Tuesday, January 22, 2019

"CovingtonGate" shows just how easily inflamed an indignant public can get regardless of facts, adding to pressures to put brakes on the Internet

The American public seems to be like kindling for a wildfire, from a single account on social media.
So it seems with Twitter’s finally suspended an account @2020fight that supposedly offered a selectively edited 4 minute video of the encounter between some Covington Catholic School students and American Tribal Leader Nathan Phillipps at an American Indigenous Peoples Rally.  Here is Danie O’Sullivan’s story. It seems likely this was a foreign bot. 

I won’t belabor the consequences for the school in Covington KY or for the teenagers.  I note in looking at the many videos that Nathan Phillipps was indeed scared of the kids at first as he started playing music.  I do believe that Nick Sandman tried to quiet the other boys and his facial expression was simply a matter of remaining still and calm to defuse a tense situation until the bus came and the kids left. The many detailed news accounts show how easily the facts could be manipulated for those who wanted to find racism and white privilege (and Trumpism) in the boys’ conduct.

Still, the indignation of those determined to attack white privilege wherever they can keeps an incident like this alive and likely to add to the likelihood of incidents, as Reason argues in a followup article

Frank Bruni has an op-ed about the dangers of the way the Internet can feed mob mentality, and frankly it is getting to the point that it could become perceived as a national security issue, as I noted Saturday with other asymmetric issues.  Already, as I noted on Nov. 21 a movement to “slow down the Internet”, limited downstream liability protection and user generated content.

That even needs to be viewed in the context that the continued shutdown has weakened law enforcement and probably increased the risk of some sort of incident that could justify Trump’s declaration of a national security emergency.  Rachel Maddow got into that on MSNBC today (Issues blog) and David Hogg even mentioned it this evening on Twitter.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

EU Article 13 seems to meet strong resistance at the last minute, before it gets "approved"

“BoingBoing” reports that the Trilogue vote on Article 13 (and the rest of the Copyright Directive) has apparently been delayed past Jan. 21 and might hopefully be delayed considerably, preventing it from getting implemented anytime soon in the various countries or even at all. 

But the details of the story are dark indeed.  Axel Voss is painted as the villain behind a plan by big media companies to be forced to go out of business unless bought out by media and newspaper companies.  It’s hard to imagine if this could happen to US companies.  But, no doubt, they wanted to stop low-cost media outlets and independent speakers from operating, claiming that independent and micro journalists undermine the ability of professionals to make a living – pure protectionism.

The killer seems to be that the largest American tech companies were figuring out how to comply wit the directive, as Lior Lesig had explained in some recent superchat videos on YouTube.  YouTube’s Content-Id comes reasonably close, after all.  Boing also reports that a lot of “dark money” was behind the proposal. As an indirect result, even the established legacy media businesses in Europe realize that they could actually be less profitable if it passes, however ironic and shocking this is to them. 
There is also a belief, especially in the US, among Leftist activists, that individualized micro media hurts them, because there is a lot less solidarity and support for intersectional ideas, and less willingness among the better off liberals (like cis white gay men) to help fight for POC, trans, etc.  If people have to be organized and allow bureaucratic PAC’s speak for them, then the interests of the least well-off are more likely to be included.  In the mean time, more moderate people simply give up in supporting political campaigns in the manner expected in the past, and politics gets hollowed out.  
This seems to be happening in Europe, too, with the shocking rise of white nationalism.

 Cory Doctorow has a similar story for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, here. 

But Mitch Stolz wrote an article warning that the music and movie industry wants to weaken DMCA Safe Harbor, for all its flaws, in the US. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

My "I told you so" tweet, Milo-Dangerous; could "fake news" be deemed a "national security problem" and if so, which media could a rogue president shut down?

This morning, on the day that President Trump would announce his “compromise” at 4 PM (covered on TV Reviews blog) Trump also issued another “Enemy of the People” accusation at the media.
This was obviously related to the Buzzfeed story which is becoming less credible all the time.  Tim Pool attacked it today.

I began to wonder if he was thinking about calling “fake news” a nationals security emergency and would try to close down independent media sites.
I wrote this Tweet, and then explained further in this Tweet thread.  

One of the points would be whether companies like “Buzzfeed” are mainstream or “independent”.  Examination of Trump’s tweets shows he views Buzzfeed as mainstream.  But other vloggers like Pool refer to companies like this as independent.

But the true independent media outlets are like Pool’s and similar video channels (like “Economic Invincibility”), and my own blog sites.  Maybe we should be called “micro media”.

