Journalist and Media 2017

I have written on journalism and media trends eariler few years ago. So it is time for update. What is the state of journalism and news publishing in 2017? NiemanLab’s predictions for 2017 are a good place to start thinking about what lies ahead for journalism. There, Matt Waite puts us in our place straight away by telling us that the people running the media are the problem

There has been changes on tech publishing. In January 2017 International Data Group, the owner of PCWorld magazine and market researcher IDC, on Thursday said it was being acquired by China Oceanwide Holdings Group and IDG Capital, the investment management firm run by IDG China executive Hugo Shong. In 2016 Arrow bought EE Times, EDN, TechOnline and lots more from UBM.


Here are some article links and information bits on journalist and media in 2017:

Soothsayers’ guides to journalism in 2017 article take a look at journalism predictions and the value of this year’s predictions.

What Journalism Needs To Do Post-Election article tells that faced with the growing recognition that the electorate was uniformed or, at minimum, deeply in the thrall of fake news, far too many journalists are responding not with calls for change but by digging in deeper to exactly the kinds of practices that got us here in the first place.

Fake News Is About to Get Even Scarier than You Ever Dreamed article says that what we saw in the 2016 election is nothing compared to what we need to prepare for in 2020 as incipient technologies appear likely to soon obliterate the line between real and fake.

YouTube’s ex-CEO and co-founder Chad Hurley service sees a massive amount of information on the problem, which will lead to people’s backlash.

Headlines matter article tells that in 2017, headlines will matter more than ever and journalists will need to wrest control of headline writing from social-optimization teams. People get their news from headlines now in a way they never did in the past.

Why new journalism grads are optimistic about 2017 article tells that since today’s college journalism students have been in school, the forecasts for their futures has been filled with words like “layoffs,” “cutbacks,” “buyouts” and “freelance.” Still many people are optimistic about the future because the main motivation for being a journalist is often “to make a difference.”

Updating social media account can be a serious job. Zuckerberg has 12+ Facebook employees helping him with posts and comments on his Facebook page and professional photographers to snap personal moments.
Wikipedia Is Being Ripped Apart By a Witch Hunt For Secretly Paid Editors article tells that with undisclosed paid editing on the rise, Wikipedians and the Wikimedia Foundation are working together to stop the practice without discouraging user participation. Paid editing is permissible under Wikimedia Foundation’s terms of use as long as they disclose these conflicts of interest on their user pages, but not all paid editors make these disclosures.

Big Internet giants are working on how to make content better for mobile devices. Instant Articles is a new way for any publisher to create fast, interactive articles on Facebook. Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a project that it aims to accelerate content on mobile devices. Both of those systems have their advantages and problems.

Clearing Out the App Stores: Government Censorship Made Easier article tells that there’s a new form of digital censorship sweeping the globe, and it could be the start of something devastating. The centralization of the internet via app stores has made government censorship easier. If the app isn’t in a country’s app store, it effectively doesn’t exist. For more than a decade, we users of digital devices have actively championed an online infrastructure that now looks uniquely vulnerable to the sanctions of despots and others who seek to control information.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Americans: Much Misinformation, Bias, Inaccuracy in News

    Overall, U.S. adults estimate that 62% of the news they read in newspapers, see on television or hear on the radio is biased. They think the news media mostly provide accurate information, but still estimate that 44% of what they see is inaccurate. And they believe that more than a third of the news they see in these channels is misinformation — false or inaccurate information that is presented as if it were true.

    Americans are even more critical of the news they see on social media. They believe 80% of it is biased, 64% is inaccurate and 65% is misinformation.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Egypt’s new law allows state to block social media accounts and blogs with 5K+ followers on sites like Facebook and Twitter, requires licenses for new websites

    Egypt targets social media with new law

    Egypt’s parliament has passed a law giving the state powers to block social media accounts and penalize journalists held to be publishing fake news.

    Under the law passed on Monday social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook will be treated as media outlets, which makes them subject to prosecution for publishing false news or incitement to break the law.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Democrats’ Confidence in Mass Media Rises Sharply From 2016

    Democrats’ trust and confidence in the mass media to report the news “fully, accurately and fairly” has jumped from 51% in 2016 to 72% this year — fueling a rise in Americans’ overall confidence to 41%. Independents’ trust has risen modestly to 37%, while Republicans’ trust is unchanged at 14%.

    Democratic trust and confidence in the news media is the highest it has been in the past 20 years

    Democrats’ renewed trust in the media may be driven by the perception that it acts as a watchdog over Republican President Donald Trump.

    Democratic trust has been higher than that of Republicans throughout the past two decades.

    Independents’ level of trust in the media generally falls between that of Republicans and Democrats.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Americans tend to believe various methods to counteract the spread of misinformation can be at least somewhat effective. These include giving greater prominence in internet website “news feeds” to stories from reputable news sources, providing links to stories from other news organizations on the same topic, and showing readers ratings of news organizations’ trustworthiness compiled by experts. Those who have positive views of the news media are more optimistic that these approaches to countering misinformation will be effective than are those who have negative views of the news media.


  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Freia Nahser / Global Editors Network:
    Inside Fox Sports, The Times, and Le Figaro’s efforts to use AI, Alexa voice actions, and automation for their World Cup reporting

    Covering the World Cup 2018 with AI and automation

    Fox Sports, The Times, and Le Figaro have tapped into AI, voice AI, and automation for their World Cup reporting.

    Fox Sports: The AI highlight machine

    The US didn’t qualify for the World Cup this year, but that didn’t stop Fox Sports from airing all 64 matches and teaming up with IBM Watson to create the World Cup highlight machine. Using Watson artificial intelligence, the highlight machine lets the user create on-demand clips from every World Cup as far back as 1958

    Scanning thousands of hours of video material in seconds

    According to Engadget, there are 300 archived World Cup matches that Watson’s AI technology is capable of analysing. More specifically, the IBM Watson Video Enrichment, a programmatic metadata tool, analyses the footage to create metadata that identifies what is happening in a scene at any given moment with an associated timestamp.

    Users can create their highlight video filtering out by year, team, player, game, or play type, such as penalties or goals. To give an example, you can ask the machine to give you a highlight video of Ronaldo’s goals in all World Cups he’s ever played in.

    Le Figaro: Automatically generated visual game summaries
    No human can work that fast!

    The French publication created a tool to automatically generate visual summaries of every World Cup match within five seconds of the full-time whistle. ‘No human can work that fast!’

    Push notifications

    The target audience were all mobile users from the Figaro app and the Sport24 app (Le Figaro’s sport section), Paquot told us. For the knockout stages, they only sent the Stories via push notifications to those that subscribed to the service. From the quarter finals onwards, push notifications about the Stories were sent to the entire sports fan base. (According to Paquot, 90% of Figaro app users have opted in to receive alerts related to sports.)

