Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Reviewing the 2006 FEC rules for bloggers



I’ve discussed the concerns in the past over personal blogging about political candidates or even issues and some speculative concerns before on whether that could run afoul of campaign finance reform rules and laws.
  
I did find a detailed page on the issue by Electronic Frontier Foundation recently.  I don’t know why I didn’t find it before.  Back on July 27, 2007, I had written a major blog post on how this issue accidentally, by coincidence, filtered into a major incident when I was working as a substitute teacher in northern Virginia. Here is the link
  
The basic question: “Is it true that FEC rules from 2006 limit how I can blog about politics”.  The short answer is a “No, but …”    (Parents love this.)  There is a little bit of equivocation if the blogging leads to donations, maybe, or “campaign blogs”.   But in 2004 and 2005 there had been some scare talk on this, and the FEC didn’t “get around” to narrowing its administrative law implementation of court rulings about the 2002 law until it learned there was a lot of confusion, in early 2006.  My incident had already happened (in late 2005).


There is a general impression that Citizen’s United and then McCuthceon weighed in on this (2010 and 2014), maybe with respect to non-connected PAC’s.  But most of the law was set up in 2006.
The video above mentions speculative concerns about blogs that act as “newspapers”. Apparently DailyKos had raised these issues. 

It is true that, in today’s polarized political climate, the political Left is more combative in its determination to defend the interests of oppressed “groups” than are conservatives (except for a small fringe on the alt-right) and views “gratuitous” speech about “personal responsibility” by more fortunate individuals as kind of bullying of their members.  This pressure is influencing tech companies, especially overseas, beyond the concepts of US law.   Patronage sites have drawn the most controversy recent, but that could spread to all sites where material is “free”.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

I set up a "Minds" account and Facebook won't link to it!; also did Steemit



I have set up an account on Minds.  The url is this.  
  
I have placed one blog post, simply my April 1, 2018 video “A Dangerous Thought Experiment”, 4 minutes.  I uploaded a copy of the video to Minds.  (It was on my harddrive, but it was no longer in Google Drive, don’t know why.)   

I’ll refresh everyone’s memory on what is in this Thought Experiment by re-embedding this video now.


I provided the link to the new account in a tweet, no problems.

But when I tried to link it from a Facebook post, whether with my own subaccount or not, Facebook threw up (figuratively) a captcha and claimed that site is insecure and violates community standards.
  
The only explanation I get from friends is that Minds is “competition”. 

True, it dabbles in cryptocurrency and tokens (to avoid payment processors and Patreon-like problems, perhaps). I haven’t yet set up my “Ethereum wallet” or fully learned how to use the site.  I’m not sure how the editor looks; it doesn’t seem to be a Gutenberg block editor, which is what I would have expected  (Medium’s does seem to be that.)
   
I’ll take a look at Steemit soon.
  
I also want to mention Alexandria Casio-Ortez's letter to some tech companies today for supporting LibertyCon2019 with it alleged propogation of climate change denial -- which I did not see when I attended it. Here is Bloomberg's article. Note that politicians seem to want to encourage tech companies to muzzle speakers who keep certain ideas in circulation, supposedly bad for the future common good, or particularly that would legitimatize ideas that could put more political pressure in the future on some intersectional minorities. My own position is that climate change is real and needs a systematic strategy. 

And finally, note also criticism of an Obama era rule that took away the franchise business's equivalent to "Section 230", story in Hotair.



 Update: Jan. 30 
  
 I also set up Steemit.  It did go through the free verification process and the account was set up immediately (it did not take a week).  There is just a shell blog there now. 




Sunday, January 27, 2019

Click-bait goes both ways post-Covington; Business model problems for mid-sized media companies and indie journalists grow even more convoluted; what about minimum volumes?



I wanted to continue yesterday’s discussion about the tension between independent journalism and media companies, especially the upstarts of the past few years.

NBC has reported, in a piece by Ben Collins, that some persons on 4chan have been flooding laid-off journalists with threats  in an ironic twist in the whole CovningtonGate narrative (we even had some disagreements about this at church brunch today – I was told there was even more to follow, and I guess they were talking about the NBC story).    

Tim Pool comments about the “learn to code” (or maybe wash dishes) meme and tweets (become a “prole”)


Pool has pointed out the business model flaws in the venture capital that fed the mid-tier media companies.  The newer companies could not make enough money generating news so they tended to generate click bait.   Journalism cannot grow with the economy like “real products”.

Pool was critical of Collin’s for a conflict of interest in his article (given his tweetstorm). I’ll let Pool explain this and not try to restate it.

As I’ve indicated on some posts, I’ve wondered about the idea of “free content” and how it plays into the problems today of misuse of the opportunities for user generated content.

I’ve been told in private sessions that there could be suspicion of sites or blogs with lower visitor counts, as possibly pointing to future security risks.  That’s one reason why there has always been so much hype over using search engine optimization products and to “play ball” with commercial interests. Hosts could look at analytics (visitors and bounce rates) for problems like this, although I haven't been told that they actually do. Click-bait could certainly complicate any such intentions now. 
  
Some services have minimum volume requirements for some features. (Adsense reserves the right to have one but doesn’t ever seem to enforce one.)  YouTube will not allow ads without  minimum number of visitors, and Patreon and similar services have minimum subscriber counts.  Generally services have not so far had minimum requirements just to stay online, although it’s imaginable that in a world with net neutrality gone, this could change.  In the POD book industry so far, Amazon and the POD companies themselves don’t seem to enforce minimums, but it sounds reasonable to expect that this could change.
  
