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:

    Michael Zelenko / The Verge:
    Survey of US sentiment toward big tech firms including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and others on trust, privacy, news accuracy, more — Illustrations by Garret Beard and William Joel — This year marked a sea change in our attitude toward tech’s largest players — and not for the better.

    The Verge Tech Survey
    How Americans really feel about Facebook, Apple, and more

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Alex Heath / Business Insider:
    Twitter publishes stricter non-consensual nudity rules, says it will launch stricter enforcement on violent groups and hate symbols late November

    Twitter outlines how it will be tougher on banning revenge porn

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google ignores country domain and delivers search results on detected location

    The days of changing the country code in the Google domain to see another country’s results are over.

    Making search results more local and relevant

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Deepa Seetharaman / Wall Street Journal:
    Analysis of eight Russian-backed Facebook accounts shows they backed 60+ protest events in US via publicity or financing, before and after 2016 election

    Russian-Backed Facebook Accounts Staged Events Around Divisive Issues

    They publicized or financed at least 60 events—on all sides of most polarizing issues—before and after the 2016 election

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Anya Schiffrin / Columbia Journalism Review:
    How European regulators are weighing control of misinformation and free speech, hampered by a lack of consensus, research, public data from Facebook and Google

    How Europe fights fake news

    This month, a new law against hate speech will go into effect in Germany, fining Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media companies up to €50 million if they fail to take down illegal content from their sites within 24 hours of being notified. For more ambiguous content, companies will have seven days to decide whether to block the posts.

    The rule is Germany’s attempt to fight hate speech and fake news, both of which have risen online since the arrival of more than a million refugees in the last two years.

    Germany isn’t alone in its determination to crack down on these kinds of posts. For the past year, most of Europe has been in an intense and fascinating debate about how to regulate, who should regulate, and even whether to regulate illegal and defamatory online content.

    Unlike the US, where we rely on corporate efforts to tackle the problems of fake news and disinformation online, the European Commission and some national governments are wading into the murky waters of free speech, working to come up with viable ways to stop election-meddling and the violence that has resulted from false news reports.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CBS Sues Man for Posting Image of a 59-Year TV-Show on Social Media
    By Ernesto on October 30, 2017

    CBS Broadcasting has launched one of the most unusual copyright infringement cases in recent history. The media giant is suing a New York man who posted a screenshot of a 1958 episode of the TV-series ‘Gunsmoke’ on social media. The man now faces $150,000 in potential damages, but since he sued CBS first, it’s likely that the case will not come to that.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google: Russian groups did use our ads and YouTube to influence 2016 elections

    Google, Facebook, and Twitter reveal how Russian agents reached millions of US voters before the 2016 election.

    Along with Facebook and Twitter, Google has now revealed details of Kremlin-linked groups buying ads and using YouTube to spread disinformation during the lead-up to US 2016 election.

    Google has shared its report ahead of this week’s series of congressional hearings, where lawyers from Facebook, Google, and Twitter will be asked how non-US groups used major web platforms to influence voters.

    Google says two accounts associated with Russian ‘troll farm’, the Internet Research Agency, spent $4,700 on Google ads during the election cycle.

    Google said the ads were not targeted at specific states and did not target users with specific political leanings. This was the first election where Google offered to target ads based on users’ “inferred political preferences”, such as “left-leaning” or “right-leaning”.

    Also, it found 1,108 YouTube videos totaling 43 hours of content that were probably linked to this campaign and generated 309,000 US views during the run-up to the election. It said only three percent of the videos generated more than 5,000 views.

    The YouTube videos were shared through 18 channels

    Future initiatives include publishing a transparency report for elections, and the creation of a publicly accessible database of election ads purchased on AdWords and YouTube. The database will include information about who bought each ad.

    Also, to comply with US laws that restrict groups outside the US from running election ads, it will introduce a new checks to “proactively identify” who’s buying a political ad and where they are based before running them.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Two IT giants dominate the information flow – our only security is their “good will”

    Google and Facebook for a long time have forsaken their moral responsibility by claiming that they are only platforms. People produce content on the internet and social media, they just care about it. You can not blame it on the car racing car for the drones.

    These gigantic organizations have more global influence over the flow of information than any other part of the world – and they are shaking their hands on everything they do about their service.

    Now, however, this has changed. First, Mark Zuckerberg broke into the sensation of how trivial news distributed through the service he developed was Trump’s election victory in the United States.

    In February, he announced in his long writing on Facebook’s future struggle to “create a social infrastructure that supports community”.

    Why are Facebook and Google then morally responsible for the content they share?

    Because they are not neutral. The highway does not choose who are on the road. Facebook and Google algorithms make far-reaching choices as to what search results and what the links shared by our friends are and what we do not see. They decide what kind of world we see. When we want to know something, our google.

    And Google’s algorithm decides what kind of thing we see.

    It is unacceptable that the world’s information flow is held by two corporations. They are able to manipulate elections, change people’s worldview, and manipulate hate campaigns against people or groups of people. Our only security is their “good will”.

    Nationally important infrastructure – water supply and electricity grid – is not given to private companies without regulation.

    Still, our information infrastructure is held by two global vendors.


