The Darker Side of the News

Seen something interesting in the news or on the intertubes? Discuss it here.

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addams
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby addams » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:14 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:sardia, have you been to north-central California? You have to drive for hours just to find a proper forest. The real issue with these fires is major grass growth from a very rainy winter coupled with sudden die-off and dry-up due to another dry, hot, drought-ey summer basically turning miles upon miles of rolling prairie foothills into a massive, contiguous tinderbox.
Yes!
This!

I still don't understand what started such a destructive fire.
The Golden Hills of California have been burning, always.

The area that burned was Developed!
Santa Rosa is a City.

A pretty little City, but a City none the less.
Apartment buildings and Shopping Malls burned!

Those people had Not encroached on Nature.

umm...Glen Ellen burned,
That is heartbreaking.

Glen Ellen was surrounded by sweet scented forest.
Eucalyptus, Pepper Trees, Pine, Myrtle; It was Great!

Glen Ellen was Home to Jack London and a NightTime Observatory.

I spent a lot of Time in that area. Yes...
(sniff-sniff) Glen Ellen had it coming.

EDIT: Maybe, it was the stupid non-native Eucalyptus.
Thanks a lot Australia! Some of those trees are 170 years old.

They drop slippery easily burned bark and leaves.
They are a darned Hazard for hikers on steep hillsides.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby eran_rathan » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:54 pm UTC

sardia wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:Same issue as those who keep rebuilding on floodplains. good luck getting people to stop doing that, too.

Knowing how terrible building there is a start. Right now, everyone wants to rebuild exactly where it burned/flooded. It's a good chance to buy them out or get them to move. There's already movement towards it, it's just underfunded and slow.


And where exactly are you planning on relocating the entire city of New Orleans, for starters? Or most of the island of Puerto Rico?
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:03 pm UTC

Where are they actually? Texas took a lot of the refugees from New Orleans, and Puerto Ricans are fleeing to Florida.
Where they actually go isn't too important, so long as it isn't a designated flood zone. but I hear the rust belt needs people. It's a big country, there's tons of room if you aren't picky. That alone would cut FEMA payouts in half.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby commodorejohn » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:04 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
sardia wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:Same issue as those who keep rebuilding on floodplains. good luck getting people to stop doing that, too.

Knowing how terrible building there is a start. Right now, everyone wants to rebuild exactly where it burned/flooded. It's a good chance to buy them out or get them to move. There's already movement towards it, it's just underfunded and slow.

And where exactly are you planning on relocating the entire city of New Orleans, for starters? Or most of the island of Puerto Rico?

Or, hell, California's Central Valley, a.k.a. one of the country's largest and most productive agricultural regions and the primary reason why these cities are situated where they are?

But hey, every problem becomes trivial if you just discount enough information entirely!
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Thesh
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Thesh » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:05 pm UTC

The problem is there are disasters no matter where you live, and all sorts of reasons why people live where they live; the only real solution is to requre distaster insurance for all property, public or private.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:11 pm UTC

Look, nobody said climate change was going to be pleasant. * There's a reason climate change is going to be the defining challenge of the century. The problems are huge, and you can either keep throwing good money after bad, or prepare for constant disasters. Most likely it'll be a combination of both, as people are forced to change, kicking and/or screaming for help.

That crazy drought, flood, then drought plus heatwaves? They're gonna get worse or more frequent.

*Climate skeptics notwithstanding.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby addams » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:24 pm UTC

Yes, sardia; It is true.
And; Vey frightening.

Sea level rise scares me.
I can see the Ocean from here.

There are low tide days when we can stand on the Beach and look Up at the Breakers.
The Post Office, Gas Station and Grocery Store are inside the Tsunami Zone.

We are separated from supply sources by bridges and water.
Like the man said, "Water. Big, Big Water" (Idiot.)

When the sirens go off in Town I see Fear on the faces of the young women at the store.
We all Stop and Listen. When the pattern is Not Tsunami Warning, we laugh.

We all know, one day it will be No Laughing Matter.
We all have a plan A. There is no long term plan.

It will take generations of people to move everything Up and Away from the water.
Where I live is where the Californians come to retire and to watch civilization die.

