Thursday, December 08, 2016

CNN ponders election and journalism under Trump at local bookstore; more on fake news; EFF speaksasy

Today, I had three events.

It started with a visit to Politics and Prose in Washington DC, where at 4 PM a CNN panel headed by Brian Stetler (with Christmas socks) and Dana Bash presented the book “Unprecedented” to a very full audience.

The answer to my question on Trump, Section 230 and social media appears in this video.

I also visited the Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria, and saw the ping pong tables inside, which is rare for a restaurant.

Today, Timothy B. Lee of Vox published an essay “Facebook should crush fake news the way Google crushed spammy content farms,”  I would add that Google misclassified  some“legitimate blogs” as spam blogs during the summer of 2008 when Google really took on link farms.  They used to offer captchas also.  Tim O’Reilly has recommended that Facebook implement the methods of Matt Cutts from that eras at Google.  “Nitecruzr” has discussed this problem on his own “Real Blogger Status” blog, here.

I then took a bus (surface) to Adams Morgan to get to the “Rebellion” bar on 18th St. where Electronic Frontier Foundation held a speakeasy.  There was little discussion of Trump, but I talked to a GWU anthropology graduate student who was going to do a dissertation on civilian control of the military, which is the subject of James Mattis’s recent book (which I reviewed on Wordpress Dec. 8).

 We also talked about the “old chestnut” debate over unit cohesion in the early days of Bill Clinton’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for gays in the military.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Cato holds forum on "Free Speech in the Age of Trump"

Tonight, the Cato Institute held a forum at 6 PM regarding Digital Rights under a Trump Administration, or “Free Speech in the Age of Trump”, link here.
One of the two main speakers was Flemming Rose, author of the “The Tyranny of Silence” (book reviews, Feb. 3, 2015).  Rose was the editor of Jyllands Posten in September 2005 when he decided to publish the cartoons of Muhammad.  That led to a huge uproar and eventual threats against Rose, as explained in the wiki article  or Atlantic.  There was a time later when as a condition of employment he was not allowed to speak or write publicly about religion or the controversy.

Rose insists that the only right you don’t have in a democracy is the purported right not to be offended.

Nick Gillespie, of Reason Magazine, told a story  of a subpoena his magazine got after a comment to an article was taken to threaten a federal judge, who had sentenced Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht to life imprisonment.   Section 230 should have protected Reason for liability for the comment.

Later, as the video shows, I asked whether could use the idea of “war against civilians” by ISIS as justification for shutting down a lot of user generated content.

Gillespie also mentioned that partisanship and gerrymandering, along with weak parties, make those favoring  moderate positions (fiscal conservative, socially liberal) impossible to elect, and tend to lead to various forms of identity and victimization politics.  He spoke badly of Bernie Sanders.

Gillespie noted that Facebook is a "platform", Breitbart is an "opinion" site and should not be regarded as a news site, whereas the New York Times is a true news site.   "Citizen journalists" do report news when they photograph videos themselves as they see it;  but by and large most "citizen" commentary is opinion (based on personal values or philosophy) and not true news. But readers have trouble understanding that.

After the session, I did mention to him that I had intended to include Section 230 in my question.  It’s easy to see how Section 230 could come under fire after “PizzaGate” since the many claims on certain forum sites were libelous and it would be very difficult in practice (for the restaurant) to go after everyone who had posted fake news.

Kat Murti moderated.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Fake news addict attacks a "target" pizza shop in DC; tech companies further explain how they will deal with terror promotion online; short film "Unhackable"

A (white) gunman (from Salisbury, North Carolina) stormed into the Comet Ping Pong Pizza Parlor in far Northwest Washington, fired one shot causing property damage but no injuries, and was arrested – but now the place is closed a couple days as police and the FBI investigate.  He seems to have been inspired by fake news stories that claimed that Hillary Clinton and others had been connected to a sex slave ring associated with the place.

The perp, Edgar Welch, now arrested, claimed he was doing a citizen investigation (and vigilante action perhaps) on the supposed ring.

In fact, Hillary Clinton’s email scandal was amplified by Comey’s Oct. 28 letter to Congress, where the email scandal was connected to allegations of Anthony Weiner’s supposed communications with an underage girl.

