Monday, April 29, 2019

PewDiePie becomes somewhat contrite as he asks users to drop his "subscribe" meme


Sunday, PewDiePie made a serious video in which he asked people to stop using the “Subscribe to PewDiePie” meme. He mentioned that from his perspective, the Christchurch incident was unforeseeable and out of the box. This argument of his may not stand up. 

American Johnson, of “Non Compete”, who had made a video earlier (“The PewDiePie Pipline”, cf blog, April 7) on the way  Felix Kjellberg’s meme had been redpilled and blown up by extremist opportunists, did a “quickrise” video Monday morning on the sincerity of Felix’s recent video.  


Two reactions.  Well, maybe three. 

First, I’m aware of Johnson’s theory of “stochastic terrorism” that seems to be catching on and being viewed as a mainstream national security concept, a sort of “Manchurian Candidate” for ordinary American Psycho’s (like the 2000 film). ContraPoints has also covered this idea (Nov 24, 2018). But I think that the biggest problems are coming mainly from Dark Web or hidden sites like 8chan (previous post), where Wikipedia offers some very disturbing details indeed. In comparison, radicalization on places like YouTube seems much less likely (given vigorous enforcement of community standards).  However late Monday NBC offered some more analysis that says some 8chan material is still winding up on Facebook (before FB can find it) accounts of extremists. 

Second, “Non Compete” is advancing a kind of communism (he calls it “anarchist”).  There are a lot of scattered intentional communities around the US (like “Twin Oaks” and “Acorn” in central Virginia) that run moneyless communities with one or two commune businesses and income sharing.  

 There is even a confederation among these groups, of sorts.  But you would have to imagine dividing the country into reservations for these “communes” as if they were “tribes” and expecting everyone to join one of them.
  
I do think we have a problem.  On a global scale we have tremendous inequality, which goes beyond income and wealth but even cognition. You wind up, with such a huge potential population and with asymmetry, with some inevitability that some people with “nothing to lose’ will blow up. That was one of the points of Taleb’s “Skin in the Game” book.  We wind up with a moral debate on the risk we pass on to others when we don't have the same tribal circumstances. 

 There is also an increasing problem that mentioning something (or showing a meme or a forbidden symbol) itself leads to censorship. Even "learn to code".  See the Timcast today.  Tim refers to a Verge story here.  Ironically, there was a small plane running an ad banner for the subscription over NYC today, it had been prearranged. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Poway incident shows the nonsense in what both sides say



Kristina Davis et al has an article about the Poway anti-semetic shooting incident Saturday that refers to an unreleased “manifesto” or letter which apparently was posted on the Internet briefly and is now removed.  Note that he used an AR-15. Poway is south of San Diego, almost on the border.  Later Sunday NBCNews had more details on the contents of the "open letter". 
  
The perpetrator committed another atrocity against an Islamic facility in Escondido recently.  The screed apparently refers to New Zealand, but this time the point was anti-Semitism.
On the meantime, Biden enters the presidential race and refers to Trump’s “very fine people” after Charlottesville. 

And all of this adds up to nonsense.

Trump says he was referring to Lee as a general.  When I took US history in high school, we studied the War Between the States and stayed away from the emotion it engenders today.  I recall seeing Ted Turner’s 4 hour film “Gettysburg” at a heater in northern Virginia in 1995, but I don’t recall a lot of passion – I do remember the contemplative speeches. 

So, to me, to fight identarian struggles over monuments in many cities (like Richmond now) rather than do actual public policy sounds silly to me (like try health care, even legitimate border security).  Why not simply build more statues of accomplished African-Americans (like Arthur Ashe, in Richmond) as a counterweight?

But when the United the Right rally appeared in Charlottesville in Aug. 2017, the marches didn’t talk about the statues. They used the “J” word and the “replace” verb in the negative.  I don’t wan to repeat the meme.  So Trump has it all wrong.  No fine person says that.

The rally would logically be at odds with Trump for supporting Israel and moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

Of course, some of the resistance did get violent.

 Kate Sullivan of CNN has a story on the release from jail of a former military officer on weapon's charges when he had made horrific plans, because federal law doesn't view "domestic terror" the say way as foreign terror in terms of charges that can be brought or bail that can be demanded. "Right wing extremism" is far more covert and hidden in memes. 


