Sunday, March 17, 2019

"DuckDuckGo" search engine explains its business model

I saw an ad for the search engine “DuckDuckGo” this evening and looked into again. 

The company explains its business model as based on keywords in this Quora post

So it doesn’t track what you search for, it tracks search arguments themselves. 

I tried my own “do ask do tell” and “Bills media commentary”.  DuckDuckGo finds them, and on the BMC it adds results from evaluation sites that are not necessarily so good.  One of these is social.easycounter which says it has a “poor description”.  Alexa (keyword research) describes its audience, but there is little information. This is the kind of info BlogTyrant wanted bloggers to learn to tinker with. 

The video discusses “organic searches” and the compendium of outside services that evaluate how visitors react to your site.  It walks through how Google and DuckDyckGo compare with “Is climate change a hoax?” (It is not.) 
Google is said to interfere with results based on social judgment of various content. It is said to eliminate disparaging results (playing gatekeeper) which might interfere with information voters need before an election – and it might be biased against conservatives, so the rumor goes.

Friday, March 15, 2019

New Zealand attack seems deliberately contrived to attack individualized political and cultural expression online

The attacks on two mosques in southern New Zealand by someone who should not be named, possibly with two accomplices, apparently took place late Thursday PM EDT and the political repercussions blew up on Twitter this morning as I headed to Union Station and got on a train. I think users can find the “Manifesto” in the Document Cloud if they want to read it;  right now I won’t link to it (I did on Twitter).

Although loosely described as alt-right white racism with its focus on European ethno-states with some more obscure issues (was he referring to the Knights Templar) and “Christian” culture, it seemed to be all over the place, attacking individualism in a way that is more like Maoism than Nazism. 

He also claimed being influenced by Donald Trump, and by at least two other major Internet personalities whom for now I won’t rename.  I wondered, what would happen if my name or brand got mentioned, or that of any number of YouTube personalities I follow?
Timcast this morning did an 18-minute video “We Are at the Gates of Civil War – and Nothing Can Stop It”.

Very early, he gets into the key point: the assault and provocative manifesto are intended to encourage governments, platforms, and other entities to force individual speakers to join teams and “take sides”.

There are some other op-eds that make this point, like the New York Times  and Vox/Recode (Peter Kafka). 
CNN, particularly, has talked about the livestreaming, and the impossibility of taking it down before it is in the dark web. A New Zealand cop said, if you share the content you are part of the problem (it may be against the law to even share a terror link there – which would make it illegal to share the manifesto link, too.)  CNN suggests that Facebook implement a 30-second delay on all live-streaming starting immediately to give its algorithms time to catch terrorist content.

For me, this has both a political and personal impact.

Since I became involved with posting my own personalized assembly of issue-oriented content online (it had started with “DADT” back in 1997) without gatekeepers, I have found that people will contact me and invite me to sell their causes as if they were mine or even join their fundraisers (their speech, often more partisan than mine) or even become involved with persons personally (even dating or personal mentoring) that I would not have wanted to be connected to and who reciprocally would not have wanted to connect me. I have usually declined, and sometimes that in turn leads to resentment! 

That is, if I am going to perturb the debate with free content of my own, I should earn the right social credit first. I do have my own personal theory about "assimilation", which means that if you don't want to compete in a capitalist and individualistic mainstream because you feel you are at a group disadvantage, you can certainly join a resistance or "mass movement" if you choose, but you will likely find yourself just taking orders from revolutionary governance of you, which may be much harder.  In the end, you will inherit the karma of the team you played for. 
That leads to the political consequence.  When you consider all the other dampers on Internet speech (FOSTA, EU’s Articles 11 and 13, to name a couple) it seems to me that the corporate infrastructure cannot be counted on to be willing to host my kind of individual speech (where it depends on wealth from another source and doesn’t pay for itself from operations) forever, so I’ve set my own sunset as the end of 2021 (when I will be 78). (I am looking at Blockchain activity as a limited continuation method.) That’s almost three more years, and that may sound “optimistic”.  I can imagine business models that could work with a simpler presence, more connected to manifest consumer needs (independent bookstore, or disco/performance stage/indie film space facility as another, or possibly paywall bundling to make quality news content more affordable for most people.  (I understand that I haven't answered the "clickbait"  incentive problem here; that has to be for another time.)
I must “warn” everyone, however, that if I “relinquish” my own issue-oriented speech, I won’t let someone else speak for me or join their fundraising (where frankly my presence wouldn’t have been so welcome in the pre-Internet past because even then I wouldn’t take sides or sell group victimization). I won’t be recruited to “take sides”;  I won’t (as one employer wanted to do in 2002) let someone else say to me “we give you the words.”  That’s personally insulting.  I could possibly focus on climate change or power grid vulnerability or Internet security, but it might be difficult to do this and stay away from “somebody else’s” politics.  It could mean a personal lifetime ban from any political activity at all (outside of voting).

