Page 190 of 190 FirstFirst ... 90140180188189190
Results 2,836 to 2,846 of 2846

Thread: US Presidential Election 2016

  1. #2836
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    5,640

    Default Re: US Presidential Election 2016

    Quote Originally Posted by A Marxist Historian View Post
    RNY has an excellent point on the alleged "voter fraud" issue, which is utterly phony. In fact, there has been a systematic effort by Republicans to prevent blacks and Latinos from voting through all sorts of illicit methods, which is one of the reasons why Hillary lost.
    looks like this time they even got a little helping hand from the Russians on that voter suppression ..

    But this whole discussion of how The Internet Rules All is just wrong, whether from your POV or hers. The Internet is just another mode of communication, quicker than older ones, but that's all. Internet propaganda is not inherently more effective than TV propaganda a generation ago, radio propaganda two, or newspaper three. It's just faster, that's all.
    I am not sure both jmcc and I are completely wrong. Although I agree with you that propaganda always played a part in elections

    the fact that the internet is faster AND people engage with it emotionally IS the problem as it can swing people's vote on the last minute. You can't go back on an impetuous last sec decision after you've cast your vote.

    I very much like the 24hr moratorium on political propaganda still in place for the french election .. it was the same in PT before i left .. the reason is that it gives everyone a break so people can make informed/cool headed decisions rather than leaning on impulsive reactions based on the latest lie they've heard.

    Why? Because America is going to h*ll in a handbasket, just like the rest of the world, though maybe not quite as quickly.
    gee this is so negative ..

    If the Republicans had had a less unsavory anti-establishment candidate than Trump, which they most certainly did not (Cruz? Please...) they would have won by a landslide.
    agreed

    And if the Demos had nominated Sanders, he would have won by a landslide.
    Disagree. H*ll would freeze over before Sanders could be elected by the current American electorate.

  2. #2837
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Wash DC
    Posts
    7,886

    Default Re: US Presidential Election 2016

    Jayzus, if only I had known my prestige was under attack........
    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  3. #2838
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    2,866

    Default Re: US Presidential Election 2016

    Quote Originally Posted by A Marxist Historian View Post
    But this whole discussion of how The Internet Rules All is just wrong, whether from your POV or hers. The Internet is just another mode of communication, quicker than older ones, but that's all. Internet propaganda is not inherently more effective than TV propaganda a generation ago, radio propaganda two, or newspaper three. It's just faster, that's all.
    The Internet isn't everything but it gets directly to individuals in away that print, TV and radio does not. Newspaper sales have been falling continually for decades. TV has moved from being synchronous (everyone watching a programme as it is broadcast) to asynchronous (people watching programmes and movies on digital video records or streaming). Radio is more of background thing now. But almost everyone has a mobile phone and many voters use the Internet throughout the day. This means that it is possible to get political ideas and memes to people in seconds rather than the hours or days it used to take with print. It can be used to change the outcome of elections or to destroy candidates. Without the Internet, Obama would not have been POTUS and HRC would have won.

    Regards...jmcc

  4. #2839
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    2,866

    Default Re: US Presidential Election 2016

    Quote Originally Posted by random new yorker View Post
    someone has been busy keeping track of where i post .. mostly in FB for EU politics and here for US politics and the very best lands in my blog (seldom posting, unless some major event is going on) .. i tried political irish as you very well know as we interacted there as well... but i found the crowd a bit xenophobic ... i dont know maybe it is different now, but at the time the US election campaign was picking up and i just found some of the members there really obnoxious.
    You are Person Of Interest. I explained that since you effectively span a number of social networks, you are different to the typical one forum/site poster. PI can be a bit rough and tumble and it has quite an eclectic mix of opinions.

    Of course people cross-post stuff all the time. And you should assume that a non-contributing reader in this forum can copy and paste what he/she reads here and clone it elsewhere for the sake of argumentation .. you should be able to use one of your tools in the backroom to figure out which and how many posts get copy/pasted. That number will give you an idea about your OUT-to-g-d-knows-where traffic
    A lot of stuff gets cloned into the Chinese webspace to generate search engine spam. Some of it gets harvested for Sentiment Analysis.

    Wrong. Copy-pasted OUT material counts as much ..
    So my comments could have changed the outcome of the US election? It is very Douglas Adams/Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy territory.

    so is DCOn and a number of other contributors that only add a link to an outside pieces and some other members even have their own private threads to promote blogs etc and i don't see you complaining about that, and then there's that disgraceful Global Warming piece of trash of a thread that is basically SPAMnation ... is it cos the Count is Irish+ ?
    I've commented about the Climate Change thread being a spamfest. Basically the same thing was happening over on P.ie with the much the same posters. DCon adds the links to the day's newspapers. Some of the blogs being promoted are political in nature but these aren't hit and run link drops. They are generating posts.

    WHAT? what do you mean you don't have a simple word for Yes and No in the Irish language ? what does that mean? can you give me an example? (translated into english of course i dont understand a word of irish)
    Strange isn't it? But once you understand that, you are part of the way towards understanding the Irish mindset. In Computing terms, most languages operate in binary with 'yes' and 'no'. The Irish mindset is closer to quantum computing. The closest phrases for 'yes' would be 'it is' and for 'no' 'it is not'. Yes and no generally tend to be gross simplifications and tens of thousands of years of arguing have demonstrated that.