    Automation: no extra costs, no team bias

    The summaries are fully automated, meaning that no extra money is spent creating each story. The maintenance rate is also low.
    The tool is neutral. There is no preference for any team (even the French team), which makes it objective: It’s about the data above anything else.
    Seeing as the project was a very last minute effort, the team didn’t have much time to look at the business side of things, but they’re hoping to update it for the UEFA Champions League and the French Ligue 1 (French men’s pro football league). For this, they’re hoping to secure sponsorship by a big brand. ‘I can’t tell you which, but we have a very strong lead’, said Paquot.

    …But messy data and time constraints

    The Times: Hey Alexa!

    Voice AI for experimentation

    At The Times, some of the action took place on voice interfaces. The publication looked towards voice AI, using The Times Sport Alexa skill to complement its extensive reporting on the competition.

    ‘Alexa, launch Times Sport’, was all listeners had to say in order to get a taster of the day’s World Cup headlines and an interesting fact about the competition. Those who made it to the end of the briefing were prompted to listen to The Times’ World Cup podcast hosted by presenter Natalie Sawyer.

    The Times’ content is firmly locked behind a paywall, so the Alexa skill served as more of a sampling tool

    Reaching new audiences to drive subscriptions

    According to Joiner, Alexa provides the possibility of reaching a new audience. He told us that this has two benefits: you can increase brand awareness, reaching people who may never buy or subscribe to The Times, potentially leading to subscriptions in the future. The second is short term, listeners are given a taster of what The Times has to offer and are then tempted to the website or pick up a paper to discover more.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Max Willens / Digiday:
    Buzzfeed’s standalone news site only includes programmatic ads at launch although native ads still drive a majority of BuzzFeed’s revenue — BuzzFeed has been on a mission to diversify away from direct-sold advertising. And nowhere is that more evident than on its new BuzzFeed News site.

    BuzzFeed ditches native, goes all programmatic with BuzzFeed News

    BuzzFeed has been on a mission to diversify away from direct-sold advertising. And nowhere is that more evident than on its new BuzzFeed News site.

    On Tuesday, the venture-backed publisher launched a standalone news site that was missing the native ads that still drive a majority of BuzzFeed’s revenue. The only ads on BuzzFeed News’s site are a few display units, which it monetizes through open exchanges. The site also plans to sell homepage takeovers, though it has not sold one yet.

    As with the rest of BuzzFeed, on-site advertising is just one part of how News monetizes. News has become a big part of BuzzFeed’s video ambitions.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    James Ball / Columbia Journalism Review:
    It is time for newsrooms to cover technology extensively, across desks, acting as watchdogs rather than cheerleaders

    We need a new model for tech journalism

    A lowly tech employee was trying to do some simple task online and found out it was really hard. Inspired by that difficulty, he—and it was almost always a he—used his spare time to build a better way to do it, and then were amazed at how quickly it took off. So he quit his job, set up in his parents’ garage, and watched as the business took off to be worth hundreds of millions.

    This is the clichéd narrative that characterized tech coverage in the 1990s: light, generally upbeat, and generally something to counterbalance the “serious” news of the day.

    The glossy coverage never made sense, but was at least defensible when quite a lot of the tech companies were scrappy upstarts. Those days are long gone. Yet the bootstrap narrative remains, with CEOs still treated as celebrities, and the media acting more as a cheerleader than watchdog.

    It’s easy to see why some readers would feel whiplashed by the current, critical coverage of Facebook and Google, which seems to come out of nowhere. That’s our fault as journalists: We’ve been too slow to spot how things have changed and to cover the sector as the corporate behemoth it is. Today, the four biggest tech companies—Alphabet (Google’s parent), Amazon, Apple and Facebook—have a combined market capital of more than three trillion dollars, dwarfing anything J.P. Morgan was able to achieve in his day, and customer numbers in the billions.

    Their shareholders have unusually little power (Zuckerberg, for instance, controls more than half of Facebook’s internal voting power), and they control access to media to a degree most companies would find extraordinary. To even visit the offices of tech giants—itself often a rare privilege—requires journalists to sign non-disclosure agreements.

    There are a number of reasons that such secrecy has become integral to the Valley’s culture

    The result is the big four tech giants have a head start of 25 or more years in building their business models and laying their groundwork ahead of receiving serious scrutiny—and today, detailed scrutiny could hardly be more important.

    Questions surrounding these technology giant sit at the center of virtually every major issue affecting our society, from violent extremism to political polarization to fair employment. If we are now trying to hold that power to account, we are working at a considerable disadvantage—and will need a sustained effort from journalists, civil society, and legislators across the world. While there are now more serious technology correspondents than ever before, the model of tech journalism is still bizarre and broken.

    Tech reporters are often expected to cover all facets of the industry, writing pieces on tech culture, harassment, the dark web, the business models of Facebook, and whatever’s going viral that week. Even the best and highest-profile writers seem stretched thin

    There is currently high-level global debate as to whether the tech giants should be broken up in the public interest. We should also have a debate about whether tech journalism should be broken up for the same reason: We need a new journalism which treats tech the same as every other major vested corporate interest—people who can sit back and aside from the tech industry maelstrom and try to see the picture from above.

    Maybe we should simply scrap the idea of a “tech desk” altogether: The sector needs scrutiny, but since technology now touches every aspect of our society, keeping it siloed from the rest of the newsroom now feels artificial. Let it be covered, extensively, across desks.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Margaret Sullivan / Washington Post:
    Facebook could recognize Holocaust denialism as hate speech and ban it on those grounds, but trying to censor every falsehood should be noted as a bad idea — To follow Mark Zuckerberg’s utterances is to constantly cringe. — Last week was no different.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The death and life of the tech press

    Why do I write about tech? For James Ball, it’s because I want to write “soap-bubble light coverage” and “glossy coverage” “to counterbalance the ‘serious’ news of the day.” Ball, a former editor at The Guardian and the author of “Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World,” has a few choice words to say to reporters, columnists and analysts like me who cover the tech industry.

    In a piece entitled “We need a new model for tech journalism,” Ball calls for nothing less than the dismantling of the current tech press, and its replacement by one far more critical of the corporate interests that dominate the industry.

    Okay. But here’s the challenge: The whole idea of a coherent “tech press” seems to miss that technology has completely taken over the world. Want to cover Washington? Well, Alphabet is now the heaviest corporate spender on lobbying in DC. Want to cover foreign affairs? Well, U.S./China relations are squarely focused on issues of tech industrial policies, like China’s Made in China 2025 plan.