I suppose a tweet like this could give people ideas, and people may think it was reckless of me to write it.  On the other hand, there is a risk that it could happen anyway, as I have pointed out in previous posts.  This is the “I told you so” problem.  No one has reacted to it yet, because there is so much other distracting news.
Here's a hint:  I do recall the Sony hack from North Korea in 2014, and could expand on the lesson from it. At the time, Google reaffirmed its commitment to "free speech" but I am wondering now. Both Trump and even Hillary Clinton mentioned the idea of an "Internet kill switch" in December 2015 (see Dec. 8, 2015 post).  Even micro media could create an international incident, even with a single blog or video post.  Social media companies worry about algorithms driving bots and fake news especially in non-democratic companies.  The norms of speech that we’re finding lead to de-platformings have to do with conditions overseas where there is no First Amendment.  Tech companies are migrating toward global standards for acceptable speech (although they could try to wall off the worst countries, like China right now, if China ever decided to  let them in with special censorship requirements).  But even an individual post (let alone algorithmic magnification) could pose an asymmetric risk (a problem Taleb talks about in “Skin in the Game”).
This is a most unsettling puzzlement.

Friday, January 18, 2019

A new News Check rating app coming? Also a "freepress" site calls out people it wants all platforms to ban

There is a new product under development called the “NewsCheckTrust Index    It appears that this will become an app which can score websites you visit for the quality of news displayed on it.  This would expand on earlier ideas of website safety ratings (like "web of trust").  In an environment without guaranteed network neutrality, it sounds feasible that some day telecoms could refuse connection to sites with insufficient ratings. That's a reason to go to https, for starters. 

This would probably be available at first only for larger news groups and only later for smaller ones.
But it could provide both a hurdle and a boost to independent media, depending on you how you look at it.

The side encourages visitors today to “enlist” for updates and further information.

On Jan. 5 here, I discussed a site called “Change the Terms”, which urges for international norms on terms of service (regardless of the US First Amendment ) especially regarding hate speech.  Although the Terms in the document sound largely reasonable, the whole idea of hate speech is very subjective and seems to be defined by the target which can be a very combative identarian group.  Any gratuitous speech about the group by non-members might be construed as “hate speech”, comparable to the Jyllends-Posten Cartoon Controversy, for example.

Yet a group called “Freepress” (an ironic title), as mentioned by Tim Pool in a post with extremely intersectional arguments (like POC don’t have free speech) and is particularly targeting Alex Jones.  (No, David Hogg is not an extraterrestrial, although it wouldn’t matter to me if he was.)  I can imagine reasons that, with arguments extreme enough, I could be banned, for my past “collusion” with the establishment back in the days of the military draft. Even “manifest observable behavior” is a fluid concept.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

News2Share and Ford Fischer hold session on independent media at LibertyCon in Washington DC

Today I did get a preview of LibertyCon2019 by attending a one-hour presentation by Ford Fischer and News2Share about the importance of independent media, in a meeting room at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, where the conference is to be held Friday and Saturday (Jan. 18 and 19). There is an awards dinner (extra cost) tonight which I did not attend.

Fischer made the case that providing videos of demonstrations and confrontations in public spaces (particularly between extremes on the Left and “alt-Right”) provides factual documentation of exactly what is happening, rather than opinions about the political philosophies of the parties, who have indeed become combative.

Mainstream media tends to provide much less actual footage than independent media can provide.
There was discussion of the Facebook Purge 3.0 back in October, against numerous independent media channels for “political spam”.  I was able to explain my own situation in getting my own Facebook page (with its essay on power grid security) boosted, and also the issue of Facebook’s repeatedly asking me to publicly raise money for non-profits.  (I must add that you can supply your own non-profit or even a personal, like a medical, cause – so you don’t have to use a “Facebook-approved” charity).

We did not have the time to discuss the recent problems with patronage sites (Patreon) and the influence that payment processors have on them, or the problems in Europe with the upcoming Articles 11 and 13, or the possible continuing problems with FOSTA (although Ford noted that YouTube has marked much more content recently as 18+ -- even political combat as well as sexual material -- which hinders audience and monetization).  I have the definite feeling that you have to consider how all these problems interact.