Many of these mean old Bastards are not a bit shy about their anti-social leanings.
We need a strong, compassionate and steady hand at the helm. Not what we have.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:37 pm UTC

Tech companies are deleting evidence that they aided Russia during our election. That's pretty dirty of them. They help fuck us, and now they're deleting any evidence of it because they are hoping the investigation withers.
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/1 ... ion-243730
Twitter deleting evidence
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the ... formation/
Facebook takes down evidence after researchers noticed that Facebook didn't reveal full extent of Russian interference.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:46 pm UTC

What happens when they write an algorithm to take down the evidence before it gets found? AI in charge of twitter, facebook, et al is terrifying.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:50 pm UTC

ucim wrote:What happens when they write an algorithm to take down the evidence before it gets found? AI in charge of twitter, facebook, et al is terrifying.

Jose

The algorithms to sort and delete data are already in place. It's the people at the tech companies that are directing the programs to delete evidence on purpose.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:52 pm UTC

sardia wrote:The algorithms to sort and delete data are already in place. It's the people at the tech companies that are directing the programs to delete evidence on purpose.

Yes, I know. But what happens when AI runs the company, with the sole directive to "maximize shareholder revenue"? And we can't figure out why the AI makes those decisions, but they do maximize shareholder revenue, so shareholders support it?

Jose
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:58 pm UTC

Presumably if the company gets sued for millions or more that would lower shareholders' revenue.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:17 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
sardia wrote:The algorithms to sort and delete data are already in place. It's the people at the tech companies that are directing the programs to delete evidence on purpose.

Yes, I know. But what happens when AI runs the company, with the sole directive to "maximize shareholder revenue"? And we can't figure out why the AI makes those decisions, but they do maximize shareholder revenue, so shareholders support it?

Jose

If you're afraid corporations will become soulless monsters who only seek to maximize profit, then it's already too late. What's exactly do you expect to be different between human ruthlessness and ai ruthlessness?

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:20 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Presumably if the company gets sued for millions or more that would lower shareholders' revenue.
The shareholders would have to know about it first though, and they wouldn't.

Now, to be fair this doesn't really relate to this case, where the issue is whether posts deleted by the users themselves should be archived or nuked permanently as if they never existed (for privacy reasons). Privacy is extremely important, but this shows its dark side.

I don't think there's a good answer to this.

sardia wrote:If you're afraid corporations will become soulless monsters who only seek to maximize profit, then it's already too late. What's exactly do you expect to be different between human ruthlessness and ai ruthlessness?
Effectiveness.

Jose
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:47 am UTC

sardia wrote:Tech companies are deleting evidence that they aided Russia during our election. That's pretty dirty of them. They help fuck us, and now they're deleting any evidence of it because they are hoping the investigation withers.
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/1 ... ion-243730
Twitter deleting evidence
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the ... formation/
Facebook takes down evidence after researchers noticed that Facebook didn't reveal full extent of Russian interference.


So they should violate their privacy policies instead and let the government access whatever data they want? This is just saying the same thing that happens when I personally delete a Facebook post or account is what happened with the accounts that were spreading fake news.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:29 pm UTC

Chen wrote:So they should violate their privacy policies instead

Advertisements shouldn't be subject to privacy laws - they're designed to be seen.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:57 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Advertisements shouldn't be subject to privacy laws - they're designed to be seen.


So an advertiser should never be able to rescind and ad? Realistically that's what was happening in the Facebook case. The person who initially posted the ad removed their account and thus all the content that account produced got removed. It's similar in the Twitter case, though it doesn't even specify anything about ads, just removed Tweets.

It's similar to the whole "Right to be forgotten" arguments regarding asking Google to remove search results. I'm more on board with not having the right to do that. Once you post something though, its there FOREVER. Many people seem to be opposed to that though and hence the privacy policies/laws that are letting people remove their content, which leads to the situations in these articles.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:38 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
Chen wrote:So they should violate their privacy policies instead

Advertisements shouldn't be subject to privacy laws - they're designed to be seen.

Most people and judges for that matter are able to balance national interested/public needs against privacy policies that were written specifically to benefit each tech company. These files aren't actually deleted. What they are doing is preventing researchers from digging up embarrassing information about how far reaching the Russians got inside the tech companies. The data is still there, just hidden. Don't think for a second that Facebook suddenly developed a conscious and became privacy advocates. They're covering their butts by censoring the data. The fear is the public will crack down on the tech giants if the true scope of Russian interference is revealed.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:17 pm UTC

In an endeavour such as these extranational social media sites, the possibility of any government twisting out 'personal' user information is going to hit their image hard. You don't want whichever unstable Egyptian* regime it is this week finding out exactly who is protesting for their democratic rights and against the government, and who is giving them moral support? Fine, but then who gets to say that a subset of the government of the 'A. N. of Otherplace' gets to access very similar information because of their own problems?