  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Josh Constine / TechCrunch:
    Senators raise issue to Facebook, Twitter, Google of shell firms obscuring identities of advertisers, a fundamental obstacle to efforts to increase transparency

    Congress grills Facebook, Twitter, Google on shells hiding election meddlers

    How can Internet giants know that innocent-seeming US companies aren’t actually shell vehicles for malicious foreign actors to buy ads to interfere with elections? The short answer is they can’t, and that drew questioning from a congressional probe today into Facebook, Twitter, and Google being used to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.

    The hearing saw Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch dodge whether Facebook supports the new Honest Ads bill, instead touting the self-regulation it’s implementing. Google’s Richard Salgado affirmed that the company sees itself as a technology platform, not a media company or newspaper.

    Perhaps the most telling moment of the hearing came when one member of the committee questioning the companies’ spokespeople asked:

    “How do you deal with the problem of a legitimate and lawful but phony American shell corporation, one that calls itself say “America For Puppies And Prosperity”, that has a drop box as its address, and a $50 million check in its check book that it’s using to spend to manipulate election outcomes?”

    Twitter’s general counsel Sean Edgett admitted “I think that’s a problem. We’re continuing to look into ‘how do you get to know your client . . .and believe that we’ll have to figure out a good process to understand who those customers actually are that are signing the contracts with Twitter to run ads.”

    Facebook has written that it plans to “require more thorough documentation from advertisers who want to run US federal election-related ads. Potential advertisers will have to confirm the business or organization they represent before they can buy ads.”

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kurt Wagner / Recode:
    Senate hearing: Google explains delay in removing RT from ad program; Twitter says ~5% accounts are spam; Facebook says it’s disclosed all known Russian ads

    Live updates: Facebook, Google and Twitter testified before Congress today
    A live look at the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russian election interference.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kurt Wagner / Recode:
    Tuesday Senate hearing: Google explains delay in cutting RT from ad program; Twitter says ~5% accounts are spam; Facebook says it revealed all known Russian ads — A live look at the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russian election interference. — Facebook, Google and Twitter …

    Live updates: Facebook, Google and Twitter testified before Congress today
    A live look at the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russian election interference.

    Casey Newton / The Verge:
    Lawyers from Facebook, Google, Twitter stuck to prepared statements and vague promises during Tues. Senate hearings, and none promised to support Honest Ads act — In a high-stakes meeting, lawyers stick to the script — A bipartisan group of Senators grilled tech companies today …

    Senators grill tech companies about Russian interference, but don’t get very far
    In a high-stakes meeting, lawyers stick to the script

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tony Romm / Recode:
    Sources: Facebook, Google, Twitter to tell Congress that Russian election meddling wider than reported; source says 126M Facebook users may have seen content

    Facebook says 126 million people in the U.S. may have seen posts produced by Russian-government-backed agents

    Read early testimony from Facebook, Google and Twitter before they appear at hearings on Capitol Hill this week.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    These are some of the tweets and Facebook ads Russia used to try and influence the 2016 presidential election
    What’s unknown: Whether or not they actually worked.

    Representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter were in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to explain to Congress how Russian sources used their respective platforms to try and spread misinformation during last year’s presidential election.

    Facebook has turned over some 3,000 ads from Russian sources to Congress, and Twitter found thousands of fake accounts that were later removed. Senators used some of the ads and posts from those fake accounts to hammer home their frustration with Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday.

    This tweet depicts a Photoshopped image of actor and comedian Aziz Ansari encouraging voters to submit their vote for president via Twitter, which is not a legitimate way to vote in a U.S. election. Sen. Richard Blumenthal called it “a deliberate misleading of people.” Twitter says it took down this tweet, “and all other tweets like it,” but could not say how many people may have tried to vote via Twitter.

    This is a tweet that encourages voters to cast their ballot via text, which was yet another invalid way to vote.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook apologizes after wrong translation sees Palestinian man arrested for posting ‘good morning’
    Facebook translated his post as ‘attack them’ and ‘hurt them’

    Police arrested the man after they were notified of the post and were suspicious he was planning a vehicle attack using the bulldozer. He was released hours later after police realized the mistake. Haaretz reports that before his arrest, no Arabic-speaking officer had read the man’s Facebook post.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Trump and Clinton spent $81M on US election Facebook ads, Russian agency $46K

    Russian information troll farm the Internet Research Agency spent just 0.05 percent as much on Facebook ads as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s campaigns combined in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, yet still reached a massive audience.

    Update: However, since the IRA was using incendiary, divisive, eye-drawing content about polarizing issues, it likely was able to squeeze more impressions and engagment out of each dollar of spend than Trump and Clinton’s ads driving awareness for the candidates That’s because Facebook’s ad auction system preferences engaging ads by providing lower rates.

    Facebook today said that the Russians still reached 126 million Facebook users, as well as 20 million Instagram users. But Facebook, Twitter and Google all confirmed that their investigations have found no evidence that the Russians uploaded voter registration contact info in order to individually target voters with ads.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Josh Constine / TechCrunch:
    During congressional hearing, Facebook’s general counsel said 120K Instagram posts from Russian-linked accounts reached 16M Americans from Oct ’16 to election

    120K Instagrams by Russian election attackers hit 20M Americans

    Facebook detailed the extent of Russia’s election interference campaign on Instagram today during its second congressional hearing. Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch said that 120,000 posts by Russian election attackers reached 16 million Americans from October through the election, and the posts reached an additional 4 million Americans prior to October when Facebook has less complete data.