One of the reasons for this would be ideological – sort of the “skin in the game” idea (Taleb) – action, rather than talk, is needed to solve real policy problems and inequality, and speakers need to fess up and go to work and join up with activists – and provide a lot of community engagement, and support solidarity, to get things done.  I don’t know how much traction this idea has yet, but the idea seems to be growing on the street.
  
Businesses have not generally followed “self-righteous” social ideologies in the past, but in the past couple of years, as we have seen with payment processors since Trump go into office (and particularly since Charlottesville), this seems to have changed.   The extreme right (compared even to radical Islam a couple years ago) really has them scared.

But Pool’s reporting shows that “high volume” that came from “playing ball” seems to be associated with hastily turning out click-bait to get ad revenue.  So the whole growing controversy over free content is getting filled with contradictions indeed.

One aspect of opinion commentating remains troubling:  reporting an argument or extreme policy proposal (such as one I blogged about today regarding the military draft) to warn readers about it.  Activists, particularly from the Left, complain that this (when coming from someone with no “skin in the game”) only makes the proposal more credible and gain more future political traction. But the far right has made videos, for example, wanting to repeal the 19th Amendment (women’s vote).

Pool has talked about the difference between commentary and reporting (Ford Fischer’s videos of demonstrations are raw reporting of provable facts) – but Pool often goes through news stories to point out the logical flaws in activists’ thinking. I do it to “warn” people to stay alert and not remain in their partisan bubbles, but to think for themselves.

Conde Nast is introducing an innovation in the paywall area (mixing it with ad surveys) that might provide more stability for some media companies. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

For some of us, taking breaks from social media would finish our careers; here's why



On p. A11 of the weekend Wall Street Journal, Kate Bachekder Odell lectures us, “It’s not too late to quit social media.” She talks about a Georgetown University professor Cal Newport who has never had a Facebook or Twitter account but has a method to “break the habit”.
  
Yesterday, on my TV blog, I presented a video on the topic by Harvard undergraduate John Fish.
  
As I said there, the more you can accomplish in the real world first, the better, especially for young adults (and students).  That is, if it’s a legitimate accomplishment.  My own circumstances are a bit unusual.

There’s been a lot of talk about “slowing down the media” again, after the mainstream media scandal with the Covington school teens.

I interpret "quitting social media" as equivalent to quitting Internet use altogether, except maybe for phone conversations.  But a lot of my own use is with regular news sites, my own blogs, videos, some email, and business use (travel reservations, payments, etc).  I'll even note the idea that when people are wired all the time, they may tend to become satisfied with "fan" connections with mostly younger and charismatic stars they admire than socialize in the real world with the more humdrum people available to them.  This can indeed feed the polarization cycle. 
    
But it isn’t feasible for me to take a breather – and that would be a problem if I ever had a major lengthy hospitalization. I could lose all I’ve done and never recover it.  I won’t get into the details now, but the basic plan is to make the content pay its own way, which I described a strategic plan for on my DADT notes blog Oct.19.   Then it would be possible for someone else to support my stuff (or some of it, at least), and for an Executor to handle it after my passing.
  
It’s also true that if it were possible to take longer breathers, I could travel more easily.  I always travel prepared to get online (with hotspots and laptops).  That could get more difficult with TSA issues.  It could be very difficult in some parts of the world, but if this were in third party hands, it might be easier to travel to less democratic places.  But my “online reputation” could make travel in Russia, China, etc. risky.
  
  
We’ve heard a lot in recent months about the downside (for common well being and democracy) of news moving too fast – and getting driven into echo chambers, and the tendency now, in the current political climate, for some user-generated content to reinforce tribal loyalty, which was certainly not the intention of most speakers when the Internet opened up more than 20 years ago.  We’ve covered the recent problems of patronage channels (and the influence of payment processors, skittish of association particularly now with right wing extremism). 
  
I’ve also noted before (especially on a posting here April 6, 2018) about the issues associated with free content.  In private conversations, I’ve noted the concern that platforms could start to examine the audience analytics of low-volume sites for misuse by visitors, and did some detailed discussion here in October.   Following through on this from a personal perspective can lead down a rabbit hole, and I can’t give a complete “logical analysis” right now.  I don’t have an easy answer other than to try to make it more self-supporting.  I don’t fit into other people’s social worlds very well, and won’t wear their uniforms and speak for them or let them speak for me.  I think there is a difference between being expected to being open to service (see issues blog, Jan. 23) and being expected to promote it (or its beneficiaries) publicly.  I can’t get much more into this today.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Twitter, like Facebook, has seen its business model turn into a runaway train



Who is worse on this echo chamber amplification, Facebook or Twitter?

Farhad Manjoo has an op-ed in the New York Times, “Never Tweet”  He notes how the “carefree coffeehouse of journalism” has turned into an information warground that has released the worst tribal instincts of those addicted to group identarianism.  Brian Stelter picked up on this on his own CNN column

In the meantime Insider has banned Twitter at work
  
Tim Pool keeps condemning Twitter and threatening to get off it and stays on it. He also thinks journalists are more important than op-ed commentators, who are getting laid off in droves, like at Buzzfeed.  (Gaywonk – Carlos Maza --  tweeted that everybody in sub-establishment media is on edge now.) 
  
Pools’s Timcasts often pick apart news stories in comparison.  Is this original journalism or is it commentary.  I think it is the latter, although there is no question Pool has paid his dues, at Occupy events and other live happenings and direct interviews.   I do worry about the ideological arguments that can be made about political content offered for free, whether under patronage or just assets accumulated from other activity. 

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. It looks like there will be libel lawsuits (James Barrett, Dailywire).


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.