Every time a conservative jackass accuses a high school kid of being "a crisis actor" remember this: someone hired actors to support an energy company's proposal. The actors were required to sign non-disclosure agreements. Some of the actors talked anyhow.
Via The Lens NOLA:
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At least four of the people in orange shirts were professional actors. One actor said he recognized 10 to 15 others who work in the local film industry.
They were paid $60 each time they wore the orange shirts to meetings in October and February. Some got $200 for a “speaking role,” which required them to deliver a prewritten speech, according to interviews with the actors and screenshots of Facebook messages provided to The Lens.
“They paid us to sit through the meeting and clap every time someone said something against wind and solar power,” said Keith Keough, who heard about the opportunity through a friend.
He said he thought he was going to shoot a commercial. “I’m not political,” he said. “I needed the money for a hotel room at that point.”
They were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements and were instructed not to speak to the media or tell anyone they were being paid.
But three of them agreed to talk about their experience and provided evidence that they were paid to endorse the power plant. Two spoke on the condition that they not be identified, saying they didn’t want to jeopardize other work or get in trouble for violating the non-disclosure agreement.
Another attendee, an actor and musician who played a small role on HBO’s “Treme,” told WWL-TV he was paid to wear one of the orange shirts at a meeting of the council’s utility committee.
One of the reasons that online review sites still have some utility is that "crowdturfing" attacks (in which reviewers are paid to write convincing fake reviews to artificially raise or lower a business or product's ranking) are expensive to do well, and cheap attacks are pretty easy to spot and nuke. Read the rest
The Pew Research Center is soliciting answers for a "Future of the Internet" survey that asks a bunch of thought-provoking questions about the security of the Internet of Things; social cohesion in a social media-dominated public sphere; education and innovation; automation and robots taking our jobs; machine learning and justice; and the tone of the online public sphere in the next 10 years. Read the rest
From one of science fiction's most versatile writers comes a caper novel about corporate sleaze and net-savvy guerrilla activists that is as thrilling as it is trenchant. Cory Doctorow
reviews Paolo Bacigalupi's The Doubt Factory
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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.
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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.
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."
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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.