There was, however, an expression of the notion that the big tech platforms are under pressure from legacy media to discourage independent journalism as low-cost competition, that could conceivably lead to job loss and layoffs at legacy media companies – call it protectionism.  This is particularly the case in Europe, as we can see with what is behind Articles 11 and 13.  There is also the idea that when people speak with their own voice, they “do” less for disadvantaged people and are less willing to act in solidarity with “oppressed” groups.  Independent media gradually pushes western societies into libertarian to mainstream conservative (not alt-right) policy positions, and probably does preserve a degree of intellectual elitism, which incurs resentment.
You could say that we don’t have a culture war between Left and Right as we used to, but between tribalists and anti-tribalists (individualists). It is interesting, as Pool has said, that far Leftists have no shame about screaming and demonstrating, whereas conservatives feel that is beneath them. But it's really the anti-tribalists who feel this way. 

Update: Jan. 20

There is a new journalism project "Report for America" which CNN's  Brian Stelter reported on today.  I did join with a monthly contribution.  I attempted to create a "qualifying" fundraiser on Facebook and it did not meet their rules.  There will be followup on this story. (See Jan. 15 post for background). 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Independent journalists meet in Houston, propose forming a coalition

Ford Fischer from News2Share and Nicholas Bernabe discuss the future of independent media and propose an informal Indie Media Coalition at a gathering last Saturday, January 12, in Houston, TX.

Ford discussed Facebook Purge 3.0 on October 11 and the problem of the “co-admin status” which Facebook as actually encouraged me to use on my page to help me be identified (yesterday’s post).
At one point Ford made the observation that indie media often is viewed as looking “bloggy”.  What would “Blogtyrant” have said about that (before last June)?

The alternative crypto site “Minds” was discussed.
Bernabe said “we can’t count on third parties”.  He reminds me of how the “United Artists” movie distributor was founded decades ago.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

More on how Facebook now wants people to "play ball" when offering political speech on either pages or friending accounts

I’ve checked a little more into my situation with my Facebook Page and the add button issue.
Although not everything is conclusive, it appears that I would be expected to purchase ads to sell my three books through the page (or my own associated site, which I have) and payment processor access, not depend only on Amazon and BN (although in my case Kindle and Nook copies are much cheaper). That could be followed by allowing a third party, probably in the book industry, like a local independent bookstore, to have admin privileges on the page (that helps identify me) and sell other books.

This sounds like the most promising plan.  It may not be prudent to depend on Amazon etc forever.  It’s also, despite the recent controversies with payment processors and patronage video channels (an issue which appeared suddenly in early December 2018 but for which there had been some warning signs last August) important to have a decent relationship with payment processors (and not be considered associated with any hate groups, even indirectly, which seems to happen all too easily right now).

Once all of this is done, I could add issue-oriented (non-partisan and related to the books) posts to the page and have them boosted, as I have been “identified” as in legitimate domestic commerce.

There is also the issue of the Facebook Add Donate Button intrusions.  It’s true that it is worded as an “offer” for efficiency and absence of costs (although is disagreement on that).  In a friending page, it will name Friends who have done it.  It also appears on your business page (with no mention of other people). But it tends to appear after a post that mentions political issues, whether or not there are links.  It does not appear after mere “check-ins”.

My position is this. First, I have a few non-profits as beneficiaries on my Trust, but that does not imply I will become an agent to speak for their political interests or to raise money for them. It is always OK to give a link to the non-profit site or FB page and let the non-profit use only its own button -- which means that the visitor is not prodded by my agency but makes up her own mind on visiting the actual original site. 

However, it is appropriate to add a direct donate button for a non-profit that serves the needs of actual people (that can be artists, scientists, etc and need [and should] not be minority or intersectional focuses) where I am committed to spending regular time serving the needs of their clients. It will be difficult for me to make time for this in the immediate future, at least until some medical tests are completed.
However, it appears to be inappropriate for me to make politically or issue-oriented posts on my Facebook account or page (either one) without solving these issues first.  Facebook does not want to be a site for “amateur” or “independent “ journalism;  it wants people to interact and meet needs.  It actually welcomes some partisan or community-specific bias because that implies real personal needs might be met.  To ignore this would be “manifest observable behavior”.
It will take some time for me to address these problems, but at least I have a handle on them.
Twitter does not present these issues.

Monday, January 14, 2019

EU Copyright Directive appears to have critical action around January 21; EU residents seem to be poorly informed still

Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a post (Jan. 13) from Cory Doctorow, has sent out a take-action post to resident in Europe, especially in Sweden, Poland, Luxembourg, and Germany, regarding the progress of the Copyright Directive, Articles 11 and 13. 

