How Alex Jones lost his info war

On Monday, the bottom part retired for Alex Jones. After a series of tepid disciplinary actions, which host Infowars easily evaded, three of the largest technology platforms acted almost in unison from Sunday night. And the result is that one of the popular conspiracy artists on the Internet has seen their reach dramatically reduced.

The great platform of Alex Jones began last week, when Spotifyand Stitcher eliminated the podcasts of Infowars from their respective networks. (Spotify initially removed a handful of episodes before eliminating full shows). On Sunday night, Apple did the same, eliminating its iTunes podcast for violating its rules against hate speech.

Apple's move was followed almost immediately by a series of similar moves. Facebook removed Jones' pages, citing repeated violations of hate speech. YouTube did the same, canceling an account that had 2.4 million subscribers. Pinterest came later.

At the end of the day, Infowars had three main digital platforms at its disposal: the open web, Twitter and its native applications for Android and iOS. Jones attacked the platform movements, saying The Washington Post : "You are on the wrong side of the traditional media of history," Jones said in a text message to The Post. "He sold the country, and now he's going to pay."

For a long time, platforms have been criticized for not only hosting Jones, but also for finding a large audience that uses social features and recommendation algorithms. But the pressure on technology companies intensified last month after CNN's Oliver Darcy asked Facebook a relatively direct question during a meeting between reporters and News Feed executives: how can the company claim to be serious about the misinformation while offering Infowars a large and growing platform? 19659006] "Different editors have very different views," was the response that John Hegeman, who runs News Feed, gave to Darcy at that time. But that response only stimulated greater coverage of Facebook's contradictory policies. The following week, Mark Zuckerberg sought an answer about Infowars defending the rights of Holocaust deniers, and Facebook found itself in the middle of another public relations crisis.

In the end, it was the hate speech, not the wrong information, what Jones got started from Facebook. But a thorough review of Jones's publications on social media would never withstand a thorough examination. It was discovered that a disturbing number of his admirers had threatened and committed violence in the real world. This April, in a little noticed incident, he repeatedly used an anti-transgender insult on Facebook and seems not to have been disciplined at all.

As of Monday, the tech companies' policies appeared to offer more protections to Jones than they did to the families of the victims of Sandy Hook, one of whom moved seven times in an effort to escape harassment followers of Jones. (Jones has spent years promoting the lie that the government simulated the Sandy Hook massacre as a pretext to remove their weapons).

Surely there will be much more to say about Jones in the coming days. For tech companies, the question is less what to do with Jones, the answer has been clear for some time, what to do with everyone copying their playbook. Misinformation and hate speech spread rapidly on their platforms, accumulating millions of people. The platforms would do well to ponder why that is and what they could do about it.

Democracy

Facebook to the banks: give us your data, we'll give you our users

Facebook has been talking to the banks about the inclusion of the financial information of the clients in their system, inform Emily Glazer, Deepa Seetharaman and Anna Maria Andriotis. Facebook pressed hard, saying that the data would only be used for chatbots.

Strategists raise alarms about Facebook's delays in approving Hispanic political ads

Adverts targeting Hispanic Facebook users face delays, creating complications for political advertisers, report Michael Scherer and Elizabeth Dwoskin:

The new procedures adopted by Facebook in response to Russian meddling and accusations of racially discriminatory advertising practices often require several days for the company to review political advertisements targeting ethnic groups, while advertisements targeting larger audiences are approved by Immediate, said the strategists of three liberal organizations, Priorities USA, Latino Victory and Win Dem PAC.

Another group that supports conservative causes has experienced the same delays in buying ads aimed at Spanish speakers or Hispanics on Facebook, according to an official there, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. [19659017] Several groups banned by Facebook had strong similarities with Twitter accounts linked to Russia six weeks ago

Facebook found similarities between public tweets and Facebook accounts that were later discovered to be part of a campaign of coordinated influence, report Elizabeth Dwoskin, Tony Romm and Craig Timberg. But the company took a relatively long time to link them:

In May, Twitter delivered to Congress documents describing the activities of more than a thousand accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, the Russian organization that disseminated the information Erroneous in the 2016 Elections Congress publicly released the documents in mid-June and Facebook began looking for clues about the operators in its network, said Andy Stone, spokesman for the company.

Facebook engineers, he said, could not link the information to corresponding Facebook pages, although some shared a name and published similar content, two shared a creation date, and one had an identical logo. Stone said the treasure lacked key technical details, such as an IP address, a phone number or an email, making it difficult to establish a clearer link.

This researcher assigned anti-Muslim content on Facebook. She says it is "much worse" than I expected.