    (Ireland does not operate in simple binary terms... ?? .. no Yes or No in language? )
    It is behind one of the biggest polling screwups in recent history. RedC was polling for the party support for the last General Election and it asked people about their likelihood to vote on a scale of 1 to 10. Seems simple, right? The problem is that people are not simple. Since the vote was weeks away, people could not be certain that they would vote as something important might arise. And giving a blunt response to such a question would have been bad manners. RedC also used English call centres with peope who couldn't even pronounce the names of the political parties properly. (A great way to trigger the old "Whatever you say, say nothing." instinct.) The result was that RedC decided to cut all those with a likelihood to vote of less than 8. It excluded approximately 80% of the responses. All they included were the responses from party members like HBAP and other fanatics. It got things massively wrong and the election did not turn out like they "predicted". This can also lead to situations where a voter for Fine Gael might give his or her second preference vote to Fianna Fail candidate. (Think a Republican voter voting for the Republican candidate first and then the Democrat candidate. Proportional Representation voting is a highly complex voting system and far more fun than the Electoral College.)

    and you buy that Trumpian voter fraud garbage?
    The checks and balances on the voting side of things don't seem to be working. With voter ID, both sides might see their votes drop.

    you are not going to tell me you believe that the 3MM people that voted for Hillary voted illegally ? ... in those rolls of 'voter fraud' they include the names of people that are registered to vote in 2 states which happens a LOT in the US (number is actually close to 2.7 or 2.8MM). That means that in theory people that are registered in two states could vote in both, which I believe does not get taken advantage of by people that do not want to land in jail (which is most people). It should be up to each state to figure out the best way to reconcile their Voter lists w federal documents and maybe taxation documents so that if a person registers in State number 2 because they moved for a new job, he/she should be dropped from the Voter list in State number 1.
    There is going to be voter fraud in any election. The state authorities should be trying to reduce it rather than enabling it. That means getting accurate voter lists and ensuring that those who are entitled to vote do vote. However, I completely distrust electronic voting and consider those who tried to implement it in Ireland as traitors.

    Regards...jmcc

  5. #2840
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    2,866

    Default Re: US Presidential Election 2016

    Quote Originally Posted by random new yorker View Post
    the fact that the internet is faster AND people engage with it emotionally IS the problem as it can swing people's vote on the last minute. You can't go back on an impetuous last sec decision after you've cast your vote.




    Regards...jmcc

  6. #2841
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    5,640

    Default Re: US Presidential Election 2016

    Quote Originally Posted by jmcc View Post
    You are Person Of Interest. I explained that since you effectively span a number of social networks, you are different to the typical one forum/site poster.
    Do you know what being a POI means in the US?

    [re: no Yes/No in irish language] Strange isn't it? But once you understand that, you are part of the way towards understanding the Irish mindset. In Computing terms, most languages operate in binary with 'yes' and 'no'. The Irish mindset is closer to quantum computing. The closest phrases for 'yes' would be 'it is' and for 'no' 'it is not'. Yes and no generally tend to be gross simplifications and tens of thousands of years of arguing have demonstrated that.
    oh get out of here.. you're BSing me w this stuff?

    if true, in that respect you guys are similar to the Brits, no? although there's Yes/No in Eng I always feel there's some sort of doublespeak in the way people use it/don't use it ...especially when it comes to No, which seems to mean Not yet, or, Can we discuss this later, what about tomorrow? dinner is also ok with me..dinner doesn't work, no problem, what about a cup of coffee/tea?, I think that's what makes them great negotiators and diplomats.

    The problem is that people are not simple. Since the vote was weeks away, people could not be certain that they would vote as something important might arise. And giving a blunt response to such a question would have been bad manners.
    Interesting, so people reading me here must be horrified at my manners and the stuff i write sometimes.. . also it could explain age old 'hatred' btw Eng and Germans.. In Germany No means No. In Pt No means No most of the time. So it is very unsettling and odd the back and forth engagement w Britons sometimes, this is defo a huge cultural difference.

    Ok .. so now I am even more confused. How do you know a Yes is a Yes?

  7. #2842
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    1,656

    Default Re: US Presidential Election 2016

    It's funny I had to run away in horror from a group of conspiracy freaks who were all pissed off that the "MSM" LA Slimes slated the movie about JFK's shooting by their guru John Barbour. I think the friendship, which I ended, came from a mutual friend who was then very very fond of dope and late night internet sessions. The LA Times called Barbour's movie "conspiracy porn' made by a crank basically. This apparently should be a badge of honour because it came from the MSM. When I pointed out, referring also to my own experience running the bureau of an international news agency and meeting many of the world's top foreign correspondents, that the MSM to which they referred was actually made up of hundreds of thousands of people and all of the good ones blessed with sceptical minds. And even allowing for the disgraces, for every Judith Miller peddling WMDs there were others urging caution and casting doubt on the official narrative. Sure, and increasingly so with the digitalisation of media, you get outfits peddling agendas. Ironically some of the worst examples of deceitful journalism come from many of the organs these people follow and deem to be exceptions to MSM. But the bottomline is that within the more established media world, you are more merely likely to find truth over agenda. You will find contradictory stories and opinions within the same publication. But more so in the New York Times than Breibart. Pizzagate. The current Seth "execution" being amongst the more ludicrous examples. The vehemence with which people peddled Pizzagate. The latest Homeland covered this "manufacture of outrage" extremely well. As people have pointed out in recent days if that Bible and journalist thumping Montana thug had been a Democrat. Phew. New World Order assault. Black helicopters blaring Wagner trying to gook us. And Benghazi. ******* Benghazi. What the **** was Benghazi if not a bad morning in Iraq, a hellish evening in Helmand. For ****'s sake. But on they screamed about the MSM. When asked how so many sceptics could be made to think as one, "echo chambers" was what was screamed from the echo chamber. Sure the main US papers did a very shoddy job on Iraq. But Trump is not acting the furious little tin-pot dictator roaring Nazi 'lugenpres' for no reason. They are on to the con man, not cos they are lying but cos they are doing their job. And as for supposed fake news, you gotta love this:

