Tech platforms quit Alex Jones and InfoWars

Apple has joined Facebook, Spotify and YouTube in tossing Alex Jones and InfoWars material from their platforms.

Apple has removed the entire library for five of Infowars' six podcasts from its iTunes and Podcast apps, BuzzFeed News has learned. Among the podcasts, which were removed from Apples' iTunes directory, are the show "War Room" as well as the popular Alex Jones Show podcast, which is hosted daily by the prominent conspiracy theorist.

The Guardian:

Facebook has banned four pages run by the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for “repeated violations of community standards”, the company said on Monday. The removal of the pages – the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page – comes after Facebook imposed a 30-day ban on Jones personally “for his role in posting violating content to these pages”.

Until recent days, tech platforms found it hard to understand why they shouldn't support Jones, a conspiracy theorist who claimed that the Sandy Hook parents were paid actors, that 9/11 was perpretrated not by Al Queda but by "globalists", and that the government is poisoning children to make them gay.

The public is growing keenly aware that Silicon Valley's supposed free-speech principles are not only self-serving but plainly up for sale, so there's little point supporting someone whose makes them look this bad. Read the rest

Condé Nast selling off mags after $120,000,000 loss

"Anna Wintour is staying," leads the New York Times, in the journalistic despite of the century: staggering losses, insane mountains of cash blown on everything from failed websites to occupying 23 floors of 1 World Trade Center.

Condé Nast has made some bad bets. It pulled the plug last year on its attempt at an online fashion retail site, Style.com, after nine months of development and an investment of more than $100 million.

$100 million! On one website!

MIRANDA

All those links look exactly the same to me. Red is fine. You know, I'm still learning about all this stuff and, uh...

WEB NERD (shouty)

THIS STUFF? OH OK. I SEE. YOU THINK THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. YOU LOOK AT THE COLOR PICKER AND YOU SELECT OHHHHHH I DON'T KNOOOW "RED" BECASUE YOU WANT TO LOOK CLASSY AND YOU DON'T WANT BLUE LIKE A PLEB WEBSITE BUT IT'S NOT RED IT'S #A60505 AND YOU'RE (shrieking now) BLITHELY UNAWARE OF THE FACT THAT IN 2009 CSS ZENGARDEN FEATURED A RENAISSANCE-INSPIRED LAYOUT AND THEN IN 2010 BOING BOING, YES IT WAS BOING BOING, REDESIGNED WITH IT AS THE STANDARD ANCHOR TAG COLOR, AND THEN IT SHOWED UP IN THE STYLESHEETS OF EIGHT DIFFERENT FACEBOOK CHUM FARMS AND THEN IT FILTERED DOWN THROUGH THE (screaming uncontrollably) TRAGIC FREE TUMBLR THEMES UNTIL YOU PICKED IT OUT FROM A MATTE INKJET PRINTOUT. THAT RED REPRESENTS MILLIONS OF BLOG POSTS AND COUNTLESS CLICKS AND (breathless croaking) it's sort of comical how you think you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when in fact you're wearing the CSS that was selected for you 10 years ago. Read the rest

Freelancers moving to small towns

Small towns are the new (insert hip city neighborhood). It's all about "creatives" and money, isn't it? Sort of.

“In the last couple of years we’ve seen the rise of the exodus of big cities,” said Steven Pedigo, an expert in economic and urban development who teaches at NYU and directs the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate Urban Lab. “Places are taking the ideas of what people want in urban communities, and smaller and suburban communities are trying to recreate this.” In the past few years he’s seen more people opt out of the less-affordable “superstar” cities and retreat to midsize and smaller cities, many of which have rebranded themselves and begun to attract new residents.

I had a disturbing thought the other day, reading a twitterer who is popular but on the margins of their profession and whose twittering constantly reinforces that self-branding: being a very online sort of person can signify low income and status.

Online is mostly celebrities and celebrants, the hardly trying and the trying hard, and around them is an increasingly disenchanted middle who can no longer find The Others online and whose interest in Being Online more than absolutely necessary is fading. No-one wants to talk about this, despite Having Been Online becoming a Richelieuan menace to professional wellbeing – so long as the famous still tweet, few will feel the ground shifting underfoot.

Which is to say, you shouldn't put roots anywhere you aren't willing to spend the rest of your life. Read the rest

Big tech stocks tumble

Facebook's down 20% and Twitter's down 14%, for reasons that everyone now says are obvious.

But the same pundit class was boosting them until reality bit:

One of the funny things about news aggregators, and filtered feeds in general (as opposed to chronological ones) is how they hide time and change and make everything seem immediate. Yesterday's confident bullshit gets posed against today's naked truth, competing with it until no-one's left who believes anything there. Read the rest

Realtor used inflatable T-Rex to jazz up home photos

We've all heard of staging a home for sale but this is outrageous.

Among the lovely shots of hardwood floors, lake views, and a screened-in patio, we see ol' Tyrannosaurus raiding the fridge, taking a nap, fishing in the lake, and even mowing the grass. That's pretty impressive for a guy with such tiny arms, no? "We came up with the idea a few years ago and have been waiting for the right client and right house to try it," explains listing agent Casey Lewis. "It was a great way to get extra exposure to an already great property."

