials tonight after big protests on campus that got out of hand with some people setting some objects on fire. No arrests or injuries reported.
Yiannopoulos is doing a speaking tour on college campuses to promote his male "Privilege" scholarship fund.
Amnesty International has published a damning report on the organized networks of Mexican Twitter trolls and botmasters for hire who orchestrate massive harassment campaigns against investigative journalists, including death threats and misinformation/slander; they also hawk products and fake out Twitter's trending topic algorithm, operating with relative impunity -- thanks, in part, to Twitter's underinvestment in Spanish-speaking anti-harassment staff. Read the rest
A thread on 4chan's trollish /pol/ board has organized trumpist white-supremacist/alt-right types to find unlicensed venues and spaces and narc them out to city authorities in a bid to shut them down, because they serve as "open hotbeds of liberal radicalism and degeneracy...These places hold Black Lives Matter meetings. These places plan protests that disrupt our cities. These places illegally house our enemies." Read the rest
Writer Lindy West is done with Twitter. From her essay in The Guardian:
Twitter, for the past five years, has been a machine where I put in unpaid work and tension headaches come out. I write jokes there for free. I post political commentary for free. I answer questions for free. I teach feminism 101 for free. Off Twitter, these are all things by which I make my living – in fact, they comprise the totality of my income. But on Twitter, I do them pro bono and, in return, I am micromanaged in real time by strangers; neo-Nazis mine my personal life for vulnerabilities to exploit; and men enjoy unfettered, direct access to my brain so they can inform me, for the thousandth time, that they would gladly rape me if I weren’t so fat.
Brian Feldman explains why Twitter's decision to kill the Vine looping video service makes the internet worse.
The point of Vine was never to generate the next Fellini. It was to have dumb, stupid free play on an internet increasingly hostile to that kind of freedom, whether because of surveillance or heavy-handed advertiser presence or trolls. The lack of adult supervision or corporate culture may have made it somewhat impenetrable, but it also made it feel free in a way no other social network really does.
Vine also had what Silicon Valley types describe as a poor "culture fit."
Vine wasn’t just dominated by teenagers — it was dominated by teenagers of color. Especially black teens, who created a disproportionate number of popular Vines and used the social network to demonstrate wit, intelligence, creativity, and comic timing that was rarely given a spotlight elsewhere.
Twitter's decision to kill it is being felt as deep pain on the web. Twitter itself is worse than unpleasant: it's the oxygen keeping the internet on fire, feeding trolls, harassers and white supremacists. Vine, on the other hand, was adorable, funny, impervious to the hate and great because "there were no brands or grown ups or neonazis to ruin it."
But business is interested in at least two of those three things.
People often wonder why Twitter, more than other major social networks, is having so much difficulty figuring out ways to combat abuse. It is already far from a free-speech environment, after all, offering private intellectual property enforcement and (at least in a few cases) region-specific political censorship. Read the rest
Researcher Yarden Katz scraped the database of Intellectual Ventures, a giant business that buys up patents, but produces nothing but lawsuits (previously), and discovered that IV claims ownership of nearly 500 patents that were created at public expense by researchers employed by public universities, and another 100 or so patents filed by the US Navy. Read the rest
Google is downranking websites that use pejorative, racist terms like n*gger, so the awful people of 4chan and /pol/ are replacing that word with "google." Read the rest
Technologists have a dismal pattern: when it comes to engineering challenges ("build a global-scale comms platform") they rub their hands together with excitement; when it comes to the social challenges implied by the engineering ones ("do something about trolls") they throw their hands up and declare the problem to be too hard to solve. Read the rest
Unified Patents raises money from companies that are the target of patent-trolling and then uses it to challenge the most widely used patents in each of its members' sectors: now it's going for the gold. Read the rest
The copyright troll business-model: a sleazy lawyer gets copyright holders to one or more films (often, but not always, porn) to deputize them to police those rights; then the lawyer's company uses sloppy investigative techniques to accuse internet users of violating those copyrights; they use deceptive notices to get ISPs to give them contact details for those users (or to get the ISPs to pass notices on to the users); then they send "speculative invoices" to their victims, demanding money not to sue -- usually a sum that's calculated to be less than it would cost to ask a lawyer whether it's worth paying. Read the rest
For more than four years, we've chronicled the sleazy story of Prenda Law, a copyright troll whose extortion racket included genuinely bizarre acts of identity theft, even weirder random homophobic dog-whistles, and uploading their own porn movies to entrap new victims, and, naturally, an FBI investigation into the firm's partners' illegal conduct. Read the rest
Rightscorp, the copyright trolls whose business-model was convincing ISPs to freeze their customers' Internet access in response to unsubstantiated copyright accusations, and then ransom those connections back for $20 each, will be out of money by the end of this quarter. Read the rest