It's fair to note that a lot of the "inspiration" for the far Right comes from sites like 8chan (as if 4chan were too authoritarian after refusing a few of the most extreme imageboards, as explained in Wikipedia;  one in particular is a serious cyberterror group with a name composed of slurs that will get you banned from Facebook and Twitter;  just read Wikipedia on this for details.) 

Truthout, a left-wing periodical that keeps making panicky demands for donations and threatens to shut itself down, as if only they could speak for us, does feature a challenging article by Cherise Morris, “To conjure a future we want, we need a revolution of the heart”.  Trouble is, I need to make it with my own efforts first before I pledge allegiance to a “group”.  I don’t have group oppression as an excuse, even if some unjust things happened early in my life. But if a revolution really happened, I would be gone.  I can’t gamble my own soul on “abolishing capitalism” which actually saved me.
  
There follows an even more challenging piece by Loav Yitvin on “embracing intersectionality”. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

YouTuber who criticizes Australian encryption law sees how easily he gets shadowbanned, maybe out of business




YouTubers who depend on monetization for a living are very sensitive to shadowbanning and the marking of videos as not suitable for most advertisers.

Such was the case of “The Dark One” when he criticized and Australian encryption law.


But to be eligible for monetization, channels have tomeet rather significant milestones in numbers of subscribers and total watch time, as explained on Polygon.  It seems like there is a thin line between click bait and real consumer friendliness. I know that, contrary to normal impression, YouTube (and Facebook) really do prefer to see people selling things rather than just expressing opinions.  It gets harder as EU rules go into effect.   And YouTube volumes are very dependent on algorithmic recommendations.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A day in the mountains, and a chance over-hearing of a politician's luncheon meeting



A quick late-night post before bed.  (I have friends staying up all night, check the end of this post.) 

I took a road day today, through the Massanutten mountains (Route 675 is the alternate Skyline Drive), but I also stopped for lunch in a café in Washington VA.

With a copy of Greene’s “Moral Tribes” on the table, I attracted attention.  At the next table, a local politician was holding a meeting.

He talked about whether most people’s idea of expressing their political views was limited to donating to political campaigns.  Almost like he knew what I write about and recognized me.

He also talked about whether towns could count on volunteer fire departments forever, like in this Texas newspaper article

That raises an interesting question – that voluntarism almost become necessary and mandatory in a metamoral sense, along with traditional fundraising and solidarity, which I have bucked.

Baseball player Bryce Harper had talked about volunteer fire departments one time.

I’ll give a link to a big Washington Post article by Greg Jaffe, “Capitalism In Crisis”. 

Most hyper-socialists (like Non-Compete) see organizing the world as layers of communes, but it’s hard to see how anybody get there.


American Johnson of “NonCompete” takes a stab at it, rather rambling. He is not afraid of the Big C word. 
  
Also, check News2Share or Ford Fischer tonight on live-streaming from the Venezuelan embassy of a planned eviction of Maduro’s people by the Secret Service.  No URL yet.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Trump engages "The Church of Jack Dorsey" in a personal meeting with Twitter CEO; is Facebook on the ropes?


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was expected to have a private meeting with President Donald Trump today, as reported in a story by Joseph Cox et al Tuesday in Motherboard Vice, here

While some reports mentioned the opioid crisis as a topic, it’s pretty obvious that Twitter’s apparent bias against conservatives will come up.  Dorsey may want to flag Trump tweets that break Twitter rules and allow them to be seen, as hinted in a Twitter blog post

Tim Pool reported the story on his own tweet stream today. Recently, Pool had interviewed Dorsey in detail himself in a livestream.

  
Wade Roush, in a brief article on p. 28 of the May 2019 Scientific American (paywall) warns in an article “Turning off the Emotion Pump”,  predicts that Facebook will “wither” without revenue from reinforcing visitor emotions from algorithms, and we’ll never have a comparable platform.  But, just to stay connected on a personal level, we don’t need one.  Zuckerberg seems to get into deeper trouble, with some loose talk of criminal investigations now, as well as personal civil liability (WPost story on FTC fine). .

