For around $250, Private Jet Studio invites you to book a two-hour photoshoot on a grounded Gulfstream jet at an airstrip in Moscow. Why? To impress people on social media with your (fake) jet-setting lifestyle. Hair stylist and makeup artist costs extra.
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In The Guardian, my Institute for the Future colleagues Marina Gorbis and Sam Woolley write about social bots as a threat to democracy:
Social media platforms may be able to track and report on political advertisements from foreign entities, but will they divulge information on pervasive and personalized advertising from their domestic political clients?
This is a pressing question, because social bots are likely to continue to grow in sophistication. At a recent roundtable on the Future of AI and Democracy, several technology experts forecast that bots will become even more persuasive, more emotional and more personalized.
They will be able to not just spread information, but to truly converse and persuade their human interlocutors in order to even more effectively push the latter’s emotional buttons.
Bring together advances in neuroscience, the ability to analyze massive amounts of behavioral data and the proliferation of sensors and connectivity and you have a powerful recipe for affecting society though computational means.
"Social media bots threaten democracy. But we are not helpless" (The Guardian) Read the rest
Alexis Madrigal describes What Facebook Did to American Democracy and why it was so hard to see it coming. Foreign exploitation of Facebook's ad system in the 2016 election was just the end result of Facebook's filter bubbles and its wildly successful efforts to get media to fill them. tl;dr: the horse was already dead before Russia flogged it.
The information systems that people use to process news have been rerouted through Facebook, and in the process, mostly broken and hidden from view. It wasn’t just liberal bias that kept the media from putting everything together. Much of the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent during the election cycle came in the form of “dark ads.”
The truth is that while many reporters knew some things that were going on on Facebook, no one knew everything that was going on on Facebook, not even Facebook.
Facebook's uncanny method is to trickle enough traffic to publishers so they chum it constantly with Facebookish content, but not so much that publishers can assimilate Facebook visitors into their own audience. Unfortunately for this clever and destructive arrangement, the new far-right sites represented such a cohesive emergent affinity group that Facebook's machinery was co-opted.
It's said (usually on Twitter) that no-one is better than Nazis at exploiting a libertarian dropout's ideological impostures. This sort of thing usually strikes me as pompous and vague, but Facebook so perfectly embodies it I'm going to need two leftist energy bars for breakfast this morning. Read the rest
Mike Monteiro writes about his experience of Twitter over the years, and the growing failure of its leadership to take responsibility for what it has become.
...when companies tell you they need to be more transparent it’s generally because they’ve been caught being transparent. You accidentally saw behind the curtain. Twitter is behaving exactly as it’s been designed to behave. Twitter, at this moment, is the sum of the choices it has made. Even when the coop is covered in chickenshit, the chickens will come home to roost.
Twitter never saw Donald Trump as a problem, because they saw him as the solution.
Trump is key because his threats have long passed the nebulous, never-quite-defined point where Twitter tends to eject toxic internet celebrities. So it looks like cowardice is at hand: Twitter's brass won't take him on because they're scared of him. And the obviousness of it is unraveling the last faith anyone has in Twitter to get anything significant done about the broader problems of abuse, harassment and general addicted-to-misery behavior on the site.
I still love Twitter and think it could be fixed, and that the people in charge of it are in an "impossible" place where all options lead to pain. I hope they wake up and find the strength to deal with it. Read the rest
Right-wing clones of mainstream social media are ten-a-penny. But now the left's getting in on the action, too. Behold Raddle, a "leftist alternative to Reddit" founded after some intra-left drama spiralled out of control (plus ca change) and ended with site-wide bans. [via Metafilter] Read the rest
Instagram's policy on nudity: "We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram." Read the rest
Cindy Sherman is posting publicly on Instagram as _cindysherman_ after having her account set to private under a different account name. Many recent images use distortions and filters. Read the rest
Most people don't look at any news, or at one news site; using social media a lot (even without the intention of looking for news) means that sometimes you'll end up clicking a news link -- so heavy social media users, on average, are consuming a wider media diet than those who do not use social media. Read the rest
Have you ever wished you had a social media feed you could like, fave, signal boost and comment on without having to actually interact with people in any way? Binky has you covered. Read the rest
Binky is an app equivalent of a baby pacifier. It presents an endless scroll of image posts that you can "like" or "re-bink" (which does nothing). It's easy to comment on a post, too. You just press random letters on your keypad to automagically generate words that write out coherent sentences.
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Corey Alexander estimates he spent about three hours a day on social media, almost 5,000 hours since he got a phone at age 13. He lists the seven changes he's noticed since going cold turkey and deleting all of it three months ago: Read the rest
Dominic Tarr is a developer who lives on a self-steering sailboat in New Zealand; he created Scuttlebutt, a secure messaging system that can run without servers, even without ISPs. Read the rest
Sarah Jeong of Motherboard says Mastodon is a "kinder, nicer, decentralized open source version of Twitter." I hope she's right! (I'm frauenfelder at Mastodon.cloud.)
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Privacy settings are more flexible than they are on Twitter—privacy is set on a per-post basis, a little similar to how it is on Facebook.
I could make it so all of my posts are private by default, but I don't have to choose between having a public or a private account.
The really interesting nuance here is between "Public" and "Unlisted." An unlisted post is viewable to the public, but it doesn't post to the local or federated timelines.
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
The perils of modern online life even affect the Man of Steel. Jimmy Olsen's snap run through Facebook's evil autotagging is more observant than Lois. Lots more brilliant stuff by Brakken here. Read the rest
Propaganda, psychological warfare, and real-time surveillance were all on the agenda at the Sixth Annual Conference on Social Media Within the Defence and Military Sector. Read the rest
The Obama administration asserted the power to raid the massive databases of peoples' private, sensitive information that ad-based tech companies have assembled; the Trump administration has promised to use Obama's powers to effect the surveillance and deportation of 11 millions undocumented migrants, and the ongoing, continuous surveillance of people of Muslim heritage. Read the rest