    Every sector, every industry, heck, every decision is increasingly one in which technology either plays the prime role, or at least has major influence.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Terror attacks by Muslims receive 357% more press attention, study finds

    Research by the University of Alabama shows attacks by Muslims receive an average of 105 headlines, others just 15

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Internet Hoaxes Literally Killed 20 People In The Last Two Months

    Social media networks and messaging apps, for all their plus points, are the catalysts for fake news – the real kind of fake news, not the Trumpian kind. Some vague efforts have been made to tackle an admittedly monstrous and unprecedented problem, but as a grim tale about WhatsApp has highlighted, the war on viral lies can lead to casualties.

    The New York Times recently explained that, in India, false rumors regarding child abductions spread both easily and quickly. This has led to multiple murders – many conducted by mobs

    As reported by the Guardian, at least 20 people have been lynched in the country in the last two months as a result of such unfounded rumors.

    The Facebook-owned messaging service will now restrict people to being able to forward messages to just 20 people in an attempt to stop fake news from spreading. Gizmodo have spotted that, in India, the cap is set even lower, at just five people. This, of course, doesn’t mean you can’t communicate the news in others ways – by taking a screenshot or typing it out yourself anew, say.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Venkat Ananth / The Economic Times:
    How WhatsApp is trying to use machine learning and metadata to detect organized spammers and fake users as it battles against fake news

    WhatsApp races against time to fix fake news mess ahead of 2019 general elections

    For WhatsApp, one of the key learnings from the Mexico elections was that it could look at the spam reports and categorise them as politics-related.

    On Friday, when WhatsApp announced that it would pilot a ‘five media-based forwards limit’ in India, the government came up with an unequivocal reminder.

    “When rumours and fake news get propagated by mischief mongers, the medium used for such propagation cannot evade responsibility and accountability. If they remain mute spectators, they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action,” noted a ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) statement.

    The stand also poses an interesting dilemma for the messenger service. How can it act while protecting its privacy commitment?

    “It is practically impossible for WhatsApp to regulate content in the peer-to-peer encrypted environment it is set up in,” says Rahul Matthan, partner, Trilegal. “An encrypted platform is what we want. The government is trying to maintain a strict and difficult balance. The government tends to err on the side of violating civil liberties over offering privacy to innocent users. The WhatsApp case is going in that direction.”

    No longer low-key

    In India, its largest market, WhatsApp has benefitted from quietly operating in the shadows of its more popular parent, Facebook, growing to a currently active user base of 200 million.

    However, in the last six months, while it continues to be perceived as an asset by politicos for outreach and propaganda, WhatsApp is now increasingly being tapped by the bad guys to disseminate deliberate misinformation, rumour mongering and fake news.

    It is leading to loss of lives on the ground, through lynchings, kidnappings and related crimes. WhatsApp spokesperson Carl Woog says, “The recent acts of violence in India have been heartbreaking and reinforce the need for government, civil society and technology companies to work together to keep people safe.”

    But the general public and government perception — and, to some extent, concern — remains that WhatsApp has been slow to react to these situations.

    Interestingly, the government and ruling party realise WhatsApp could be pivotal to their fortunes in the next electoral cycle — in the run-up to Elections 2019.

    To counter organised political spamming, WhatsApp has now begun using machine learning tools. WhatsApp can trace the last few messages in a group and block it entirely from the platform. At the detection level, WhatsApp checks for familiarity. “Do the persons know each other, or have they interacted before?” through metadata it possesses through phone numbers.

    The second person quoted in the story says the company now focuses its detection “upstream,” that is, catching the user at the registration stage. “When you register on WhatsApp and immediately create a group, questions asked are, ‘Does this behaviour look like what a regular user does? Or does it look like users who have misused it in the past?’” he says.

    Civil society as a key layer

    WhatsApp also sees an enabling role for civil society, especially for digital literacy.

    “The level of responsibility for a platform is to not consciously cause — and, in fact, to take active measures to prevent — social harm,” says Gupta of IFF. “It has to be done without injury to end-to-end encryption, which offers safety and privacy to users.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lucia Moses / Digiday:
    Publishers like NPR, Al Jazeera, and Bloomberg Media add editorial resources to smart speaker efforts but monetization remains unclear

    For news publishers, smart speakers are the hot new platform

    Home voice assistants or smart speakers are still in their infancy as a consumer and revenue proposition, but publishers are stepping up their efforts to hire and create content for them anyway, seeing the rapid adoption rate of Amazon Echo, Google Home and their kin and the the fact that people are using them more over time.

    “This is not the air hockey table that you bought and now sits in the basement,” said Joel Sucherman, vp of new platform partnerships at NPR.

    Early on, getting content on voice assistants was mainly the job of the product people. Just like with TV and the internet before it, media companies just took their existing news and information and put it on voice assistants with minimal reformatting. But now that publishers are getting more interested in making sure they have a unique voice and proposition on the devices, they’re adding editorial-side resources, too.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Washington Post:
    WhatsApp, the main platform for disinformation in multiple non-US countries, steps up efforts against rumors after violent and sometimes deadly consequences–and-can-be-fatal/2018/07/23/a2dd7112-8ebf-11e8-bcd5-9d911c784c38_story.html

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Oliver Darcy / CNNMoney:
    Interest in Breitbart News has waned as traffic has dropped and staff turned over, though people close to the site say it still commands influence on the right

    The media’s fascination with Breitbart has faded — and that could spell trouble for the site

    In the early days of the Trump administration, Breitbart, the far-right website previously headed by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, drew a significant amount of attention from the Washington press corps.

    Reporters tweeted screen grabs of the website’s homepage. Magazines printed glossy spreads spotlighting its reporters. Printing houses paid out six-figure advances to authors to write books that focused on Bannon or the company. And cable news outlets and major newspapers focused on how the organization was covering certain stories, ranging from immigration to the investigation into Russian election meddling.

    The rationale for coverage was two-fold: That Bannon’s relationship to the website meant its coverage provided insight into the “Game of Thrones”-like drama playing out inside the West Wing; and that Breitbart’s coverage was representative of a certain swath of the electorate that had propelled Trump into office.

    But now, more than a year and a half into the Trump presidency, much of the interest seems to have dissipated. As the website’s traffic declines each month, and without Bannon in the White House or at Breitbart directing coverage, journalists are considerably less interested in what the fledging operation is up to.

    Reached for comment, Brian Glicklich, a spokesman for Breitbart, told CNN, “According to Alexa, Breitbart is the 65th largest website in the United States, and CNN’s opinion of our relevance is meaningless and immaterial to our audience.”

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Poe’s law

    Poe’s law is an adage of Internet culture stating that, without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers for a sincere expression of the parodied views.

    Avoid sarcasm and facetious remarks.