Tricky to unravel. Not impossible, but that's before we even get to regimes now knowing that an opposing regime is now seeming to get more control over a system that infests their territory than they can themselves ('rightfully') ask for cooperation. Depending upon relative POVs, that is.

(Insert some Great Firewall Of China and Weibo discussion here, if you want.)

* Speaking historically, in this example.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:58 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Zohar wrote:Advertisements shouldn't be subject to privacy laws - they're designed to be seen.


So an advertiser should never be able to rescind and ad?

...

It's similar to the whole "Right to be forgotten" arguments regarding asking Google to remove search results.


They can rescind ads if they want, sure. They don't get to claim ad is private or confidential. Just as I can go and look at a newspaper archive to see what ads were published 30 years ago, I should be able to do the same with Facebook.

As for the right to be forgotten arguments - it may or may not be valid, but corporations and governments are not people, and they don't get the same privileges (regardless of what Hobby Lobby wants you to think).
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:34 pm UTC

I'm confused as to either of the pro Facebook/tech company argument. Did the Russians come out and said they wanted their ads to be forgotten and Facebook is merely complying? Or was there never any such policy, and Facebook is covering their tracks to prevent investigators from revealing the full extent of Russian interference?
Soupspoon wrote:In an endeavour such as these extranational social media sites, the possibility of any government twisting out 'personal' user information is going to hit their image hard. You don't want whichever unstable Egyptian* regime it is this week finding out exactly who is protesting for their democratic rights and against the government, and who is giving them moral support? Fine, but then who gets to say that a subset of the government of the 'A. N. of Otherplace' gets to access very similar information because of their own problems?

Tricky to unravel. Not impossible, but that's before we even get to regimes now knowing that an opposing regime is now seeming to get more control over a system that infests their territory than they can themselves ('rightfully') ask for cooperation. Depending upon relative POVs, that is.

(Insert some Great Firewall Of China and Weibo discussion here, if you want.)

* Speaking historically, in this example.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby addams » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:36 pm UTC

Yes.
It looks like FaceBook is Covering its Ass and its Tracks.

The crisis and the suffering go on in Puerto Rico.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4qcK88zcX0

(shrug) Maybe, like Weibo, you can Fact Check this.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:31 pm UTC

sardia wrote:I'm confused as to either of the pro Facebook/tech company argument. Did the Russians come out and said they wanted their ads to be forgotten and Facebook is merely complying? Or was there never any such policy, and Facebook is covering their tracks to prevent investigators from revealing the full extent of Russian interference?


I may be wrong here but it looks as though once an account is closed, all it's content goes with it. The Facebook article mentioned there were analytics that continued to show the closed accounts postings and that wasn't intended. Once they fixed that, the researcher couldn't see any of the posts or analytics for those posts anymore. This is similar to the Twitter one. From that article

One reason is Twitter’s aggressively pro-consumer privacy policies, which generally dictate that once any user revises or deletes their tweets, paid promotions or entire accounts, the company itself must do so as well. Twitter policy requires similar actions by private companies that pay for access to its real-time global data stream and repository of saved data for use in marketing and other commercial analysis.


What I'm getting from this is that all the fake news bots and/or Russian operatives had started closing their accounts so that all this content they were posting during the election disappears.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Oct 17, 2017 12:05 am UTC

sardia wrote:I'm confused as to either of the pro Facebook/tech company argument. […]
Soupspoon wrote:In an endeavour such as these extranational social media sites, […]

As I was top-post replied (in error?), I suppose I ought to say that this isn't my argument, just apparently their argument.

I haven't seen any T&Cs for Facebook or Twitter, let alone 'signed' acceptance of them, but I pretty much assume that the companies can retain or delete data as they see fit to fulfill their corporate existence. But users need to think they are safe in revealing their personal details to others, whether or not they've actually set up the relevant access controls properly, and whether or not the platform implements those properly, and even if the data never really disappears (because they also like the idea that they can petition Tech Supoort for the return of precious data that they think they accidentally deleted), they simultaneously want some variant of the Right To Be Forgotten to happen in whole or in part on demand, especially after that particularly drunken night out... The only way that can happen is for the Twitbook servers to be a Brown Hole, with everything that falls onto the singularity being held behind an event horizon that can return things, forevermore, but only when they go to the trouble of asking for it.

