Thursday, January 23, 2020

Fake News? Digital platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter are important

Opportunity may knock only once but temptation leans on the door bell ...

… CNN Attacks Babylon Bee: 'The Internet Is Only Big Enough For One Fake News Site' | The Babylon Bee.
Just in case anyone may think otherwise, this is a joke 

What is the cost of fake news?
HBO will delve into the topic with the help of CNN media reporter Brian Stelter. He is executive producer on an Andrew Rossi documentary titled “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News,” which is scheduled to debut in March.
HBO describes the doc as examining, “the rising phenomenon of ‘fake news’ in the U.S. and the impact that disinformation, conspiracy theories and false news stories have on the average citizen.”
The film will focus on several cases, including the 2016 presidential election, “Pizzagate,” and the Jade Helm conspiracy.  
This is not the first time Rossi and Stelter have crossed paths in a film about the news business. Rossi directed the 2011 film, “Page One: Inside the New York Times.” At the time, Stelter was a Times media reporter and was featured in Rossi’s film.
The spread of true and false news online Science 


Was Soleimani an ‘imminent’ threat?

Those who are following the tension between the United States and Iran saw that President Donald Trump and the national security team have offered shifting explanations for the airstrike that killed top Iranian military leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Obviously, U.S.-based fact-checkers have been following this topic very closely, trying to determine whether the Iranian general represented an imminent  threat.
On Monday, Poynter-owned PolitiFact wrote that Trump’s team has been “inconsistent in describing what the intelligence agencies knew.” The fact-checkers explained: while the U.S. president keeps repeating that Soleimani was preparing an imminent terrorist attack against America — specifically against four embassies — on Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on TV that he "didn’t see" any specific evidence of Soleimani planning attacks against the United States.
PolitiFact reached out to The White House but, as of Tuesday, the government had not responded.
Meanwhile, Instagram (the Facebook-owned social media platform) has decided to remove posts and profiles that support Soleimani. The platform has informed it is complying with the sanctions imposed by the U.S. against Iran and, at the same time, obeying its own community guidelines.
In April 2019, Trump designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group. Instagram (and Facebook) are open about their willingness to ban users who share content that promotes terrorism. Since Soleimani was one of the most important people in the Revolutionary Guard, defending him could fit into the description of promoting terrorism. 
According to The Washington Post, so far at least 15 media outlets and journalists in Iran have lost their Instagram accounts. This inspired the Association of Iranian Journalists to send a letter questioning Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri about censorship.

The International Journalists Federation also put out a statement:
“At a time when Iranian citizens need access to information it is unacceptable that Instagram should choose to censor Iranian media and individual journalists and users,” said Anthony Bellanger, the general secretary of the IFJ.
One final note on Iran: We think fact-checking fans around the world should celebrate the great work done by Bellingcat’s team around the crash of Ukraine Airlines flight PS752. 
By working collaboratively, the group managed to identify the location of a video showing an Iranian missile hitting the plane and other details about the crash. Wired had a great review about the importance of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) tools.

. . . technology

  • Google announced on Twitter that there was a 500% spike in searches for fact-checking during this week’s Democratic presidential debate in the U.S.  
    • Users who like Google Trends will love to see the weekly “horse race” that shows searches done with candidates’ names since the beginning of the year and other maps about what people what to know about about them. Pete Buttigieg, for example, is the most searched one for "how tall is..." 
  • American journalists should “take stock” of what happened in recent elections in India and Brazil, where misinformation flooded WhatsApp, wrote Sharon Moshavi of the International Center for Journalists in a CJR op-ed this week
    • That’s because news, she said, is “heading to a place that presents a whole new set of challenges: the private, hidden spaces of instant messaging apps.”

. . . politics

  • Sara Fischer from Axios this week spoke with several campaign strategists and social intelligence experts who listed a number of “rules of the road” they expect to take hold for the 2020 campaign cycle in the United States. 
    • “Digital platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter are important because they allow campaigns to gather extremely detailed data about voters that they can leverage to boost other campaign efforts later down the line,” she wrote.
  • Media Matters for America, a liberal nonprofit organization, tallied how many supporters of the conspiracy theory QAnon are running for U.S. Congress in 2020. The results of the count are disheartening.
    • “There are now at least EIGHTEEN current or former congressional candidates for 2020 who have embraced the QAnon conspiracy theory,” researcher Alex Kaplan wrote on Twitter. “One of them, in Oklahoma, has run multiple Facebook ads with the QAnon slogan, getting thousands of impressions.”