Note the article implies that for Article 13, the provision would require filtering every content uploaded anywhere in the world if viewable within the EU afterwards.  It’s unclear how Internet companies could segment themselves to avoid this.  There has been almost no discussion from tech companies about this, as they are obsesses with all kinds of other issues (fake news, payment processor influence, politicization, FOSTA, weakening of US Section 230).  In the US a recent court opinion in New York State weakened the safety of some hyperlinking (like Article 11). Ironically loss of US net neutrality hasn't been very important, relatively speaking. 

What’s also noteworthy is the obvious protectionism of Article 11:  essentially, no publisher has a right to offer content for free, because it undermines employment at other publishers or newspapers!
I have contacted a few artists / filmmakers / computer science professors in the EU.  One of them said he has to keep personal activism and his job separate but supports the “pirate party”.  Generally, they weren’t as aware of what was going on until I contacted them (from the US).

The Verge has an article about Reddit from Sept. 2018. 

The next trilogue occurs January 21. 

YouTuberLaw has a short video on this dated Nov. 2018.  I will look further into his work on this. He notes that YouTube, rather than the content poster, would have to secure the licenses in Europe. Makes no real sense.  Below his video there is a link to his livestream which I will review soon. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Timcast looks at toxic masculinity and femininity; Introducing Niskanen (left-side libertarianism?)

George Gilder used to write that women are sexually superior back in the 1980s, and that men tend to become parasites unless they marry and have children.

Feminism was already happening. And these days the far radical Left has been portraying all masculinity as toxic.  The LGBT community struggles with the dichotomy of fluidity – the desire to be free from gender obligation – and the upward affiliation for masculinity experienced by most gay men.

Tim Pool gets into the idea of “toxic masculinity” in his video today, and he even unintentionally ventures toward the Rosenfels polarities.

Then he gets to “toxic femininity” (and intersectional feminism) as helicopter parenting.

I also wanted to mention the Niskanen Center, which, compared to Cato, is more amenable to “better regulation” of some big businesses to maintain sustainability – prevent 2008, prevent environmental catastrophe, and the like.  The problem with pure libertarianism is, in part, that the “corporate state” can take over if allowed monopolies – that’s what is happening to many conservative speakers who are getting deplatformed by the hidden biases of payment processors.

Brink Lindsey, of the Center, writes “We don’t need tobe so polarized: let’s be pro market and pro government”. It’s adapted from an essay “The Center Can Hold: Public Policy for an Age of Extremes”.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Wrongful DMCA takedown notices against blog postings giving tech workarounds; Indie journalists wigwam in Houston

Kit Walsh of Electronic Frontier Foundation notes another subtle misuse of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act when a company making scooters, Bird, sent a takedown notice to a blog called “Boing Boing” (it had started in 1988 as a zine) regarding an article posting explaining how to “hack” a scooter with a motherboard replacement.

EFF explains that the workaround was not illegal under Section 1201 of the DMCA.  

But there’s a deeper issue. Normally takedown notices apply to claims of actual copyright infringement. But this is about a journalistic article that offers instructions as to how to do a hack (“jailbreak”) that is purported to be illegal but turns out not to be.

This can be a problem for bloggers, especially in tech, or YouTube videos, which offer advice on how to get around various issues with all kinds of consumer products, especially tech products.  We’re back to the issue that independent journalism keeps challenging the establishment and its ability to make money the old fashioned way.

Even hosting companies, normally counting on Section 230 protection, could start to get more antsy with their AUP’s, as they have come under pressure ever since August 2007 over Charlottesville.
A problem like this could be bigger in the EU, considering its planned tightening of copyright law.
Scooters, of course, have a bigger problem: the batteries, and the issues of fires, and safe transport.

I once got a Facebook message from a Friend whose scooter had been stolen, but he got it back.

Also there is a meeting going on in Houston of independent journalists developing strategies to stop the takedowns and to organize indie journalists in some way.  Ford Fischer from News2Share speaks now. 
This story will develop soon.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

The Southern Border may not provide much of a genuine national security emergency, but the Internet could do so suddenly at any time, because of long-tail asymmetry

Saturday, I wrote a “book report” post on my Books blog about presidential national security emergencies, and looked into whether they could affect the Internet.

The border “crisis” hardly qualifies as a war-time security threat in the sense that is normally understood – although there is some evidence that in some areas more actual wall or fence construction is needed. The Democrats are wrong to be so intransigent on this.

But my concern is that a national security agency could go way beyond using funds to build the wall.