That exact model of inflatable T-Rex is on Amazon, which I know because it's my go-to gift for people who are hard to shop for. Read the rest

The Joy of Missing Out

In the NYT, Hayley Phelan recommends disengagement from the information rat race.

If you’re wondering whether you may also be engaging in unhealthy tech habits, here’s a helpful pop quiz:

Do you own a smartphone?

That’s it. Because if you answered yes, you’re essentially carrying around what the Center for Humane Technology, an organization working to spur reform in the tech and media industries, calls a “slot machine” in your pocket. Play it enough times, and you’re bound to get hooked. This isn’t an accident. This is big business.

There are further tips in the article, all of which amount to "be less online" and, euphemized, "remember that capitalism is bad."

The phrase "Joy of Missing Out" and the ideas behind it have already been appropriated by those it obviously aims to subvert. Pictured below is Google CEO Sundar Pichai, selling you the idea of using Google to cut down on everything except Google.

This means that if you talk about this stuff in its intended or meaningful sense, gentlemen will explain it to you or tell you to use some app that stops you using other apps, then turn weirdly aggressive when you disagree. Read the rest

Streamers who broadcast to no-one

Streaming is the new blogging, some say, where total committment to doing something interesting or offbeat in public attracts vast (and monetizable) audiences. But the long tail is still a dream: most people who attempt it have no audience whatsoever. And yet many persist, that 0 slowly burning a soul hole. Patricia Hernandez:

According to people who have gone through it, lacking an audience is one of the most demoralizing things you can experience online. ... If live streaming is a practice, the person behind the camera is the product. While there are things you can practice and improve, your popularity as a streamer comes down to whether or not people like you or find you interesting. “I [initially] kept internalizing the viewership numbers to mean that I was the problem, that I wasn’t funny enough, that I wasn’t good enough at games.” After a year of hard work, he estimates that he now gets around 10 concurrent viewers per stream.

Some eventually get a fan or a few, after a few months of nothing....

“Lots of days with 0 viewers, just did my thing, learned what works, still am,” Khryn_Tzu said. “Then it happened. There was one viewer. And they stayed. They didn’t say anything for a few streams, but they kept coming back. Then one night I had to go AFK so I put on some Metallica. Out pops a ‘Good choice in music. I like Metallica.’ It was such an exhilarating feeling to have someone completely unknown to me to stick around for MY content.

Read the rest

Government costs rise when the local newspaper dies

A study (inspired by a John Oliver segment about the decline of local newspapers) looked at data from 1,266 counties and found that the loss of watchdogs leads to less efficient government. The Guardian:

The researchers concluded that Rocky Mountain News stories had served as a watchdog agent. Without it, the spread or yield of newly issued local municipal bonds increased by 37 basis points... The researchers also looked at the Cincinnati Post, which closed in 2007. In that instance too, the median yield spread for newly issued local municipal bonds increased by about 66.1 basis points – another indication, according to the authors, that public finances suffer when a newspaper closes.

Read the rest

Turning on the internet after GDPR day

Dolan Darker (YouTube) welcomes the world to the web of 2018.

Read the rest

More media paywalls rise--in price, too

Bloomberg's new paywall isn't terribly remarkable, but the price--$35 a month--suggests a new type of walled garden. Danny Chrichton favors the paywall model, but...

Incentive alignment is one thing, and my wallet is another. All of these subscriptions are starting to add up. These days, my media subscriptions are hovering around $80 a month, and I don’t even have TV. Storage costs for Google, Apple, and Dropbox are another $13 a month. Cable and cell service are another $200 a month combined. Software subscriptions are probably about $20 a month (although so many are annualized its hard to keep track of them). Amazon Prime and a few others total in around $25 a month.

Worse, subscriptions aren’t getting any cheaper. Amazon Prime just increased its price to $120 a year, Netflix increased its popular middle-tier plan to $11 a month late last year, and YouTube increased its TV pricing to $40 a month last month. Add in new paywalls, and the burden of subscriptions is rising far faster than consumer incomes.

I’m frustrated with this hell. I’m frustrated that the web’s promise of instant and free access to the world’s information appears to be dying.

The return of media to "channels" is inevitable because the internet is infested with normalcy and the forces involved are too great to stop, but so is the return to bundling. It'll ride in on the horse of "all your paywalls, one low monthly fee." Read the rest

Eminent Domain: registrar gives France.com to the French government, destroying its owner's business

France.com was a popular travel site owned and operated by a U.S.-based French expat. Jean-Noel Frydman registered a trademark, had hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, and loved his birth country. For years, the French government was happy with it, even giving Frydman an award. In 2016, though, it decided it wanted his domain for itself. Though the .com top-level domain is administered in the U.S., they didn't have to go to court in America to get it. That's because the domain registrar, web.com, gave it to them.