Ishmael N. Daro reports that despite regularly promoting its ability to nullify hate speech using artificial intelligence, Facebook has been slow to eliminate anti-Muslim messages. I really want to read the article I mentioned here:

Squire, a computer professor at Elon University, analyzed hundreds of right-wing Facebook groups over a period of 10 months to map their connections for a research paper, "Network Analysis of anti-Muslim groups on Facebook," which will be presented at the social computing conference in St. Petersburg in September. While not unaware of online virulence, she said that anti-Muslim rhetoric on Facebook "alarmed" her in particular.

"I'm seeing this and I'm thinking, if you replaced any other religion, it's so bad, nobody would think this is okay," Squire told BuzzFeed News. "Why is this like this? What's happening?"

Lawmakers press Google for a "deeply troublesome" censorship project in China

A bipartisan group of six Americans sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Friday asking for answers on his plans to build a censored news app for China.

A generation grows in China without Google, Facebook or Twitter

The Times discovers that people who have never used Google, Facebook or Twitter are not particularly curious about it.

Campaigns in themselves as cybercrimes roil midterms

The job of protecting campaigns against cyber threats still rests primarily on candidates, and there is a lot of work to be done there, reports WHYY:

Every month by In the last 18 months, the office [Sen. Kamala Harris’] discovered on average between three and five fake Facebook profiles that were intended to be his, according to a Harris assistant. It is unclear who creates the pages, which are often designed to fool US voters about the ambitious policies and positions of the Democratic senator.

Elsewhere

Facebook is now one of the top mobile search engines in the US. UU

People browse the open web, from inside Facebook.

While the use of Facebook as a mobile browser was still surpassed by Safari in most cases, due to the predominance of Apple's iOS in the US. UU., The social network application mobile browser market share of about 10 percent in many states, Mixpanel found.

Do technology workers earn enough to buy a house?

On Facebook, the average salary is $ 240,000 and 51 percent of employees say they can not afford a house in the Bay Area.

For journalists, is it time to eliminate their old tweets?

Probably!

Launches

Facebook is redesigning the Pages to make it easier to interact with local business ses

The old motive for creating a page for your business was to get an organic promotion through the News Feed. But now the News Feed is about your friends, destroying the organic promotion, so the pages need a new reason to be. The latest response from Facebook is to essentially serve as creator of free websites for small businesses, to Squarespace, fill in the pages with call-to-action buttons and monetize with ads. All this seems to me quite weak, at least from a useful perspective.

Take

The high school we can not log out of

Twitter is a high school, says Jennifer Senior. (High school never ends, answers Bowling for Soup.)

Clay Shirky, one of the most astute Internet theorists, has noticed that the faster the medium is, the more emotional it gets. Twitter, as we know, is quite fast and, therefore, works quite well. (Emotional tweets, as shown in research, travel faster than bland ones.) When we tweet, we often become creatures of our limbic systems. Our self-regulation abandons us (been there); our prefrontal cortex, responsible for executive function and impulse control, is disconnected; We become Scud missiles rewards seekers, addicts in search of a solution.

We become, in other words, teenagers, who are notoriously poor models of self-regulation, largely because their prefrontal cortices are still developing and their dopamine circuits are busy looking for stimulation. The psychologist Laurence Steinberg describes adolescents as "cars with powerful accelerators and weak brakes". The neuroscientist BJ Casey considers them "more Kirk than Spock".

Facebook and Instagram time management tools do not capture the point

The notion of "Well Spent Time" has been coopated and is rapidly losing its power, says Simone Stolzoff:

"Time well spent" is having his moment from Kendall Jenner Pepsi. What started as a social movement has become a marketing strategy. Even Mark Zuckerberg's mission for 2018 is "to make sure that the time we spend on Facebook is time well spent", a clear reference to Harris's work.

But it is easy to choose "time well spent" as a value once it has already caught the attention of 2.2 billion users. When companies like Facebook check the well-worn box with some changes in the cosmetic design, they get credit for pulling the symptom without tackling the disease.

And finally …

& # 39; Snapchat dysmorphia & # 39 ;: Patients desperate to look like their manipulated selfies plastic surgeons alarm

The hot new disease now is Snapchat dysmorphia:

Doctors have detected a trend of people bringing their own selfies, usually edited with a smartphone application, and asking they look more like their photos, according to an article recently published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery by researchers from the Department of Dermatology Faculty of Medicine of the University of Boston.

The phenomenon is known as "Snapchat dysmorphia" and causes great concern among experts who are concerned about its negative effect on people's self-esteem and its potential to trigger body dysmorphic disorder, a mental illness classified in the obsessive- with pulsating spectrum.

Body dysmorphia is a serious problem, and we should not downplay it. On the other hand, I'm not sure that "Snapchat dysmorphia", defined more or less as "the desire to look better in photographs", is really a new phenomenon.

At least, until people start asking about dog faces.

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