    That’s on top of the 126 million Americans reached by Russian election propaganda on Facebook. It’s unclear if these two groups overlap, but if not, that would bring the total number to 146 million Americans. That’s a big climb from the original 10 million figure Facebook originally announced as the audience of Russian election interference.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New York Times:
    Technologists, academics, politicians and journalists suggest ways to improve Facebook as a product and company — Colin Stretch, the general counsel of Facebook, appeared on Tuesday before senators who are investigating how Russia spread misinformation online during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    How to Fix Facebook? We Asked 9 Experts

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kurt Wagner / Recode:
    Facebook now has 1.37B DAUs, vs. 1.18B a year ago, average revenue per user climbs to $7.54, up from $5.95 a year ago — Facebook reported $10.3 billion in revenue last quarter, more than analysts expected. — Facebook’s Russia problem isn’t affecting the company’s business. At least not yet.

    Facebook may have a Russia problem, but it just posted its best quarter ever
    Facebook reported $10.3 billion in revenue last quarter, more than analysts expected.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook’s Zuckerberg Says Security Costs Will Hurt Profits

    Facebook Chief Says Protecting Community is More Important Than Maximizing Profits

    Social media giant Facebook said on Wednesday that significant investments by the company to secure its platform will impact its profitability.

    The company announced its financial results for Q3 2017 after the bell on Wednesday, noting that capital expenditures for quarter were $1.76 billion. The company reported more than $10.3 billion in revenue during the quarter, and a profit of $4.7 billion.

    “Our community continues to grow and our business is doing well,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO, said in a statement. “But none of that matters if our services are used in ways that don’t bring people closer together. We’re serious about preventing abuse on our platforms. We’re investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits.”

    33 year-old Zuckerberg did not detail any planned security investments or estimated costs.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Alex Heath / Business Insider:
    Facebook says 10% or ~207M accounts are estimated to be duplicates, up from 6% and fake accounts total ~60M, up to 2-3% from 1%, as detection methods improve — – Facebook quietly increased its number of estimated duplicate accounts from 6% to 10%. — Estimated fake accounts were raised to 2-3% from 1%.

    Facebook quietly updated two key numbers about its user base

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook Tops Sales Projections While Russia Ad Inquiry Unfolds

    Facebook Inc. has been under fire for Russian abuse of its platform leading up to the 2016 U.S. election. Now, the world’s largest social network said it will boost spending next year to confront the problem and fund new business initiatives.

    The 60 percent increase, which will go toward shoring up security and intelligence efforts and building out burgeoning businesses such as video and hardware, will cut into Facebook’s profits, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call with investors. Zuckerberg took pains to explain why the added investment in security is a good business decision, just after Facebook’s general counsel was berated for hours by lawmakers over the use of its platform by Russian operatives.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    An alt-right Tweeter with 80k followers is a fictional entity created by Russian troll farm

    Alt-right blogger Jenna Abrams (@Jenn_Abrams) enjoyed a large following in Twitter, and her tweets were cited by Buzzfeed, the NY Times, and other news agencies. It turned out “she” was another creation of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian government-funded troll farm in St. Petersburg.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Trump Twitter account shut down by employee on last day of work

    Company initially blamed human error for @realdonaldtrump account’s 11-minute outage but then revealed it was done by worker on final day in job

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook Ads Reveal the Real Russian Game

    U.S. intelligence estimates were wrong: Russian trolls and their Kremlin masters weren’t partisan.

    The Facebook ads placed by a Russian troll farm and released on Wednesday by the U.S. Congress Intelligence Committee show that the Russian propaganda campaign of 2016 didn’t favor either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Instead, it mocked and goaded America, holding up a distorted but, in the final analysis, remarkably accurate mirror.

    This directly contradicts previous U.S. intelligence community assessments.

    The ads backed white nationalist as well as black causes. They often targeted Clinton before the election but switched to attacking Trump immediately afterwards. The ads against both were even visually similar.

    it would have been impossible to tip the scales with that kind of effort.

    The campaign was not tied to election timelines: It’s permanent, and it will go on while the U.S. and Russia are adversaries. In that sense, it’s no different from the Russian influence campaign in Ukraine.

    The fit of U.S. self-flagellation likely goes beyond the trolls’ and propagandists’ wildest dreams. A great nation, with the world’s best-funded and most professional media and an institutional framework other nations could only dream of, ought to be able to ignore the Russian propagandists’ pitiful, incompetent efforts.

    The U.S. is a bitterly divided country, and it wasn’t Russian propagandists who created these divisions, though they were happy to read about them in the U.S. media and use them in their efforts.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    “It’s Okay To Be White” Signs Found At Maryland High School

    The ‘Politically Incorrect’ thread on 4chan has done it again.

    Sparking media attention surrounding a white nationalist movement to post signs in public areas including academic institutions that say, “It’s okay to be white”.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The latest example of 4chan bleeding into the real world is “It is okay to be white”. The entirety of the project is just post a simple “It is okay to be white” poster on college campuses and high schools. And wait for results…In the past 48 hours six different criminal investigations have opened up for posting this simple flier. And a bunch of schools are calling this a white supremacist action…4chan is laughing.