 Andrea Pitzer gives a perspective in the Washington Post on how these powers have been used in the past, and in other countries. 

Of greatest concern, as noted in the Book blog, is the Internet. As such, it has little to do with the border crisis itself.  But the whole world of user-generated content that has built so many careers for “content creation” does pose asymmetric risks of sudden catastrophes, much in the spirit of Nicholas Taleb’s “Skin in the Game.”

After 9/11, when there was an emergency for a while, one concern was steganography: the idea that hacker could place instructions for future attacks to other conspirators as coded information on amateur websites.  My old “hppub” website was hacked in April 2002, right in the middle of an essay (later from my DADT II book) where I talk about suitcase nuclear weapons.  A similar hack has not happened since.

Just like Charles Moskos’s idea of resuming conscription (and simultaneously ending his “don’t ask don’t tell”), it got forgotten.  But it could have shut down my participation online if people had noticed.  (I did report the 2002 hack to the FBI.)
A more relevant example now is the Sony hack by North Korea, as a result of Kim Jong Un’s insult at a film “The Interview” in 2014.  Google itself laughed at the incident.  But a more dangerous idea could be that even an amateur post insults someone overseas and leads to reprisal, even possibly back in the US, the idea of “to prove I can” entering. Even one such incident, out of the blue, would create tremendous controversy.  I can imagine the movie plots and screenplay table readings on this idea right now.  This speculative idea seems to fit Nicholas Taleb’s idea of a “long tail” risk from his “Skin in the Game”, where a relatively well-off speaker attracts attention to other people whom the speaker has no stake in, and draws the attention of “enemies”.  Still, this idea that one is morally responsible for attracting risk to others seems to come right out of Mafia culture.
 Were there to be a single terror incident  (especially foreign-sourced) anywhere in the US related to this risk, much of the Internet probably would get shut down as part of a successive emergency order, and the familiar world of user generated content might not ever return.  The EU seems to be contemplating similar ideas (EFF has mentioned it but I haven't looked at it in detail yet.) So the whole idea of an emergency declaration of any kind now is "playing with matches". 

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Financial censorship has been a creeping problem for several years, to throw up on Patreon

Electronic Frontier Foundation has noted that financial censorship from payment processors is not new. Paypal blocked a couple of e-book sites for allowing books that went over the line with some sexually explicit material, including bestiality and underage.  Rainey Reitman had noted this back in 2012. 

Payment processors are not in a position to judge the artistic relevance of edgy material.  But social justice warriors may claim that the material encourages rape or male domination or quasi-fascist personal values.   In recent years, payment processors have been caught in a tug of war between tribalists on both extreme Left and Right claiming grievances, especially since Trump's election. 

Remember, sometimes payment processors threaten platforms with complete denial of access if they don't remove just one targeted controversial content provider, and this has not been transparent.  

I have to be careful about this with some materials in spots in my upcoming novel.
EFF also notes that SOPA would have allowed copyright claims to disable people’s sources of income with no due process.  In retrospect, Jack Conte's idea of "manifest observable behavior" (which would apply ti Trump!) seems to have been a phrase to duck the crossfire hitting his company.  And Conte is a musician, an artist himself (look on Wikipedia). 
The same is true of Article 13 now proposed for the EU.
Amazon had been criticized by not banning white supremacist products, but now is reported to stop selling some rugs with images of Muhammad on them because the concept is offensive to some Muslims.  I would be concerned if banning of some products, especially books or films, were stopped over complaints from special groups.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Lawsuit against Grindr (dating app) could poke another hole in Section 230

David Ingram has a story on NBC about still “another” lawsuit, dating to 2017, that could poke another hole in Section 230.  Bearing Drift in Charlottesville shared the story yesterday. 
The suit (Herrick v. Grindr), in New York is against Grindr by a man who says he was harassed by an ex repeatedly, and that a flaw in the app allowed this to happen. Apparently fake profiles of him were created, leading to “suitors” to come to his door, creating obvious nuisance and genuine security problems (that is, doxing).

This would be the first Section 230 case that I know of based on an app as opposed to a site.  I don’t use dating apps, which can also be affected by FOSTA.
 Electronic Frontier Foundation has an important article by Aaron Mackey about challenges by plaintiffs to platforms hosting content that turns out to support terrorism, link

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Website "Change the Terms" sets itself up to pressure platforms into uniform policies against hate speech

Change the Terms”, is a new website that tries to design uniform TOS standards, with respect to hate speech.