But even Trump was in a civil case, later dropped, with those kinds of allegations in the 1990s.

Billy Bush’s taping of the Days of our Lives NBC set, at least, only involved legal adults.

CBS News has the master story of Pizza shop incident here.  But it looks back to a local news story at WUSA about the viciousness and incredible nature of the fake news problem (and “#Pizzagate”).

NBCWashington has a detailed story here.

But NBCNews has an even more detailed story, about how the fake news blew up on 4chan, here. This fact pattern would seem to argue that Section 230 is giving some sites too much cover (although Reddit banned the thread).
So, we find a lot of Hillary's “deplorables” are easily duped by what they want to believe.

Other neighboring businesses in that area say they have been harrassed based on these fake news allegations.

Then, Facebook, Google-Youtube and Microsoft all say they will remove hate speech or terror materials in 24 hours when reported.  Microsoft says it will use a United Nations definition of what constitutes a terror group.  CNN has a detailed story on this, previewed by a video short film titled “Unhackable” (about sextortion involving Facebook and Skype)   .  The article emphasizes Europe.

Microsoft’s blog post is pretty indicative of how Silicon Valley will handle terror content online, here.  Trump could make “wartime” arguments to shut down a lot of user-generated content when ordinary civilians are put at risk.

Update: December 7

A detailed story by Marc Fisher et al on Pizzagate, front page of the Washington Post, here. Again, you wonder about Section 230 when the comments about the restaurant were so libelous, and difficult to pursue in practice.

Update: December 8

German Lopez of Vox has a detailed story that mentions a NYPD arrest rumor that I had heard verbally.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Postwaves: a crowd-controlled social network, where people vote on whether your post stays

I found a new limited social networking site called Postwaves today.

It apparently allows posts to stay on its site if other users vote to keep them there, as a way of controlling spam, gratuitousness and fake news.

I found there was an account in my email name.  I don't remember setting it up, but it let me reset the password.

I then looked up one article, from Space, about life in a research station in Utah preparing people to live on Mars, here. That site presented an annoying popup (about Trump and infrastructure, good enough) that wouldn't go away until I went into the article again.

I saw another article with a basic biology lesson on genetics.  Another article, about concussions among high school football players, had disappeared.  

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Major academic book publisher offers a collection of scientific papers to open access

Taylor and Francis , a legacy book publisher that tends to emphasize non-fiction, texts, academic books and commentary, has accumulated a list of “open-source” articles on critical academic and technical subjects, such as medicine, energy, environment, and climate change. Any connection to Baker and Taylor?

The main link is here.

There is quite a collection of impressive and important research listed here.

Jack Andraka had retweeted this link earlier today.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Blogger makes change that seems to benefit mobile blogging, but confuses users with more than one blog on an account

Last week (Tuesday, Nov. 22), Google Blogger suddenly made a change where on signon, Blogger takes the self-publisher to the detailed posting listing of only the most recent blog to which the publisher had already added a new post.

The dashboard, listing all blogs, doesn’t seem to have a savable URL (as in Chrome history), but the individual blog posting-lists do have their own.  I found I could get to another blog by doing View, going to my Blogger Profile, then to the blog I want to update, then to Design, then to Posts.  Then you can get the specific URL for your account and that other blog and save it for later reference in a Word dataset on your local hard-drive if you like. But it’s rather inconvenient.

It appears that this change was made mainly to help mobile bloggers (and as far as I know you can do only one blog on mobile). Blogger seems to allow one account to have 100 blogs (source ). I have 16 (the same number as since 2006).

But if someone has more than one, that blogger needs easy access to the master account dasbboard to be restored.

Many bloggers are asking why https is not enabled for custom domains.  The reason seems to be that each custom domain would need its own SSL certificate, which is much more complicated to set up.

On BlueHost, I have four Wordpress domains, and one of these is allowed to have a security certificate.  So all user processing (credit cards or paypal) or any sensitive material needs to be on that one blog.  But there is a newer technique, where blogs become subdomains of one account, so that one SSL certificate can be applied to all of them.  You need separate installs of Wordpress on each subdomain.  I have not tried to do this yet, and I think it’s pretty recent. It may be complicated.