. . . the future of news

  • The Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School has launched a “Misinformation Review.” It says the journal is a new format for peer-reviewed, scholarly work in which “content is produced and ‘fast-reviewed’ by misinformation scientists and scholars, released under open access, and geared towards emphasizing real-world implications.” 
    • Its lead piece on Wednesday’s launch was a study concluding that “many claims about the effects of exposure to false news may be overstated, or, at the very least, misunderstood.” On a related note, check out Nieman Lab’s recent round-up of the best misinformation and fact-checking research of 2019.
  • Last week, TikTok announced that it was banning misinformation about elections or other civic processes. (Here is the official policy.) Then Reddit said it would prohibit impersonation and deepfakes on its platform — a policy that could include false news websites, which played a central role in misinforming American voters in the 2016 election.
    • “This not only includes using a Reddit account to impersonate someone, but also encompasses things such as domains that mimic others, as well as deepfakes or other manipulated content presented to mislead, or falsely attributed to an individual or entity,” Reddit’s policy reads.
On Jan. 12, The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology alerted the world that Taal Volcano, located on Luzon island, was highly active and would spew ashes on many cities in the region. On the same afternoon, the Philippines saw not only flights being cancelled and schools being shut, but also dozens of hoaxes going viral on social media. 
In 48 hours, Rappler’s fact-checking team debunked at least six falsehoods, some of them capable of causing panic. One of them, for example, consisted of Facebook posts claiming that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council had raised the level of alert related to the Taal Volcano from four to five — meaning it had reached the most dangerous level in the scale. 
In an official statement, released Monday, however, the government denied it as the fact-checkers spread the news.
Rappler also debunked a hoax that claimed the weather anchor from ABS-CBN and journalists from BBC said people should turn off their cell phones because they could emit strong radiation due to cosmic rays. This falsehood has been circulating online for a long time.
Some Facebook posts also claimed that the “Pacific Ring of Fire is active" by gathering photos showing recent volcanic activity of Mt. Shintake in Japan, Popocatepetl Volcano in Mexico and Taal Volcano in the Philippines. According to the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program, however, there are generally around 20 volcanoes actively erupting at any given time in the region. 
For the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, posts like these are "alarmist." Rappler’s team was fast to spread factual information and calm down some people. 
Some good explanatory pieces of content were also written. Here is an example: “What you should know about Taal Volcano.”
What we liked: Rappler’s fact-checking unit worked fast and in three different formats at the same time. It attacked false information that could cause panic. It debunked images and published explanatory articles with facts that could be useful for those who were looking for good information. In times like these, taking just one step to debunk misinformation isn’t enough.
1.     Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, warned in a Washington Post op-ed that a Senate impeachment trial against President Trump would bring a new wave of Kremlin-style disinformation. 
2.     The Washington Post wrote about how doctored images have become one of the most time-tested forms of misinformation for political campaigns.
3.     Misinformation in the current election cycle means not just fact-checking, but trying to find out who’s behind the misinformation, Associated Press Executive Editor Sally Buzbee told CNN’s Brian Stelter on his Sunday show “Reliable Sources.” 
4.     Vaccine confidence has declined, according to a new Gallup poll. “Misinformation has a powerful half-life,” wrote Vice’s Anna Merlan
5.     Bellingcat wasn’t the only outlet to debunk misinformation about the Ukrainian airliner that Iran shot down last week. BuzzFeed News reported that Russian propagandists falsely claimed the crash was actually Ukraine’s fault, and Storyful debunked a variety of unsubstantiated claims about the crash on Twitter. 
6.     EU DisinfoLab dug into a media outlet called “France Libre 24” and found Polish right-wing activists at its source.  
7.     “What’s Crap on WhatsApp?”, the voice note show created by Africa Check to fight misinformation on the private message app, has new challenges ahead, such as finding ways to know how many people actually heard it. 
8.     After Iran’s missile strike on two air bases in Iraq last week, a New York Post reporter’s identity was stolen on Twitter to spread pro-Iran propaganda.
9.     The Washington Post reported on how hoaxers used the Australia wildfires to spread online misinformation for profit.
10.  Friday is the last day to apply to Global Fact 7 in Oslo, Norway. The IFCN has already received more than 400 applications — and this will be the largest fact-checking summit in history.

Coronavirus: Bullying and Layoffs can be handled tactfully

“You can get excited about the future. The past won’t mind.” ―Hillary DePiano, Author

Read more at:
“You can get excited about the future. The past won’t mind.” ―Hillary DePiano, Author

Read more at:

“You can get excited about the future. The past won’t mind.”
 ―Hillary DePiano, Author

Some of the most beautiful things in life come from unsuspecting situations ... The butterfly is a great symbol for change, transition, adaptation, and growth. 