  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Saskatoon among the cities where ‘It’s okay to be white’ poster appears; campaign started on 4chan

    Kaye took a photograph of the Saskatoon poster, then took it down and threw it into a nearby trash bin.

    He considers the posters a kind of trickery,

    “The slogan’s appearance is part of a current, coordinated attempt by white supremacists to hijack Canada’s foundational, liberal democratic belief in equality, human rights, and multiculturalism to gain support from the majority population of Canadian life who doesn’t see how structural inequalities or basic Imperial history has shaped the western world, even into our little corner in supposedly peaceful and polite Canada,” he wrote in a Facebook comment.

    The “It’s okay to be white” campaign appears to have originated on the night of Oct. 27 in a discussion thread on 4chan, an image board website where most users post anonymously. Someone there encouraged people to make “signs like this” pop up on Halloween night on college campuses around the world. University campuses seem like “alt-right gold,” the person who started the discussion thread wrote.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook estimates 200 million users may be fake: report

    Facebook now estimates that nearly 200 million of its users may be fake accounts.

    Facebook, Twitter, and Google testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a three-day session this week, providing investigators information on the efforts of foreign actors to meddle in U.S. politics.

    One of the investigators’ concerns, according to the New York Times, is the widespread use of “fake” social media accounts.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Elizabeth Grieco / Pew Research Center:
    Pew: 26% of US adults get news from two or more social media sites, up from 15% in 2013 and 18% in 2016; 50% of Facebook news users get news via Facebook alone

    More Americans are turning to multiple social media sites for news

    Americans are more likely than ever to get news from multiple social media sites, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. About a quarter of all U.S. adults (26%) get news from two or more social media sites, up from 15% in 2013 and 18% in 2016. But there is considerable variation in the extent to which each site’s news users get news from other sites, and which sites those are.

    Facebook claims the largest share of social media news consumers, and its news users are much more likely to rely solely on that site for news. Just under half (45%) of U.S. adults use Facebook for news. Half of Facebook’s news users get news from that social media site alone, with just one-in-five relying on three or more sites for news.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A list of all the questions Facebook, Google, and Twitter told Congress they would answer later

    Congress Assigned a Lot of Homework to Facebook, Twitter, Google

    Unanswered questions mean tech companies need to follow up
    Lawmakers sought detailed information in Russia meddling probe

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    International Consortium of Investigative Journalists:
    ICIJ releases Paradise Papers, with 95 media partners exploring 13.4M leaked files on offshore dealings, obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung — The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists today releases The Paradise Papers, a global investigation that reveals the offshore activities …

    ICIJ releases The Paradise Papers

    The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists today releases The Paradise Papers, a global investigation that reveals the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.

    ICIJ and 95 media partners explored 13.4 million leaked files from a combination of leaked files of offshore law firms and the company registries in some of the world’s most secretive countries.

    The files were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and shared with ICIJ.

    The Paradise Papers documents include nearly 7 million loan agreements, financial statements, emails, trust deeds and other paperwork over nearly 50 years from inside Appleby, a prestigious offshore law firm with offices in Bermuda and beyond.

    The Paradise Papers reveal offshore interests and activities of more than 120 politicians and world leaders

    The leaked files from Appleby, the offshore law firm, include details of tax planning by nearly 100 multinational corporations, including Apple, Nike and Uber.

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Daily Beast:
    How “Jenna Abrams”, a creation of Russia’s Internet Research Agency, built ~70K Twitter followers and got quoted in numerous news outlets since 2014 — Jenna Abrams had a lot of enemies on Twitter, but she was a very good friend to viral content writers across the world.

    Jenna Abrams, Russia’s Clown Troll Princess, Duped the Mainstream Media and the World

    Roseanne Barr and Michael McFaul argued with her on Twitter. BuzzFeed and The New York Times cited her tweets. But Jenna Abrams was the fictional creation of a Russian troll farm.

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Analysis: how US news orgs including Washington Post and Miami Herald cited tweets from Russian troll farm accounts, presenting them as authentic voices

    The Washington Post, Miami Herald, InfoWars and other U.S. sites spread Russian propaganda from Twitter
    Tweets from 2,752 fake Twitter accounts created by Russian government trolls found their way into U.S. news stories.

    The tweet that opened a story in the Washington Post on Feb. 11, 2016 seemed innocuous: It was an attempt to illustrate Syrian territory occupied by clashing government and ISIS forces.

    Problem is, the account behind that tweet — @WarfareWW — was one of 2,752 Twitter trolls identified this week as tied to the Russian government and suspended for spreading disinformation.

    U.S. lawmakers are probing the extent of the Kremlin’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election, and so far, they have trained their scrutiny on tech platforms like Twitter.

    But new data show that many news publications — including established outfits like the Post, the Miami Herald (owned by McClatchy), Buzzfeed and even Vox, as well as controversial alt-right hubs like InfoWars — were duped into citing some of these nefarious tweets in their coverage, perhaps unwittingly amplifying the reach of Russian propaganda in the process.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Margaret Sullivan / Washington Post:
    A year into Trump era, reporters have produced great accountability journalism, but relentless news cycles have left people exhausted and mistrustful of media

    Trump’s message of mistrust is sinking in, even in journalism’s new ‘golden age’

    In the year since Donald Trump was elected president, the national news media has congratulated itself on a new golden age of accountability journalism.