Bloggers with heavy overseas readership in non-democratic countries (and this applies to me) really would benefit from making it easier to do https everywhere for all domain-connected blogs.  But this will take more work on the past of Google, Wordpress, and hosting companies.

I’ve made similar concepts on the Blogger Help Forum today and also said so in th
 e Blogger feedback button.

I still see a cultural trend away from the idea of separate multiple blogs for publishing purposes, to more integrated presence that includes more end-user social interaction with just one site (per publisher).  What makes business sense to service provides like Blogger may well be changing, with or without Trump or network neutrality.

Update: Dec. 3

Another post on the Blogger forum gives a solution. Click on the blog name on the upper left corner (not highlighted, so not apparent), and your other blogs appear.  That worked!

One other problem is that you can't easily see if you have outstanding unmonitored comments on any of your blogs.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Houston Fox anchor fired after her own personal conservative Facebook post

A news presenter in Houston, Scarlett Fakhar, has been fired from Fox 26 in Houston for expressing her own opinions on her own Facebook page, which are said to contradict her responsibility for being objective in public as a journalist.  Here's the NY Daily News story,

The comments apparently had blamed Obama’s presidency for allowing racial tensions to increase (as with Ferguson and BLM).

Here comments on her Fox fan page seem out of touch.  Would Fox delete the conservative comments?  This is Fox, after all.

Her personal page seems now to have been removed. "Heavy" has some more detailed news.
This does sound like the “conflict of interest” page I have often written about.  There can indeed be situations where work precludes expression of personal views even on personal web pages in public mode.  This issue started to surface around 2001 with “employee blogging policies” in some places (even before modern social media had been invented, a development which would take the spotlight off older blogging sites).  Mommy blogger Heather Armstrong became famous after being fired (“dooced”) over her blog in 2002.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

"KYAnonymous" hacker could get more prison time that the rape victims of the crime he exposed (from "conservative" media sources)

Some more conservative members of my Facebook community are reporting on a justice anomaly reported by Russia Today.
Am (Anonymous) "hacker", Deric Lostutter, who plead guilty in federal court in Kentucky to one count conspiracy and one count of making false statements for hacking into a student fan website to expose a rape of an unconscious girl may face more prison time than the rapists, who were apparently sentences as juveniles.  The link is here.   RT has been criticized during the recent “fake news” flap, but I have often used their YouTube videos and most of their stories seem pretty credible.   The IBTimes carries the same story.
The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper site considered credible in the mainstream, has details here.

But a Lexington KY television station covers the story about the very recent guilty plea (originally NG) by "KYAnonynous" for the hacking incident here
There is a “” site which he did not set up but which seems to be set up to expose him.  The naming of a site after him, by a third party, sounds like trademark infringement to me. It's a kind of anti-fan site. 

Rolling Stone, which edged near the fake news area with the UVa rape fiasco, has a story about the defendant here
Just a little exposure to this story makes the “fake news” whining from the Left about the election seem strident.  It’s not as fake as the Left thinks. 

Note the 2013 interview with Lostutter by CNN above, where there is a claim of a Fourth Amendment violation, and where Lostutter talks about “weaponizing the media”.  Indeed. 

Wikipedia attribution link for downtown Lexington picture under CCSA 3,0   I was last there in late 1975. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Facebook's plan on fake news attracts criticism and even "fear"; Buzzfeed shows how to report fake news now; a job for me?

Facebook’s plan to clamp down on fake news is already attracting criticism, as in this Bloomberg article.

The company could hire third party contractors or even independent contractors to fact check some items.  It’s even believable that something like that could become a job opportunity for me.

But the big problem will be the “gray areas” with kernels of truth.  Or maybe postings where the user editorializes into gray areas.  Another issue would be how links to amateur blogs would be checked.

 Some of mine expand automatically, and some don’t.  Still another is YouTube video expansions that make questionable claims, or that are from sources considered extremist or biased or “doomsday”.

Buzzfeed has a helpful post on how users can “report” suspicious stories even now.

USA Today's story mentions "third party verification".  I wonder how that would work for posting.

Mark Zuckerberg's own post on Nov. 19 is here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump's election makes the political scientists look at political correctness and identity politics as an area for technical study

Here are a couple more articles on the problems of “political correctness” and “identity politics”.