Layoffs can be handled tactfully. They are stressful, but organizations should provide more support

Long work hours linked to doubled risk of mental illness, suicide in junior doctors

However, doctors warned that simply restricting work hours would be a simplistic solution.

A seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, China, now shut down, where some people appear to have contracted the new coronavirus.

Coronavirus: death toll doubles to 17 as China struggles to halt spread

Abroad, Thailand has confirmed four cases, while the United States, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan have each reported one.
IMAGE OF THE DAY: 70 Years of Disease Research.

TIMELINE: Here’s Everything You Need to Know About The Coronavirus Spreading From China

 Chinese Virus Is Spreading Between Humans, Prompting Outbreak Fears.

Custer, S., Prakash, M., Solis, J., Knight, R., and J. Lin. (2019).Influencing the Narrative: How the Chinese government mobilizes students and media to burnish its image. Williamsburg, VA. AidData at William & Mary: “Chinese leaders have mobilized an impressive array of government agencies, media outlets, and educational institutions at home and abroad as a megaphone to tell China’s story to the world. In this report, we take a data-driven approach to answer one overarching question: How does Beijing use informational diplomacy and student exchange to advance its national interests among its closest neighbors in East Asia and the Pacific (EAP)? AidData collected quantitative data on China’s overtures to twenty-five EAP countries between 2000 and 2019, which we analyze to understand which tools Beijing uses to mobilize media and students to promote its preferred narrative. This report updates and extends work first published in 2018 in Ties That Bind, a first-of-its-kind report that quantified multiple aspects of China’s public diplomacy—financial, cultural, exchange, and elite-to-elite diplomacy—across 25 countries from 2000 to 2016 to assess how it is received by foreign publics and leaders and determine whether it is meeting Beijing’s objectives. Data from both Ties That Bind and this report is available through AidData’s China’s Public Diplomacy Dashboard, in which users can create custom datasets, maps, and graphs, and filter based on the type of public diplomacy, recipient countries, and time period. This study was conducted with generous support from the United States Department of State. The report’s findings and conclusions are those of its authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of funder and partner organizations…”

According to smiling assassins aka Nichols Machiavelli ;-) They never feared Imrich  failing. They feared his success, and that’s unforgivable ;-)
“Coolness” and “aggression” were highly linked; bullies enjoyed the highest social   standing among classmates, whereas victims were socially marginalized. This trend, unfortunately, continues as we get older; a recentstudy
 found that workplace bullies often have positive job evaluations and are considered highly skilled in work “politics.” Thus, rather than bullies being socially unskilled outcasts, some bullying might actually be helping people ascend the social ladder. . .. Bullying is seen to be prevalent in organizations where employees and managers feel that they have the support, or at least the implicit blessing of senior managers to carry on their abusive and bullying behaviour.[1] Furthermore, new managers will quickly come to view this form of behaviour as acceptable and normal if they see others get away with it and are even rewarded for it.[2] 

When bullying happens at the highest levels, the effects may be far reaching. People may be bullied irrespective of their organizational status or rank, including senior managers, which indicates the possibility of a negative domino effect, where bullying may cascade downwards, as the targeted supervisors might offload their own aggression onto their subordinates. In such situations, a bullying scenario in the boardroom may actually threaten the productivity of the entire organisation.[3 

mechanical failure on a tram at Town Hall at 4pm on Tuesday triggered the closure of about one-third of the problem-plagued network.

Recruitment into organised criminal groups: A systematic review

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has released a paper that synthesises the results of a systematic review of the social, psychological and economic factors leading to recruitment into organised crime.
  • This study examines the international evidence from 47 qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method studies published in or before 2017.
  • The review demonstrates that while the available evidence on the various factors leading to individuals’ recruitment is scarce, there has been growth in the number of rigorous studies in recent years. 
  • The most commonly studied factors relating to the recruitment of organised crime members are social relations and criminal backgrounds or expertise.
  • Familial, friendship and professional ties may build a foundation of trust in potential recruits and propagate recruitment opportunities. Recruits also need to demonstrate competence in carrying out specific criminal activities, avoiding police detection, and maintaining group secrecy.
  • Other factors examined in the studies include economic conditions, demographic characteristics, employment, education, and psychological factors.
  • Areas for policy development are identified, such as targeting the extended social networks of organised crime members.
This research was commissioned by the AIC’s Serious and Organised Crime Research Laboratory and undertaken by researchers at Transcrime and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan. The study will assist in better understanding the social and organisational characteristics of criminal organisations and help inform the development of preventive programs to reduce recruitment into organised criminal groups.