Monday, April 22, 2019

More on digital wallets



I expect to get to setting this up tomorrow, but here is another video on the easiest way to set up an Ethereum Wallet, and then move your digital  money around afterward, from iMineBlocks.


The speaker did it on a MacBook and says he had trouble doing this with Safari, so he used Chrome on the MacBook.

I noticed that when you want to be paid in Ethereum and store it in you wallet, it has to be “mined” first.

Here is a supplementary video on the five “best” wallets, three of them on smartphone only, and some of them work only with bitcoin. 

Update: April 23

I went through the procedure at myehterwallet.   The MEW method seemed to be available only on a smart phone (only IOS and Android OS).  I had to use the software method ("not recommended').  Ot created a "Keystore JSON" file which it downloaded into "downloads" on windows 10.  I saved the file and public key on an offsite thumb drive and printed it, and put in a safe deposit box.  It looks like a need to download an app to open it, as it seems to be openable only on the smart phone (iPhone).  But you can also copy the wallet address (like from a text file) into a space in the key method.  Not recommended unless you think your laptop is very secure -- or you have very little funds. (So far that's true).  But I think you have to use the private key method on Minds or Steemit.  I will try soon. . 

Update: April 25

Having a lot of trouble getting funds to move to the wallet.  The wallet address (43 hex bytes) is not the private key (implied by the product code).  It never actually showed me a private key.  Did another wallet on the phone with MEW, which works only on the phone in mobile operating systems, requires you to install the MEW app. 

Then on either the phone or computer (separately) you have to verify with a driver's license or passport and personal photo (which wouldn't take properly on the phone, but did on a computer).  

Not sure you to tell the Coinbase send function (under accounts) your private key or show it the bar code yet,  Demo videos don't quite match what really happens.  The Myetherewallet is supposed to show up in Chrome as a tab to get to the wallet address but doesn't.  Not sure how to finish this, 

Minds.com will let you keep track of your tokens off the blockchain, however. 

Update: April 27

I summarized my latest efforts on Minds here

More references:  Ethereum   Mycrypto  Coincentral

Saturday, April 20, 2019

GIFCT: Big tech firms collaborate on pre-censoring terror-related content but draw criticism for lack of transparency (which might have to be intentional)



Emma Llanso of Wired describes an initiative for tech companies to systematize censorship of terrorist or harmful content, in an article “Platforms want centralized censorship; that should scare you.” 

The article describes the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube, acronym GIFCT.  The effort includes a database to guide the blacklisting of content with certain hashtags or memes in certain combinations and may lead to blacklisting certain URL’s or websites within browsers.
  

This is similar somewhat to what anti-virus software does, blocking certain sites.

The same writer had described this in an earlier article for CDT in December 2016. 

Microsoft had offered this response after Christchurch.

The Washington Post, in a piece by Elizabeth Dawson and Craig Timberg, had given a detailed description of how the perpetrator in New Zealand thwarted efforts to take down his in-process video.
  
I found only one video on YouTube discussing GIFCT (by acronym), with few views.

Picture: A PNG of me taken by a friend at a videotaping this week. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

How can indie journalists be "objective" when discussing their own careers; how should journalists handle "embedded" racism?



Journalists, by definition, must be objective and stand outside the perimeter of conflict, at least figuratively (even though they may wear steel pot helmets and need to be prepared for mace).
So it is difficult for journalists to talk about threats to their own work, most of all to independent journalism, objectively.

So it is when I talk about threats to user-generated-content, including the future or sustainability of this blog and others of mine, as well as YouTube channels.   I don’t need my operation to make a living, and some other journalists do (especially the popular independent YouTube channels by “conservatives”, so-to-speak). So that makes my bringing it up more sensitive.

Nevertheless, we must start connecting the dots on many fronts, and not be so hypnotized by the most “obvious” issue, net neutrality, and its activists.  We have to consider FOSTA, the EU copyright directive, and the whole panoply of debate over “hate speech” and “harmful content”, and reckon with the fact that the legal climate in the rest of the western world is less protective of free speech than is the US.  I concede that there are real sustainability problems leading to discussions of new ways we disseminate content and balance it with action or “skin in the game”.