(As everyone should realise, it's never so neat (especially in practice), and there are equal arguments that evidence of <random crime> ought to be able to be subpoenaed by appropriate authorities, once you work out which are the appropriate ones. But, to maintain their userbase confidence, they need to be seen to be resistant to pressures. At least drag their heals, citing plausible-yet-specious technical arguments.)

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:17 am UTC

Don't forget, the public is still reeling from the NSA leaks earlier this year. Add Snowdon to that and there is a real appetite for tech companies to stand up for our right to privacy given that our governments clearly do not value it.

And, just as the guilty deserve a fair trial every bit as much as the innocent, so too do those with something to hide deserve a right to privacy every bit as much as those with nothing to hide.

Yes, it's a pain that honest researchers are stymied by the privacy rules we all wish the tech companies to abide by, but the alternative is probably worse in the long run.

If something criminal has been carried out, let the authorities obtain their subpoenas and gather the evidence. And if not, well, tough beans. If malicious facebook campaigns by foreign agents are capable of swinging elections, the answer is to better educate the populace - to increase awareness of the cognitive biases we all have like confirmation bias or appeals to authority - to spot the signs that an article might be fake news etc.

Of course, politicians are unlikely to do this because they win their votes by using such tricks also. So, meh. Sauce for the goose etc. This is what you get when politicians only pay lip-service to the idea and ideal of democracy, rather than believing it to their very core.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:17 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Don't forget, the public is still reeling from the NSA leaks earlier this year. Add Snowdon to that and there is a real appetite for tech companies to stand up for our right to privacy given that our governments clearly do not value it.

And, just as the guilty deserve a fair trial every bit as much as the innocent, so too do those with something to hide deserve a right to privacy every bit as much as those with nothing to hide.

Yes, it's a pain that honest researchers are stymied by the privacy rules we all wish the tech companies to abide by, but the alternative is probably worse in the long run.

If something criminal has been carried out, let the authorities obtain their subpoenas and gather the evidence. And if not, well, tough beans. If malicious facebook campaigns by foreign agents are capable of swinging elections, the answer is to better educate the populace - to increase awareness of the cognitive biases we all have like confirmation bias or appeals to authority - to spot the signs that an article might be fake news etc.

Of course, politicians are unlikely to do this because they win their votes by using such tricks also. So, meh. Sauce for the goose etc. This is what you get when politicians only pay lip-service to the idea and ideal of democracy, rather than believing it to their very core.

That's bullshit because those privacy rules aren't being enforced by the tech company. They only denied or deleted the Russian postings in an attempt to prevent public outcry that would lead to a real subpoena.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:43 pm UTC

sardia wrote:That's bullshit because those privacy rules aren't being enforced by the tech company. They only denied or deleted the Russian postings in an attempt to prevent public outcry that would lead to a real subpoena.


Citation? That's not at all what the two articles you posted said.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:56 pm UTC

sardia wrote:That's bullshit because those privacy rules aren't being enforced by the tech company. They only denied or deleted the Russian postings in an attempt to prevent public outcry that would lead to a real subpoena.

Evidence?

It should be fairly easy to establish if Facebook/Twitter is telling the truth:
- Were those accounts deleted?
- Do they promise to delete the data of deleted accounts (or remove it from public view at least)?

If the answer to either of those questions is no, then they are lying. If the answer to both is yes, then they are being quite truthful when they say they are merely fixing a bug that got brought to their attention.

- Do they still have all this data archived? I'd be surprised if they didn't.

- Do they have an obligation to make it all public? No, they don't. They don't even have a moral obligation to do so, any more than Apple had the moral obligation to crack their own software just because the government asked.

- Have they, in reality, handed the data over to the US government secretly? It's quite possible they have, and it's possible the government hacked their servers and took the data even if they didn't volunteer it.

But, basically, I really don't see how companies can be blamed for (a) following their own terms of service which (b) were instituted by popular demand and (c) only handing over customer data when requested by a court of law (publicly, at least)

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:39 pm UTC

elasto wrote:If malicious facebook campaigns by foreign agents are capable of swinging elections, the answer is to better educate the populace - to increase awareness of the cognitive biases we all have like confirmation bias or appeals to authority...


This.

Remember, all the Russians did (AFAIK) is attempt to influence people by posting opinions. Nothing illegal about that; in fact, it's the premise upon which this country is based. The antidote is vigilance and thoughtful analysis.

The danger is the increasingly precise way these messages can be targeted by AI bots. It's no longer sufficient that you and I be vigilant, it's now incumbant more than ever on everyone to be thoughtful and aware of their own cognitive limitations, and of the pernicious effect of advertising tricks on their thinking. The consequences are no longer just which brand of detergent you use.