    ast week, when CNN reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had left a couple of meetings with Russian officials off his application for a security clearance, Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) falsely claimed that the broadcaster had later retracted the story. In a Facebook post, Duncan, who is not known for having the keenest intellect on Capitol Hill, wrote, “The media was never this critical to President Obama, the recent Harvard study proves that the media has applied a completely different standard to President Trump.”
    Duncan, like many on the right, sees a recent study of the mainstream coverage of Trump’s first 100 days in office released by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy as solid proof that the media treat Trump unfairly. It looked at news reports “in the print editions of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, the main newscasts of CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NBC, and three European news outlets,” and found that 80 percent of Trump’s coverage by those outlets was negative—significantly higher than the shares for Barack Obama (41 percent negative), George W. Bush (57 percent), and Bill Clinton (60 percent) at this point in their presidencies. Conservative publications greeted the report with headlines like “Harvard Study Confirms Media Bias Against Trump” and “Harvard Report: There Is A Huge Anti-Trump Bias In Corporate Media.”
    But that’s not the real story. The real story is that Trump’s negative coverage is being driven not by liberals or Democrats but by law-enforcement sources and pissed-off Republicans.
    And here’s a key point, as it relates to that first category: “Republican voices,” wrote Patterson, “accounted for 80 percent of what newsmakers said about the Trump presidency, compared to only 6 percent for Democrats and 3 percent for those involved in anti-Trump protests.” So the coverage has not featured a bunch of liberals complaining about Trump—Democrats and those engaged with the anti-Trump resistance were few and far between. “The fact that Trump has received more negative coverage than his predecessor is hardly surprising,” the report says. “The early days of his presidency have been marked by far more missteps and miss-hits, often self-inflicted, than any presidency in memory, perhaps ever.”

    Stories about events that reflect poorly on the White House have in large part been driven by leaks (a fact that infuriates Trump and his supporters). We can’t know the ideological breakdown of the people speaking to reporters anonymously, but we do know that Trump’s own staff—people close to him—have been the source of a number of negative stories, and we know, thanks to White House leaks, that Trump’s staff often leaks information to the press because, as the very conservative Erick Erickson reported, “sometimes the president will not take advice. Sometimes the president treats suggestions as criticism. More often than not, the president is vastly more interested in what the media says about him than what his advisers in his employ say to him.” According to Erickson, who personally knows “an ardent Trump supporter” in Trump’s orbit who was the source of one such leak, “White House staff have ample incentive to leak to the press when they believe the president needs to pay attention or be admonished.” Just think for a moment how often you’ve read a story in which an anonymous source criticizing the president is identified as a current or former supporter or adviser or donor.
    And guess what kids, they did find some biased reporting

    Ironically, the Shorenstein study did find significant bias at one media outlet: Fox News was a lone outlier in that almost half of its Trump coverage was positive. Looking back at 100 days marked by chaos and failure, it’s hard to imagine what a truly fair and balanced news outlet possibly could have covered in order to run so many positive segments.
    https://www.thenation.com/article/co...-liberal-bias/

  8. #2843
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    2,866

    Default Re: US Presidential Election 2016

    Quote Originally Posted by random new yorker View Post
    Do you know what being a POI means in the US?
    Yes. but this is in the case of Social Networks.

    oh get out of here.. you're BSing me w this stuff?
    It is 100% true. You can even check on Google.

    if true, in that respect you guys are similar to the Brits, no?
    Similar, in some respects. But Irish is the older language.

    although there's Yes/No in Eng I always feel there's some sort of doublespeak in the way people use it/don't use it ...especially when it comes to No, which seems to mean Not yet, or, Can we discuss this later, what about tomorrow? dinner is also ok with me..dinner doesn't work, no problem, what about a cup of coffee/tea?, I think that's what makes them great negotiators and diplomats.
    There is, to some extent. You have to be able to read the situation for the correct context. Most of it would be done so as not to offer offence.

    Interesting, so people reading me here must be horrified at my manners and the stuff i write sometimes..
    I've been trying to point that out to you for some time.

    . also it could explain age old 'hatred' btw Eng and Germans..
    That's a very different issue. Britain was invaded by Angles and Saxons. It had just got over being invaded by the Irish and the Romans. The Romans were very brave chaps and one of them thought he could conquer and hold Ireland with a very limited military force. However the Roman naval expertise was acquired in the bathtub of the Med rather than the Irish sea. The Irish sea is one of the most changeable in the world and it can get very rough, very quickly. In Roman times, when we weren't trading with them, the Irish raided Britain and there were strong family connections between what is now Scotland and Ireland. Parts of Wales were, after the Romans left, under Irish kingship. The Roman description for the Irish is the Scotti which means Pirates. Britain also was invaded and conquered by Vikings. After that, it got conquered by the Normans who were a combination of the Vikings and some French. There's still a very strong Celtic substrate to the British character that all these invasions and interlopers haven't been able to destroy.

    In Germany No means No. In Pt No means No most of the time. So it is very unsettling and odd the back and forth engagement w Britons sometimes, this is defo a huge cultural difference.
    It is probably quite confusing.

    Ok .. so now I am even more confused. How do you know a Yes is a Yes?
    Context. Though sometimes, a 'yes' can mean yes.

    Regards...jmcc

  9. #2844
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    5,640

    Default Re: US Presidential Election 2016

    How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us

    An early investor explains why the social media platform’s business model is such a threat—and what to do about it.

    by Roger McNamee
    January/February/March 2018
    Washington Monthly Magazine

    Roger McNamee is the managing director and a cofounder of Elevation Partners, an investment partnership focused on media and consumer technology.

    Cheat Sheet:

    In my thirty-five-year career in technology investing, I have never made a bigger contribution to a company’s success than I made at Facebook. It was my proudest accomplishment. I admired Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg—whom I helped Mark recruit—enormously.

    In February 2016, I started to notice a flood of viciously misogynistic anti-Clinton memes originating from Facebook groups supporting Bernie Sanders. I knew how to build engagement organically on Facebook. This was not organic.