Matt Christiansen explains the group.

Here’s the Southern Poverty’s Law Center own panel discussion for the “Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights”, here (slightly over one hour).

I’ve looked at the site and the wording is careful so as to look more innocuous, but it is very subjective.
Christiansen criticizes “believing free speech and hate speech are separate things”. How about “expert assessment of your rights”.
 There is a major discussion on my books blog today about an Atlantic article on how a Trump "national emergency declaration" for the Wall could spread to the Internet

Update: Jan 6

There's a lot of discussion going on about possible payment processor collusion against some. Patreon (or other patronage platforms) "conservative" payment processor providers (More on Timcast).  This problem seems to occur to the patronage portion only.  Advertising on the videos is not affected.  Many Patronage providers allow visitors to see all content "free" even if not patrons. Were the same content behind paywalls (that is a mandatory paid subscription), it seems as though the credit card companies would not be involved.  The content in a Patronage environment is essentially "free" (although some content can be reserved for patrons) and tends to have a wider audience base.  From the viewpoint of the provider, the he/she makes a living from the patronage (perhaps) and maybe the ads.  So in one sense the content pays for itself, but in another sense it does not. The credit card companies seem particularly sensitive to activism regarding content sites that ask for sponsorship. I wonder if this observation helps with the FTC litigation being proposed. 

Friday, January 04, 2019

OK, to be fair with some publications, I'll charge myself a small "link tax" even in the U.S.

Continuing yesterday’s discussion, I wanted to add some comments on links to publications that have paywalls.

I do have subscriptions to several major newspapers ( explained Dec. 26) and a few periodicals.

In cases where I do not, I’ll follow one of a few options, in effect charging myself a kind of “link tax”, in parallel with the EU’s proposed Article 11 “link tax” (I am in the US).

When the periodical is a magazine with regular print issues, I’ll try to find the print in a retail place (CVS, BN, etc) and purchase a hardcopy. I’ll try to do this for at least one out of every four links to that publication.  Otherwise, on the fifth or greater link I’ll do a subscription (effective Jan. 1, 2019).

With a site that asks for donations, I’ll try to do this at least once for every four links, but the donation will be small.  I’ll keep private records of the non-free links I use.

A few publications are quite aggressive in their begging for donations to “speak for me”, which I resent. Truthout is one of the worst, although some of their articles are very good and not as extreme Left as the editorial position of the site as a whole.
It is rare for me to have a reason to link to a European story (probably in a foreign language) outside of the UK or perhaps the EU parliament itself.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Facebook is trying to force speakers to put "skin in the game" and this is now a problem (compelled speech)

I have to express dismay at Facebook’s continuing to prod me to do things on my site – ranging from reviewing relatively trivial locations I have “checked in” at, to changing my profile picture, to responding to “friends”, to boosting a post on my Page, and finally to running fundraisers for non-profits on my account.  The profile settings don’t seem to allow these reminders to be turned off.  (Note: this post continues a discussion started on Dec. 27, 2018.)

I don’t’ like to be treated like a child (like Baby Trump).  But it’s becoming increasingly apparent since last Spring with all the privacy scandals and Russian bot matters, that Facebook does not want to just be a blogging platform for your own daily newspaper.  It really is for “relationships”.  It is for transactions, and business in a sense.  It isn’t for professionalism (that’s Linked-In). It isn’t for amateurs who claim to be citizen journalists rising above the needs of others with their objectivity.

First, I can’t boost my Facebook Page posts because they deal with a “public issue” without selling anything. I’d have to set up an ongoing retail operation for my books, of which the most recent is five years old now. I will be in a better position to set this up in about six months (if I can stay on schedule) when the novel approaches publication, or when some of my music might be ready for professional performance.  (A brief trip to New York next week will take up that issue.)

The other possibility is, since I took up the issue of power grid stability (see Aug. 30, 2018) is to invite someone to sell products like Faraday bags and cages.  Doing so might make me look like a huckster or pimp, but that may be Facebook’s point: I have no moral right to act better than everyone else;  I have to play ball with everyone.  The deeper point is really doing the journalistic work to find out if consumers really could use these little devices, which can be expensive. Some of them are sold on Amazon.

But I’m still caught in a loop.  Facebook can’t verify my “commercial identity” until I start selling something with regular transactions and have a track record of relationships with advertisers who could proxy access to my pages.  (And misuse of that mechanism led to the Facebook Purge 3.0 for many independent journalists last October.)