    And it’s true in many ways. The scoops have been relentless, the digging intense, the results important.

    But in another crucial way, the reality-based press has failed.

    Too often, it has succumbed to the chaos of covering Trump, who lies and blusters and distracts at every turn.

    Of course, given the differences among news organizations, generalizing is a fraught exercise. Nonetheless, each news cycle is an exhausting, confusing blast of conflicting claims, fact-checking, reactions and outrage.

    Trump drives the news, all day and every day, a human fire hose of hyperbolic tweets, insults, oversimplification and bragging.

    Keeping track of it is hard enough. Making sense of it almost impossible.

    “There’s a lot of he said/she said, so I believe maybe half of what I hear,”

    I’ve heard other news consumers complain about the protective amnesia that sets in — “Trump Brain,” as some call it. They blame it on the relentless cascade of information.

    Reporters for legitimate news organizations do not make things up. Those few reporters who fabricate sources get fired and are driven out of the business.

    News organizations have tried to push back with mottos and ad campaigns cropping up like mushrooms: CBS touts “Real News.” CNN trotted out “Facts First.” And the New York Times offered “The Truth is More Important Than Ever.”

    They’ve struggled with whether to label Trump’s falsehoods as lies, and then sometimes made long lists of them.

    These efforts are valiant, but they are pen knives up against machine guns.

    There’s a basic problem here. The old ways just don’t work in the new environment.

    “If nothing the president says can be trusted, reporting what the president says becomes absurd,” wrote New York University professor Jay Rosen. This runs up against the journalistic code: to respect the voters’ choice, to respect the office of the presidency and to respect what they do for a living.

    And so, Rosen notes, journalists normalize. They report the lies, but they search for ways to “tell the good news about Trump” to balance that.

    There’s been great accountability journalism, but a very poor signal-to-noise ratio.
    Citizens are left with a confusing, chaotic picture — one that many doubt is true, and many others have decided to block out.

    That isn’t good enough.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Daily Beast:
    How “Jenna Abrams”, a creation of Russia’s Internet Research Agency, built ~70K Twitter followers and got quoted in numerous news outlets since 2014 — Jenna Abrams had a lot of enemies on Twitter, but she was a very good friend to viral content writers across the world.

    The Long Con
    Jenna Abrams, Russia’s Clown Troll Princess, Duped the Mainstream Media and the World

    Roseanne Barr and Michael McFaul argued with her on Twitter. BuzzFeed and The New York Times cited her tweets. But Jenna Abrams was the fictional creation of a Russian troll farm.

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Paul Rosenberg / Salon:
    How journalism’s norms lead to reluctance by editors and media outlets to call out political lies, and how new tactics or beats could improve reporting — Media’s obsession with “balance” and addiction to spectacle led to disaster. Can we get back to real reporting now?

    Journalists also have a “duty to warn”: Are we starting to do our jobs?

    Media’s obsession with “balance” and addiction to spectacle led to disaster. Can we get back to real reporting now?

    But what about journalists’ duty to warn? Press freedom’s stature, as enshrined in the First Amendment, is predicated on its importance in preserving all the other freedoms, in exposing and warning of violations and threats. As the contributors to “The Dangerous Case” make clear, Trump represents a threat unlike any America has ever seen in a sitting president, except perhaps for Richard Nixon in the last few weeks of his presidency. So journalists’ duty to warn should be clear.

    given how flawed journalistic practices helped create our nation’s current dire predicament. By adopting a set of conventions that undermined their civic commitment and even usefulness, journalists themselves have helped pave the way for Trump’s emergence, so the admonition, “Reporter, heal thyself!” is clearly in order.

    As for Rosen himself, in a recent post, “Normalizing Trump: An incredibly brief explainer,” he points out that journalists covering Trump are painfully aware of his incompetence: “He isn’t good at anything a president has to do…. He doesn’t know anything about the issues. … He doesn’t care to learn. … Nothing he says can be trusted. … His ‘model’ of leadership is humiliation of others.”

    Their code requires them to report all this, but it also calls on them “to respect the voters’ choice, as well as the American presidency, of which they see themselves a vital part, as well as the beat, the job of White House reporting. The two parts of the code are in conflict,” and that conflict is quite painful. They flee from it, if they can, which is why we see so many interpretive attempts to normalize Trump. “What they have to report brings ruin to what they have to respect,” he concludes. “So they occasionally revise it into something they can respect: at least a little.”

    Neither the Fords nor Trump are unprecedented. Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich … the list goes on and on. Perhaps if someone like Dale had been around in 1994 when Gingrich was lying his way to the speakership, we’d be living in a very different world today.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Getting Away with Murder

    CPJ’s 2017 Global Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free

    International attention to the issue of impunity in journalist murders has increased in the past 10 years. The United Nations has adopted a total of five resolutions–three by the Human Rights Council, one by the General Assembly and the one by the Security Council–urging states to take measures to promote justice when journalists are attacked.