    Without the voice inflection and body language of personal communication these are easily misinterpreted. A sideways smile, :-), has become widely accepted on the net as an indication that “I’m only kidding”. If you submit a satiric item without this symbol, no matter how obvious the satire is to you, do not be surprised if people take it seriously.[

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook trips on its own moderation failures

    After weeks of speculation around how it plans to handle conspiracy website Infowars, its creator Alex Jones and others that spread false information, Facebook finally gave us an answer: inconsistently.

    Facebook is literally shooting the messenger but allowing the page — which pushed the video out to its audience — to remain in place.

    At least, that’s what we think has happened because Facebook hasn’t fully clarified the exact summary of events.

    Beyond the four videos, there’s a lot riding on this decision — it sets a precedent. Infowars is one of the largest of its kind, but there are plenty of other organizations that thrive on pumping out misleading/false content that plays into insecurities, misplayed nationalistic pride and more.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Douglas Busvine / Reuters:
    Facebook says it received 1,704 complaints, removed 262 posts from January to June under Germany’s NetzDG hate speech law, which includes fines of up to €50M

    Facebook deletes hundreds of posts under German hate-speech law

    The social network received 1,704 complaints under the law, known in Germany as NetzDG, and removed 262 posts between January and June, Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president for global policy solutions said in a blog.

    “Hate speech is not allowed on Facebook,”

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kashmir Hill / Gizmodo:
    How a fake story on a “grudge-settling” site ruined a realtor’s reputation and finances over a comment about a news story on Facebook that offended a stranger

    When a Stranger Decides to Destroy Your Life

    She sells houses—she’s a real estate agent at Re/Max—helping others realize their own American dream.

    But in September 2015, she was suddenly plunged into an American nightmare. She got a call at 6 a.m. one morning from a colleague at Re/Max telling her something terrible had been posted about her on the Re/Max Facebook page. Glennon thought at first she meant that a client had left her a bad review, but it turned out to be much worse than that.

    It was a link to a story about Glennon on She’s A Homewrecker, a site that exists for the sole purpose of shaming the alleged “other woman.”

    Glennon was horrified. The story was completely fabricated and she had no idea why someone would have written it. Someone on Facebook named Ryan Baxter had posted it to the Re/Max page

    Glennon waded into the comment section on the Homewrecker story and wrote that it was completely fabricated. A woman named Amy responded skeptically, “Hmmm, so why would someone make up such an extravagant story?”

    The story was re-posted on other sites, including one called where it has been viewed over 95,000 times. It quickly became the top search result for Glennon’s name on Google. Within a year, Glennon was experiencing the repercussions: Her number of listings dropped by half. She estimates that she’s lost $200,000 in business since 2015.

    In 2014, a teenager from Alabama visited Auschwitz and tweeted a smiling selfie from the former concentration camp. It went viral, as people across the internet debated the teen’s choice of self-portraiture.
    A heated discussion ensued.
    If you’ve ever argued with someone online, you’re probably not surprised to hear that neither person was convinced by the other person’s arguments.

    It was the online version of road rage; instead of pulling a gun on another driver, Rosenblum decided to drop a bomb on Glennon’s reputation. Rosenblum submitted her fabricated story to She’s A Homewrecker

    There is a constellation of sites on the internet that exist solely as places for people to exorcise their demons, and more importantly, their grudges; She’s A Homewrecker is one of them. It offers the opportunity to publicize a person’s misdeeds so that they are available not just to an inner circle with access to relevant gossip but to anyone who Googles that person’s name. The terms of service specify that posts must be factually true, but if they’re not, it’s not a problem for the site. It’s protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects websites from being sued for the things their users say.

    Glennon wrote repeatedly to all the sites that had posted the story telling them it was false but none of them would take it down. Her only option was to go to court, so she filed a lawsuit in 2016 against John Does, alleging libel and copyright infringement, because the post used her professional headshot, which she had ownership of.

    Through the suit, Glennon was able to subpoena She’s A Homewrecker and Facebook for IP addresses, as well as Internet Service Providers to find out the identities of the people behind the IP addresses.

    “These sites should allow original posters to take these posts down,” said Glennon. “I see a lot of people in comments saying they regret it and want to take it down but they can’t.”

    She’s a Homewrecker lawyer David Gingras scoffed at that. “The fact that authors can’t remove their own posts is intended to reduce the effectiveness of threats such as: ‘Take this down or I’ll sue your ass into bankruptcy,’”

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Alex Spence / BuzzFeed:
    Leaked report: UK committee to propose social networks be legally responsible for harmful and illegal content and to let watchdogs audit tech company algorithms — A leaked copy of the MPs’ report was published online on Friday, two days ahead of its official release.

    Britain’s Fake News Inquiry Says Facebook And Google’s Algorithms Should Be Audited By UK Regulators

    A leaked copy of the MPs’ report was published online on Friday, two days ahead of its official release. It warns democracy is under threat from disinformation on social media and the “relentless targeting of hyper-partisan views”.

    In the 87-page document, the committee warns that democracy is under threat from the spread of disinformation on social media. “Arguably, more invasive than obviously false information,” the report says, “is the relentless targeting of hyper-partisan views, which play to the fears and prejudices of people, in order to influence their voting plans and their behaviour.”

    It adds: “We are faced with a crisis concerning the use of data, the manipulation
    of our data, and the targeting of pernicious views.”

    The MPs recommend that Theresa May’s government implement a series of measures which, if adopted, would subject the technology platforms which now dominate the flow of information online to a far greater level of scrutiny by government bodies than ever before.

    The DCMS committee, which has been conducting a wide-ranging investigation into so-called fake news since early 2017, warns that the current legal and regulatory regime is no longer fit for a digital media landscape that has changed profoundly in recent years and has proven to be vulnerable to manipulation, including by foreign states determined to disrupt democratic processes.

    Addressing the potential for Russian interference in British elections

    Current regulatory rules which require TV and radio broadcasts to be accurate and impartial should also be extended to online publications, to stop the spread of disinformation on the internet, the report says.

    Social media companies should be made liable for harmful and illegal content that is shared on their platforms, the committee says — potentially opening them to legal claims by regulators and individuals or companies who are affected by the material shared on their platforms.

    The report also made clear the MPs’s frustrations with Facebook. “Facebook has all of the information,” it says. “Those outside of the company have none of it, unless Facebook chooses to release it.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    It looks like Facebook is actively trying to make itself redundant. “PSA: Automatic cross-posting of tweets to Facebook no longer works as of today”

    PSA: Automatic cross-posting of tweets to Facebook no longer works as of today

    You can no longer automatically cross-post your tweets to Facebook. Twitter announced today that functionality is now coming to an end, and users will instead have to copy a tweet’s URL if they want to share a tweet to Facebook going forward. In a statement, the company attributed the change to a recent Facebook update.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Latest Viral “Challenge” Is Unbelievably Dangerous

    Would you take part in a dare that involved pouring acid into your ears? What about one that required you to see how far you could run off a cliff before you fell, Wile E. Coyote-style? How about a challenge that asked you to dump boiling water onto sleeping friends? No? Good – but it’s deeply distressing to report that the last of those is a genuine viral craze that’s putting kids in the hospital this very year.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Onion says it like it is.

