Friday, February 02, 2018

The (almost) complete history of ‘fake news’

“A fluent stream of words awakens suspicion within me. I prefer stuttering for in stuttering I hear the friction and the disquiet, the effort to purge impurities from the words, the desire to offer something from inside you. Smooth, fluent sentences leave me with a feeling of uncleanness, of order that hides emptiness.” - Aharon Appelfeld

Why do people in certain cities — London, New York, Paris — become radicalized, sparkingrevolutions that expand the limits of what's politically imaginable 

A Russian cinema has stopped screening UK comedy The Death of Stalin, which was earlier banned by the government. Moscow's Pioneer Cinema said it had been forced to act for "reasons ...

Poet Attacks Young Social Media Poets In Scathing Essay That Divides Poetry World

Poet Rebecca Watts took to the pages of PN Review to lay out her disdain for “the cult of the noble amateur”, and her despair at the effect of social media on poetry. Highlighting the work of poets such as Kaur (whose debut collection Milk and Honey has sold more than 1m copies worldwide), Tempest and, in particular, McNish, Watts attacks the “cohort of young female poets who are currently being lauded by the poetic establishment for their ‘honesty’ and ‘accessibility’”.
BBC Trending: “…Misinformation, spin, lies and deceit have of course been around forever. But what Buzzfeed’s media editor, Craig] Silverman and others uncovered was a unique marriage between social media algorithms, advertising systems, people prepared to make stuff up to earn some easy cash and an election that gripped a nation and much of the world…The phrase now evokes much more than those get-rich-quick Macedonian teenagers. President Trump even gave out “Fake News Awards” to reporters who had made errors or poor predictions – with a special nod to all reporting on the ongoing and very real investigations into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But to say that President Trump was the first politician to deploy the term would itself be, well, “fake news”…”

Facebook Blog Series: “For the next topic of our Hard Questions series, we decided to confront an issue that has been top of mind for many of us here, including myself: What effect does social media have on democracy? As someone who has worked for over 14 years in digital civic engagement — the last four as Facebook’s policy lead for global elections — this question bears down heavily

BuzzFeed: “Last week, Facebook said its News Feed would prioritize links from publications its users found “trustworthy.” The company is overhauling News Feed amid ongoing criticism of its platform, which has come under fire for enabling foreign manipulation of US elections, giving rise fake news, and making people feel bad. Facebook plans to determine whether or not a publication is trustworthy via a survey — an idea that itself was met with harsh criticism and questions. Top among them is whether it’s wise for Facebook to entrust decisions on news trustworthiness to a user base that has already widely spread fake news and content created by a Kremlin-linked troll farm. Here is Facebook’s survey in its entirety…”

Too many Nazis: BuzzFeed News identifies the 1,700-plus Twitter accounts that are banned in various countries.
↩︎ BuzzFeed
Scammers become the scammed: Ransomware payments diverted with Tor proxy trickery
Of course this does nothing for victims' encrypted files
Cybercriminals are using Tor proxies to divert ransomware payments to their own Bitcoin wallets.

Ransomware scammers have long directed victims to payment portals on the Tor network. For those who do not want to or cannot install the Tor browser necessary to pay their ransoms, operators generally direct victims to a Tor proxy such as or, which allows users to access the Tor network via standard web browsers.

But, in what appears to be the first such attack of its kind, operators of a proxy are performing man-in-the-middle attacks to substitute their own Bitcoin payment addresses for those originally specified in selected ransomware strains, net security firm Proofpoint reports.
Proofpoint learned of the tactic through a message on the LockeR ransomware payment portal urging victims not to use to pay their ransoms. Payments destined for crooks behind the GlobeImposter and the Sigma ransomware have been targeted in the same scam.
Scammers become the scammed: Ransomware payments diverted with Tor proxy trickery

World Bank Report Finds Rise in Global Wealth, but Inequality Persists

“Global wealth grew significantly over the past two decades but per capita wealth declined or stagnated in more than two dozen countries in various income brackets, says a new World Bank report. Going beyond traditional measures such as GDP, the report uses wealth to monitor countries’ economic progress and sustainability. The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018 tracks the wealth of 141 countries between 1995 and 2014 by aggregating natural capital (such as forests and minerals), human capital (earnings over a person’s lifetime); produced capital (buildings, infrastructure, etc.) and net foreign assets. Human capital was the largest component of wealth overall while natural capital made up nearly half of wealth in low-income countries, the report found. “By building and fostering human and natural capital, countries around the world can bolster wealth and grow stronger. The World Bank Group is accelerating its effort to help countries invest more – and more effectively – in their people,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “There cannot be sustained and reliable development if we don’t consider human capital as the largest component of the wealth of nations.” The report found that global wealth grew an estimated 66 percent (from $690 trillion to $1,143 trillion in constant 2014 U.S. dollars at market prices). But inequality was substantial, as wealth per capita in high-income OECD countries was 52 times greater than in low-income countries.”

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Australia stays in top 10 in global democracy index.
Asia-Pacific is the worst performing region, with only two full democracies: Australia and New Zealand.