Scientific American, in a piece, “The Personality of Political Correctness”, by Scott Barry Kaufman, gives the reader a couple of quizzes to identify “egalitarian political correctness” vs. “authoritarian political correctness”.   Egalitarians believe that discourse has to be adjusted to fairly manipulate the perception of suspect classes (hence the world of “trigger warnings” on campuses). Authoritarians need ratification of “how things were meant to be”, as my own mother used to say.

Mark Lilla describes “The End of Identity Liberarlism” for the New York Times.  Call it the end of identity politics, being asked to view people differently based on the groups they belong to,

Monday, November 21, 2016

Could organizing a protest be prosecuted as "economic terrorism"? Trump signals awareness of power grid security issues

A Washington State senator is proposing a law to make it a felony to plan a demonstration that causes “economic disruption” or “jeopardizes lives and property”.  The legislator is Doug Ericksen, a Trump supporter, and apparently he wants a similar federal law, story on “The Hill” here.

The news story considered this to be a bill against “economic terrorism”.

Electronic Frontier Foundation today tweeted that the bill could jail people as felons merely for protesting. Petitions are being developed.

The protests under consideration seem to have to do with the oil and gas pipelines (about which there were major protests in North Dakota last night, with ice water hoses used against protestors), and probably the sovereign citizen’s movements.

For the record, I’ll link to a Wall Street Journal story about what Trump said today he would do on Day 1.  Obamacare and the Wall were not on the list. Trump mentioned cybersecurity and “other threats” to infrastructure, which seem to be a veiled reference to solar storms and EMP, and proposals to decentralize electric grids (Taylor Wilson) foe security and resilience.  I have tweeted this concern to Trump’s team.  Maybe they actually listened.

Picture: Wikipediam by JGkatz|Jeffrey G. Katz - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Open source project called "FiB" will help Facebook users counter fake news

Some college students have developed a plug-in for Facebook to help users spot “fake news” and provide alternative sources.  It is to be called “FiB”.

A Washington Post story by Colby Itkowitz gives illustrations as to how it works.

The project is “open source” on Dev Post here.

Gullibility seems to be the biggest on the alt right.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Electronic Frontier Foundation holds important Live Discussion on digital rights in a Trump administration

Electronic Frontier Foundation held a Live Discussion today, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, on the Election’s Effect on Digital Rights,link. It was conducted by International Director Danny O’Brien and activism director Rainey Reitman, in San Francisco.

EFF has a check list of problems tech companies need to fix, “before it’s too late”, here

The biggest concern expressed in the discussion was that tech companies have built up a “honeypot” of personal data that a Trump administration could coerce from companies, or even try to force tech workers to mine with spyware.

O'Brien also expressed an abstract concern, with no details, about the likely loss of network neutrality, which I discussed on my Net Neutrality blog on Nov. 11.  Note the concern over the possibility of providers charging publishers to access their networks, which gets discussed there in comments with respect to porn (on a Washington Post article).  There is concern over conflicts of interest in ownership arrangements and mergers between tech companies and content or media providers, as well as effective government-sanctioned monopoly in some cities. Libertarians see more competition as the alternative to net neutrality.  Consumers and some small businesses do benefit from "legitimate" access speed premium for-pay services sometimes.  

I did submit two questions, but the panel did not take up the fake news issue or censorship or downstream liability.  The discussion did mention the threats by Trump (and even Clinton) last December to shut down some parts of the Internet to cut off ISIS recruiting.  But there is a general sense that a lot of people are willing to give up freedom over “Russian roulette” theories of existential threats to safety.


But EFF issued a white paper on censorship by social media companies today (see Book Reviews blog). 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Facebook, Google have to take a stand on fake news

Although I’ve covered this somewhat on my newer Wordpress blogs, I wanted to mention that both Facebook and Google are responding to criticism that the viral “fake news” distributed widely on their platforms could have affected the elections and fed gullibility by many voters.  Elizabeth Dwoskin, Caitlin Dewey, and Craig Timberg report in the Washington Post here

Google has an issue with search engine placement, which it is always tweaking (and, no, it doesn’t pay to buy “optimization” services from quasi-spammers) – we all heard the story about Trump’s wining the popular vote.  And it will soon effectively ban websites that sponsor “fake news” from displaying its ads.