I note this tweet by Nassim Nicholas Taleb that the idea of “entrepreneur” is overly vague.    But I have a problem with the idea of my identity being tied to such a narrow focus.  That didn’t work when I was a mainframe computer programmer.

This tweet by Ethan H Bellamy about the “scale” of politics is also relevant. 

There is also the problem that SJW’s are demanding that journalists join them in calling out “racists” (or other  -- phobias) or be shut down.  If you don’t overtly fight white supremacy , then you are one.  This is all “us v them” and combativeness, which members of some groups feel is justified.


NPR has a Code Switch podcast and article on the problem.    To care about the speaker’s character but not the targets of the speech (a particular incident in 2007 with Don Imus that I recall when substitute teaching) is said itself to be racist.
  
I almost never use these terms to characterize someone’s speech.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

EU countries ratify directive (19 out of 28 nations); France may implement it this summer; effects uncertain




19 of 28 member European Union member countries approved the “Copyright Directive” yesterday;  there were six no’s (that included Poland and Finland) and three abstentions.  The UK voted for it, despite the fact it might leave with Brexit by March 2020.

While the countries would have until the spring of 2021 to implement the policies, France says it wants a policy in place sometime this summer. 
  
  
There are many news stories, but one of the more explicit is “9to5Google”.  This links to a story (from November) that suggests Google News would be shut down in affected countries, and possibly so would YouTube.   Another possibility would be that only pre-approved channels would be allowed to continue to operate, or at least have their content visible in affected countries. Google's own blog entry is constructively critical. 
  
Techdirt has some details by country and predicts litigation may hold up the process.
   
Recode discusses the effects on large companies like Facebook and Google.  Large platforms will have to pay European publishers license fees to expand their content when users link to them, but this is not likely by itself to present a major problem. But remember Google News had pulled out of Spain before when it had a compulsory link fee (with no publisher opt-out). 
  
It's unclear how free blogging services like Tumblr, Blogger (this one) and Wordpress will react. It would seem logical for them to disable country specific extensions (like for France) since content can't be properly screened first, but they haven't said that.
  
Hosting companies like Godaddy also have been silent so far on how they would react, but the EU laws would seem to apply to them (even though they don't curate content). They could split themselves into country-specific pieces and not allow their customers' sites to be displayed in the affected countries. There is no other way to avoid the downstream liability risk. 

 Taken literally, the EU directive also applies to text as well as images and video. No one has thought to mention that on a hosted Wordrpess site, you can easily upload an image or reasonably sized video into a wp/includes directory, or you can just copy it with ftp.  So even for video this isn't limited to YouTube, Vimeo, etc.  Pewdiepie's entry into blockchain for video makes this even murkier. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Harvard professor explains Leftist attack on free speech; Twitter ponders conceptual changes


Twitter is announcing some changes, which would include the ability of users to hide replies, which some speakers find necessary because of the hostile tone of many speakers.

But Jack Dorsey is reported to want to introduce the idea of following a “topic” as well as (or in place if) an account.  Axios reports on this.  Critics already say that could be abused by right wing extremists.

Dorsey’s own blog post is not so specific as to topic, but he indicates he wants to be less dependent on user reporting of abusive content.


Twitter, as reported yesterday, has been accused of being gullible on corporate copyright complaints.

I wanted to share an interesting perspective by Harvey C. Mansfield, a conservative government professor at Harvard, “The Theory Behind My Disinvitation” to speak at a convocation at Concorida University in Montreal.  He goes into a critique of feminism and discusses the earlier theory of expected female modesty (simply promoting a belief system that men needed), to a more provocative analysis of the far Left’s attack on free speech, as a cop-out from the need to accept real popular or group power itself for the “people”.  What he attacks sounds like an element of communism.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Twitter reported to delete news about piracy to "protect" companies; demanding that others "join you" compromises their own speech



Tim Pool now reports of Twitter taking down a tweet that didn’t break its rules but that reported on a pirated leak from Starz with a hyperlink (from TorrentFreak).