    Among the other findings from CPJ’s data on murdered journalists:

    The 12 countries on the index account for nearly 80 percent of the unsolved murders that took place worldwide during the 10-year period ending August 31, 2017.
    Four countries on this year’s index-India, Mexico, Nigeria, and the Philippines-are on the governing council of the Community of Democracies, a coalition dedicated to upholding and strengthening democratic norms.

    In at least 40 percent of cases, murder victims reported receiving threats before they were killed, highlighting the need for robust protection mechanisms.
    In only 4 percent of total murder cases has there been full justice, including prosecution of those who commissioned the crime.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    James Bridle:
    A look at bot-made YouTube videos for kids, which deliberately target young children with traumatic imagery

    Something is wrong on the internet

    Please be advised: this essay describes disturbing things and links to disturbing graphic and video content. You don’t have to read it, and are advised to take caution exploring further.

    Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level.

    To begin: Kid’s YouTube is definitely and markedly weird.

    Surprise Eggs videos depict, often at excruciating length, the process of unwrapping Kinder and other egg toys. That’s it, but kids are captivated by them. There are thousands and thousands of these videos and thousands and thousands, if not millions, of children watching them.

    That should give you some idea of just how odd the world of kids online video is, and that list of video titles hints at the extraordinary range and complexity of this situation.

    Little Baby Bum, which made the above video, is the 7th most popular channel on YouTube. With just 515 videos, they have accrued 11.5 million subscribers and 13 billion views.

    On-demand video is catnip to both parents and to children, and thus to content creators and advertisers. Small children are mesmerised by these videos, whether it’s familiar characters and songs, or simply bright colours and soothing sounds.

    YouTube broadcasters have thus developed a huge number of tactics to draw parents’ and childrens’ attention to their videos, and the advertising revenues that accompany them. The first of these tactics is simply to copy and pirate other content.

    When some trend, such as Surprise Egg videos, reaches critical mass, content producers pile onto it, creating thousands and thousands more of these videos in every possible iteration.

    What I find somewhat disturbing about the proliferation of even (relatively) normal kids videos is the impossibility of determining the degree of automation which is at work here; how to parse out the gap between human and machine.

    A step beyond the simply pirated Peppa Pig videos mentioned previously are the knock-offs. These too seem to teem with violence. In the official Peppa Pig videos, Peppa does indeed go to the dentist, and the episode in which she does so seems to be popular 

    she is basically tortured, before turning into a series of Iron Man robots and performing the Learn Colours dance. A search for “peppa pig dentist” returns the above video on the front page, and it only gets worse from here.

    Disturbing Peppa Pig videos, which tend towards extreme violence and fear, with Peppa eating her father or drinking bleach, are, it turns out very widespread. They make up an entire YouTube subculture. Many are obviously parodies, or even satires of themselves, in the pretty common style of the internet’s outrageous, deliberately offensive kind. All the 4chan tropes are there, the trolls are out, we know this.

    I’m trying to understand why, as plainly and simply troubling as it is, this is not a simple matter of “won’t somebody think of the children” hand-wringing. Obviously this content is inappropriate, obviously there are bad actors out there, obviously some of these videos should be removed. Obviously too this raises questions of fair use, appropriation, free speech and so on. But reports which simply understand the problem through this lens fail to fully grasp the mechanisms being deployed, and thus are incapable of thinking its implications in totality, and responding accordingly.

    the obvious parodies and even the shadier knock-offs interact with the legions of algorithmic content producers until it is completely impossible to know what is going on

    Here are a few things which are disturbing me:

    The first is the level of horror and violence on display. Some of the times it’s troll-y gross-out stuff; most of the time it seems deeper, and more unconscious than that.

    The second is the levels of exploitation, not of children because they are children but of children because they are powerless. Automated reward systems like YouTube algorithms necessitate exploitation in the same way that capitalism necessitates exploitation

    Many of these latest examples confound any attempt to argue that nobody is actually watching these videos, that these are all bots. There are humans in the loop here, even if only on the production side, and I’m pretty worried about them too.

    This video, BURIED ALIVE Outdoor Playground Finger Family Song Nursery Rhymes Animation Education Learning Video, contains all of the elements we’ve covered above, and takes them to another level. Familiar characters, nursery tropes, keyword salad, full automation, violence, and the very stuff of kids’ worst dreams.

    For the final time: There is more violent and more sexual content like this available.

    A friend who works in digital video described to me what it would take to make something like this: a small studio of people (half a dozen, maybe more) making high volumes of low quality content to reap ad revenue by tripping certain requirements of the system (length in particular seems to be a factor). According to my friend, online kids’ content is one of the few alternative ways of making money from 3D animation because the aesthetic standards are lower and independent production can profit through scale. It uses existing and easily available content (such as character models and motion-capture libraries) and it can be repeated and revised endlessly and mostly meaninglessly because the algorithms don’t discriminate — and neither do the kids.

    To expose children to this content is abuse.

    This, I think, is my point: The system is complicit in the abuse.

    And right now, right here, YouTube and Google are complicit in that system. The architecture they have built to extract the maximum revenue from online video is being hacked by persons unknown to abuse children, perhaps not even deliberately, but at a massive scale.

    What concerns me is that this is just one aspect of a kind of infrastructural violence being done to all of us, all of the time, and we’re still struggling to find a way to even talk about it, to describe its mechanisms and its actions and its effects.