    A week before the 2016 election, I emailed Zuckerberg and Sandberg, suggesting that Facebook had an obligation to ensure that its platform not be exploited by bad actors. They each responded the next day, saying: We appreciate you reaching out, but think you’re misinterpreting the news.

    Facebook, Google, and other social media platforms make their money from advertising. As with all ad-supported businesses, that means advertisers are the true customers, while audience members are the product.

    Customers understand that their “free” use of platforms like Facebook and Google gives the platforms license to exploit personal data. The problem is that platforms are using that data in ways consumers do not understand, and might not accept if they did.

    (Full length text below)
    Last edited by random new yorker; 07-01-2018 at 07:31 PM.

  10. #2845
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    5,640

    Default Re: US Presidential Election 2016

    (Long read, 12 pages, ~6,000 words, about 30 min in two posts)
    How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us

    by Roger McNamee
    January/February/March 2018
    Washington Monthly Magazine

    Part I (of II)

    n early 2006, I got a call from Chris Kelly, then the chief privacy officer at Facebook, asking if I would be willing to meet with his boss, Mark Zuckerberg. I had been a technology investor for more than two decades, but the meeting was unlike any I had ever had. Mark was only twenty-two. He was facing a difficult decision, Chris said, and wanted advice from an experienced person with no stake in the outcome.

    When we met, I began by letting Mark know the perspective I was coming from. Soon, I predicted, he would get a billion-dollar offer to buy Facebook from either Microsoft or Yahoo, and everyone, from the company’s board to the executive staff to Mark’s parents, would advise him to take it. I told Mark that he should turn down any acquisition offer. He had an opportunity to create a uniquely great company if he remained true to his vision. At two years old, Facebook was still years away from its first dollar of profit. It was still mostly limited to students and lacked most of the features we take for granted today. But I was convinced that Mark had created a game-changing platform that would eventually be bigger than Google was at the time. Facebook wasn’t the first social network, but it was the first to combine true identity with scalable technology. I told Mark the market was much bigger than just young people; the real value would come when busy adults, parents and grandparents, joined the network and used it to keep in touch with people they didn’t get to see often.

    My little speech only took a few minutes. What ensued was the most painful silence of my professional career. It felt like an hour. Finally, Mark revealed why he had asked to meet with me: Yahoo had made that billion-dollar offer, and everyone was telling him to take it.

    It only took a few minutes to help him figure out how to get out of the deal. So began a three-year mentoring relationship. In 2007, Mark offered me a choice between investing or joining the board of Facebook. As a professional investor, I chose the former. We spoke often about a range of issues, culminating in my suggestion that he hire Sheryl Sandberg as chief operating officer, and then my help in recruiting her. (Sheryl had introduced me to Bono in 2000; a few years later, he and I formed Elevation Partners, a private equity firm.) My role as a mentor ended prior to the Facebook IPO, when board members like Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel took on that role.

    In my thirty-five-year career in technology investing, I have never made a bigger contribution to a company’s success than I made at Facebook. It was my proudest accomplishment. I admired Mark and Sheryl enormously. Not surprisingly, Facebook became my favorite app. I checked it constantly, and I became an expert in using the platform by marketing my rock band, Moonalice, through a Facebook page. As the administrator of that page, I learned to maximize the organic reach of my posts and use small amounts of advertising dollars to extend and target that reach. It required an ability to adapt, because Facebook kept changing the rules. By successfully adapting to each change, we made our page among the highest-engagement fan pages on the platform.

    My familiarity with building organic engagement put me in a position to notice that something strange was going on in February 2016. The Democratic primary was getting under way in New Hampshire, and I started to notice a flood of viciously misogynistic anti-Clinton memes originating from Facebook groups supporting Bernie Sanders. I knew how to build engagement organically on Facebook. This was not organic. It appeared to be well organized, with an advertising budget. But surely the Sanders campaign wasn’t stupid enough to be pushing the memes themselves. I didn’t know what was going on, but I worried that Facebook was being used in ways that the founders did not intend.

    A month later I noticed an unrelated but equally disturbing news item. A consulting firm was revealed to be scraping data about people interested in the Black Lives Matter protest movement and selling it to police departments. Only after that news came out did Facebook announce that it would cut off the company’s access to the information. That got my attention. Here was a bad actor violating Facebook’s terms of service, doing a lot of harm, and then being slapped on the wrist. Facebook wasn’t paying attention until after the damage was done. I made a note to myself to learn more.

    Meanwhile, the flood of anti-Clinton memes continued all spring. I still didn’t understand what was driving it, except that the memes were viral to a degree that didn’t seem to be organic. And, as it turned out, something equally strange was happening across the Atlantic.

    When citizens of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, most observers were stunned. The polls had predicted a victory for the “Remain” campaign. And common sense made it hard to believe that Britons would do something so obviously contrary to their self-interest. But neither common sense nor the polling data fully accounted for a crucial factor: the new power of social platforms to amplify negative messages.

    Facebook, Google, and other social media platforms make their money from advertising. As with all ad-supported businesses, that means advertisers are the true customers, while audience members are the product. Until the past decade, media platforms were locked into a one-size-fits-all broadcast model. Success with advertisers depended on producing content that would appeal to the largest possible audience. Compelling content was essential, because audiences could choose from a variety of distribution mediums, none of which could expect to hold any individual consumer’s attention for more than a few hours. TVs weren’t mobile. Computers were mobile, but awkward. Newspapers and books were mobile and not awkward, but relatively cerebral. Movie theaters were fun, but inconvenient.

    When their business was limited to personal computers, the internet platforms were at a disadvantage. Their proprietary content couldn’t compete with traditional media, and their delivery medium, the PC, was generally only usable at a desk. Their one advantage—a wealth of personal data—was not enough to overcome the disadvantage in content. As a result, web platforms had to underprice their advertising.