But for both companies it’s pretty hard to tell what is ‘fake”.  A lot of commentary is “Opinion” (like, there is an “opinion rule” in common defamation law).  Yup, claims that Barack Obama is (subjunctive mood) a Muslim, are fake news.  But a lot of it is hard to tell. 

The measures don’t seem to target amateur sites specifically.

There is a general impression that “Google” users are politically more in the middle (more or less like Hillary Clinton), and that heavy Facebook users migrate to the extremes. 

Blogger, by the way, has a discussion (“mystagogy”) of the psychology of people drawn to extremist positions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

DC television station presents warnings story about parental responsibility for child's Internet use

WJLA’s “7 On You Side” feature in Washington FC reports on parental liability for a child’s use of social media accounts or other cellular or conventional Internet connections.

A child, with an iPad or tablet. ran up $13000 in debt on a Google Play account through a combination of circumstances that led to the sudden credit card charges not being declined as they usually should have been.  It appears that finally the debt will be waived.  
Before (Oct. 24) I’ve noted the possibility of downstream liability if others in one’s household (even a boarder or roommate) misuse one’s broadband Internet connection, for copyright infringement (usually through P2P), promotion of terror or even child pornography.  It’s also possible (although rare – there have been arrests in New York State and Florida with eventual dropping of charges) for liability to happen for “drive-by” use outside, which is one reason why home routers should use the highest security settings.  Presumptive responsibility starts with the owner of an account with a router.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wisconsin professor explores class resentment in terms of deservedness

Jeff Guo, of the Washington Post, has an interesting interview with Professor Kathy Cramer, author of “The Politics of Resentment”, in explaining how voters behaved in swing states in electing Donald Trump.

Cramer talks a lot about resentment of “elitism”, of people in working classes resenting people “in higher stations in life” with jobs that seem less regimented and physically challenging.  She says voters wonder how she can spend her time driving all over the state of Wisconsin when her job is in Madison. This was a value system I fought over with my own father when growing up! The term "deserving" comes up.  This sounds a little bit like "right-sizing".

Saturday, November 12, 2016

David Brooks applies Rosenfels polarity theory to political movements

David Brooks has “gone Rosenfels” so to speak with his analysis of the political climate in the country in explaining Donald Trump’s shocking (but now more understandable) upset of the Electoral vote in the presidential election.

“The View from Trump Tower” presents the Republicans now as “individualist, closed” and the Democrats as “social, closed”.  He wants a progressive party that is “social open” but the Libertarian party would be described as “individual, open”.   Brooks thinks that the Democratic party will stumble into its own kind of racism out of identity politics, trigger warnings, and political correctness.

But the “closed” polity marker would hint at the idea of localism, tribalism, of people being expected to learn to “take care of their own” before interacting outside of their own groups (April 30).

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump's win seems an attack on elitism and intellectual arrogance

I went to two places in Arlington last night, and I gradually came to accept the idea that Donald Trump was likely to win.  This was apparent by probably 10 PM as Florida went south, and as Clinton seemed unable to hold leads in any key states.  Her performance was like that of a baseball team dropping four one run games in a row on the road in a four game sweep, some of them to walkoffs.  Despite all her movie and music stars, Hillary didn’t seem to have a bullpen.

I think there is something to be said for the idea that one of the biggest problems for the Democrats was intellectual arrogance, for example Thomas Frank’s piece in the Guardian.

I think that Trump supporters (the “basket of deplorables”) as well as Trump himself represent (with some irony, given Trump’s pride and wealth) an attack on elitism.  Last night, I wrote this on Facebook before finally retiring:

“The most striking motive behind Donald Trump's supporters was their anti-elitism. And emotion, and anti-intellectualism, and anti-rationalism. And denial. For me personally, that's the most dangerous part of it.

“I remember this sort of thing from my journey through Army Basic in 1968.

“It took an elitist, however, to pull it off. There's always hypocrisy and irony.

“There are times when others knock, and want me to make them OK, even with unwelcome personal attention.. I can refuse. That is my right. But to hunker down and refuse to deal with need in others repeatedly, is to invite aggression from others upon myself, which I may not recover from, or which may force me to become someone else than I want to be, This is all about resilience.