The other issue that worries me is being prodded all the time to “Add a Donate Button” which often appears after an issue-oriented post, especially one without links. 

I’ve said that when I write about a non-profit, I’ll give the link to their donation page and let the visitor donate from their page.  I don’t want to play “favorites” that publicly by putting the icon on my own and participating in some of drive publicly.

But I can see how this could be problematic.  I mentioned this issue on a comment on a YouTube post regarding the Patreon-Sargon controversy, and an angry far-Left activist rebuked me as being the only person in history to insist on such heartlessness. So already I’ve met a protest.

I have not fit very well into working within the non-profit, especially activist world, because it has its own quasi-authoritarian internal politics.  But I understand that the entire non-profit world is tied into social media companies and needs to have these platforms maintain a world that plays ball with them.  So I can see how my stance could get me into trouble later, even with payment processors later when I get ready to “sell” (this time) my book and music.

What I find is that, when you express your views, especially individually tailored views, in public on social media or even hosted platforms without gatekeepers, others are more likely to become upfront in asking you to assist them personally with their needs and causes.  And ignoring them repeatedly, after having the floor, is seen as rude, even as an indirect kind of “hate speech”. 

There is a certain problem, perhaps, with many pundits on the Internet, who can act “better than you” and yet attract patrons and support.  But this may come with an expectation of eventually taking responsibility for people you might not have chosen to engage personally before. 

Over time, this could add to the problems that some speakers could attract from hostile activists. 
This whole situation could be seen as an example of “skin in the game” (Nicholas Taleb), or “no spectators” (“Burning Man” – which attracted Logan Paul, or even Netflix movie “Rebirth”).

For the time being, then, I won’t continue to add “issue news” posts to my Facebook account or page, at least until I am closer to being prepared to sell again.  I would only run a fundraiser for an effort with which I had direct involvement and which was tied to my own life.  It is still a fairly high bar for me personally to take up a cause, outside of content creation. My own charitable giving still happens privately, largely automated, through a bank, as I have explained on Wordpress in my “Notes” blog, for trust beneficiaries.

I will add check-ins or photos to events or places that I have visited personally. These don’t seem to invited the Add-button requests.

But I really need to be able to reach a human being at Facebook to talk about their tendency to pester account holders.

The payment processor activism in recent months has drawn a lot of attention, especially very recently with Patreon.  But as time goes on, it seems that processors may look at patterns of conduct of speakers with a much broader brush, for behavior seen as potentially hostile to some previously disadvantaged identity-based groups. Not playing ball with requests like FB’s repeated invitations for charity fundraising (which might be interpreted as quasi-compelled speech as a kind of unwritten TOS requirement) could be seen (at least by some more SJW activists) as actual hostility.
I can remember United Way drives at work thirty years ago.  They were practically mandatory, a kind of compelled speech.  We didn’t think about it this way then.  Now we have to watch it.

Update: Jan 4

I realize it is possible to change my Facebook privacy settings so that only Friends see the organizations supported by on-platform donation processing.  I generally don't use social sites this way.   Postings are public, and private communications are by email, or by FB message, Twitter message or normal iPhone text (or call). 

Again, I need to get a human being at FB in chat or by phone to discuss these problems.  I will attempt to do so by the end of this month.

I also understand that by doing donations through a trust and bank mechanism, that non-profits miss out on matching donations, and so this could be a sensitive matter for them if it were a widespread practice (from estates).  But we don't want platforms to put the integrity of political speech at risk by implied demands for support for their causes, however compelling.

Update Jan 5. 

They even put this on my Page, too, after a post on declaring a national emergency. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Is a negative post on Twitter entitled to a presumption that it is an "opinion" in defamation law?

A fairly brief post for New Year’s Day.

I wanted to pass along YouTuberLaw’s analysis of the “Pedo Guy” lawsuit against Elon Musk.

What’s interesting here is the idea that any claim about a celebrity posted on social media, especially Twitter, deserves to be regarded as “opinion”, rather than “asserted fact”, which means it can no longer be defamation. Also is the idea that the circumstances make it clear this is conjecture.

You could say it’s too bad that English doesn’t have a formal subjunctive mood (with conjugated verb endings), like French and most European languages do.  Then you know what is really an assertion and what is claimed truth.

Still, it’s risky to lose your temper and make a defamatory statement on social media.
There’s a recent flak on Twitter about some nasty (but not defamatory) claims about Bre Payton after her passing – see my “Issues” blog. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Why news could go back to becoming hyper-partisan

Derek Thompson has a provocative piece in The Atlantic, “The Media’s Post-Advertising Future Is also its Past”, with the byline “Why the news is going back to the 19th Century”.