    Smartphones changed the advertising game completely. It took only a few years for billions of people to have an all-purpose content delivery system easily accessible sixteen hours or more a day. This turned media into a battle to hold users’ attention as long as possible. And it left Facebook and Google with a prohibitive advantage over traditional media: with their vast reservoirs of real-time data on two billion individuals, they could personalize the content seen by every user. That made it much easier to monopolize user attention on smartphones and made the platforms uniquely attractive to advertisers. Why pay a newspaper in the hopes of catching the attention of a certain portion of its audience, when you can pay Facebook to reach exactly those people and no one else?

    Whenever you log into Facebook, there are millions of posts the platform could show you. The key to its business model is the use of algorithms, driven by individual user data, to show you stuff you’re more likely to react to. Wikipedia defines an algorithm as “a set of rules that precisely defines a sequence of operations.” Algorithms appear value neutral, but the platforms’ algorithms are actually designed with a specific value in mind: maximum share of attention, which optimizes profits. They do this by sucking up and analyzing your data, using it to predict what will cause you to react most strongly, and then giving you more of that.

    Algorithms that maximize attention give an advantage to negative messages. People tend to react more to inputs that land low on the brainstem. Fear and anger produce a lot more engagement and sharing than joy. The result is that the algorithms favor sensational content over substance. Of course, this has always been true for media; hence the old news adage “If it bleeds, it leads.” But for mass media, this was constrained by one-size-fits-all content and by the limitations of delivery platforms. Not so for internet platforms on smartphones. They have created billions of individual channels, each of which can be pushed further into negativity and extremism without the risk of alienating other audience members. To the contrary: the platforms help people self-segregate into like-minded filter bubbles, reducing the risk of exposure to challenging ideas.

    It took Brexit for me to begin to see the danger of this dynamic. I’m no expert on British politics, but it seemed likely that Facebook might have had a big impact on the vote because one side’s message was perfect for the algorithms and the other’s wasn’t. The “Leave” campaign made an absurd promise—there would be savings from leaving the European Union that would fund a big improvement in the National Health System—while also exploiting xenophobia by casting Brexit as the best way to protect English culture and jobs from immigrants. It was too-good-to-be-true nonsense mixed with fearmongering.

    Meanwhile, the Remain campaign was making an appeal to reason. Leave’s crude, emotional message would have been turbocharged by sharing far more than Remain’s. I did not see it at the time, but the users most likely to respond to Leave’s messages were probably less wealthy and therefore cheaper for the advertiser to target: the price of Facebook (and Google) ads is determined by auction, and the cost of targeting more upscale consumers gets bid up higher by actual businesses trying to sell them things. As a consequence, Facebook was a much cheaper and more effective platform for Leave in terms of cost per user reached. And filter bubbles would ensure that people on the Leave side would rarely have their questionable beliefs challenged. Facebook’s model may have had the power to reshape an entire continent.

    But there was one major element to the story that I was still missing.

    Shortly after the Brexit vote, I reached out to journalists to validate my concerns about Facebook. At this point, all I had was a suspicion of two things: bad actors were exploiting an unguarded platform; and Facebook’s algorithms may have had a decisive impact on Brexit by favoring negative messages. My Rolodex was a bit dusty, so I emailed my friends Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg at Recode, the leading tech industry news blog. Unfortunately, they didn’t reply. I tried again in August, and nothing happened.

    Meanwhile, the press revealed that the Russians were behind the server hack at the Democratic National Committee and that Trump’s campaign manager had ties to Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin. This would turn out to be the missing piece of my story. As the summer went on, I began noticing more and more examples of troubling things happening on Facebook that might have been prevented had the company accepted responsibility for the actions of third parties—such as financial institutions using Facebook tools to discriminate based on race and religion. In late September, Walt Mossberg finally responded to my email and suggested I write an op-ed describing my concerns. I focused entirely on nonpolitical examples of harm, such as discrimination in housing advertisements, suggesting that Facebook had an obligation to ensure that its platform not be abused. Like most people, I assumed that Clinton would win the election, and I didn’t want my concerns to be dismissed as inconsequential if she did.

    My wife recommended that I send what I wrote to Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg before publishing in Recode. Mark and Sheryl were my friends, and my goal was to make them aware of the problems so they could fix them. I certainly wasn’t trying to take down a company in which I still hold equity. I sent them the op-ed on October 30. They each responded the next day. The gist of their messages was the same: We appreciate you reaching out; we think you’re misinterpreting the news; we’re doing great things that you can’t see. Then they connected me to Dan Rose, a longtime Facebook executive with whom I had an excellent relationship. Dan is a great listener and a patient man, but he was unwilling to accept that there might be a systemic issue. Instead, he asserted that Facebook was not a media company, and therefore was not responsible for the actions of third parties.

    In the hope that Facebook would respond to my goodwill with a serious effort to solve the problems, I told Dan that I would not publish the op-ed. Then came the U.S. election. The next day, I lost it. I told Dan there was a flaw in Facebook’s business model. The platform was being exploited by a range of bad actors, including supporters of extremism, yet management claimed the company was not responsible. Facebook’s users, I warned, might not always agree. The brand was at risk of becoming toxic. Over the course of many conversations, I urged Dan to protect the platform and its users.

    The last conversation we had was in early February 2017. By then there was increasing evidence that the Russians had used a variety of methods to interfere in our election. I formed a simple hypothesis: the Russians likely orchestrated some of the manipulation on Facebook that I had observed back in 2016. That’s when I started looking for allies.

    On April 11, I cohosted a technology-oriented show on Bloomberg TV. One of the guests was Tristan Harris, formerly the design ethicist at Google. Tristan had just appeared on 60 Minutes to discuss the public health threat from social networks like Facebook. An expert in persuasive technology, he described the techniques that tech platforms use to create addiction and the ways they exploit that addiction to increase profits. He called it “brain hacking.”