It’s hard to put this into a clear syllogism in a small amount of space, but I need to do that.

Update: March 16, 2019

Elliot Harmon from Electronic Frontier Foundation has this article today. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

More controversy on how politicians and ordinary citizens interact with "journalism"

A ThinkProgress story this morning about an interchange of tweets involving Trump’s reaction to a straightforward Fox News video by foreign correspondent Trey Yingst about foreign investigations of the Ethiopian Airlines investigation, illustrates the layered problems in journalism today and the way the public processes it .

One of Trey’s tweets states that he is reporting only simple facts.  Yet, Trump seemed to blow this up in his mind to a distrust of technology that was noted in the media (correctly) in late 2016 after he won the election.  That distrust may also be related to the supposed needs of his political base, whose jobs have been eroded by technology developed by intellectual elites. 

As we remember from how he conducted “The Apprentice” Trump can be very impressionable with respect to the personalities of people who work with him for him; and has an unusually exaggerated tendency to jump to the conclusions he wants after interacting with certain people in his world. That’s a natural human tendency, but with Trump it is exaggerated and is normally seen as immaturity in an adult.  Trump, in picking his winners on the program, was inconsistent; but he tended to favor street smarts  (and “team players”) over book smarts and individualists. 

The notice at the bottom of the Think Progress page, asking for donations, needs notice too.  The website notes it has been targeted by advertisers for covering controversial and emotion-generating topics, like “white racism”.  On YouTube, conservatives have said the same thing (“Adpocalypse”). Truthout, which seems similar, has been particularly aggressive in repeatedly begging for donations.

I get pretty offended when a publication claims that only it can speak for me – or when any non-profit does that.  Yet Trump told his base the same thing during the campaign “I am your voice”.  I wonder if I am a loser who needs “them” and is supposed to join up in bragging about collective victimization.  This gets me running around in circles – I can’t take the space to analyze Jordan Peterson’s response to this sort of thing (“Clean your room”, which Martin Goldberg dissected sometime back in one of his “Economic Invincibility” videos).  

 I don’t ask for anything on my blogs and I don’t call people to sell them things – and yet I get criticized for not playing ball with others and undermining their jobs!  This really gets to be a ring-around-the-rosey, where tigers turn to butter.  I’ve noted before that Facebook prods people, after posting controversial news links in their timelines, to run fundraisers for “your” non-profit on their own pages under their own names (as a contest), as if “you” need a non-profit to speak for you.

I have contributed thru Paypal (and previously Patreon, before it blew up) to a few podcasters and do so monthly;  so far I only contribute to “magazine” websites if I link to four or more articles in a year.  This one counts. (My own version of “Article 11”). 

Lior Leser concluded his podcast last night with some reference to this (in response to my question at 1:08:05) and his response is quite interesting.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Complaint to FTC on the Patreon cases gets to the heart of anti-competitive behavior to butress political power

I wanted to share Lior Leser’s website (“YouTuberLaw”) and particularly his formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission regarding anti-competitive behavior by payment processors with regard to speakers who use patronage sites, specifically Patreon and Subscribestar.  Lior gives a concise description of why the action by PayPal and Stripes seems motivated not by normal legitimate business interests but by political protectionism from the Left. 

Some of the sessions have suggested that payment processors and large platforms need to be treated as utilities or public accommodations with respect to political vides as well as the traditional discrimination classes. 

On the other hand, the far Left has insisted that gratuitous speech from those with money is intrinsically part of political power and affects socialization and solidarity and community resilience. This tracks back to the long debate that has followed campaign finance reform back in 2002 and that Citizens United does not completely resolve. 
Tonight the possibility that trust money could be misappropriated for political purposes was mentioned, and that could be another sleeping dog. There are ways this can happen for channels that ask people for money (the patronage model) and it might even raise questions about Facebook's prompting people to do fundraising contests for "their non-profits". 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

How do you monitor the moderators of social media?; union-compelled speech; a possible explanation for some payment processor bans?