AI marketing is a very powerful weapon, and "disarming" it creates an even more powerful one. (Mark Zuckerberg in charge of our politics anyone?) The cure is in ourselves, but more than ever it is all ourselves.

Jose
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:46 pm UTC

elasto wrote:If something criminal has been carried out, let the authorities obtain their subpoenas and gather the evidence. And if not, well, tough beans. If malicious facebook campaigns by foreign agents are capable of swinging elections, the answer is to better educate the populace - to increase awareness of the cognitive biases we all have like confirmation bias or appeals to authority - to spot the signs that an article might be fake news etc.

I'm all for education, really, but I think it's naive to suggest you can educate the public to withstand strategies engineered by experts in their field to specifically target the public's biases. These are people that constantly work to improve their trade, performing experiments at a massive scale in a rapidly-expanding field of research.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Quercus » Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:56 pm UTC

ucim wrote:The cure is in ourselves, but more than ever it is all ourselves.


So in other words, we're fucked.

Okay, perhaps I exaggerate, but in all seriousness, a system that relies on the awareness, vigilance and thoughtfulness of everyone is doomed to failure. This isn't a "ha ha, people are stupid" post, but rather an acknowledgement that our society does not have the education system, nor does it generally give people the time, energy or incentives to become the sort of thinkers required for that. That isn't something that is easy, quick or cheap to change, and there is very little political will to even try (a majority of the populace that is easily manipulable is many politicians' ideal scenario). This is quite apart from Zohar's point, which is also very well made.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:09 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:So in other words, we're fucked.
Uh.... yeah. Pretty much.

In the end, we are going to become part of whatever the AI creates for us. We will be assimilated. And it won't be just one AI; there will be competing ones, and they will have their own ideologies. They will fight it out among themselves, and we will be pets. If we're lucky.

So, we have to figure out how to imbue an AI with our ideology. Which means we have to identify what it is.

Which means... well, Quercus said it already.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:13 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:I'm all for education, really, but I think it's naive to suggest you can educate the public to withstand strategies engineered by experts in their field to specifically target the public's biases. These are people that constantly work to improve their trade, performing experiments at a massive scale in a rapidly-expanding field of research.


How do you prevent it then? I mean realistically this is similar to the type of stuff Fox news or Dailymail was known for, just more sophisticated. If you can't trust people to determine real from fake sources, we're pretty screwed anyways. Back in the day, I wouldn't trust some random flyer some guy gave me on the street over something like the Wall Street Journal. I'm not sure why people suddenly trust random Joe blogger over more "legitimate" journalistic organizations.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:42 pm UTC

The fact of the matter is it works, regardless of if you're sure of it or not. Education still has a part here, for sure, but I think the solution is more legislation. Make this illegal, increase fines to an amount social networks care about, force them to have teams of people screening advertising content for truth value, deleting fake accounts, etc. Not saying that's the best solution, I'm not a legislator or a social media professional. But I think you need to have professional people (or AI, whatever) get involved with righting this. In parallel you try to educate people on how to consume news better and be skeptical, definitely, but that's not going to take care of all of this.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:06 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Make this illegal.
Make what illegal? Seriously, how would your proposed law read?

Chen wrote:Back in the day, I wouldn't trust some random flyer some guy gave me on the street over something like the Wall Street Journal. I'm not sure why people suddenly trust random Joe blogger over more "legitimate" journalistic organizations.
Because all the legitimate organizations are part of a Great Conspiracy. Only Joe Blogger has found out the Truth. You can't trust experts; they are all lizard people sparring for your brainz.

There also seems to be a resurgence of "ancient learning"... did you know that there are only four elements, not a hundred and change? It's the Wisdom of the Ancients.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:22 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Zohar wrote:Make this illegal.
Make what illegal? Seriously, how would your proposed law read?


I'm not sure what's this constant expectation by people in online debates that everyone must be able to provide a perfectly detailed solution to every problem they identify. I don't know how to write a law. That's not my job, as I wrote before. It seems to me there's a few things here that are at the very least fishy, considering how many investigations are looking into foreign influence in social media. Here are a couple of suggestions that my non-expert mind can think of:
  • Make clear definitions of what social media is, and enforce they have specific regulations and policies on fake news - we have that for newspapers. Make consuming fake news an opt-in process, just like when a browser recognizes a dangerous website and asks you explicitly if you want to proceed.
  • Don't allow automatic advertising on websites, make sure there's a clearer process that goes under review. A way to actually object and remove content - Facebook's and Twitter's policies, for instance, are bullshit.
I'm sure these are not the best ideas, and possibly not even good ideas - again, I have zero expertise in this subject matter, and your expectation that I provide you with legal wording is quite ridiculous.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:58 pm UTC

I'm pretty sure you'd run amok against the first amendment if you tried to legally outlaw fake news, at least in the US. Individuals can already punish those who spread fake news via defamation lawsuits.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:12 pm UTC

Quite.