The tweet contained now copyright infringement and neither did the linked story, but it was unfavorable information about the company. The linked story might have contained incidental images but this is normal fair use to report facts.


It is possible to be guilty of copyright infringement if you intentionally link to material you know is infringing, especially for embeds.  In the US, litigation over these incidents is rare.  You wonder what will happen in the EU with the recent Directive.

You could wonder too about blog posts (or even tweets linking to them) that give away endings to books or movies – that doesn’t matter to me but it does to some people.

I also want to note a disturbing trend of some people on Twitter, many of whom I like, to say thinks like, “If you don’t stand overtly against white supremacy you stand with it.”  Two problems:  there are other things to stand against (like radical Islam). Agreed, the particularly problem mentioned in the tweet  is unusually clandestine. The other is the implication is that “my” individualized” speech could be taken down if I won’t join somebody else’s movement first.  That would undermine the integrity of all critical speech. That’s why I don’t like to see Facebook prodding people to “add buttons” to raise money for non-profits under their own names.  That erases the integrity of individualized or independent reporting and implies somebody subsidized it. This can really pull persons (like me) at least down into rabbit holes. 
   
And, of course, the Left’s answer is “you don’t experience our oppression.”

Update:  later today

Now Katherine Trendacosta reports that an Electronic Frontier Foundation tweet reporting the article was taken down with a DMCA "takedown" under safe harbor.  EFF has sent a counterclaim. Katherine Trendacosta reports

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Independent media personality clashes with game company over a wordmark, but this sounds like a situation where mediation should help


Yesterday, I watched Tim Pool’s video on the possible trademark dispute with a game company Studio FOW, and I embedded it in a short article on my Trademark Dilution blog.
  
The Quartering has a twenty-minute video now in which he suggests that both parties mediate and settle by making slight changes to their respective names.


He suggests that “Subverse” be called “Subverse Media” and that “The Subverse” in the game have a slight change (“The Subverse of ….”).

The game does not use Subverse in the domain name, but it did announce a Kickstarter for the game.
TheQuarterling likes the game (doesn’t see it as pornographic) and also follows Pool’s Timcasts.

In general, it is acceptable for the different businesses to use the same wordmark for their businesses if they are in different.  In my mind, a media outlet is different from a game company product and wouldn’t normally confuse visitors. 
  
But making money means taking into account average visitor literacy, which is not very good, it seems. 
  
I had a situation back in 2005 after I gave up my old "hppub.com" domain and moved everything to "doaskdotell" when the hppub domain became a casino gambling site that people could confuse with me. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Senate Judiciary Committee (Ted Cruz) hints at changes to Section 230 if tech platforms won't remain "neutral"


The Senate Judiciary Committee held a three hour hearing on Internet platform content moderation and the widespread belief that the Big Tech companies are biased against conservatives. This follows a hearing in the House on harmful content on April 9 (yesterday's post, including a story about the sudden suspension and then restoration of Hunter Avallone). 


Ted Cruz opened with a statement and mentioned Section 230 (at about 3:00).  He suggested Big Tech enjoys a downstream liability protection that normal media does not, after it bargained with Congress to remained neutral.  He also suggested anti-trust action (and idea discussed by YouTuberLaw)  and possibly “principles of fraud”.

Ms. Hirono, however, talked about the prevalence of alt-right speech on social media, as amplified by social media algorithms.  She is concerned that most Americans get their news from social media and not traditional papers.

Ted Cruz later asked both Facebook and Twitter if they considered themselves “neutral public platforms”. 

Barbara Ortutay and Rachel Lerman of the AP report in the Washington Post that Facebook is “de-agothiming” content that is near the edge but not over it, and the same with Instagram, which won’t show edgy content to non-followers, story. 

Update: April 12

Elliot Harmon and India McKinney discuss a similar hearing in the House and talks about Ted Cruz's views of Section 230 here, April 9. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

House holds hearings on Internet hate speech and right-wing extremism online; YouTube lifestream intercepts vitriolic comments; the problem with meta-speech



The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. 


CNN was so preoccupied with Trump and Barr that it didn’t get around to showing this.
  
Candace Owens (who got things wrong on the Covington Kids in the past) had a particularly interesting exchange.