    “Honestly, you empty-headed dipshits who can barely process a simple headline or understand its meaning should be happy we interact with you at all.”

    Parody seems to have a lot of truth in it…

    ‘The Onion’ Proudly Stands With The Media As The Enemy Of The People

    Mr. Trump believes the press is too critical of him. No fucking shit. We are critical of everyone who is not us. The press hates you. All of you. We are what you deserve.

    God bless America.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook’s Attention Machine, Explained
    A brief guide into why Facebook doesn’t sell your data

    You read that right. Facebook does not sell your data, despite the widespread belief that it does.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tech giants shut down conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for ‘dehumanising language’

    Social media platforms say Jones’ ‘glorifying violence’ violated policies on hate speech

    “The Alex Jones Show” and other content produced by the far-right site Infowars has been removed from Apple, Facebook and Spotify.

    Facebook said on Monday that four pages belonging to Jones were removed for violating the social network’s policy against hate speech. Also on Monday, the entirety of hundreds of episodes of “The Alex Jones Show” had been removed from music streaming service Spotify.

    And later on Monday, YouTube removed Jones and Infowars’ channels from the video sharing service,

    For its part, Apple removed most of Jones’ podcasts

    “The establishment is making its move against free speech here in America,” Jones said afterward, adding on Twitter “What conservative news outlet will be next?”

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New Poll: 43% of Republicans Want to Give Trump the Power to Shut Down Media

    Freedom of the press may be guaranteed in the Constitution. But a plurality of Republicans want to give President Trump the authority to close down certain news outlets, according to a new public opinion survey conducted by Ipsos and provided exclusively to The Daily Beast.

    The findings present a sobering picture for the fourth estate, with respondents showing diminished trust in the media and increased support for punitive measures against its members. They also illustrate the extent to which Trump’s anti-press drumbeat has shaped public opinion about the role the media plays in covering his administration.

    Americans’ Views on the Media

    Ipsos poll shows almost a third of the American people agree that the news media is the enemy

    The concept of an enemy press corps has become a staple of Trump’s tweets and public utterances in recent months. Much of it appears prompted by stories about internal frictions within the White House and a growing fear over the state of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

    Members of the press, as well as top officials at some of the nation’s leading publications, have objected to the phrase, arguing that it is both wildly inaccurate and deeply dangerous.

    In one of the poll’s few silver linings for the press, 57 percent of all respondents said that they believed news and reporters were “necessary to keep the Trump administration honest”

    But despite support for journalistic principles in the abstract, respondents also seemed inclined to believe that reporters had too much professional protection. According to the survey, 72 percent of all respondents agree it should be easier to sue reporters who knowingly publish false information, including 85 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Net neutrality activists, not hackers, crashed the FCC’s comment system

    An n unprecedented flood of citizens concerned about net neutrality is what took down the FCC’s comment system last May, not a coordinated attack, a report from the agency’s Office of the Inspector General concluded. The report unambiguously describes the “voluminous viral traffic” resulting from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight segment on the topic, along with some poor site design, as the cause of the system’s collapse.

    FCC admits it was never actually hacked

    The FCC has come clean on the fact that a purported hack of its comment system last year never actually took place, after a report from its Inspector General found a lack of evidence supporting the idea.

    As the report notes, Bray shortly after the event issued a press release describing the system’s failure as “multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks.”

    However, internal email conversations and analysis of the traffic logs reveal that this characterization of the event was severely mistaken.

    Here it ought to be said that in the chaos of the moment and with incomplete time and information, an accurate diagnosis of a major systematic failure is generally going to be an educated guess at first — so we mustn’t judge Bray and his office too harshly for its mistake, at least in the immediate aftermath.

    But what becomes clear from the OIG’s investigation is that the DDoS narrative first advanced by Bray is not backed up by the evidence. Their own analysis of the logs clearly shows that the spikes in traffic correlate directly with activity from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight,

    “The traffic observed during the incident was a combination of “flash crowd” activity and increased traffic volume resulting from [redacted] site design issues,” reads the report.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Twitter CEO defends decision not to ban Alex Jones and InfoWars

    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has doubled down on defending his company’s decision not to kick far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones off its platform.

    “We didn’t suspend Alex Jones or Infowars yesterday,” Dorsey tweeted Tuesday. “We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.”

    Twitter (TWTR) was notably absent from a list of big tech companies that cut some ties with Jones and his InfoWars site this week. Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB) and Google’s (GOOGL) YouTube removed content associated with Jones and InfoWars for violating their policies.

    Dorsey called on journalists to “document, validate, and refute” information posted by accounts like Jones’ “so people can form their own opinions.”

    InfoWars is notorious for spreading demonstrably false information and conspiracy theories on a host of issues.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Top Euro court: No, you can’t steal images from other websites (too bad a school had to be sued to confirm this little fact)
    Seems obvious but this case is messier than you’d imagine

    The European Court of Justice has determined that a website must get permission from the copyright owner of an image before it can use the picture itself – even if that photo or illustration is readily available elsewhere.

    That may seem like an obvious conclusion, however, the official advice delivered to the Euro court by its general advocate argued otherwise, with disagreement centered around the legal definition of what represents a “new public” when it comes to publication.

    The question asked of the ECJ was: “Whether the concept of ‘communication to the public’ covers the posting on a website of a photograph which has been previously published on another website without any restrictions preventing it from being downloaded and with the consent of the copyright holder.”

    The court ruled on Tuesday that yes, it does. And that has huge implications for anyone in charge of a website.

    The unnamed youngster downloaded a picture of the picturesque Spanish city of Córdoba from a travel website, and used it in a presentation at her secondary school. The presentation was then posted on the school’s website where it was noticed by the copyright holder – photographer Dirk Renckhoff – who then sued the western German state where the school was based, Land Nordrhein-Westfalen, claiming damages of €400.

    The state’s argument was that the image was freely accessible on another website – travel site that had sought and received permission from Herr Renckhoff before putting it online – so it didn’t need a “new authorization.”

    On the other hand

    Renckhoff, of course, argued that it was his image, he gets to decide where it is posted, and won his case. And as daily generators of copyrighted work, who are we to argue against that?