Initial reactions of the impact of Trump on the LGBTQ community are mixed, but they may not be as detrimental as many fear.  I’ll cover that soon on my GLBT blog.

I’m personally much more concerned about the free speech issue, as I outlined Monday where I explained how citizen journalism could get almost put out of business (Wordpress link toward the end of yesterday’s post). Much of this depends on how one views certain national security vulnerabilities online and how one views civil liberties relative to the group when leadership shows more “tribal” thinking and when there is a subsumed moral hazard about the permissive legal climate that facilitates abuse of free speech by an enemy. .

As I noted on Wordpress, I would be particularly concerned about the future of Section 230 under Trump (DMCA less so).   And websites could be required to provide financial accounting and “carry their own freight”, or have to make risk indemnification security deposits.

Trump’s own Facebook page says on “Civil Liberties”:

Scrutinize social media of those seeking to enter the US, and limit the ability of ISIS to use the internet to spread terrorism.

He also says “When it comes to the balancing security and privacy, we should err on the side of security.”

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

I voted and took no chances: Election Day musings (citizen journalism could beat risk if Trump wins)

After the cleaning crew (which showed up before breakfast as I got up) left, I went right out and voted in Arlington, VA.  The line was moderate, but it took only about fifteen minutes, voting at 10 AM.

As I’ve covered before, I worked as an Election Judge (an 18 hour day) three times, the most recent being in 2007.

Now, the election workstation PC’s with Windows XP are gone, and we’re back to paper ballots with blue (pun) ink, marking “x”’s.  But the validation of voter registration is online, reading the strip on your driver’s license.

I saw no police cars (I had expected to see at least one).  I had no trouble parking,

I took no chances.  I would normally vote Libertarian (the Aleppo gaffe is a problem).  I voted for Hillary.  What if Virginia is close (less than 100 votes) and then the electoral college is close?

I even looked at the ballot two or three times before feeding it to the machine.

There is a scenario where neither candidate gets 270, and the election goes into the House on Jan. 3.
 If LDS member Evan McMullin won Utah, the House could choose him as president.  McMullin is said to be fairly light on the social issues and traditionally conservative on foreign policy and economics, which is what a lot of people want.

As for Trump, yes, his behavior disqualifies him.  He did articulate some necessary ideas about national security and corruption.  His oldest son (who is 38) has the same knowledge base and none of dad’s narcissism, and actually could be safer for the country as president!    I can imagine journalists who could make good “moderate” presidents (Anderson Cooper, or Vox’s technology guru Tim Lee, who is just 36).  They certainly know enough to do the job.   Given Reagan’s example, could entertainers?  Election Day is Reid Ewing’s 28th birthday – seven years shy of the requirement –  Reid lives and goes to college in Utah. .  Besides having one of the most artistically fascinating Twitter feeds ever – his parents both sound like good fits – Dad is a college professor.  There are plenty of people who “know enough” in business who would work – Mark Cuban, Tim Cook.  Jimmy Fallon wants to be “vice-president”.

But you see where I am headed – we don’t attract the right people to run for office anymore.
One of the best articles on what is likely to happen tonight is here.

Journalism as a profession or avocation is in trepidation over the idea of a Trump for president. I posted an article on Trump’s potential threat to citizen journalism yesterday on Wordpress. And note Tim Lee’s article on how Facebook is undermining public confidence in journalism, an article with a buff picture of Mark Zuckerberg, 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Social media "influencers"

No, I don’t get hired to pimp one particular line of consumer goods.  But a whole class of bloggers (whom Blogtyrant would admire) do so, according to a front page story by Sarah Halzack in the Washington Post Thursday, November 3, “How social media became a money press for ‘influencers”.  The marketing follows Instagram and even Sanpchat chains (even though Snapchat posts don’t stay up).

Sales professionals (like Fredrik Eklund in “The Sell”, books, May 26, 2015) have said before that Instagram is more useful than Facebook and Twitter, and many of people are reached on Snapchat..

I do get review copy books and films to be reviewed all the time, however, so I am on the fringe of what Halzack sees as a consumer “influencer.”  For better or worse, I am more of a political influencer.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Rolling Stone, and reporter, found liable in Charlottesville defamation trial; amount not yet set.