Tony Room has an article on p. A15 of the Wednesday, April 10, 2019 Washington Post, “A flood online of hate speech greets lawmakers probing Facebook and Google about white nationalism”. The point of the article, of course, was the comments. They’re still out there.  I wouldn’t say they are all that awful. 

I will have to play the entire hearing later. The speakers claim that YouTube and Facebook are piping vitriolic hate into homes. The trouble is, you can find what you want to find, because the algorithms send you content you were looking at. I rarely see much of this, except in intellectual introspections from a distance (like from Sargon of Akkad, etc).  You find offensive content because you want to be offended.

There is particularly a problem with “meta-speech”.  A lot of viewers don’t have the literacy or even intellect to differentiate between speech “about” something and speech that actually incites or promote something.  Recently there have been some videos by Internet personalities like David Pakman and the techie and normally upbeat Thio Joe that so many users are simply “stupid” and are babies (like Trump and the orange balloons).  There is a serious cognition gap across society, in the streets, in the military (although that’s gotten better), and in the online world.

Here’s an example of Twitter censorship of meta-speech, of journalist Sandi Bachom (injured in the Charlottesville incident before the car attack), for a post that happened to include an image of an obscure neo-Nazi symbol in reporting the march. Some of the others mentioned in her post are now in prison. 

There is even the idea, as in Joshua Greene’s 2013 book “Moral Tribes”, which I will review soon, that you can rationalize anything, based on your own idea of metamorality.
  
Picture: there was a conservative forum at National Harbor Gaylord Hotel in late February. There was a recent potential (radical Islam) terror threat at NH stopped by the FBI (various news reports) by police intercepting a stolen vehicle.

Update:  April 11 

Hunter Avallone reports having his YouTube channel suddenly suspended with no previous community guidelines strikes on Monday, the day before these hearings;  it was restored seven hours later.  I sampled his videos and found nothing that is normally understood to be hate speech (although some people on the Left wing fringe would see his being critical of some individuals with personal issues as "hateful").  It's ironic because YouTube had announced it would always give creators a courtesy warning (Verge story). 

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Twin hatred enemies of ordinary Americans go at each other and make content moderation difficult, catching ordinary people in the middle



Journalist Sulome Anderson continues the discussion of the difficulties Internet platforms have in monitoring especially white supremacist content compared to their problems a few years ago with ISIS in an Outlook Section article, “The Twin Hatreds” in the Washington Post today.

He argues that the two ideologies reinforce each other, with ordinary Americans (but especially various minorities, like Jews, PoC and LGBTQ, as with Pulse) caught in between. They have often mentioned one another recently (rather than other groups) but wind up plotting attacks that would affect ordinary civilians.
  
The latest online version is here  . The print version Sunday April 7 is slightly updated.

  
Anderson then goes on to argue that ISIS content is much easier to exclude partially because of federal foreign terrorism laws, which would not apply to white supremacy.  And the vocabulary of white nationalism, etc. keeps changing to adapt obvious detection and is based on ordinary English idioms, metaphors and memes.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Carlos Maza, Tim Pool separately take on whether tribalism is necessary for Internet video business to succeed, and this really matters now



Carlos Maza’s video “Why Every Social Media Site Is a Dumpster Fire” starts today's discussion. 


The main takeaway from his video (Sept 2018) is that you have to behave tribally to sell things and be successful (make your Internet operation pay its own way, which I have talked about before).

Yet Tim Pool (non-tribal indeed) seems to refute the idea.  He just passed “The Young Turks” and has a tremendous posting today.  Today he discussed his business plans – too intricate to describe right here.

Julia Alexander has an important article on The Verge on how YouTube is moving away from user generated content as a way to make a living, to established companies.  Situations like the EU Copyright Directive (to the extent that the effects spill out over the world) and now concerns over the subtle problems of avoiding terror promotion (yesterday)  are part of the change.  But there were problems all the way back to about 2014 according to her.    

In the broader context, I’ve discussed before that politically or issue-oriented independent speech needs to be able to support itself.  That’s partly because of these other issues (I won’t rewalk the entire argument here, but I will again, soon, I’m afraid I will have to).