    The decision was appealed, though, and the legal row duly made its way to the European supreme court, which initially decided it was unsure whether or not the school website represented a “new public.”

    “It is uncertain… whether in those circumstances the photo… was communicated to a new public on the school’s website, that is to say, to a public which the rightholder did not envisage when he authorized the original communication of his work to the public,” the court noted.

    But it concluded that while a photographer could expect the “public” to see his picture on that particular travel website, it was not the same to say he would expect it to be seen on a completely different website – hence the appearance on the school website was a “new public.”

    Not too happy

    That recommendation led to an outcry from photography and artists’ organizations, however, who wrote a letter to the ECJ arguing that deciding against the photographer would “deny the fundamental right of authors to rightfully exploit their works,” and have “devastating consequences for all authors willing to make their work available online.”

    Considering all this, the ECJ finally found in favor of the photographer, and rejected Sánchez-Bordona’s advice, noting that “any use of a work by a third party without such prior consent must be regarded as infringing the copyright of that work.”

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Openbook is the latest dream of a digital life beyond Facebook

    As tech’s social giants wrestle with antisocial demons that appear to be both an emergent property of their platform power, and a consequence of specific leadership and values failures (evident as they publicly fail to enforce even the standards they claim to have), there are still people dreaming of a better way. Of social networking beyond outrage-fuelled adtech giants like Facebook and Twitter.

    There have been many such attempts to build a ‘better’ social network of course. Most have ended in the deadpool.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kokoomus perustaa vihapuhetyöryhmän – ”pitää tehdä huolellinen analyysi, mitä kaikkea sananvapauden piiriin kuuluu”

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    EXCLUSIVE: ‘Thank you Apple, Facebook and YouTube!’ Alex Jones claims 5.6 million people have subscribed to Infowars newsletter in 48 hours as he calls ‘bull***t’ on tech giants who have blocked the conspiracy theorist’s content

    Alex Jones has issued a ‘never surrender’ battle cry to his army of alt-right followers after a string of tech giants dumped his content

    Jones claims 5.6million people have subscribed to the Infowars newsletter and free podcast in the past 48 hours.

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Psychologists Identify Why We Believe Fake News

    Thought processes and belief systems that people develop early in life to help protect against the anxiety and stress of an uncertain world may help explain why some individuals fall victim to what has come to be known as fake news, but psychologists can offer some strategies to defend against it, according to a series of presentations at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.

    “At its core is the need for the brain to receive confirming information that harmonizes with an individual’s existing views and beliefs,

    The key to people’s accepting fake news as true, despite evidence to the contrary, is a phenomenon known as confirmation bias, or the tendency for people to seek and accept information that confirms their existing beliefs while rejecting or ignoring that which contradicts those beliefs, he said.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared

    “Only the weak hit the fly with a hammer.”
    – Bangambiki Habyarimana

    Anyone who tells you the recent escalation of censorship by U.S. tech giants is merely a reflection of private companies making independent decisions is either lying or dangerously ignorant.

    In the case of Facebook, the road from pseudo-platform to willing and enthusiastic tool of establishment power players is fairly straightforward.

    Let’s not whitewash history though. These tech companies have been compliant, out of control government snitches for a long time. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we’re aware of the deep and longstanding cooperation between these lackeys and U.S. intelligence agencies in the realm of mass surveillance.

    As such, the most recent transformation of these companies into full fledged information gatekeepers should be seen in its proper context; merely as a dangerous continuation and expansion of an already entrenched reality.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    EU’s top court backs copyright holder in landmark ruling

    The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruling came after a secondary school student in Germany downloaded a photograph of Cordoba from a travel website to illustrate a presentation which was then published on the school website.

    “The posting on a website of a photograph that was freely accessible on another website with the consent of the author requires a new authorization by that author,” judges said.

    “By posting on the internet, the photograph is made available to a new public,” they said.

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Sarah Perez / TechCrunch: updates its policy to prohibit “malicious publication” of images of minors, following backlash over failure to remove Sandy Hook conspiracies

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Latest Viral “Challenge” Is Unbelievably Dangerous

    As several outlets, including Time, have reported, the so-called Hot Water challenge exists, and it’s as awful as it sounds.

    There have been several incidences of teenagers spending weeks getting treated for their phenomenally painful second- and third-degree burns. Then there’s the death of an 8-year-old girl

    Dangerous and potentially deadly viral trends are of course nothing new

    viral trends themselves are hard to verify. In fact, what often trends is the warning about the trend.

    That’s when Google Trends showed a spike in search terms for “deodorant challenge”. It’s not clear whether or not this exacerbated the situation, but it’s safe to say that the reporting on said challenges – designed to stoke grim curiosity, to promote the warning, or both – helped drive the seemingly viral trajectory of the tale.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    KHO antoi merkittävän ennakkopäätöksen: Googlen poistettava murhasta tuomitun tiedot hakutuloksistaan

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook news chief to media: ‘Work with Facebook or die’
    The Australian reports that Facebook media relations chief Campbell Brown privately disclosed that Mark Zuckerberg is indifferent to publishers and offers the news media a simple choice: “Work with Facebook or die.”

    A senior Facebook executive has privately admitted Mark Zuckerberg “doesn’t care” about publishers and warned that if they did not work with the social media giant, “I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business like in a ­hospice”.

    That’s a strange thought, isn’t it?

    Still, she (invoking he), is effectively threatening to destroy news publishers unless they comply with Facebook’s vision for their future. So everyone has work to do.

    Brown was hired last year after to help Facebook “smooth over its strained ties to the news media.”

    Hiring a DeVos crony to deal with fake news and media relations quickly became the Facebook Executives Puzzled By Human Emotion trainwreck it promised to be: Brown was last in the news threatening to sue The Guardian for breaking the Cambridge Analytica story.

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Glenn Fleishman / Fortune:
    Internet infrastructure companies like web hosts, registrars, and CDNs were right to largely remain neutral in Infowars-like debates, civil rights experts say


    InfoWars Videos, Podcasts, and Social Posts Have Disappeared. Here’s Why Its Website Won’t Be Next

    Once silent on InfoWars, the controversial media outlet that publishes viral conspiracy theories, consumer-facing media companies like YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Apple, and Twitter have pulled an about-face in recent weeks, cutting ties with the website and its owner Alex Jones. The result: The ability for Jones and InfoWars to reach viewers with videos, listeners with podcasts, and followers with posts appears to have been severely curtailed.

    But Jones doesn’t need these companies to reach the InfoWars audience. Instead he relies on Internet infrastructure companies—the ones that handle the unspoken plumbing of the Internet—to help distribute his views via the InfoWars website, which remains online. These companies, some publicly traded and most based in the United States, manage everything from registering the InfoWars domain name to defending the site from massive distributed denial of service attacks. They have mostly remained quiet about Jones.