The paper is available for free download on the AIC website:

Want A Job? Increasingly You’ll Have To Get By The AI Algorithms First

With HireVue, businesses can pose pre-determined questions — often recorded by a hiring manager — that candidates answer on camera through a laptop or smartphone. Increasingly, those videos are then pored over by algorithms analyzing details such as words and grammar, facial expressions and the tonality of the job applicant’s voice, trying to determine what kinds of attributes a person may have. Based on this analysis, the algorithms will conclude whether the candidate is tenacious, resilient, or good at working on a team, for instance. – CNN

Perfect Murders: Studies in Detection: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger 

Perfect Murders: Studies in Detection: Thunderstruck 

"Fighting has taught me that the caterpillar takes a while to turn into a majestic butterfly.”

NYT covers minimum wage and suicide debate
       At Eurozine they reprint Maciej Urbanowski's Osteuropaarticle, an extensive look at: "Rightwing literature in Poland after 1989", Conservative revolution     Disturbing if fascinating

Uber Wins Dubious Honor Of Being First Big Tech Company To Bully A Small Nation Using Corporate Sovereignty TechDirt

Care About Australia’s Wildlife: Please Don’t Give Money To PETA.Well, if we begin to take a look at PETA’s Australia chapter, we can imagine why they are not first in line to help those poor koalas and kangaroos we keep hearing about on the news. For example, PETA’s Australia chapter received over $49 million in contributions in 2019, but only less than 1 percent went into actually helping troubled animals. The rest of the money, in true PETA fashion, was used on advertising, public disturbances, paying off celebrity spokespersons, and lobbying politicians and businesses into getting what they want and they want one thing, and one thing only-total animal “liberations”. This would mean no zoos, no aquariums, no responsible meat, or dairy consumption, no pets, no wildlife conservation efforts that require rehabilitation or breeding programs, and no use of animals for therapeutic purposes. 
  The Evil List Which tech companies are really doing the most harm - Slate – Here are the 30 most dangerous, ranked by the people who know: “…The tech industry doesn’t intoxicate us like it did just a few years ago. Keeping up with its problems—and its fixes, and its fixes that cause new problems—is dizzying. Separating out the meaningful threats from the noise is hard. Is Facebook really the danger to democracy it looks like? Is Uber really worse than the system it replaced? Isn’t Amazon’s same-day delivery worth it? Which harms are real and which are hypothetical? Has the techlash gotten it right? And which of these companies is really the worst? Which ones might be, well, evil? We don’t mean evil in the mustache-twirling, burn-the-world-from-a-secret-lair sense—well, we mostly don’t mean that—but rather in the way Googlers once swore to avoid mission drift, respect their users, and spurn short-term profiteering, even though the company now regularly faces scandals in which it has violated its users’ orworkers’ trust. We mean ills that outweigh conveniences. We mean temptations and poison pills and unanticipated outcomes…”
THE WOKE MOB IS ALL ABOUT NOT BEING JUDGED ON QUALITY, BECAUSE THEY’RE AWFUL: Stephen King Savaged by ‘Woke’ Mob For Saying Art Should be Judged on Quality, Not ‘Diversity.’ 

YOU CAN’T TAX THE GENTRY! Many Colorado Resort Homes Sit Empty. So Why Not Tax ‘Em For Affordable Housing? 

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: What are the Most Common Nightmares? The top two are “Falling” and “Being Chased,” followed by “Death” and “Feeling Lost.” At the bottom of the list: “Going Bald.”


BE NEITHER TOO LATE NOR TOO SOON: Success of knee replacement depends on timing, study says.

"To write a beautiful book about suicide…to transform the subject into something beautiful―this is the forbidding task that A. Alvarez set for himself…He has succeeded." ―New York Times
"Suicide," writes the notes English poet and critic A. Alvarez, "has permeated Western culture like a dye that cannot be washed out." 

Chinese delegates cut South China Sea references from resolution Sydney Morning Herald

Esports is preferred career among Chinese youth, survey finds Star Online

NEWS YOU CAN USE: 9 Reasons You Should Have A Baby This Year If You’re Young And Married.

'This is the modern Rome': Joe Hockey reveals plans for a future in the US

"We're going through a tumultuous period and I want to be in the thick of it," Hockey said of Washington.

Meet the Money Behind The Climate Denial Movement Smithsonian

Google to phase out most invasive internet tracking Financial Times

Cryptic Rumblings Ahead of First 2020 Patch Tuesday Krebs on Security