The EU's copyright plans will let anyone mass-censor the internet

Tomorrow's EU vote on a new copyright directive will determine whether the EU internet will be governed by algorithmic censorship filters whose blacklist anyone can add anything to. (Visit Save Your Internet to tell your MEP to vote against this) Read the rest

A new, free edition Sarah Jeong's "The Internet of Garbage"

Journalist Sarah Jeong (previously) was just appointed to the New York Times's editorial board, prompting garbage people to dig through her twitter for old posts that could be made to seem offensive out of context in the hopes of getting her fired. Read the rest

Top White House troll Betsy DeVos is considering using federal funds to buy guns for teachers

Last night Carla and I attended a screening for an upcoming National Geographic documentary called Science Fair, about the International Science and Engineering Fair. It's a terrific movie about smart young scientists from around the world. One thing I learned watching it is that students in Germany pay almost nothing to attend college. Here in the US, students graduate with a debt load that will hurt the quality of their life for decades. What is the US Department of Education doing about it? Actively making it worse, thanks to Betsy DeVos, who oversees the department.

The Trump swamp is a veritable legion of cartoonishly evil supervillians, but the mustache-twirling cackler Betsy DeVos operates on a level that would make a 4chan troll blush. Married to the former CEO of Amway (which paid $56 million to settle a class action for "alleged fraud, racketeering, and operating as an illegal pyramid scheme," she is also sister of Erik Prince, founder of the murderous Blackwater mercenary firm.

This billionaire griefer -- with fleets of private jets and yachts at her command -- has no teaching experience and refuses to visit troubled schools. Instead, she spends her time coming up with outrageous ways to make students' lives financially miserable and fraught with danger. And like the best robot, she doesn't crack a smile when her victims suffer.

DeVos's latest lulz generator is a plan to get around a law that Congress passed in March that forbids federal funds from being used to buy guns for teachers. Read the rest

When should the press pay attention to trolls, lies and disinformation?

Whitney Phillips (previously), a researcher at the "think/do tank" Data & Society (previously) has prepared a snappy, short report on the paradox of covering disinformation campaigns, trolling, and outright lies? Read the rest

Appeals court kills the dirty trick of using Indian tribes as a front for patent trolls and claiming sovereign immunity

In late 2017, we learned that patent trolls (especially pharma patent gougers) were paying US Native Indian tribes to act as fronts for them in order to block review and cancellation of bogus patents -- the tribes have a treaty right to "sovereign immunity," which protects them from some forms of litigation. Read the rest

Authoritarians used to be scared of social media, now they rule it

A new report from the Institute For the Future on "state-sponsored trolling" documents the rise and rise of government-backed troll armies who terrorize journalists and opposition figures with seemingly endless waves of individuals who bombard their targets with vile vitriol, from racial slurs to rape threats. Read the rest

Trademark troll who claims to own "Dragon Slayer" now wants exclusive rights to book covers where someone is holding a weapon

Austin's Michael-Scott Earle, last seen around these parts when he filed a trademark on the phrase "Dragon Slayer" for use in fantasy novel trademarks, has found a new depth to plumb: he's filed a trademark on book covers "one or more human or partially human figures underneath, at least one of the figures holding a weapon; and an author's name underneath the figures; wherein the title/series and author's name are depicted in the same or similar coloring." Read the rest

Pounded in the butt by my own dark SEO: the weird, true story of #Cockygate

Back in May, indy romance author Faleena Hopkins embarked on a second career as a trademark troll, threatening to sue peers who use the word "cocky" in the titles of their romance novels, forcing people to take down books they'd written. Read the rest

Blogger gave lecture on dealing with trolls, then stabbed to death by a troll

Kenichiro Okamoto, a Japanese blogger and cybercrime consultant, was murdered in a restroom following a lecture he gave in Fukuoka on how to deal with Internet trolls.

From The Washington Post:

About 15 minutes after he concluded his talk, authorities say a man that had trolled and harassed Okamoto online attacked him in a men’s restroom, stabbing him repeatedly in the chest and neck, Asahi Shimbun reported. The man then fled the scene on a bicycle, according to the Japanese newspaper. Okamoto was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Immediately after the stabbing, a post appeared online in which the user wrote, “I am going to go now to my neighborhood police box to voluntarily surrender and take responsibility for my actions,” Mainichi Shimbun reported.

Late Sunday, a man identified as Hidemitsu Matsumoto turned himself in, saying he was “responsible for the murder in Chuo Ward,” the neighborhood where the seminar took place. A bloody knife was reportedly found in his bag, according to Mainichi Shimbun.

On Monday local time, police announced that they had arrested Matsumoto in connection with the killing.