“Full Measure” with Sharyl Atkissonn (on Sinclair stations) examined two particular problems today that seem to bear on free speech concerns for conservatives. 
One was a look at Project Censored and a survey of the problems social media sites have in monitoring content especially for fake news (Tim Pool’s interviews on Joe Rogan and Rubin Report focused on censorship of views seen as extremist right-wing). There was a general consensus among the people whom Sharyl interviewed that there is no objective way to determine who is biased. 

Instead you need to teach literacy and critical thinking in schools going back to an earlier age, maybe even in middle school, in both social studies and English, and science classes. If is very difficult to imagine how even a separate non-profit or agency could monitor for “fake news” without being biased.  It is a recursive problem. 

The program also discussed the problem of mandatory teachers union membership in California, going back to 2009.  Teachers who objected to their union dues being spent on leftist political causes they disagreed with were called bigots in meetings, according to the report. 

The far Left seems to want to compel people to join them and rebroadcast their speech, as a price for having a voice at all.  

I have recently wondered if one or more of the cases of people (“conservative” Internet vloggers) denied normal bank accounts could have had trusts which had been mishandled.   There might be a problem with having a grantor trust and then running campaigns asking for money or patronage (even running fundraisers through Facebook, which Facebook asks members to do after making political posts).  Maybe I’ll check with the “Legal Dissent” live stream on Tuesday nights.  I wonder if thispossibility has been looked at. 
Otherwise, the idea that someone would lose access to a normal bank account from SJW underground pressure on financial companies is unconscionable.

Friday, March 08, 2019

YouTube and other social media companies appear to be heading to only allowing pre-approved quasi-professionals to post content (Pool); the attention v. transaction economy conflict

There’s a lot of talk today about how the “attention economy” (or “dark energy economy”) has replaced the transaction economy familiar to followers of Nicholas Taleb’s “Skin in the Game”. 

The Verge has a piece about this, and then purports that a video game “Fortnite” seems to have figured out how to expand the imaginary universe of the attention economy.  I even suggested this for a game night item to a FB friend – until I looked at some of the videos, and the “Battle Royale” of most of the scenes – with the emphasis on weapons – would put down a lot of people.  The game has a geography with it – but that made Global Pursuit popular in the pre-Internet age. 

Timcast put out a particularly disturbing video today “Youtube, Facebook will censor and ban alternative media eventually”. 

He gives the argument in economic terms and self-perpetuation – the same thrust of Martin Goldberg (Economic Invincibility) offered in November 2018, even before the latest Adpocalypse started – and then demonetization for comments, or even (of Lior Leser) for criticizing the comments policy. 

 Connected to all this is the bizarre influence on the SJW’s in modern corporate America and the advertising world, as a vengeful reaction to Trump. 

I think what Pool says better explains the impulse in the European Union to force platforms to take full responsibility for content and make them publishers – which will in time prevent average people from uploading content without the supervision of gatekeepers.  Indeed Axel Voss seems to believe the amateur Internet content intended for global reach is useless and should not be protected or even allowed – whereas “citizen content” is exactly what keeps the establishment in check and keeps it honest. 

In Europe the obsession is with copyright;  in the US it’s allowing fake news and a sudden turn in direction that consumers of news cannot become literate enough to recognize fake news  on their own.  The establishment media hasn’t done a very good job recently of avoiding the fakery of clickbait, as we saw from the Covington scandal. 
I want to refer to one of Umair Haque’s pieces, effectivley about "skin in the game" under socialism, now, which I will come back to soon.  Here’s the sneak preview.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Mark Zuckerberg wants to make Facebook into a super Snapchat?

The Washington Post’s Elizabeth Dwoskin’s has a complete an analysis of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent blogpost that seems to make a future Facebook look more like another Snapchat.  CBS takes a particularly critical view.  And there is Taylor Hatmaker on Tech Crunch

What’s more telling is that Zuckerberg calls this a “privacy-focused vision for social networking.”  He thinks everyone should look at social networking as just that, a personal, privatized tool, no longer as a way to broadcast your own newspaper to the world town square with no “skin in the game”. 

Posts would become ephemeral, at least by default.  I guess they would disappear by some period, like a month or so.  Maybe you wouldn’t see the annual reminders of posts from five years ago. 

But the main thrust would be encryption of messages, which could cause Facebook to be banned in some countries. 
I don’t like the idea of a post or image disappearing immediately, so I have no use for Snapchat right now.  I can see that if I take a picture of the construction at the Ballston Quarter, it doesn’t need to stay up forever, and I can save it myself if I want to keep it.  I have very limited need for structured messaging systems or circles of privacy – that already failed with Google+. 