Rolling Stone has been found liable for defamation by a federal civil jury in Charlottesville Va in the suit filed by Dean Nicole Eramo.   The CNN story is by Julia Horowitz.  Lauren Berg has a story for the Charlottesville Daily Progress.
The magazine was found liable, including the republication of the article with notes, a finding which is seen as troubling by some journalism professors.

The original reporter and publisher Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was found “originally” liable.  The story was viewed as “preconceived.”  But Eramo had to achieve a high standard, of showing malice or reckless disregard for the truth, for a public figure.

The CNN article asks how the reporter will write again, but the magazine stands behind her.

Columbia Journalism Review found the incident a “failure that was avoidable”.
The ruling seemed to include the idea that propagating defaming material to a larger audience than before adds to the offense.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Sharing economy "bnb" property owners must follow public accommodation discrimination laws when offering rentals online

NBCWashington has reported on a flurry of lawsuits against people advertising their homes or condos for temporary rental on Airbnb or Homeaway, for writing in their ads that they do not accept (or that they discourage) families with children.

The suits seem to come from a group called “Social Justice Law Collective

The suits can be initiated by “testers” and seem to offer a theory of offense or injury based on discrimination.  The plaintiff need not have actually rented.

In theory, it would sound as if suits could happen for other discrimination (same-sex couples).

It seems that even short term rentals in private homes are viewed as “public accomodations” and must follow the Fair Housing Law to the letter.

There is a philosophical policy debate over whether “sharing economy” participants have to be held to the same standards as large franchised companies.  Libertarians would say no.  But others would say that de facto discrimination will inevitably develop.

NBC4 also has a link on insurance issues for people who rent their homes temporarily through home-sharing, although I wonder if this could cover hosting people in crises (like asylum seekers) -- seems to need investigation.

Fox5 in DC is reporting on a story as to whether callers to Uber with ethnic sounding names have longer wait times.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Facebook "DDOS" set up to confound police disruption of pipeline at Standing Rock reservation, ND

I saw a curious plea to join a demonstration online on Facebook, as a kind of virtual “denial of service” to prevent sheriff’s department officers to use Facebook to see who is protesting at the Standing Rock, N.D. pipeline site.  The link on Snopes is here.

My reaction was to give the link in my own timeline, rather than cut-and-paste and pretend I was doing something I’m not.  I wondered if virtual protests could be a TOS violation.  Probably not. But the idea that the police depend on Facebook to disrupt the protests sounds facetious.

I don’t break the law to protest things – yet at one time I was willing to break sodomy laws.

I don’t join these mass movements, and the verdict is up in the air for me whether we “need” the pipeline or not.  We probably do.  But we need to get on to renewable energy sources much more quickly.

Wikipedia has consolidated all the information about the protests here.

CNN weighs in on the Facebook sit-in here. Vox weighs in also about the "viral check-in".
Wikipedia attribution link for Cannon Ball ND picture

Monday, October 24, 2016

TOS of Cloud backup services brings to mind issues like P2P illegal downloads, wireless security

I noticed today that Carbonite has updated its TOS (to conform to the EU-US Privacy Shield) and noticed also in the TOS under “conduct” that the terms do prohibit allowing illegal material to be backed up.  “Illegal” could include delivery vehicles for malware, or copies of illegally downloaded content and possibly classified information or materials related to terrorism planning or c.p.   It is probable that Apple and Microsoft and other backups (Mozy) have the same terms.

A few years ago there were a number of lawsuits against home users filed by media companies, mostly concerning materials downloaded and shared with others through P2P or possibly Bit-Torrent or maybe TOR.  One of the most notorious cases was Sony BMG v. Tenebaum (wiki reference;  law firm’s blog story).  In a few cases (one in Minnesota) people were sued and judged against for what they claimed they had not done, but for what others in their households might have done.

It’s possible to get a warning of copyright infringement from an ISP. This would usually happen from P2P, but there are some articles about the possibility of a hack or misuse of a router from outside one’s home (such as this on “six strikes”).  Most universities have policies on P2P (such as Washington).