Thompson goes through a variety of experiments that media keeps trying to stay afloat. He then notes that newspapers got started in the nineteenth century as a way to advance partisan political views.

The notion of journalistic objectivity didn’t come along until advertising drove away the “party press”. That comment is relevant personally today. As a “citizen journalist” (as I call myself in retirement) I resist people begging me to support their narrow political interests, like I want to be above that. But that attitude on my part causes further resentment, especially among identarian fringes on the Left and sometimes alt-right.

At a recent conference sponsored by Citizens for Democracy and Technology, Ethan Zuckerman had noted how newspapers had gotten started in the US as a way to send “letters” because the US Post Office was so restrictive and expensive.

The idea of patronage itself is “controversial” and tends to complicate the issue of content moderation for crowdfunding sites like Patreon (although there are other issues like payment processors).
This article would bring up my idea of consolidated paywalls (Oct. 24).  It’s also useful to talk about the EU idea of a link tax.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

A weekend trip and dinner with troubling conversation; YouTuberLaw weighs in on payment processor censorship; Timcast notes how major parties are hollowed out by identarianis,

Some potpourri for Beggar’s Night, one day before New Years Eve and the Nutcracker Ballet.
I was away this weekend in the Williamsburg area. 

There is a Facebook page called “Dining With Strangers”, and a couple times on road trips I’ve accidentally done that (as in September in California).

At a big club on Henry Street in Williamsburg, about six blocks from the College, I was seated outdoors in 50 degree air near a gas-lit fire.  It was warm enough. Across the table there was a young (straight) couple.

Conversation ensued.  The woman worked in a medical office, and I got her interested in looking up Jack Andraka’s Science Fair work. The young man said he was apolitical but tended to libertarianism.  But then it got interesting.  He said he doesn’t bother to vote because he is so appalled at essentially the identarianism of both major parties right now.  It was acceptable at this dinner table to mention the president as long as you said “Baby” in front of his last name.

He also said he had no use for social media anymore.  He didn’t need it.  It has just become silly and a place for ranting or flirting.

Facebook had better pay attention.

I introduced him to Economic Invincibility on YouTube, and he was somewhat impressed.

Well, had Tim Pool been at this dinner, he would have posted about it.  As it is, Pool published a 12-step tweet storm today about how the Left is becoming identarian, and leaving a big hole in the middle for “left-libertarians” to join the Right and try to restore a little bit of Reaganesque individualism. OK, more like Ronnie the son with social liberalism (gay marriage) but not carried too far (don’t overdo the trans and fluid thing because gender really matters to most relationships). Pool also noted that much of the far Left is specifically race conscious above all else – post-racism, post Obama.  Here is the tweet storm

It’s a bit like a typical Wordrpess blog post by me.

I haven’t reported here that YouTuberLaw has filed a complaint against Paypal and Patreon with the FTC (which is slowed down for now by the government shutdown) for possible anti-trust.

It really appears that payment processors are pressuring other tech platforms against an enlarging body of content which they believe should not be posted.  Why are payment processors so receptive to the ideas of the Far Left?  One reason is that these companies operate in other countries which simply don’t value our concept of free speech and have to do deal with cultures that are much more group-oriented.  I have looked at a few other videos of Sargon and a few others.  Some of their content is normally all right in normal speech or has been in past yeas (such as on how less attractive straight men can find dates, for example), but groups complain that the mere fact that this speech is allowed so readily when it could not have been twenty years ago leads to more oppression of members of their groups (to more aggression against women) from less stable people or more aggressive people. There is an ironic backside to this argument on the gay side that I’ll go into in more detail later.

Along the lines of payment platforms, YouTuber law reports that bots are more likely to file community guidelines strikes than in the past, and there are more “false flag” complaints, which YouTuberLaw shows there are very good reasons for care in the appeal process.  Community guidelines strikes may occur for pretty much the same reasons as Patreon bans (but for on-platform behavior only). Some of them seem to be triggered merely by political ideology alone. 

Update: Jan. 1

Electronic Frontier Foundation has numerous articles, including one picked up by Breitbart, noting apparent "brand collusion" (so it looks) in the payment processing world with no transparency. One of the most important is by Rainey Reitman June 5, 2108.  These seem valuable in YouTuberLaw's action.  I'll come back to this.