Taylor Lorentz is chronicling internet drama brilliantly for the New York Times, and her latest report is on the quasi-downfall of two high-flying YouTubers, Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star. They exemplify the stereotype of YouTube influencers--vacuous narcissists, tireless producers, canny businessmen--facing ruin after years of attention-seeking at the borders of racism, sexism and general abuse. The internet is a permanent record and the ground is liquefying underfoot.
Dawson has racked up billions of views on YouTube, often by engaging in offensive humor. He has posted several videos in blackface, mocked those with disabilities, joked about bestiality, sexualized minors, and once spoke about “figuratively murdering someone.” On June 26, Mr. Dawson posted a teary apology to his channel, in which he tried to make amends for his past, declaring that he deserved to “lose everything.”
No sooner had his apology video posted than a clip of him pretending to sexually gratify himself to a photo of Willow Smith, then 11 years old, resurfaced and began to get shared widely.
That's just one of the most ostentatiously repulsive acts. The catalog of backstabbing, blackmail, and insider grossness is quite extensive and Lorentz packs in the links for anyone wanting to take a deep dive. What I like most about her work at the Times is how it illustrates a growing dissatisfaction at what social media companies actually did to the internet. They reinstituted the old hierarchies, then stocked them with all these perma-adolescent psychos.
YouTube's tolerance for abuse caused two knock-on problems: YouTube (especially its comment platform) was ignored by media except as a video hosting site, the culture growing there was ignored as a result, and the people emerging from that culture were (temporarily, it turns out) able to quietly ignore their own earlier work after gaining broader exposure. Read the rest
Parler is a Twitter competitor that's attracting conservatives, including politicians, who think Twitter is biased against them. Read the rest
Pro-Trump sub The_Donald was never a pleasant place, but the bubbling sewer of racism and toxic behaviour has become too disgusting even for Reddit. Today the site banned the forum. As summarized at The Verge:
In a blog post that cites the company’s new rules, Huffman said users of the r/The_Donald subreddit had violated the site’s policies for years. (The site has no official connection to President Donald Trump, although he did do an Ask Me Anything there as a candidate in 2016.) “The community has consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average (Rule 1), antagonized us and other communities (Rules 2 and 8), and its mods have refused to meet our most basic expectations,” Huffman said.
It also banned the Chapo Trap House subreddit and many others; a hamfisted attempt at political balance, not that any of them weren't cesspits of hatred and misery.
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The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee says executives from Facebook, Alphabet/Google, and Twitter have been summoned to appear Thursday at a virtual hearing on foreign influence and election security. Read the rest
Russia-linked accounts supported Kremlin infowar campaigns, China bots spread ‘deceptive’ claims about COVID and Hong Kong politics
• Founder to leave Reddit, saying resignation can be ‘act of leadership’
• Reddit promises to update content moderation policies to “explicitly address hate” within weeks
Earlier today, we told you that Reddit's Alexis Ohanian was resigning from the Reddit board, asked the company to fill his seat with a Black candidate, and said he'd donate further proceeds from Reddit to anti-racism causes beginning with a $1M pledge to Colin Kaepernick's “Know Your Rights Camp.”
Now, Reddit has responded.
Reports Hannah Murphy at the Financial Times:
In a lengthy statement later on Friday, Steve Huffman, Reddit’s chief executive, said that the company would “honour” the request by Mr Ohanian that his successor be a black candidate.
He added the company would update its content moderation policies to “explicitly address hate”, adding that the timeline would be “weeks, not months” if moderators of individual forums engage in the process.
“[Our] current policy lists only what you cannot do, articulates none of the values behind the rules, and does not explicitly take a stance on hate or racism,” he said. “We will update our content policy to include a vision for Reddit and its communities to aspire to, a statement on hate, the context for the rules, and a principle that Reddit isn’t to be used as a weapon.”
Reddit pledges to appoint black director after Ohanian quits
[ft.com] Read the rest
The letter from 4 senators was addressed to Zhang Yiming, founder and CEO of TikTok owner ByteDance.
New mega subsea cable to bring more reliable high-speed internet to Africa, Mideast
“The ICANN Board finds that the public interest is better served in withholding consent as a result of various factors that create unacceptable uncertainty.”
ICANN, the entity that oversees web addresses, said on Friday it voted against a $1.1 billion deal to sell control of .org domains to a private investment firm. The decision follows persistent protest and activism “from internet pioneers and officials including California’s attorney general [Xavier Becerra],” reports Joe Menn at Reuters on Friday. Read the rest
Karolina Żebrowska posted a video of a woman looking for her cat that explains what cats are in simple, short sentences as bland instrumental music plays.
Hit that share button! Here are some emojis to go with it: 😼😽🙀😺😸😻 Read the rest
The domain Corp.com is similar to an internal address used by Windows servers, and as a result whoever controls it gains access to a stream of private and proprietary data constantly fired at it by mistake. Its longtime owner decided to sell the domain, raising fears that nefarious agents might buy it and cause trouble. Microsoft stepped in and paid $1.7m for it.
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O’Connor told me he was selling the domain after doing basically nothing with it for 26 years because he was getting on in years and didn’t want his kids to inherit this mess. When he put the domain up for sale, I asked if he’d agree to let me know if and when he sold it.
On Monday evening, he wrote to say that Microsoft had agreed to purchase it. O’Connor said he could not discuss the terms of the deal, nor could he offer further comment beyond acknowledging the sale of corp.com to Microsoft.
In a written statement, Microsoft said it acquired the domain to protect its customers.
Hungary has passed a coronavirus response law that gives sweeping powers to the government. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán can now rule by decree, and there are jail terms of up to five years for anyone accused of spreading “misinformation,” including social media posts. Read the rest
Colors.lol combines two things the web was made for: color scheme generators and uncanny generative text.
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Created as a fun way to discover interesting color combinations. Palettes are hand-selected from the Twitter bot @colorschemez. The randomly generated palettes match each color with an adjective from a list of over 20,000 words.
Created by Adam Fuhrer.
My friend and Cool Tools partner, Kevin Kelly created a 36-part lecture series about the future for China Mobile. He's running them on his YouTube channel. The first one is about the future of the Internet in China.
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There are three big challenges in the Internet space that all countries must face in the near future. China's approach to the challenges will impact not only Chinese Internet users, but potentially all Internet users. What interface follows the smart hone, whether it be AR-enabled glasses, foldable screens, or wearable projectors, will not only be influenced by China's substantial Internet-using population, but also by their manufacturing. Privacy, as it relates to online information collecting and sale, has consequences for broader community standards, and there is no one-size fits all approach to this issue. China must engage their own ethicists, community, government and technologists to develop a solution that works for China. Finally, globalization. Most of China's internet success has been within China, but as China begins to consider how it might attract users from outside its borders, it will need to consider dialing back the protections that have held foreign Internet companies at bay.
No COVID-19 shaming, please.
Twitter announced Thursday it will ban tweets that “dehumanize” people because they have a disease, disability, or because of their age, which happens to correspond to a spike in the number of tweets about the fast-spreading global coronavirus outbreak. Read the rest
Firefox announced today that DNS over HTTPS will be on by default in new versions of its browser, adding an extra layer of security for people browsing the information superhighway. Read the rest
• U.S. State Department blames Russia for cyberattacks that hit neighboring Georgia in October 2019
• By identifying Russia's digital assaults on neighbors, US hopes to raise awareness of ongoing GRU attacks on US Read the rest