According to Asahi Shimbun, police quoted Matsumoto saying, “I held a grudge against him over Internet (exchanges),” and “I thought I would kill him.”

Image: Kenichiro Okamoto, YouTube Read the rest

SON OF COCKY: a writer is trying to trademark "DRAGON SLAYER" for fantasy novels

Back in May, the romance writing community was rocked by a scandal after author Faleena Hopkins started enforcing a trademark over the common word "COCKY" in the titles of romance novels; I predicted then that there would be some sociopaths who would observe the controversy and decide that it was an inspiration, rather than a warning, and start trying to use trademark to steal other words from writers and their titles. Read the rest

EFF on Cockygate: trademark trolls vs romance literature

Romance author Faleena Hopkins earned the wrong kind of notoriety when she registered a trademark on the word "cocky" for use in romance novel titles and then began indiscriminately threatening to sue her peers for using this common trope. Read the rest

EFF has comprehensively killed the bullshit podcasting patent

Back in 2014, a patent troll called Personal Audio LLC embarked on a campaign to shake down podcasters large and small for millions, but then they made the mistake of tangling with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Read the rest

"Cocky" romance novelist embarks on a second career as a trademark troll: will romance writing fall from grace?

Over the past 20 years, the world has become a lot more cognizant of the risks of unbalanced copyright, as what was once a way to help creators gain leverage over publishers, studios and labels became a rubric for mass surveillance, unaccountable censorship and monopolism. Read the rest

City of Sarajevo bans unsanctioned utterances of its name, threatens Facebook groups

The proprietors of every Facebook page containing the word "Sarajevo" in its title reportedly received demand letters from the city government of Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia, threatening legal action unless the proprietors pay a royalty for permission to use the city's name in their pages. Read the rest

"American Nazi" profiled

Luke O'Brien writes about The Making of an American Nazi, Andrew Anglin. Founder of The Daily Stormer, Anglin is a white supremacist whose trolling morphed into abuse, threats and harassment as Trump's political fortunes (and his own bitcoin donations) rose.

Now facing court action,

His panic was almost palpable as he tried to walk back the fearsome reputation he’d cultivated. “I am not actually a ‘Neo‑Nazi White Supremacist,’ nor do I know what that is,” he wrote in mid-September. He claimed that his violent rhetoric was never sincere but simply a way to mock those who slap a Nazi label on anyone who “stands up for white people’s rights” or “refuses to believe the stupid lies about Hitler” or rejects the “alleged Holocaust” narrative. Anglin now shared what he said had been his true editorial approach all along: “Ironic Nazism disguised as real Nazism disguised as ironic Nazism.” Five days later, he posted about “the world being ruled either by reptiles from another dimension or some other type of reptilian or insectoid race of aliens.”

I hope whoever's representing him already has the bitcoin, because the guy surely won't be able to keep this up for long.

Read the rest

Russia-linked political Facebook ads and Twitter accounts released by House Intel Committee

House Democrats just released a trove of data, metadata, Facebook ads, and Twitter accounts run out of the Kremlin’s troll farm. A team of reporters at Daily Beast reports on how ads were created by people working for the Russian government's cyberwar arm, and literally paid for in rubles with no questions asked by Facebook.

Yep, even of those Dank Bernie Memes you shared were Russian.

Russian ads like the ones shown here came from...

...dozens of inflammatory Facebook and Twitter ads from Kremlin-backed fake social media accounts, including several The Daily Beast has already identified, with names like “Being Patriotic,” “Secured Borders,” and “United Muslims of America.” They were released on Wednesday, along with accompanying metadata showing their Russian provenance, not by the companies themselves, but by Democrats on the House intelligence community investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Taken together, the ads and the metadata provide a deeper picture than previously known of one aspect of Russia’s so-called “active measures” disinformation campaign. Hundreds of millions of Americans – nearly 150 million, Facebook acknowledged on Wednesday – didn’t realize online political material they were seeing and sharing came from a foreign adversary. But the Russians, capitalizing on social-media targeting tools made possible by accumulated data from billions of users, knew a tremendous amount about their unsuspecting American audience.

“Russia exploited real vulnerabilities that exist across online platforms and we must identify, expose, and defend ourselves against similar covert influence operations in the future,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said during a hearing on Wednesday with executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Read the rest

America's worst patent judge gets a scorching language lesson from the appeals court

Judge Rodney Gilstrap serves the Eastern District of Texas court, the venue from which patent trolls have extorted billions in useless menaces money from US industry; Gilstrap hears 25% of the patent cases brought in the USA, and has a track record for making epically terrible rulings. Read the rest

More posts