Over time, the possibility could exist that the government could want to use automated tools, looking for digital footprints, to scan cloud backups.  I doubt, however, that the various evolutions of the US Patriot Act and Freedom Act pose much of an issue for most users.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

What is involved in assisting refugees and asylum seekers: overview of what I have found out so far

I wanted to share a few thoughts today on the whole subject of sponsorship of other people:  that is, possibly housing or hosting an asylum seeker (LGBTQ or not) or of participating in an assistance group for a refugee family, probably from Africa or an Islamic country.  I also wanted to mention “sponsorship” appeals by charities that happen on Facebook.

I’ve discussed the difference between “asylum seeker” and “refugee” on other blog postings.

In the United States, refugees are admitted after considerable screening by the US government (Homeland Security and the State Department), and are assisted by volunteer groups associated with non-profits or churches or faith groups (mosques or synagogues), supervised by large social service agencies approved by the government.  Typically it takes about twenty of so volunteers to assist a refugee family and most are settled in commercially run apartments or townhomes.  Benefits are paid to refugees for a limited time.  Besides commercial apartments, refugees generally are settled in private homes only of relatives or others who knew the person overseas.

In Canada, private agencies have much more responsibility. Private sponsorship groups are smaller.  Placement in private homes (especially of single individuals) seems more likely.  Libertarian organizations like Cato and Niskanen have been advocating that the U.S. allow a private sponsorship model.  It is relevant that in Canada health care expenses for refugees would be covered by the Canadian single payer system, which the U.S. does not have.

Asylum seekers, by contrast, are here legally only because of submitting an asylum request.  There is a variety of circumstances that have happened, including visa expiration, or illegal entry into the country.  For at least six months (maybe longer) or until asylum is approved, asylum seekers are not allowed to work or earn their own living.  Generally, the INS is likely to hold an asylum seeker in detention unless a private agency or individual or family agrees to support him or her.  This could actually be better for the seeker if he or she has health care issues.  The reasoning behind this approach is to prevent frivolous asylum claims after illegal entry; someone will get “freedom” only if private persons or groups are willing to vouch for them and take responsibility for them (with analogy to the Canadian model for refugees). Usually INS would expect those persons to include US relatives or others who know the asylee well.
In some larger metropolitan areas, non-profit groups try to assist asylum seekers, and in some cases ask for people to volunteer to house them.  In a few cities, group homes have been set up.  The INS always prefers to see relatives or people who actually know the person house him or her, if possible, but obviously this isn’t always possible.   In some cities, smaller non-profits are able to assist hosts who live in a relatively small or compact urban area with access to good public transportation (and with other infrastructure, like Internet access).  This seems to work out OK in practice.

However, it appears that someone who lives farther away from convenient assistance could find hosting very challenging.  To the best of my knowledge, it appears that the INS would require the host to provide an I-864 (an Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A) and accept full responsibility for support of the person as a dependent.  I don’t know how the tax code would work, but this obviously sounds risky (for example, health care expenses).  It sounds more analogous to foster care of an adult.  A development like this even brings up the idea (were I to participate as a host) that I might need a "real job" of sorts, actually selling things to other people rather than offering my "free" journalis,.

Generally, someone who is very consistently active in one or two, or a narrow range of groups (including faith-based) is more likely to be able to assist an asylum seeker directly than someone who remains “independent” and floats among a lot of different places, as I do.  Indeed, I have my reasons for my peripatetic behavior, but they could interfere with being of real assistance with this need.

Even so, I may be looking into this much further soon.

I also wanted to mention the appeals for “sponsorship” of overseas (mostly Africa) kids, which I sometimes find in my message box on Facebook.  Save the Children did this back in the 1970s (I don’t know if it does now), and you would get mail from the child, but then sponsored children would be changed.  I am fine with a reputable charity’s deciding whom to help, but I don’t like the idea of being connected to a specific child unless I really was prepared to spend a lot of time and follow through, perhaps be able to make overseas visits or consider adoption. Otherwise it doesn’t sound real.

There are other models for becoming directly involved with people overseas, like micro lending through Kiva.   Again, you have to be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort on narrow pragmatic interests overseas.  I do think there is said to be something for the “Give Direct” model that Vox likes  But in the end, the biggest need overseas I think is for real infrastructure.

Having a dependent means having your own skin the game, and accepting a certain place or “right size” that can depend on the success of others who need you.  It’s a heavy topic.  But it may confer “the privilege of being listened to.”