    The most important tool used by Facebook and Google to hold user attention is filter bubbles. The use of algorithms to give consumers “what they want” leads to an unending stream of posts that confirm each user’s existing beliefs. On Facebook, it’s your news feed, while on Google it’s your individually customized search results. The result is that everyone sees a different version of the internet tailored to create the illusion that everyone else agrees with them. Continuous reinforcement of existing beliefs tends to entrench those beliefs more deeply, while also making them more extreme and resistant to contrary facts. Facebook takes the concept one step further with its “groups” feature, which encourages like-minded users to congregate around shared interests or beliefs. While this ostensibly provides a benefit to users, the larger benefit goes to advertisers, who can target audiences even more effectively.

    After talking to Tristan, I realized that the problems I had been seeing couldn’t be solved simply by, say, Facebook hiring staff to monitor the content on the site. The problems were inherent in the attention-based, algorithm-driven business model. And what I suspected was Russia’s meddling in 2016 was only a prelude to what we’d see in 2018 and beyond. The level of political discourse, already in the gutter, was going to get even worse.

    I asked Tristan if he needed a wingman. We agreed to work together to try to trigger a national conversation about the role of internet platform monopolies in our society, economy, and politics. We recognized that our effort would likely be quixotic, but the fact that Tristan had been on 60 Minutes gave us hope.

    Our journey began with a trip to New York City in May, where we spoke with journalists and had a meeting at the ACLU. Tristan found an ally in Arianna Huffington, who introduced him to people like Bill Maher, who invited Tristan to be on his show. A friend introduced me over email to a congressional staffer who offered to arrange a meeting with his boss, a key member of one of the intelligence committees. We were just starting, but we had already found an audience for Tristan’s message.

    In July, we went to Washington, D.C., where we met with two members of Congress. They were interested in Tristan’s public health argument as it applied to two issues: Russia’s election meddling, and the giant platforms’ growing monopoly power. That was an eye-opener. If election manipulation and monopoly were what Congress cared about, we would help them understand how internet platforms related to those issues. My past experience as a congressional aide, my long career in investing, and my personal role at Facebook gave me credibility in those meetings, complementing Tristan’s domain expertise.

    With respect to the election meddling, we shared a few hypotheses based on our knowledge of how Facebook works. We started with a question: Why was Congress focused exclusively on collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016? The Russian interference, we reasoned, probably began long before the presidential election campaign itself. We hypothesized that those early efforts likely involved amplifying polarizing issues, such as immigration, white supremacy, gun rights, and secession. (We already knew that the California secession site had been hosted in Russia.) We suggested that Trump had been nominated because he alone among Republicans based his campaign on the kinds of themes the Russians chose for their interference.

    We theorized that the Russians had identified a set of users susceptible to its message, used Facebook’s advertising tools to identify users with similar profiles, and used ads to persuade those people to join groups dedicated to controversial issues. Facebook’s algorithms would have favored Trump’s crude message and the anti-Clinton conspiracy theories that thrilled his supporters, with the likely consequence that Trump and his backers paid less than Clinton for Facebook advertising per person reached. The ads were less important, though, than what came next: once users were in groups, the Russians could have used fake American ***** accounts and computerized “bots” to share incendiary messages and organize events. Trolls and bots impersonating Americans would have created the illusion of greater support for radical ideas than actually existed. Real users “like” posts shared by trolls and bots and share them on their own news feeds, so that small investments in advertising and memes posted to Facebook groups would reach tens of millions of people. A similar strategy prevailed on other platforms, including Twitter. Both techniques, bots and trolls, take time and money to develop—but the payoff would have been huge.

  11. #2846
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    5,640

    Default Re: US Presidential Election 2016

    How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us

    by Roger McNamee
    January/February/March 2018
    Washington Monthly Magazine

    Part II (of II)

    Our final hypothesis was that 2016 was just the beginning. Without immediate and aggressive action from Washington, bad actors of all kinds would be able to use Facebook and other platforms to manipulate the American electorate in future elections.

    These were just hypotheses, but the people we met in Washington heard us out. Thanks to the hard work of journalists and investigators, virtually all of these hypotheses would be confirmed over the ensuing six weeks. Almost every day brought new revelations of how Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other platforms had been manipulated by the Russians.

    We now know, for instance, that the Russians indeed exploited topics like Black Lives Matter and white nativism to promote fear and distrust, and that this had the benefit of laying the groundwork for the most divisive presidential candidate in history, Donald Trump. The Russians appear to have invested heavily in weakening the candidacy of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary by promoting emotionally charged content to supporters of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, as well as to likely Clinton supporters who might be discouraged from voting. Once the nominations were set, the Russians continued to undermine Clinton with social media targeted at likely Democratic voters. We also have evidence now that Russia used its social media tactics to manipulate the Brexit vote. A team of researchers reported in November, for instance, that more than 150,000 Russian-language Twitter accounts posted pro-Leave messages in the run-up to the referendum.

    The week before our return visit to Washington in mid-September, we woke up to some surprising news. The group that had been helping us in Washington, the Open Markets team at the think tank New America, had been advocating forcefully for anti-monopoly regulation of internet platforms, including Google. It turns out that Eric Schmidt, an executive at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is a major New America donor. The think tank cut Open Markets loose. The story line basically read, “Anti-monopoly group fired by liberal think tank due to pressure from monopolist.” (New America disputes this interpretation, maintaining that the group was let go because of a lack of collegiality on the part of its leader, Barry Lynn, who writes often for this magazine.) Getting fired was the best possible evidence of the need for their work, and funders immediately put the team back in business as the Open Markets Institute. Tristan and I joined their advisory board.

    Our second trip to Capitol Hill was surreal. This time, we had three jam-packed days of meetings. Everyone we met was already focused on our issues and looking for guidance about how to proceed. We brought with us a new member of the team, Renee DiResta, an expert in how conspiracy theories spread on the internet. Renee described how bad actors plant a rumor on sites like 4chan and Reddit, leverage the disenchanted people on those sites to create buzz, build phony news sites with “press” versions of the rumor, push the story onto Twitter to attract the real media, then blow up the story for the masses on Facebook. It was sophisticated hacker technique, but not expensive. We hypothesized that the Russians were able to manipulate tens of millions of American voters for a sum less than it would take to buy an F-35 fighter jet.