And first amendment issues aside, I think it's a very dangerous road to mandate that middlemen like Twitter and Facebook be required to police conversations between consenting adults. If Twitter and Facebook, why not mail and phone companies too?

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Leovan » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:17 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
ucim wrote:
Zohar wrote:Make this illegal.
Make what illegal? Seriously, how would your proposed law read?


I'm not sure what's this constant expectation by people in online debates that everyone must be able to provide a perfectly detailed solution to every problem they identify. I don't know how to write a law. That's not my job, as I wrote before. It seems to me there's a few things here that are at the very least fishy, considering how many investigations are looking into foreign influence in social media. Here are a couple of suggestions that my non-expert mind can think of:
  • Make clear definitions of what social media is, and enforce they have specific regulations and policies on fake news - we have that for newspapers. Make consuming fake news an opt-in process, just like when a browser recognizes a dangerous website and asks you explicitly if you want to proceed.
  • Don't allow automatic advertising on websites, make sure there's a clearer process that goes under review. A way to actually object and remove content - Facebook's and Twitter's policies, for instance, are bullshit.
I'm sure these are not the best ideas, and possibly not even good ideas - again, I have zero expertise in this subject matter, and your expectation that I provide you with legal wording is quite ridiculous.


The question isn't so much about legal wording, but about the fact that most of the time they did nothing wrong in the first place. It was often Russians sharing news that American bloggers had put up themselves. The 'fake news' stories were not always 'news', they were often blogs[*]. And it would be hard to put a journalistic standard to blogs and legally persecute any blogger that didn't adhere to these. Or for that matter the Russian bloggers and fake accounts that merely shared these stories. They did so aggressively, widely, and in a targeted manner, but Facebook and Twitter make their living off of people doing exactly this (specifically automatic advertising which you want to prohibit). Sometimes they changed the video a little(often the owner of the video was ok with it since it reinforced his message), made a comment with the share that led people in a certain direction when reading it, they funded US organizations that had divisive messages. They shared BLM messages[1], they shared white nationalist messages, they shared both feminist and sexist views, they shared pro- and anti-Trump messages. "Even this weekend ... hashtagging out take a knee and also hashtagging out boycott NFL" [2]

I'd object to any law that says Russians aren't allowed to do Facebook things, or that foreign nationals aren't allowed to share blogs or articles about elections, especially since many of the things they blogged weren't election related but merely race/sex/identity baiting stories. These got people upset and caused them to swerve right. Also, the fact that they may have earned money in doing so is 1. difficult to prove, and 2. not illegal either. Marketing people use these tactics all the time within the US and internationally.

What is upsetting is that a foreign government used propaganda to influence an election (just like the US and a lot of other countries have done over the years). Social Media is just a new channel for that propaganda, and it sucks that the US invented it and now it's being used against you. Bots on Twitter aren't all Russian either, and according to this researcher, 15% of accounts may be bots [3]. But you're proposing making it illegal to pass out flyers for everyone, because somebody handed out a flyer which had an effect you disagree with. As far as I know propaganda isn't really illegal. It's more of a gentleman's agreement not to do it too much.

Russia may have pushed the boundaries here, but how would you want to punish them? Or politicians need someone to blame for losing the election. Reminds me of the reveals that the US spied on Merkel, which had no consequences because nobody actually wanted to do anything. Best case is we'll have to take off our shoes before boarding the plane. In this case maybe you'll need an address in the US to become a certified real account (bye bye anonymity). Or if you want to buy an ad on Facebook you need to be approved by the US government (hello censorship).

[*] Sadly I don't remember where I read the article on this... sorry
[1] https://www.cnet.com/news/russian-gover ... l-tension/
[2] http://www.npr.org/2017/09/28/554331234 ... in-the-u-s
[3] http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/09/ ... ay-be-next

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:21 pm UTC

You guys keep assuming I'm having good ideas, when I already said I don't. In any case, I never said outlaw these pieces of writing. I said curate, and notify, and provide more information.
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