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ‘Ignore it at your peril’: Ad-blocking costs UK publishers an average of £500,000 per year

    Ad blocking has moved from exponential to linear growth: The sky might not be falling, but ignore it at your peril. Skewed metrics are a major distraction for publishers trying to tackle this problem, but focusing on the financial losses is one route to encourage all parties to find a solution.

    The UK Association of Online Publishers aggregated data from 40 members — AOP members include Condé Nast, ESI Media, Global, the Guardian and The Telegraph — and found that the average U.K. publisher is losing £500,000 ($660,000) a year due to ad blocking.

    “People should be getting more passionate about this,” said Nick Flood, product and commercial operations director at Dennis Publishing. “People need to take this more seriously.”

    Hard blocks on general news sites tend to be ineffective because users can access the content elsewhere.

    Dennis has had experience in banning ad-block users from accessing content. Flood said it’s seeing about 20 percent of its audience block ads, which is in line with other U.K. publishers. Dennis is asking ad-block users visiting site Carbuyer to disable their ad blockers or continue to view the site with ads. In recent tests, the publisher found that 70 percent of ad-block users continue to view the site with ads — the publisher uses an ad-recovery solution — while 30 percent disabled their ad blocker. It has also tested showing a 30-second video ad before people continue through to an ad-free site, which has had a 70 percent view-through rate, according to Flood.

    “People will interact with you if you have content they want to engage with; you need to push that agenda,” he said at the AOP’s Inside Out conference in London this week. “You will lose people; 30 percent of our users bounced, but we weren’t monetizing them anyway.”

    “From a data perspective, I’ve always been concerned that we can’t accurately analyze our audience,” said Jo Holdaway, chief data officer at ESI Media. “It’s not just the loss of revenue but the loss of insight and inference about our audience.”

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Once Again, Google Promoted Disinformation and Propaganda After a Mass Shooting [Updated]

    As authorities named Devin Patrick Kelley as the shooter in a horrifying massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas which resulted in at least 26 deaths on Sunday, Google once again served up misinformation and posts from conspiracy theorists at the top of search results for his name.

    On Sunday evening, Googling “Devin Patrick Kelley” delivered results from Paul Joseph Watson, the far-right personality behind InfoWars-affiliated conspiracy website Prison Planet.

    According to the Daily Beast, the real Kelley was a former U.S. Air Force member who Defense Department records show was sentenced to a “bad-conduct discharge, 12 months confinement, and two reductions in rank to basic airman” after he was court-martialed in 2012.

    The spread of unverified or deliberately falsified information from gutter-level sources in the wake of crises, aided by venues like Google and Twitter, has become a real problem with real consequences. In the hours after the shooting, Texas Rep. Vicente Gonzalez fell for a reoccurring far-right social media meme claiming comedian Sam Hyde was responsible for the shootings and repeated that information during a live CNN broadcast.

    After another massacre in Las Vegas in October, Google’s top stories module linked to 4chan’s far-right board /pol/, which identified the wrong perpetrator and claimed he was motivated by his opposition to President Donald Trump. Afterwards, Google subsidiary YouTube’s search results promoted unfounded theories the killings were a false flag attack.

    Google, Twitter, and Facebook have all regularly shifted the blame to algorithms when this happens, but the issue is that said companies write the algorithms, making them responsible for what they churn out. As CNN’s Jonathon Morgan noted, those algorithms are often designed to “show attention-grabbing, influential content to exactly the people most likely to be manipulated by it.”

    Of course, platforms are only part of the picture.

    But at the end of the day, a handful of tech companies that dominate how Americans access information online don’t seem to have been particularly active in addressing the problem.

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    WikiLeaks thanks US government for blocking credit card donations

    Founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange has taken to Twitter to publicly thank the US government for denying access to credit card and banking systems in 2010. The goal was to prevent money from being funneled to WikiLeaks, but that plan may have ended up backfiring.

    Assange claims that as a result of the financial blockade, WikiLeaks switched to accepting Bitcoin donations. Since July 2010, Assange says that he has achieved over a 50,000% return on investments. The Bitcoin address used by WikiLeaks has made of 26,000 transactions and has passed over 4,000 Bitcoins through it.

    WikiLeaks now accepts several different cryptocurrencies in attempt to receive donations without using any US banking systems. Bitcoin, Litecoin, Zcash, and Monero are all accepted by the notorious leak site. Due to the nature of Zcash and Monero, it is impossible to know how much money WikiLeaks has received in either of the two currencies.

  42. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Court orders pirate science site to shut down
    But enforcing the ruling is a dubious matter

    The US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has ruled in favor of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in its fight against Sci-Hub, a pirate site for scientific papers. The court has issued a default judgment that grants all of the ACS’ requests, which includes monetary damages, an injunction that requires search engines, registrars, and hosting providers to block access to Sci-Hub, and a decree that Sci-Hub can no longer sell or promote any works registered to the ACS.

    The case was originally brought against Sci-Hub in June. It was expected that the ACS would win

    The site is currently hosted in Russia and registered to a domain in the Cocos Islands, so it’s unclear if its registrar will honor the court order. Even if it does, Sci-Hub will likely remain available as a Tor hidden service. As of publishing time, Sci-Hub is still online and operational.