    In Washington, we learned we could help policymakers and their staff members understand the inner workings of Facebook, Google, and Twitter. They needed to get up to speed quickly, and our team was happy to help.

    Tristan and I had begun in April with very low expectations. By the end of September, a conversation on the dangers of internet platform monopolies was in full swing. We were only a small part of what made the conversation happen, but it felt good.

    Facebook and Google are the most powerful companies in the global economy. Part of their appeal to shareholders is that their gigantic advertising businesses operate with almost no human intervention. Algorithms can be beautiful in mathematical terms, but they are only as good as the people who create them. In the case of Facebook and Google, the algorithms have flaws that are increasingly obvious and dangerous.

    Thanks to the U.S. government’s laissez-faire approach to regulation, the internet platforms were able to pursue business strategies that would not have been allowed in prior decades. No one stopped them from using free products to centralize the internet and then replace its core functions. No one stopped them from siphoning off the profits of content creators. No one stopped them from gathering data on every aspect of every user’s internet life. No one stopped them from amassing market share not seen since the days of Standard Oil. No one stopped them from running massive social and psychological experiments on their users. No one demanded that they police their platforms. It has been a sweet deal.

    Facebook and Google are now so large that traditional tools of regulation may no longer be effective. The European Union challenged Google’s shopping price comparison engine on antitrust grounds, citing unfair use of Google’s search and AdWords data. The harm was clear: most of Google’s European competitors in the category suffered crippling losses. The most successful survivor lost 80 percent of its market share in one year. The EU won a record $2.7 billion judgment—which Google is appealing. Google investors shrugged at the judgment, and, as far as I can tell, the company has not altered its behavior. The largest antitrust fine in EU history bounced off Google like a spitball off a battleship.

    It reads like the plot of a sci-fi novel: a technology celebrated for bringing people together is exploited by a hostile power to drive people apart, undermine democracy, and create misery. This is precisely what happened in the United States during the 2016 election. We had constructed a modern Maginot Line—half the world’s defense spending and cyber-hardened financial centers, all built to ward off attacks from abroad—never imagining that an enemy could infect the minds of our citizens through inventions of our own making, at minimal cost. Not only was the attack an overwhelming success, but it was also a persistent one, as the political party that benefited refuses to acknowledge reality. The attacks continue every day, posing an existential threat to our democratic processes and independence.

    We still don’t know the exact degree of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. But the debate over collusion, while important, risks missing what should be an obvious point: Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other platforms were manipulated by the Russians to shift outcomes in Brexit and the U.S. presidential election, and unless major changes are made, they will be manipulated again. Next time, there is no telling who the manipulators will be.

    Awareness of the role of Facebook, Google, and others in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election has increased dramatically in recent months, thanks in large part to congressional hearings on October 31 and November 1. This has led to calls for regulation, starting with the introduction of the Honest Ads Act, sponsored by Senators Mark Warner, Amy Klobuchar, and John McCain, which attempts to extend current regulation of political ads on networks to online platforms. Facebook and Google responded by reiterating their opposition to government regulation, insisting that it would kill innovation and hurt the country’s global competitiveness, and that self-regulation would produce better results.

    But we’ve seen where self-regulation leads, and it isn’t pretty. Unfortunately, there is no regulatory silver bullet. The scope of the problem requires a multi-pronged approach.

    First, we must address the resistance to facts created by filter bubbles. Polls suggest that about a third of Americans believe that Russian interference is fake news, despite unanimous agreement to the contrary by the country’s intelligence agencies. Helping those people accept the truth is a priority. I recommend that Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others be required to contact each person touched by Russian content with a personal message that says, “You, and we, were manipulated by the Russians. This really happened, and here is the evidence.” The message would include every Russian message the user received.

    This idea, which originated with my colleague Tristan Harris, is based on experience with cults. When you want to deprogram a cult member, it is really important that the call to action come from another member of the cult, ideally the leader. The platforms will claim this is too onerous. Facebook has indicated that up to 126 million Americans were touched by the Russian manipulation on its core platform and another twenty million on Instagram, which it owns. Together those numbers exceed the 137 million Americans who voted in 2016. What Facebook has offered is a portal buried within its Help Center where curious users will be able to find out if they were touched by Russian manipulation through a handful of Facebook groups created by a single ***** farm. This falls far short of what is necessary to prevent manipulation in 2018 and beyond. There’s no doubt that the platforms have the technological capacity to reach out to every affected person. No matter the cost, platform companies must absorb it as the price for their carelessness in allowing the manipulation.

    Second, the chief executive officers of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others—not just their lawyers—must testify before congressional committees in open session. As Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, demonstrated in the October 31 Senate Judiciary hearing, the general counsel of Facebook in particular did not provide satisfactory answers. This is important not just for the public, but also for another crucial constituency: the employees who keep the tech giants running. While many of the folks who run Silicon Valley are extreme libertarians, the people who work there tend to be idealists. They want to believe what they’re doing is good. Forcing tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg to justify the unjustifiable, in public—without the shield of spokespeople or PR spin—would go a long way to puncturing their carefully preserved cults of personality in the eyes of their employees.

    These two remedies would only be a first step, of course. We also need regulatory fixes. Here are a few ideas.

    First, it’s essential to ban digital bots that impersonate humans. They distort the “public square” in a way that was never possible in history, no matter how many anonymous leaflets you printed. At a minimum, the law could require explicit labeling of all bots, the ability for users to block them, and liability on the part of platform vendors for the harm bots cause.