Gennie Gebhart of EFF writes that Facebook has required 2F authentication for phone numbers of page administrators (since I administer my own, that would sound like a problem because I haven’t used it) but still allows advertisers to find it (and I get a lot of spam calls these days) . This would seem to bring on more of the inappropriate coordinated behavior that has led to purges. 

Also, I would hope that your Page posts would not disappear.  Movie studios, for example, would need their posts for new film releases to stay up a long time.  Same for book authors.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

FOSTA plaintiffs challenge dismissal of lawsuit, make interesting argument about standing to sue

Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a post on March 1 by Karen Gullo and David Greene, reports that the plaintiffs (Woodhull et al) are trying to reinstate their lawsuit challenging FOSTA’s constitutionality, link here.
As reported before, the federal judge in Washington who heard the first arguments for the case in July dismissed the case because he argued, with some conviction, that there was practically no chance that any activities of the plaintiffs could run afoul of the law or even create a credible threat of litigation, so the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. 

EFF argues that standing decisions must be based on the plaintiffs’ interpretation of laws, not a judge’s, which is normally likely to narrower and less imaginative or speculative.  That is to say, if John Grisham (or I, for that matter) could write a novel about a fictitious case with the law and sell the book and movie, the plaintiffs have standing. 

EFF still points out that the law tends to put at risk speakers who might be seen as “facilitating” or encouraging prostitution, as compared to the actual customers and real world pimps. Recent articles have described the intricate world of trafficking, especially in Florida, after the arrest of Robert Kraft merely for attempted to buy prostitution. 

But many sites have self-censored, and many online activities related to dating and hookups are no longer available.  No great loss, some will say , if it makes minors or young adults safer. We all sacrifice.  But the First Amendment is not based on a sloppy idea of the common good, although the social Marxists seem to be getting too much traction.  In Europe the social harmony is a more explicit expectation. 

Monday, March 04, 2019

EU may vote on Copyright Directive (Articles 11 and 13) next week to get ahead of possible mass protests

Cory Doctorow at Electronic Frontier Foundation has a newer article explaining resistance to the EU’s planned Article 13, which will inevitably lead to automated filter requirements, link here

The latest objection came from Germany’s data privacy commissioner. 

And Doctorow predicts that in ten years only American companies would be able to run platforms, and would be taking profits away from Europe.  So many European companies realize this is very bad for them. But some of the legacy media companies, which fear lowballing and low coast competition, think that this protectionism will work for them. 

What’s worse is that Glyn Moody, a writer in the UK for Arstechnica, reports that Julia Reda from Germany reports that the EU Parliament wants to do the vote next week (March 11) to get it in before massive protests materialize.  Manfred Weber is being “blamed” for this move. 
If the vote goes through, American social media companies and hosting providers will have to start advising content providers on what they will do.  Simply allow content providers to have their stuff blocked in the EU countries affected?  What happens when you go to Europe?  Use a VPN?  (Maybe you should use it anyway.) 

Update: March 6

I'm thinking that the idea of developing subscription bundles and letting them become intermediaries could help solve Article13 and 11 problems, but then the concept would probably spread to the US. Details to come. 

Sunday, March 03, 2019

I make an announcement ("expiration" in 2021); free content and patronage sites create contradicting and yet intertwined Internet policy questions

On Wednesday, February 27, 2019, I did place a statement on my “doaskdotellnotes” blog, which directly supports my books, about the future of my own online presence.  Essentially I want to keep things mostly as they are until late 2021 (about 32 months).  At that time, all online activity would have to be self-supporting to continue. 

The best way to get a grip on this problem is to follow a particular tag that I set up on the site under the Wordpress category “political speech controversies”.  

The specific problem occurs when bloggers offer political or issue-oriented content for free, which is pretty easy to do because the costs for having a domain and website are low and require capital.  

What is not so cheap is the labor and effort that goes into keeping such a site effective, when no outside assistance is required or little or no income is earned from the site.  That are some persons on the Left who argue that this is not OK because it gives people with money even more advantages in policy outcomes, outside the competitive political process.  In practical terms, it reduces solidarity and participation in conventional politics by people in the center (who are often richer and have more to lose to radicalism), and allows the fringes more influence. It also raises existential questions of a personal nature in how one views others related to the self, that can become quite troubling. 