    Infrastructure companies have largely turned a blind eye to the objectionable content that Jones and other InfoWars hosts spew—ranging from the absurd (accusing Obama administration officials of using chemicals in water to “turn frogs gay”) to the unspeakable (alleging that the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre was faked).

    But those who battle for free-speech say that hesitation may be a good thing.

    Does InfoWars need those protections? That’s the subject of robust debate.

    Websites may exist in “the cloud,” but they are firmly rooted in business arrangements and on physical computing equipment. For instance, sites need domain names (which require central registration) to help users easily find them on the Web. Websites also use Web servers, which are often rented from providers that run data centers. In addition, to feed out massive amounts of video, media portals may contract with content-distribution networks (CDNs), and to block attacks and malicious behavior they may employ Internet security services.

  42. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ian Sherr / CNET:
    Jack Dorsey tries to explain why Twitter ignored rules violations by Infowars for so long, says company waited for others to report violations before acting

    Twitter CEO Dorsey explains ignoring Infowars’ rules violations

    Speaking to CNN, Dorsey says Twitter didn’t take action against Alex Jones until others pointed out bad behavior.

    Two weeks ago, Apple, Facebook, YouTube and others kicked the harassing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars site off their services.

    But Twitter refused until Tuesday, when it suspended him for seven days after he effectively called on his viewers to take up arms against journalists and others. What changed?

    It turns out, the media did. Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, told CNN in an interview Sunday that the work that network and other reporters did digging up instances where Jones and his Infowars broke the company’s rules ultimately helped lead to his ban.

    Until those reports started coming in, Twitter hadn’t received reports “that we felt we could take action on that violated our terms of service,” he said. “As we receive reports, we take action.”

    Dorsey saying Twitter doesn’t proactively police its service much isn’t particularly new — Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all say they rely heavily on us, the users, to point out bad behavior.

    Dorsey told CNN Sunday that it was a matter of time, energy and money. “People may say you should be a lot more proactive around all the content. And while we could do that, it just requires so many resources,” he said. (Twitter, meanwhile, posted $133 million in adjusted profits for the three months ended June 30.)

    For its part, Facebook’s solution has been twofold. It’s pledged to hire 10,000 more security and content moderation employees, a significant investment that’s already appears to drag down the company’s profits.

    Silicon Valley has also been trying to train computer programs to better identify bad behavior. So far, Facebook said its programs have identified 99 percent of terrorist propaganda before anyone has a chance to report it to the company. But it struggles more with hate speech, the company has said.

  43. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The answer to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube’s problems with Infowars? Transparency

    Commentary: The only way these companies can fix this mess is to be open and honest with all of us about what’s going on. Why is that so hard?

    It’s time to pull back the curtains. Big time.

    Over the past two years, the tech industry has found itself in the middle of so many world-changing events, it’s hard to keep track. We’ve seen privacy leaks like the one centered on Cambridge Analytica, Russian interference in our elections, endless harassment, hate speech, the rise of white supremacists and threats of all-out nuclear war, to name just a few.

    And yet, we know shockingly little about the decisions that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube make, impacting billions of people every day.

    In each of these cases, the companies cited their community rules or terms of service, which prohibit hate speech and harassment. When I asked which specific posts violated the rules and what rules in particular Jones had run afoul of, Facebook, YouTube, Stitcher, Apple and others either declined to provide details or didn’t respond to my request.

    All they would say is that Jones and Infowars violated their rules, and that was it.

    Many people cheered tech’s moves.

    Add in that more than half of US adults support tech companies taking steps to restrict false information, “even if it limits the public’s freedom to access and publish information,” as a Pew Research Center survey found in April. You’d think this is a no-brainer.

    Yet, when the big tech companies cut off Infowars account, some people cried foul. This time, because the companies didn’t explain the specific reason why. What had changed that week? They refused to say.

    That’s why I think it’s time for Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Susan Wojcicki, the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to share with us, publicly and openly, the details every time something’s taken down from their sites and why.

    I know, a journalist advocating transparency is hardly shocking.

    But the truth is that these companies’ habits of keeping enforcement teams’ work confidential doesn’t just leave users in the dark and journalists frustrated.

    Being more transparent about what is and isn’t OK on these platforms won’t solve all these problems. It may even create even more headaches because now the companies will have to publicly back up their decisions.

    It’s time for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others to publicly and openly publish information on each enforcement action. Make it available in a database. Make it easily searchable. Let us see what’s going on.

    Not that hard

    “If you reveal what you’re looking for, people are going to use it,” said Jeff Jarvis, a professor at CUNY’s Craig Newmark School of Journalism.

    I think the risk is worth the reward.

  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Linda Kinstler / The Guardian:
    Profile of TripAdvisor, which has become entangled in debates over free speech as it struggles to defend legitimate reviewers against litigious business owners — The world’s biggest travel site has turned the industry upside down – but now it is struggling to deal with the same kinds …

    How TripAdvisor changed travel

    The world’s biggest travel site has turned the industry upside down – but now it is struggling to deal with the same kinds of problems that are vexing other tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter.

    TripAdvisor is where we go to praise, criticise and purchase our way through the inhabited world. It is, at its core, a guestbook, a place where people record the highs and lows of their holiday experiences for the benefit of hotel proprietors and future guests. But this guestbook lives on the internet, where its contributors continue swapping advice, memories and complaints about their journeys long after their vacations have come to an end.

    Every month, 456 million people – about one in every 16 people on earth – visit some tentacle of to plan or assess a trip. For virtually every place, there exists a corresponding page.

    Over its two decades in business, TripAdvisor has turned an initial investment of $3m into a $7bn business by figuring out how to provide a service that no other tech company has quite mastered: constantly updated information about every imaginable element of travel, courtesy of an ever-growing army of contributors who provide their services for free.

    TripAdvisor is to travel as Google is to search, as Amazon is to books, as Uber is to cabs – so dominant that it is almost a monopoly. Bad reviews can be devastating for business, so proprietors tend to think of them in rather violent terms. “It is the marketing/PR equivalent of a drive-by shooting,”

    Marketers call a cascade of online one-star ratings a “review bomb”. Likewise, positive reviews can transform an establishment’s fortunes.

    Before TripAdvisor, the customer was only nominally king. After, he became a veritable tyrant, with the power to make or break lives. In response, the hospitality industry has lawyered up, and it is not uncommon for businesses to threaten to sue customers who post negative reviews.

    As the so-called “reputation economy” has grown, so too has a shadow industry of fake reviews, which can be bought, sold and traded online. For TripAdvisor, this trend amounts to an existential threat. Its business depends on having real consumers post real reviews.