    Second, the platforms should not be allowed to make any acquisitions until they have addressed the damage caused to date, taken steps to prevent harm in the future, and demonstrated that such acquisitions will not result in diminished competition. An underappreciated aspect of the platforms’ growth is their pattern of gobbling up smaller firms—in Facebook’s case, that includes Instagram and WhatsApp; in Google’s, it includes YouTube, Google Maps, AdSense, and many others—and using them to extend their monopoly power.

    This is important, because the internet has lost something very valuable. The early internet was designed to be decentralized. It treated all content and all content owners equally. That equality had value in society, as it kept the playing field level and encouraged new entrants. But decentralization had a cost: no one had an incentive to make internet tools easy to use. Frustrated by those tools, users embraced easy-to-use alternatives from Facebook and Google. This allowed the platforms to centralize the internet, inserting themselves between users and content, effectively imposing a tax on both sides. This is a great business model for Facebook and Google—and convenient in the short term for customers—but we are drowning in evidence that there are costs that society may not be able to afford.

    Third, the platforms must be transparent about who is behind political and issues-based communication. The Honest Ads Act is a good start, but does not go far enough for two reasons: advertising was a relatively small part of the Russian manipulation; and issues-based advertising played a much larger role than candidate-oriented ads. Transparency with respect to those who sponsor political advertising of all kinds is a step toward rebuilding trust in our political institutions.

    Fourth, the platforms must be more transparent about their algorithms. Users deserve to know why they see what they see in their news feeds and search results. If Facebook and Google had to be up-front about the reason you’re seeing conspiracy theories—namely, that it’s good for business—they would be far less likely to stick to that tactic. Allowing third parties to audit the algorithms would go even further toward maintaining transparency. Facebook and Google make millions of editorial choices every hour and must accept responsibility for the consequences of those choices. Consumers should also be able to see what attributes are causing advertisers to target them.

    Fifth, the platforms should be required to have a more equitable contractual relationship with users. Facebook, Google, and others have asserted unprecedented rights with respect to end-user license agreements (EULAs), the contracts that specify the relationship between platform and user. When you load a new operating system or PC application, you’re confronted with a contract—the EULA—and the requirement that you accept its terms before completing installation. If you don’t want to upgrade, you can continue to use the old version for some time, often years. Not so with internet platforms like Facebook or Google. There, your use of the product comes with implicit acceptance of the latest EULA, which can change at any time. If there are terms you choose not to accept, your only alternative is to abandon use of the product. For Facebook, where users have contributed 100 percent of the content, this non-option is particularly problematic.

    All software platforms should be required to offer a legitimate opt-out, one that enables users to stick with the prior version if they do not like the new EULA. “Forking” platforms between old and new versions would have several benefits: increased consumer choice, greater transparency on the EULA, and more care in the rollout of new functionality, among others. It would limit the risk that platforms would run massive social experiments on millions—or billions—of users without appropriate prior notification. Maintaining more than one version of their services would be expensive for Facebook, Google, and the rest, but in software that has always been one of the costs of success. Why should this generation get a pass?

    Sixth, we need a limit on the commercial exploitation of consumer data by internet platforms. Customers understand that their “free” use of platforms like Facebook and Google gives the platforms license to exploit personal data. The problem is that platforms are using that data in ways consumers do not understand, and might not accept if they did. For example, Google bought a huge trove of credit card data earlier this year. Facebook uses image-recognition software and third-party tags to identify users in contexts without their involvement and where they might prefer to be anonymous. Not only do the platforms use your data on their own sites, but they also lease it to third parties to use all over the internet. And they will use that data forever, unless someone tells them to stop.

    There should be a statute of limitations on the use of consumer data by a platform and its customers. Perhaps that limit should be ninety days, perhaps a year. But at some point, users must have the right to renegotiate the terms of how their data is used.

    Seventh, consumers, not the platforms, should own their own data. In the case of Facebook, this includes posts, friends, and events—in short, the entire social graph. Users created this data, so they should have the right to export it to other social networks. Given inertia and the convenience of Facebook, I wouldn’t expect this reform to trigger a mass flight of users. Instead, the likely outcome would be an explosion of innovation and entrepreneurship. Facebook is so powerful that most new entrants would avoid head-on competition in favor of creating sustainable differentiation. Start-ups and established players would build new products that incorporate people’s existing social graphs, forcing Facebook to compete again. It would be analogous to the regulation of the AT&T monopoly’s long-distance business, which led to lower prices and better service for consumers.

    Eighth, and finally, we should consider that the time has come to revive the country’s traditional approach to monopoly. Since the Reagan era, antitrust law has operated under the principle that monopoly is not a problem so long as it doesn’t result in higher prices for consumers. Under that framework, Facebook and Google have been allowed to dominate several industries—not just search and social media but also email, video, photos, and digital ad sales, among others—increasing their monopolies by buying potential rivals like YouTube and Instagram. While superficially appealing, this approach ignores costs that don’t show up in a price tag. Addiction to Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms has a cost. Election manipulation has a cost. Reduced innovation and shrinkage of the entrepreneurial economy has a cost. All of these costs are evident today. We can quantify them well enough to appreciate that the costs to consumers of concentration on the internet are unacceptably high.

    Increasing awareness of the threat posed by platform monopolies creates an opportunity to reframe the discussion about concentration of market power. Limiting the power of Facebook and Google not only won’t harm America, it will almost certainly unleash levels of creativity and innovation that have not been seen in the technology industry since the early days of, well, Facebook and Google.

    Before you dismiss regulation as impossible in the current economic environment, consider this. Eight months ago, when Tristan Harris and I joined forces, hardly anyone was talking about the issues I described above. Now lots of people are talking, including policymakers. Given all the other issues facing the country, it’s hard to be optimistic that we will solve the problems on the internet, but that’s no excuse for inaction. There’s far too much at stake.

Page 190 of 190 FirstFirst ... 90140180188189190

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Share us
Follow Us