The problem is not quite the same as the recent issue of alleged payment processor collusion, which many critics say happen because of pressure on large companies from the political left.  Tim Pool did a major video March 2 on this matter (embedded yesterday in my “Bill on International Issues” blog).  Lior Leser, as reported before, is working on a major complaint to the FTC on this matter.  
The whole shebang seems to have started when Sargon of Akkad was banned by Patreon on December 6, 2018 and the “crisis” quickly spread.  These problems deal largely with website and video channel (and sometimes filmmaking) patronage, asking for money. 
Breitbart has a detailed story by Allum Bokhari, called “Financial Blacklisting”, about Chase bank’s closing some accounts, most recently of Martina Markota (Rebel Media, affected by Facebook Purge 3.0 last October).  Perhaps Breitbart is “right wing media” but my own experience with them it that they’re generally correct with facts (same with Milo Yiannopolous and “Dangerous”, despite his pariah status with the Left). 

One America News talks about Joe Biggs, Iraq War veteran.  Some of the narrative says that Trump supporters are being targeted. 

Zerohedge has a similar story about Markota 
Tim Pool argues that we are heading toward a system were major corporations maintain a “social credit score” similar to China’s on the reputations of people they do business with.  Community engagement and volunteerism and support for non-profits would be in;  personal outspokenness would be out as it is seen as a way of wielding subtle “power” over historically oppressed groups.

I’ll have to get into the particulars of my own reasoning as to my own situation in more detail later.  
Trump apparently promised to sign an executive order penalizing some educational institutions that penalize free speech. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Facebook explains its banning of Tommy Robinson and creates more concern; WSJ reports on how Paypal bans some accounts

Wow, the last 24 hours. 

First, Tommy Robinson (whom I’ve paid little attention to, said to be a far-right person in Britain) is banned from Facebook and Instagram. 

NBC News has a basic story on the incident, but it is so disturbing that Facebook found it necessary to write a corporate blog post just on its reasoning, “removing Tommy Robinson’s page for violating ourcommunity standards”. 

I have to note some concern personally for this. The text reads “Our rules also make it clear that individuals and organizations that are engaged in “organized hate” are not allowed on the platform, and praise and support for these figures is also “banned”. That is, Facebook says it will ban a page or account that “pays or supports” another entity that generally believed to be promoting hate. Project Veritas has a story about controversies in Facebook's content moderation policies. 

This can be a very slippery slope.  Media reports on groups or individuals often turn out to be wrong, as we found out from the recent Covington Boys news scandal – and the supposed “hate” seemed to be in the eyes of the beholders of partial videos (how someone interprets a “smirk”, no less). People would believe that a group or individual is an enemy more based on tribal belief than actual facts.  The Jussie Smollett affair so far seems to have some of the same problems in reporting. 

Could someone be removed for having, for example, reviewed Milo Yiannopoulos’s book “Dangerous” based on Milo’s reputation as an "enemy" of some on the Left? The book itself doesn’t cross any boundaries of what we are used to as acceptable,  True, Wikipedia has some disturbing claims about his alleged behavior since then (as well as the Twitter ban).  This concept (“praise or support”) could be leveraged to remove someone from the Internet completely by a notion of contagion. 
There are people out there who claim that saying you won’t date a trans person is hate speech – hence Martin Goldberg’s video yesterday would cause trouble. (Twitter has a rule regarding preferred pronouns, misgendering and deadnaming.)  We simply don’t have much rationality on this beyond obviously making threats or doxing. 

Then, today, Tim Pool reports on reports in the Wall Street Journal (Pete Rudegeair, paywall) and Breitbart (Charlie Nash) about Paypall’s removal of accounts from fringe groups. 

Tim Pool released a video today that is quite disturbing.  At 2:00 he even says that “libertarians” could be banned.  Does that mean candidates for the Libertarian Party or all of their supporters?  

Pool also plans a video soon on “parallel economies” which presumably means crypto currency (Monday’s post) as more people might get shut out of the normal one.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Robert Kraft arrest for prostitution leads to more attention to FOSTA as CDT appeals; Facebook may whack anti-vaxxers

The arrest of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft apparently for soliciting prostitution at a parlor in Jupiter, FL has called heavy attention to Florida’s reputed sex trafficking problem centered on these businesses, as CBSNews reports

The argument advanced is similar to that for drugs – that the users drive the criminal underground with their demand.  That now has even extended to prostitution. The libertarian position is the reverse: criminalization makes it worse. 

The news reports have not gone into FOSTA much, but the attention to international sex trafficking is bound to make social media and hosting platforms even more skittish. 

In the meantime, the Center for Democracy and Technology has submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Federal Circuit, Court of Appeals in Washington DC of a dismissal of an earlier lawsuit by Woodhull et al. The wording of FOSTA extends to prostitution. 