    Thus, in promising a faithful portrait of the world, TripAdvisor has, like other tech giants, found itself in the unhappy position of becoming an arbiter of truth, of having to determine which reviews are real and which are fake, which are accurate and which are not, and how free speech on their platform should be.

    The travel guide is an ancient genre

    For nearly all of human history, people have wanted to know everything about where they were going before they got there.

    Kaufer envisaged TripAdvisor as an impartial referee, providing “reviews you can trust”, as one of its former taglines promised. But as an experiment, in February 2001, he and his partners created a way for consumers to post their own reviews

    Soon, Kaufer noticed that users were gravitating away from expert opinion and towards the crowdsourced reviews

    Over time, hoteliers largely accepted that TripAdvisor wasn’t going away, even as they watched it turn their industry upside down. “The online world has changed pretty much every industry, but hospitality beyond recognition,”

    “For a long time when [TripAdvisor] first came out, hoteliers didn’t like it. We didn’t want to air our dirty laundry in public,”

    By the time TripAdvisor floated, the fake review market had started to explode. “Throughout history, nothing has changed – reputation has always been faked, bought, amplified, inflated,” says Botsman. “On TripAdvisor, this is happening on a scale that we’ve never really seen before.”

    All of a sudden, reviews could be purchased and exchanged on a massive scale, new businesses could hire “reputation management” companies to help suppress bad reviews and promote good ones, and established businesses could pay for negative reviews of their competitors.

    Though companies such as TripAdvisor and Amazon already had fraud-detection measures in place, fake review companies quickly learned to work around them. “The black market understands where the market is going way before the average user, before the average brand,”

    TripAdvisor’s in-house forensic analysts use fraud-detection software – the same kinds used to detect credit card fraud – to flag suspicious patterns. But given the sheer amount of reviews on TripAdvisor and the increasing sophistication of the fakes, there is no hope of identifying and removing them all.

    “Consumers need to be careful when they’re reading reviews,”

    Incidents such as this are part of a worrying trend. Genuine reviews, which can be difficult to authenticate and expensive to defend, often pose more serious difficulties than fake reviews, which the company is reasonably skilled at discovering and deleting. The truth is a far bigger problem for TripAdvisor, which has lately become entangled in debates over free speech that it has struggled to resolve.

    Faced with bad reviews, some American businesses turn to what are known as “Slapp” suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation). In many cases, when a business files a Slapp suit, its objective is not to win in court – US free speech laws protect negative reviews – but to bully the reviewer into deleting the offending comment. While many states have passed anti-Slapp legislation to protect consumers from censorship and mounting legal fees, most are not strong enough to discourage businesses from pursuing them.

    From 2015 to 2017, TripAdvisor users removed more than 2,000 reviews from the site as a result of harassment by business owners

    Yet although TripAdvisor has fought to keep legitimate reviewers from being hounded into removing their posts by litigious owners, it has also struggled to come up with a coherent idea of which posts it is willing to defend.

    The question of what language is permitted on TripAdvisor is not purely theoretical. The same question is currently bedevilling other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

    At present, more than 200 new posts are uploaded to TripAdvisor every minute.

    Over time, TripAdvisor has grown so large that it has become difficult to explain what it is, exactly: it’s not quite a social network, though it encourages users to “like” and comment on each other’s posts; nor is it a news site, though its business is staked on aggregating legitimate sources to provide an up-to-date portrait of the world; nor is it simply an online marketplace like its competitors and When TripAdvisor first started, consumer reviews were a new and exciting thing; now they are everywhere.

    ” like all tech companies, they’re at the very first stages of the governance of how these things work,” s

  45. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Shan Wang / Nieman Lab:
    Researchers find fewer third-party cookies on 200+ EU news sites post-GDPR; sites load 27% fewer cookies for optimization and 14% fewer for ads

    Has the GDPR law actually gotten European news outlets to cut down on rampant third-party cookies and content on their sites? It seems so

    Some third-party cookies were still present, of course. But there was a decrease in third-party content loaded from social media platforms and from content recommendation widgets.

    It seems that a fairly severe, sweeping data privacy law in Europe could be just the incentive news organizations needed to trim the number of third-party cookies and content loading on their sites before readers have a chance to give explicit consent, according to a Reuters Institute report on a wide selection of news sites in Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the U.K.

    This time around, researchers found declines in cookie prevalence on the 200-plus news sites they tracked, across several categories, from cookies related to advertising and marketing to ones related to design optimization

    Some third-party cookies were still present, both before and after GDPR: “We saw almost no change in the percentages of pages with at least one instance of third-party advertising, audience measurement, content recommendation, design optimization, and hosting,” the researchers note. But it seems that a significant number of the news sites sampled did remove third-party content loaded from social media platforms and from content recommendation widgets

  46. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Emily Schultheis / The Atlantic:
    German broadcaster ZDF shows how to handle the far-right by asking actual policy questions that are equally or even more important to voters than immigration — A lesson from Germany — BERLIN—What happens when you do a prime-time interview with a far-right leader—but don’t ask them anything about refugees?

    How to Discuss the Far Right Without Empowering It
    A lesson from Germany

    What happens when you do a prime-time interview with a far-right leader—but don’t ask them anything about refugees?

    Ahead of the interview, ZDF’s Twitter feed teased the interview as dealing with “climate change, retirement, digitalization—and without refugees.”

    The resulting 19-minute interview, in which Gauland struggles to answer basic questions about his party’s positions on such issues, has been lauded by opponents of the AfD as masterful. Supporters of the AfD and Gauland himself panned it as biased. The ZDF journalist Thomas Walde, who conducted the interview, repeatedly pushed Gauland to clarify or explain statements made by his fellow party members—and asked more than once about proposed policy “alternatives” from a party that counts the word alternative as part of its name.

    It’s no secret that journalists have struggled to figure out how best to cover the far right and its signature issues here in Europe and, of course, across the Atlantic.

    American journalists faced the same issue

    There is a legitimate question to be asked about whether, insofar as it avoided asking a far-right leader about what is clearly his party’s signature issue, Walde’s interview was journalistically problematic. Given how big a role the issue plays in the AfD’s overall messaging, is it irresponsible not to bring it up? At the same time, it’s also true that the AfD’s position on refugee issues is well known

    39 percent named refugee issues as an important political topic—far below health care (69 percent) or social and retirement policies (64 percent). “What you saw is that the German far right doesn’t have any answers to a lot of the questions that really concern people,”

    Ultimately, the interview also highlighted the strategy some German politicians have told me they see as the most effective one against the AfD: to hold them to the same standards as other politicians, and watch them fail to deliver anything substantive.

    “These should be questions that should be easy to answer for any political leader, because they are so important for the future of Germany,” Dirsus said.


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