It’s unclear if a US court ever validated the order with an international enforcement of judgment, a common measure for foreign rulings involving US businesses. But if Web.com had enough business in France, that may not have been necessary. Faced with a valid court order and the pressure of an entire government, the company’s lawyers may have simply decided it wasn’t worth fighting the issue in court. (Web.com did not respond to multiple requests for comment on their policy regarding court-ordered transfers.)

Trademarks, the domain-name resolution system, WIPO: all useless if your registrar is shady or easily rolled. This appears to be the first appropriation of a .com domain in this manner and confers upon web.com a uniquely dismal distinction.

Also consider the next level up: operators of fashionable new top-level-domains. They set prices per domain, with lists of "premium" ones with higher prices. So if you establish a successful business at .???, you may succeed in making your domain name "premium." Which means an extra zero or two tacked onto domain renewal fees. Read the rest

Social media use in 2018 charted

Here's a chart of social media usage from Pew Research. YouTube and Facebook are by far and away ahead of the pack, but Facebook's been stagnant for a few years, at least in the U.S.

Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users.

Note that there's no tracking data on YouTube: they only just sampled its popularity in their surveys. Like everyone else, they only just noticed that it was Google's real social network all along. Read the rest

Nordstrom confirms that it did not "like" tweet claiming "dick suck" is the true meaning of Nintendo DS

The Twitter account of upscale retailer Nordstrom confirmed this weekend that it did not "like" a tweet that claimed the "DS" in "Nintendo DS" stood for "dick suck."

Another twitter user had reported that the offensive remark appeared in their feed because Nordstrom liked it, but it appears now that this report was itself mistaken.

"The DS in Nintendo DS stands for Dick Suck," wrote Nick Wiger, a Twitter japester with 32k followers on the popular social network. "The idea was, playing it was as fun as gettin your dick sucked. 3DS, as fun as 3 dick sucks."

"Um, this appeared in my feed because @Nordstrom liked it?," replied Katie Metz of St. Louis, or at least an account using that identity, concluding her tweet with a skeptical frowny face emoji and the hashtags #nordstrom and #fail.

"Sorry for the confusion, Katie," Nordstrom responded three minutes later. "We can confirm we have not liked this tweet."

At press time, Twitter had not yet responded to an inquiry concerning why the site was still free.

Photo: Mike Mozart (CC-BY-3.0) Read the rest

Google images removes "view image" button from search results

Google removed the "view image" button from image search results last night.

The change is essentially meant to frustrate users. Google has long been under fire from photographers and publishers who felt that image search allowed people to steal their pictures, and the removal of the view image button is one of many changes being made in response.

There's something old-school stupid about it, like javascript snippets that "block" people from right-clicking on images. It doesn't accomplish what it hopes for, because the image is already downloaded, and there are a half-dozen other ways to get at it conveniently--not least simply dragging and dropping it.

The measure is about satisfying people who have no idea at all how web browsers work and who are mad at an offensive button. Google suggests in a tweet that this was done to make Getty Images' lawyers happy. Their clients will presumably be pleased by its disappearance, then alarmed to find that nothing has changed, because the people who rip off photo agencies aren't sat there clicking the "view image" button.

Meanwhile, Google Images still allows sites to change the images that the cached thumbnails link to. Odd!

Illustration by SpaceFoxy; via Google Images. Read the rest

Ebay to ditch PayPal

Ebay, which separated from PayPal in 2015, plans to ditch it entirely. By 2020, Ebay says, most of its transactions will be handled by Adyen, a Netherlands-based payment processor. PayPal will remain a checkout option until at least 2023.

The announcement surprised some investors, who expected the companies to announce an extension to their operating agreement. PayPal has played an integral role in processing payments on EBay for 15 years and offers credit products that help EBay shoppers buy more goods.

PayPal has always been hostile to sellers, who feel forced into accepting it because it's where the customers are, because it lets them avoid the headache of merchant credit card services, and because it doesn't send W2s. Ebay, on the other hand, is the internet capital of technical debt, with the digital equivalent of lead paint peeling through every layer of latex applied atop it. But times are changing! Read the rest

Iced tea company stock soars after renaming itself "Long Blockchain"

The Long Island Iced Tea Corporation, aptly-named, is now the "Long Blockchain Corporation". The stock market was so pleased by the change of name that its stock price tripled. The company will continue to make iced tea beverages, but it's sure it'll figure out something with blockchains, the technical process used by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a public ledger to ensure the trustworthiness of private transactions.

The new blockchain efforts are only in their "preliminary stages," the press release says, and will likely involve investing or forming partnerships with other companies. One potential partner is providing "blockchain infrastructure for the financial services industry." Another is building a "new smart contract platform for building decentralized applications."

Read the rest

Enamel pin for artists tired of being asked to work for free

CWilock, tired of people who make use of others' artwork without permission, made this enamel pin to celebrate the best response to entitlement of the relentless quality that artists must deal with online. (Saying "no", as the addictive Twitter account @forexposure chronicles, often invites a stream of bigoted abuse.)

It's not for sale just yet, but keep an eye on their Etsy store for updates. Read the rest

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