On a tangential matter, there is a lot of pressure on Facebook to shut down pages encouraging people not to get vaccinated.  Again, while I agree with the herd immunity theory and that vaccinations are “safe” when given properly, it’s disturbing to see additional pressure on Facebook to behave like an editor or publisher and screen content.  There is at least a theoretical argument about individual rights from those who do not want to vaccinate their children, although these parents and their kids benefit from the majority who do get vaccinated. 

Given my own history, I’d love to see a vaccine for HIV, and something generic that could stop another 1918-style influenza, or a “bird flu”. Vaccines would be an important homeland security protection against bioterror. 
Facebook is likely to use rationale similar to past purges (inappropriate coordinated behaviors) on this matter.

Monday, February 25, 2019

If you want to join and blog on a site tied to cryptocurrency, there are some steps to go through first

Today, I started looking at the Minds site (Tim Pool and Ford Fischer have put a lot of stuff on it recently), and went to the wallet link.  It invited me to buy tokens, but when I went to the link, it asked for a key that would come from the first link.  But it really doesn’t.  You have to go to an external cryptocurrency facility like Ehterium to set yourself up. 

This essay from Medium by Attores is as good an explanation as any I have found. 

There are many YouTube tutorials, like this one. 

Essentially, you download a zip file that matches your operating system.  In a highly secured environment (it’s a good idea to turn off Internet) you set up public and private access keys, which get converted to UPC codes which you print as a paper wallet.  You need to safeguard the wallet, preferably a copy in a safe-deposit box. I’m not sure if it is OK to print it with an ink-jet (which I have right now) rather than laser.  But it looks like you can use the public key to trade on Minds (or Steemit) and the private key for certain payments.  The private key is never shown to anyone.

Minds explains its “attention and participation” economy in this white paper PDF which clearly sets up a separate ecology for its “attention economy” and has ways of rewarding participants in a system walled off from the outside pressures (especially since Trump won an election and then Charlottesville happened) for political correctness. 
This seems like a “new way to work” that may eventually leave some of the older transactional world (dependent on subscription or patronage, as I’ve talked about before) behind, as the latter has become suddenly vulnerable to mob political social justice ideologies. In two or three years it could become the only way real political debate takes place online, but enough people would need to learn to use it, and have the resources to.  Otherwise, it might be roughly like comparing Gab to Twitter. 
ThioJoe has a longer video on how to get set up in cryptocurrencies.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Federal judge rules that the male-only part of US Selective Service law is unconstitutional because women now can serve in combat

The draft helped build a large part of what I argued in my first “Do Ask Do Tell” book regarding gays in the military back in the 1990s, and a federal judge in Texas has ruled the male-only aspect unconstitutional, although he didn’t order his opinion implemented. 

A San Diego newspaper, story by Pauline Reppard, reported the opinion by Judge Gray Miller Rostker v Goldberg (1981) had upheld the practice, but at the time women couldn’t serve in combat.

The article mentions the social culture of male disposability from the past. That idea had been noted in writings of George Gilder (Men and Marriage) and Warren Farrell (The Myth of Male Power) in the past. 

Some observers claim that the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote, was necessary because previously a male-only vote had been predicated on male-only conscription.

The idea of military conscription has always seemed to contradict the aims of the pro-life (anti-abortion) movements.  

Registration is based on sex at birth.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Major advertisers demand YouTube crack down on some normally legitimate but edgy content, creating "Adopocalyse"

Tim Pool has new videos on the problem that YouTube is demonetization of channels, or at least some videos on channels, because of the content of comments.  This gives enemies the ability to get channels demonetized by deliberately trolling them.  This is called “Adpocalypse”. 

The video below is the second of these so far. Pool says he will not disable comments for now (although he seemed to threaten to last night on Twitter).  The first had said "This is going to be bad".  Like a "process piece". 

Several companies (like ATT) have pulled advertising from YouTube until it removes all “offensive” content.  But what is that?  Some people have complained about minors being shown in gymnastics, because some people view it as “pornography”.  (Is legitimate view wrestling videos with college students as homoerotic?)  Advertisers complain about ads showing up physically adjacent to edgy content, and there is nothing that can be done about this. 