There is an idea that to show people matter to you, then you need to be able to sell them things they want or need. Maza’s video says, to sell you have to make people feel they belong to their tribes. Pool says, not so fast.  We can get beyond this.

John Fish coincidentally took this on this week (TV blog).

Connect the dots, everyone.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

CNN notes that white supremacy is much harder for Tech companies to stop online than was ISIS



There is more material on the existential problems that the tech world faces in stopping white supremacy without shutting down free user speech on the Internet, even when compared with similar concerns about ISIS 3-4 years ago. Eliza Mackintosh explains for CN here

This discussion fits in with a longer discussion I gave of “stochastic threats” on Monday.
  
The problem is partly that the US ethno-right has set up codes words for extremist concepts based on common English phrases and memes.  Similar material in radical Islam is outside normal English language usage.


Furthermore, it is apparent that Donald Trump himself used some of these metaphors in his campaign. Some examples of possible results could include Comet Ping Pong, for example.
But generally the problems are more serious in other western countries outside the US.

There would be a good argument for letting people read the “manifesto” so they learn to recognize the code words better.

When I posted the link to this story on Twitter, the link to it did not expand.  It did on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

More on how to get started with ether tokens for Blockchain sites



If you want trade tokens on Minds or Steemit as you get going with blogging onto the blockchain, it looks like, at a minimum, you need to set up a wallet.  But you also need to have a way to putting funds into the wallet to get going.

The most straightforward way to do this appears to be to set up a regular Coinbase account and deposit some funds (with processing fees taken out) into one of the currencies supported, which includes Ethereum.

I see that I covered this on Feb. 25, but want to rewrite it with more links and expand.
  
ThioJoe explains setting up the Coinbase account.


However a post on Medium says you need to provide a photo id before you can set up a payment method. You can buy ether this way.

If you want to put the accounting for your own place in the blockchain and have your own cold storage (generally recommended), you then set up a wallet.  This means you keep your bitcoin off the exchange, like cash.  The safest type of wallet is paper, printed with a UPC code with sufficient quality (it should print the actual hexadecimal key out too), and you keep one in a safe deposit box, and probably a duplicate a home (out of sight, depending on your security).  You can keep it on a thumb drive or laptop and back it up in the cloud, but it might be less secure (and a thumb drive or laptop could be damaged).

To trade tokens on these new blockchain blog sites, you usually need Ethereum and you have to supply a private key. I am under the impression that a wallet key is expected, but maybe you can use the Coinbase account if you don’t care if you leave the tokens in an exchange. 

If you have other people wanting to pay you with Ethereum, conceivably you could use the wallet with no Coinbase or similar account, but that doesn't seem to be recommended. 
  
I'll do this soon and let everyone know how it turns out. 

Update:  April 4

Got Coinbase set up, with $10 worth of Ehterium deposited (2 coins).  The system didn't accept my Wells Fargo because it had trust accounts on it (I believe) and I had to go with Bank of America, which does not. 


Monday, April 01, 2019

"Stochastic" content is dangerous; now more western countries talk like they want to shut down all user generated content for the crimes of the few



I had not heard the term “stochastic terrorism” before today, but the concept is quite disturbing, and it seems to explain the draconian actions, for example, of the New Zealand government in not allowing individuals to possess the “manifesto”, as if it were contagious and like a virus.

The term occurs in a long video by “NonCompete” that starts out with examining the speaker’s mention of PewDiePie early in the document.  I won’t link to it today (I have a different one below), since I haven’t had time to watch all of it, and might prefer to handle it on a more isolated blog. Admittedly, if you look at the entire channel, its own describes it as anarchist-leftist. But the concept itself is very disturbing, and would take a real commitment to free speech (even with risks) to defend against. 

The concept seems to have originated on Blogger, ironically, in 2011. Certain conservative pundits are named as instigating it.  But some of Donald Trump's behavior during the 2016 campaign would qualify for this definition. The whole concept reminds one of the idea of a "Manchurian candidate", although the person is unknown (unlike someone recruited as in the famous two films). Wikipedia has a sublink, which seems to point to left-wing sources in the footnotes for the origin of the term. The term can be applied to both radical Islam and white supremacy, but particularly left-wing sources  (like "NonCompete" and "ContraPoints") tend to fear the latter more now as particularly insidious. malignant, hard to isolate, and something that cannot engaged with normal free speech. 
   
