Geek Stuff category archive
At the San Francisco Chronicle, journalism professor Edward Wasserman argues that algorithms employed by “social” media to “attract eyeballs” and “promote engagement,” may serve to foment hate and hate-fueled violence by feeding those inclined to hatred and bigotry more of the same. He argues that, in too many cases, this has lead to hate-fueled violence and offers multiple examples thereof.
He also notes that the Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996, “when the internet was young,” shields internet platforms from liability for user-generated content.
Then he looks at the difference between then and now (emphasis added).
Shielding internet services from liability for their postings became law in the Communications Decency Act, enacted in 1996 when the internet was young. Back then, the platforms could plausibly argue they were passive messaging boards where users posted what they wanted others to see, acting on their own and offering operators little opportunity to intervene. The services themselves had, or sought, no more control over what was posted than phone companies had over what callers said to each other. Hence the immunity written into the act as the infamous Section 230.
Nowadays, the argument (in a lawsuit he refers to elsewhere in the article–ed.) goes, the entire business of internet services has undergone a radical transformation. No longer docile whiteboards, social media are mega-businesses built on aggressively monitoring and manipulating user behavior — dangling incentives and promoting content with pitch-perfect lures, all to maximize the time users spend online and goose the ad revenue their engagement brings in.
I commend his article to your attention. And, remember, “social” media isn’t.
Listening to Ten Years Later with the QMMP media player on Ubuntu MATE under the Fluxbox window manager. Dolphin is shaded–that is, rolled up into the title bar (you can’t do that on Windows). Xclock is in the upper right and GKrellM with the Glass (that is, transparent) theme, so it’s hard to see in this screenshot, in the lower right. The wallpaper is from my collection.
Charles Blow reports that, anticipating the effects of Muskrat love, he severely cut back on his Twitter usage last spring. He says that withdrawal was difficult, but that
Follow the link to learn more of his experience.
And, remember, “social” media isn’t.
Writing in the Portland Press-Herald, Adam Lee unveils a new cryptocurrency based on a renewable resource.
Follow the link for details.
Rebecca Watson digs into NFTs. She is less than impressed with what she finds.
Of, if you’d rather read, there’s a transcript.
Emma and the crew talk with a caller about the con. (The relevant portion of the clip starts about !:15 mark after a short discussion about China and Taiwan. Short commercial at the end.)
The companies have huge market caps based on nothing.
The Los Angeles Times’s Matt Pearce takes a long and thoughtful look at chaos agent Elon Musk’s stewardship (or perhaps that sever-ship) of Twitter. A snippet:
Demonstrating anything less than servility to the world’s wealthiest man seems to make Musk lash out, which is probably one of the reasons he hates journalists and left-wing politicians so much. Maybe you can get away with that more easily as the owner of a rocket company or a car company. But that’s a real risk for an owner of a social media platform, especially the service whose users are infamous for cyberbullying the thinnest-skinned targets they can find.
In a related vein, the EFF offers some guidance to those who might be interested in an alternative to Twitter.
In case you are a Twitter user turned off by the Muskrat love, I gather that a number of persons are turning to Mastodon.
If you are interested in Mastodon, you may find the EFF’s article about privacy and security on Mastadon useful.
Bloomberg columnist Allison Schrager muses on the implications of the crypto crash. A snippet (emphasis added):
My second worry is the blow to the credibility of the financial system. Instead of being more explicit about the true nature of the risk, the system has instead gone along with the idea that it’s possible to get something for nothing.
Barnum was wrong. There’s not one born every minute.
There’s one born every second.
Sam and his crew discuss the most fragile ego of them all.
If Elon Musk destroys Twitter, as seems quite likely at this point, he will have quite inadvertently performed a positive public service.
At the San Francisco Chronicle, Amos Toh describes how exploitation of workers is baked into the snaring economy. He starts by recounting the experience of one person who drives for Lyft, but doesn’t stop there. A nugget:
Uber’s new Upfront Fares initiative, for example, has revamped the company’s rate card to give drivers information about trip duration and destination before they accept a ride. Drivers have long demanded this information, but this feature comes with a twist: The company will be switching to an algorithm to calculate fares that is more opaque than before, moving away from fixed time and distance rates and incorporating dynamic factors such as real-time demand at the destination. (Lyft said it is launching a similar model, Upfront Pay.)
Algorithms that dispatch jobs to gig workers and manage how they are paid can be gamified in ways that compromise their livelihoods and well-being.
Exploitation is exploitation, be it empowered by whip or by algorithm.