YouTube has also said it will ban videos which spread “conspiracy theories”, but has had to restore videos in few cases where the allegations turned out to be true (Covington and now Smollett teach us some lessons about jumping to conclusions).  Lior Lesig includes the rule in a tweet

We’ve noted that in Europe Articles 11 and 13 seem to be driven by a desire of legacy media to have protection from low cost competition from “amateur” or small media. The same seems to be happening here, as many interests are trying to destroy YouTube monetization by playing the inappropriate content card – something that in the legal world Safe Harbor and Section 230 are supposed to handle.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Anonymous political speech as free speech, and campaign financing reform; could there be a conflict?

Matt Christiansen, in 2017, had made a video explaining the importance of anonymous speech as free speech. It ought to be viewed now. 

Christiansen made the video in part on a CNN broadcast that had maintained that maybe anonymous speech should not be protected, because we don’t know how its broadcast was paid for. That’s an idea inherited from previous controversies about campaign finance reform, discussed here before. 

Free speech, he says, is not based on your identity, at least publicly. Electronic Frontier Foundation has often defended anonymous speech based on the importance of anonymity or pseudonymity as an antidote to the potential tyranny of the majority or mob.

I can certainly remember how it was three or four decades ago, when people were afraid to be seen on television when marching in gay pride parades or at gay rights meetings or even at MCC. 

Yet, today, protesting or marching in large mass events is in practice the most important example of speech that is not supposed to be traceable to your own personal identity – or is it – because you feel proud or determined enough to be seen and photographed – but it also means you feel some solidarity or belonging to a group or tribe that believes it is oppressed. 

I have, however, turned Christiansen’s idea around.  Starting in the late 1990s, when I self-published my first DADT book and set up my first websites, I was very proud to use my own individual speech as my own brand.  That was partly because of the unusual issue of the centerpiece of my own activism – the gays in the military issue, and how it intermingled with my own personal history rather like an occluded front in meteorology. My treating this way would indeed have a future permanent impact on my own reputation, and I wanted that.  It had the potential to set up “conflicts of interest”.
Christiansen gives some good examples of anonymous speech with leaflets in the past – starting with the Federalist papers, and then with Benjamin Franklin’s pseudonyms. 

I’ll add that I used my nickname “Bill” based on the legal middle name of “William” for my books – which might create a trademark issue some day, or even issues with domain names, but at the time was used this way because “Bill” was how I was known publicly.  

I did intended to become a public figure and understood the legal consequences if anyone ever defamed me (see remarks about Clarence Thomas, yesterday’s post). (Yet, Wikipedia says I still don’t have or haven’t had enough “notability”. )

Where anonymity runs into a problem now is indeed with political speech – because we’re seeing additional concerns return in accounting for how it was paid for.  The “low barrier to entry” for speech compared to the past seems democratizing. But it could unintentionally give people with more resources and more money to have more influence on policy decisions.  That’s why I’m concerned about personal sites offering opinions on political issues that don’t seem clear as to how they were funded.  This will become an issue again, and contradict our respect for anonymous speech. 
But anonymous speech is supposed to be unbranded.  Still, is it OK to have a political website, use a pseudonym, and reveal nothing about your resources?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Libertarian blogger has scuffle with Youtube over community standards; Sandmann sues Washington Post; Clarence Thomas echoes Trump on libel laws

There are a couple more interesting news developments with individual personalities. 

Libertarian video blogger Matt Christiansen from Bozeman, Montana, known for carefully crafted and intellectually argued criticisms of Leftist behaviors (rather like Tim Pool and “Economic Invincibility” at times), found that YouTube had penalized him with a Community Guidelines strike, apparently when he “unlisted” an obscure video presenting some of the violence at an early 2017 kidnapping incident in Chicago where a white person with special needs was targeted.  The incident had apparently been livestreamed on Facebook before being removed.  It is true that many video bloggers make commentaries where they include third party excerpts from violent events filmed by others. 

It is also true that a video marked unlisted (which means it is found only when hyperlinked) or private can be subject to YouTube’s rules.  And Lior Leser (YouTuberLaw) has sometimes advised creators not to appeal strikes because they may lose the ability to appeal future strikes.  This problem may be compounded by recent incidents with fake or unjustified copyright strikes from questionable complaints.

However Christiansen reports this morning that the strike was removed and he can livestream again. 

In the meantime, Nicholas Sandmann (and family) have sued the Washington Post (Jeff Bezos). 

The lawsuit complaint text is worth reading as it details Sandmann’s steady behavior during the encounter with Phillips, and says his own political views are not formed (because he is a minor). 

Sandmann is 16.  But David Hogg was still 17 when he delivered his “no more” speech on March 24 in Washington (really, which side of the political spectrum is expressed doesn’t matter to me).  

