Noel you have shown such a dependable, supportive, encouraging, and honest attitude during your time at Latitude and the Point of Center and Goodwill...
Goodbye, kind mate!
We’ve started taking bets that after one week home, you’re going to be begging to come back to us 😊…at least, that’s what we all secretly hope. The office sure is going to be incomplete without you.
Chefs, Calcutta spice collectors and seed breeders collaborate to create flavorful new foods The Splendid Table: “The unfortunate reality about seeds is that most are not bred and selected for flavor. Rather, they are chosen specifically for the yield, uniformity and shelf stability of their fruit or vegetable. Chef Dan Barber wants to change that. The chef-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns wants to help create seeds that bring forth new foods with unexpected and unique flavors. Which is why he – along with seedsman Matthew Goldfarb and seed breeder Michael Mazourek – cofounded of a new seed company called Row 7. They work directly with professional chefs, who give guidance on what flavors to breed for in their vegetables. Barber explained to Francis Lam that this type of partnership could change how and what we all eat. See the Cook + Grow section of Row 7’s website for more information on growing and cooking with their unique produce…”
Gizmodo – “…RSS is a family of technologies that give you a simple feed from a spot on the web—a news site, a podcast, a blog—into your RSS reader. It’s a timeline of sorts, yes, but it runs at a sane speed, and it stays in your control, unlike Facebook or Twitter’s unknowable whims, and it excludes the vast majority of toxic noise that characterizes so much of social media. Folks, RSS is still good. More than just good, RSS is better in many ways than Twitter…”
Can tech companies help fight U.S. Census misinformation?
Reuters reported Wednesday that the U.S. Census Bureau has asked Google, Facebook and Twitter to “help it fend off fake news campaigns it fears could disrupt the upcoming 2020 count,” citing Census officials and others briefed on the plans.
The decennial census, the constitutionally mandated count of every resident in the United States, is used for political and economic purposes. It not only determines the number of House of Representatives seats each state gets, but is used to calculate how billions of dollars in federal money are distributed among the states. Any disruption of the count could have a big impact on the lives of Americans.
There is already some angst surrounding the 2020 Census because it’s the first one to be conducted largely online (will the systems be ready?) and because of the ongoing legal dispute over whether people can be asked whether they are citizens, as the Trump administration wants. The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on the question next month.
Add to that the potential for misinformation spread on social media, and the possibility of trouble grows.
Dipayan Ghosh, director of the Platform Accountability Project at the Harvard Kennedy School, contacted via email, said nefarious disinformation operators are likely to attempt to infiltrate American information and media networks in the coming months with misleading content that suggests citizens should not or cannot participate — precisely because doing so can hinder the full functioning of our national democratic process.
Which brings us to the companies that run those platforms: Could they help? Ghosh thinks they can.
“Companies can build artificial intelligence systems to counteract this kind of negative behavior by inferring signals that can suggest who the disinformation operators are and where the misleading content is, and proactively take that sort of content down,” he said.
He noted that the companies have already done this kind of work in the case of Russian and other foreign disinformation operations pertaining to our national elections. They’ve also removed domestic disinformation operators and white supremacists from their platforms.
“They can do the exact same thing in regard to disinformation pertaining to the census,” he said. ”The question will be whether and how they can be fully incentivized to take this problem seriously enough.”
- Instagram (yes, Instagram) is “teeming with conspiracy theories, viral misinformation, and extremist memes,” Taylor Lorenz wrote in The Atlantic — and it’s largely escaped the kind of scrutiny that reporters have paid to Facebook and Google. Craig Silverman of BuzzFeed News also found conspiracy accounts getting massive engagement, and, in 2017, Jonathan Albright of the Tow Center wrote about how Instagram had become a major source of political propaganda. Meanwhile, Bellingcat has a new story about how it located The Netherlands’ most-wanted criminal using Instagram.
- GoFundMe banned users who raised money to spread anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, The Daily Beast reported. The move made GoFundMe the latest internet platform to take an aggressive stance on anti-vaxxer misinformation, following Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube, which faced pressure from American lawmakers to do so.
- You’ve probably heard by now that Facebook this week purged accounts linked to Iran, Russia, Macedonia and Kosovo, citing “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” The company provides examples on its blog.
- Every candidate running for president in the United States is getting an unclassified report on the major national security challenges facing the country. The report, wrote The Washington Post’s Shane Harris, has the feel of an “urgent primer” and comes in response to “the recent rise and abundance of fake news and foreign election interference.”
- CNN’s Oliver Darcy writes that Twitter’s algorithm is amplifying extreme rhetoric, often posted by ”media or internet personalities who hold fringe views.”
- We've written plenty about efforts in India to combat misinformation in advance of national elections this month and next. India's citizens are concerned, too. Pew Research Center this week has published a survey about how the Indians get their information and how they view misinformation. It found that 77% say they are very or somewhat concerned about people being exposed to false or incorrect information when they use their mobile phones.
...the future of news
- Google is assembling a team of philosophers, engineers, and policy experts to "help it navigate the moral hazards presented by artificial intelligence without press scandals, employee protests, or legal trouble," MIT's Technology Review reported.
- Would requiring tech platforms to put all of their ads in a publicly searchable archive cut down on political misinformation? Writing for The New York Times, Philip N. Howard said the idea would “create a record of all such misinformation campaigns that could be used to prevent them in the future.”