At the time, Obama had been in office two years, and the political climate was generally more stable than it is now.  I had just commemorated the passing of my own mother and was starting the next phase of my life, and here we are, now.  The Arab Spring was yet to happen, and Osama bin Laden would soon be found.

ISIS would become publicly notorious around 2014, as an aftermath of US pullout from Iraq and the whole situation with Assad in Syria, leading to the migrant crisis in Europe. But later in 2014 (actually starting in 2013 with the Treyvon Marin case), racial tension (particularly over police profiling0 would erupt in Ferguson and other cities. Even with Obama president, tensions increased.  The, as we know retrospectively, foreign meddling in social media would add to polarization and a group reaction from what we call the “identarian right” or alt-right. Donald Trump would take advantage of working class people “left behind” the capitalist, “elitist” economy in a way that Hillary Clinton didn’t try for urban poor (Sanders would have taken care of this).

Gradually, the “alt-right” became the threat to use this technique, allegedly for white supremacy purposes, which seemed to become a much more dangerous threat than most of us had thought, when we had been justifiably focused on radical Islam (and Pulse had happened in June 2016).  In August 2017 Charlottesville would happen.

The essential technique is to build up a set up of code words of dog whistles inside otherwise normal looking writing, to attract a certain radical audience.  At some unpredictable time, some person may go off.  This process would be related to so-called “shitposting”. I see that on Nov. 24, 2018 I had covered a video by ContraPoints that describes this kind of process, recognizing developing fascism in disguise.

Once an incident occurs, the intervening speakers have “plausible deniability”.  The Norway (2011),  Comet Ping Pong, Pittsburgh, and now Christchurch events might be construed as stochastic, aligned with some aspects of the alt-right. Pulse, aligned with radical Islam, probably is not; but maybe Paris 2015 should be so regarded, as well as should the Cartoon Controversy.

One problem with articulating this theory is that it does envelop what used to be considered very mainstream ideas, such as opposition forced school bussing in the past, or to quotas or some forms of affirmative action, talk of reverse discrimination, maybe opposition to reparations.  Any criticism of the most radical Left agenda could be construed this way and then silenced.   The video mentioned earlier views the Covington kids as presenting this threat, even despite the revising of interpretation of what really happened (and the litigation now).

Rolling Stone referred to the practice in discussing Donald Trump’s rough language at the convention and in the 2016 campaign, in an article by David Cohen here.   Jonathan Keats, in a Wired article in January 2010 (paywall) indicates that the stochastic process lets “bullies operate in plain sight”.

I think there is another related concept, what I have called “implicit content”, in relation to COPA and also in connection with a bizarre incident that occurred in the fall of 2005 when I was working as a substitute teacher (see July 27, 2007 post).

There is still another potential disturbing glitch with citizen commentary and journalism.  Once someone (even I) have a reputation for covering all major issues under the “connect the dots” (or “keeping them honest”) theory, an actor could create an incident simply to force journalists to draw attention to his grievances, even if they don’t publish the actor’s name (who may die in the incident or spent life in prison anyway).

This is a disturbing theory, right from the blogosphere.

But that's not all for right now.  I glanced at Timcast, and I guess it's a good (or bad) thing that I just did. 


As if all this were not enough, Damien Cave wrote in the New York Times on March 31 that some countries, especially Australia, where apparently there are proposals to require tech executives to vet all user generated content? 

Mark Zuckerberg, in his op-ed Washington Post, recently, called for more regulation of the Internet in a few areas, including privacy and “harmful content”.  

 His ideas seem reasonable enough on the face.  But, when making his proposal, does Zuckerberg understand “stochastic” harm?  Not many people do. 

Timcast already weighs in on Cave's article the NY Times piece,  He has developed the content of “Publication by Omission” on connection with Section 230.
   
There is a related concept called "steganography" which was a concern after 9/11, where low-volume websites might be hacked to provide covert terror instructions.  I don't recall that this has actually happened.