Mature and gifted minors can be very capable of implementing very complex ideas.  Taylor Wilson and Jack Andraka both came up with their scientific inventions at age 14.  Sandmann appears to be very mature and have similar intellectual capabilities. 

But I would agree that the public and the press should not expect a minor to defer to the “political correctness” of others when meeting someone in a public place who purports to be from a disadvantaged minority.  Sandmann simply treated it as an individual encounter and kept the incident calm. 

In many of   these cases it seems that the far Left is simply appealing to nothing more than “us v them” and looks for whatever straws it can find to identify enemies. The far Left seems to brag about collective victimhood and that gets in the way of any healing and resolution of our growing inequalities.  The Parkland “kids” (Hogg, etc) have thankfully been much better than that (they seem to accept capitalism and free markets) and are really getting somewhere with gun control reforms. 

Clarence Thomas has attractive controversy by criticizing the 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan ruling, meaning that public figures have a much higher standard (recklessness or malice) of proof against defendants in libel suits.  But who gets to be a public figure?  The notability for a Wikipedia page?  Or just a video channel or influential blog? 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Internet lawyer recommends reform of DMCA Safe Harbor and clearer definition of Fair Use, to fend off "false copyright strikes" on YouTube

YouTuberLaw discusses “False Strikes and Free Speech”.   The video appears to be motivated by reported increases in "copyright strike scams" against YouTube creators. 

Lior Lesig discusses the differences between how DMCA Safe Harbor (1996, for alleged copyright infringement) and Section 230 (for most other torts) for downstream liability exposure for platforms.

Legacy media lobbied hard for something like the DMCA Safe Harbor process. 

DMCA is set up to presume that a content creator is guilty of infringement, requiring a platform to take it down immediately, and making the creator follow a specific process to appeal. 

This of course could be compared to the Article 13 proposal as part of the EU Copyright Directive, which aims to prevent infringing video from being uploaded at all by “amateurs”. 

Lesig thinks that Fair Use needs to be defined more precisely in Copyright Law, and be retrofitted into the DMCA process. 

He also recommends that YouTube (which already has ContendID and counter claim processing), could punish filers or false claims by banning uploading content (but not preventing future claims).  
 He says this could be a parallel process to change the “balance of power”. 

Update: Feb. 19

Ars Technica has a detailed article by Timothy B. Lee on the incident where The Verge / Vox filed a DMCA takedown request against two videos that mocked an earlier video about building a gaming PC.  Someone at Vox apparently asked for copyright strikes (which could get a video creator banned) and was vengeful.  The strikes were removed in a few yours after the video creator was notified. This seems to be the incident tlat Lior is emphasizing. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Facebook collars pages owned by Americans distantly connected to partly Russian funding sources, raising the ante about political website owenrship transparency

Facebook has suspended some pages run by Maffick Media, which apparently are critical of American military or foreign interventions, and associated with an American journalist Rania Khalek  and her In the Now

The reason was that some of the funding for the pages supposedly came from Russian interests, although legally (if indirectly).  CNN Business has a detailed story (and mobile summary).  Presumably Facebook might restore the pages if funding becomes more transparent.

This reminds me of the issues I had in September when I tried to have my Facebook page post about power grid security boosted (Aug 30).  Facebook said, after some convoluted attempts to use their identification procedure, that they couldn’t identify me with actual domestic advertisers, and that I should let other companies admin and sell on my page to become known – a practice that actually contributed to the October Purge 3.0!

Tim Pool’s video, above, also notes that Newsguard will not give a green rating to a site that does not make its funding sources clear to the public.
Let’s put this all together, connect the dots.  Any website that discusses political and social issues and doesn’t have obvious or transparent pay-your-own-way funding sources could eventually be de-platformed if there were enough political pressure put on web hosts or social media companies. Patronage and ad revenue (clickbait) might be acceptable if it could be easily tracked.  But such a policy could eliminate many independent web operators. 
I fund my work, in retirement, from savings accumulated for all the years I was employed (in IT).  It is funded by assets accumulated by capitalism (which I guess Ocasia-Cortez  or Umair Haque doesn’t like). There is inherited wealth, but only money in my name (and properly distributed from trusts first) is ever used.  I guess I could prove that if I had to (I’ve talked about this more on the “doaskdotellnotes” blog recently). But there is no way an external third party could know that I didn’t receive money from foreign interests, even Russia or China.  I didn’t (as far as I know).  But I can’t prove it because of it is private. (The trusts are grantor trusts, to make the tax accounting easier, but that even complicates accountability for this issue if someone wants to go fishing).