Remember when Donald Trump tweeted that there would be no cuts to "Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid?" So does Bernie Sanders, and he wants us all to bear this in mind as the Republic Congress prepares to gut all three. Read the rest
Great article by Nick Bilton in Vanity Fair about the future of Twitter.
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Vanity Fair special correspondent Nick Bilton reports on the state of Twitter, writing that the rise of its most famous user—Donald Trump—and the defection of its top executives, would seem to spell doom for the company. Early Twitter employees tell Bilton they regret their involvement in a company that became a tool of the alt-right, while a former developer says he regrets not building a tool to fight trolls.
“If anything,” Bilton writes, “Trump has become another headache for Twitter. Some in Silicon Valley have relayed to me that they wouldn’t work at Twitter precisely because of the platform it has afforded the incoming president. Early employees at Twitter have also said to me that they regret being involved in a company that would become a vessel for an army of alt-right trolls. One early Twitter developer recently told me that one of his biggest regrets in his career was not building some sort of design mechanism that could have helped Twitter extinguish its troll problem. If he had, we most certainly would be living in a different sort of world.”
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.
Twitter's wonderful, but it's also horrible a lot of the time &endash; especially for the people using it. And we all complain about it, too! Anil Dash weaves the obvious and not-so-obvious threads of criticism into a billion dollar gift for Twitter. It comes down to these five key points: Read the rest
The ACLU of Northern California recently published a leaked email showing that Dataminr -- a Twitter-monitoring company partially owned by Twitter itself -- was selling access to US domestic surveillance "fusion centers" where local, state and federal agencies pool resources to spy on their targets. Read the rest
Edward Snowden's Periscope interview with Jack Dorsey -- hosted by the Pardon Snowden campaign ranged over a lot of territory, including the special problems of metadata surveillance (metadata can be "more intrusive" than content "because it can be understood at scale"); asymmetry in privacy (where "an increasing imbalance of power" arises between citizens, with no privacy, and officials with all the privacy: "We can't even see their tax-returns"); the problems of relying on the rule of law in a "global context" where surveillance crosses borders and jurisdictions; and fake news, which Snowden thinks can't be solved by asking Google to be a "referee" but rather when "We talk and we share and we point out what is true." Read the rest
Twitter: “No,” and a link to this blog post, which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.” which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.”
Bravo. It takes courage and planning for publicly-traded businesses to take a hostile stand on hot potatoes like this, and Twitter bothered. Compare to IBM, whose CEO wrote Trump a slobbering mash note promising the services of her company.
Seven of the other companies didn't respond at all. Microsoft responded with "We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point."
We're asking if tech firms are going to cooperate. But when it comes to inferring affiliations from the mass surveillance of private data, it's just the sort of thing whistleblowers warn us is already going on. Trump's off-the-cuff blather about official registries isn't about what is known, but about making it acceptable.
That said, Biddle's post was met this weekend by dismissive sneering from the Gilfoyles: a good reminder that Silicon Valley is cynical and willing, and that fatalism is the best policy.
Data journalists pulled 26,234 of Trump's 34,062 tweets (dating from Jun 1 2015 to Nov 17 2016) from the Twitter API and analyzed them for news-sources, producing a long, detailed analysis complemented by interactive graphics. Read the rest
James Delingpole is an invective-hurling anti-climate science columnist who has candidly admitted that he doesn't bother to read scientific papers, calling himself a "an interpreter of interpretations." Read the rest
Gilad Lotan -- our favorite fake-news sleuthing data-scientist -- writes about the problem of not-quite-fake news, which is much more pernicious than mere lies: it's news that uses attention-shaping, one-sided "news" accounts that divide their readers into their own "constructed realities." Read the rest
University of Michigan prof J Alex Halderman (previously) is one of America's top experts on voting machine security (see this, for example), and he's issued a joint statement with voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz to the Clinton campaign, advising them to ask for a recount of the Wisconsin votes. Read the rest
NYU PhD candidate Kevin Munger made a set of four male-seeming twitterbots that attempted to "socially sanction" white Twitter users who habitually used racial epithets (he reasons that these two characteristics are a good proxy for harassment): the bots could be white or black (that is, have names that have been experimentally shown to be associated with "whiteness" or "blackness") and could have 2 followers or 500 of them. Read the rest
Today he was shown around the White House by outgoing president Barack Obama. This evening he's back on Twitter, angry at the media. President-elect Donald Trump has found his phone.
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016