    This isn’t the first time Sci-Hub has been ordered to pay fines or shut down.

    American Chemical Society Wins Lawsuit Against Sci-Hub

    A US judge issues a broad injunction that allows the society to demand that technology companies actively associated with the site block access to it.

    This kind of broad order is just improper and dangerous.—Corynne McSherry,
    Electronic Frontier Foundation

  43. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tweeting Made Easier

    In September, we launched a test that expanded the 140 character limit so every person around the world could express themselves easily in a Tweet. Our goal was to make this possible while ensuring we keep the speed and brevity that makes Twitter, Twitter.

    During the first few days of the test many people Tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after behavior normalized (more on this below). We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they Tweeted more easily and more often. But importantly, people Tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained.

  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Better filters won’t cure this: YouTube’s kids nightmare
    What has been seen?

    For the “smartest guys in the room”, Google often seems to be the last to know what’s going on in its own front room. And something very strange indeed is going on over at YouTube.

    The artist James Bridle – who created the witty “self-driving car trap” (spoiler: it’s a chalk circle) – has been investigating the outer reaches of kids’ content. He describes how channels attracting millions of subscribers are producing very strange things indeed.

    These range from the “decidedly off” to the nasty. The BBC has reported on the latter. The most disturbing may not be the obvious but predictable 4chan-derived pirate nasties, but Bridle describes them as “things which aren’t overtly disturbing to adults, just incredibly dark and weird”.

  45. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Donald Trump’s Twitter account was temporarily deleted by a disgruntled company employee
    How did that happen?

    President Donald Trump’s personal Twitter account was temporarily removed on Thursday after a Twitter employee purposefully deactivated the account.

    Trump’s @realDonaldTrump account went down for 11 minutes Thursday afternoon, and it was originally unclear why. Twitter later tweeted that it was because of “human error” and that the company was investigating further.

    In a tweet Thursday night, Twitter confirmed that the account was deactivated “by a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day.”

    The fact that a single Twitter employee can remove the account of the most power Twitter user on the planet is startling, to say the least. Two sources familiar with the company said that employees on Twitter’s Trust and Safety team have the ability to suspend or remove accounts, but a second source said that this is limited.

    This source added that Twitter once considered a safeguard in which it would require two employees to remove important, notable Twitter accounts, but that it has never been implemented.

    Rogue Twitter Employee Briefly Shuts Down Trump’s Account

  46. Tomi Engdahl says:

    We’re not saying Uncle Sam has lost control on Twitter, but US Embassy in Riyadh just did a shout out for oatmeal
    Serious rethink needed on account policies

    The Digital Registry is supposed to be an authoritative list of Uncle Sam’s official social media accounts, because “users need to trust they are engaging with official US government digital accounts.”

    Instead, it serves as a shopping list for aspiring government imposters, thanks to its own lax data management and Twitter’s account policies, which allow the usernames of deleted accounts, though not suspended accounts, to be assumed by others.

  47. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ilya Khrennikov / Bloomberg:
    Google News resumes indexing Russia’s Federal News Agency, linked in a report to US election trolls, after warning from country’s regulator

    Google Restores Russian Newswire Linked to U.S. Election Trolls

    Russian ‘troll factory’ tried to influence U.S. vote, RBC says
    Alphabet restored access after pressure from Russia government

    Alphabet Inc.’s Google resumed indexing articles from Russia’s Federal News Agency in its news searches after receiving a warning from the country’s regulator.

    Google Tuesday confirmed it again showed FAN items, but declined to elaborate. The company’s news search had stopped showing items from Federal News Agency, known as FAN, in late October.

    The decision to block indexing of FAN followed a report in Russia’s RBC magazine linking the agency to the St. Petersburg-based “troll factory” — a group of private firms that paid employees for creating posts and communities on Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google, allegedly to influence the 2016 U.S. election. RBC said FAN and the “troll” operation may have a common owner: Evgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy businessman with Kremlin ties. Prigozhin denied any such links, according to RBC.

  48. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Are Journalists An Enemy Of The American People?

    According to the Cato 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey, 63 percent of Republicans agree with President Trump that journalists today “are an enemy of the American people”.

    Generally, 35 percent of Americans agree with Trump’s view while nearly two-thirds disagree.

    Democrats considering the media an enemy of the people is very low at just 11 percent.

  49. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Sarah Perez / TechCrunch:
    Twitter says it has temporarily paused “all general verifications” to work on clarifying policy, after verifying white supremacist Jason Kessler — Twitter today announced it’s pausing all account verifications – the process that gives public figures on Twitter a blue checkmark next …

    Twitter pauses account verifications after critics slam it for verifying Charlottesville rally organizer

    Twitter today announced it’s pausing all account verifications – the process that gives public figures on Twitter a blue checkmark next to their names – while it tries to resolve “confusion” around what it means to be verified, the company says. The move comes shortly after a wave of criticism directed against the social network for verifying the account belonging to Jason Kessler, the organizer of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August that left one person dead.

    The Daily Beast discovered that Kessler’s Twitter account had been given the preferred status indicated by the blue badge on Tuesday. When reached for comment, Twitter pointed reporters to its policies around account verification which explain the badge is awarded if an account is “of public interest.”


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