Thursday, January 31, 2019

Be Safe on the Internet: Meet Steven Pruitt of Wiki fame

NSW must compromise on political ad limits

With less than two months before the NSW election, the High Court has torn up the rule book that will govern the political campaign.

Liberal Party 'ups the ante' as court win frees unions to unleash election war chest

A High Court decision to strike down laws capping election advertising spending has mobilised the state government and unions into action.

Nike faces recall demand as Muslims protest 'offensive' sneaker design - Allah 

“Wake In Fright”: Prepare to Be Disturbed, Mate | The New Yorker

TV Bingeing via Kevin Roberts

Ashurst Seminar Level 9 5 Martin Place - “The 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released today by Transparency International reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis of democracy around the world.
“With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe – often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies – we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights,” said Patricia Moreira, Managing Director of Transparency International. “Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption.”
The 2018 CPI draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). To view the results, visit:

The Conversation
The unexplained detention of author and diplomat, Yang Hengjun, has raised more questions about the motives of a Chinese government under stress from within and – “Steven Pruitt has made nearly 3 million edits on Wikipedia and written 35,000 original articles. It’s earned him not only accolades but almost legendary status on the internet. The online encyclopedia now boasts more than 5.7 million articles in English and millions more translated into other languages – all written by online volunteers. Pruitt was named one of the most influential people on the internet by Time magazine in part because one-third of all English language articles on Wikipedia have been edited by Steven. An incredible feat, ignited by a fascination with his own history. Pruitt is deeply obsessed with history, and his love of opera inspired his Wikipedia username: Ser Amantio Di Nicolao, his favorite opera character.  
“My first article was about Peter Francisco, who was my great great great great great great grandfather … and if we had an hour I could probably go into the full story,” Pruitt said. “He was a sergeant in arms in the Virginia Senate and there’s kidnapping, potential piracy. If you read the story you would not believe any of it happened.” Still living with his parents in the home he grew up in, Pruitt has always remained true to his interests. “I think for a long time there was an attitude of, ‘That’s nice, dear. The boy’s crazy. I don’t know why he wastes his time, the boy’s crazy,'” Pruitt said of what his parents think of his volunteer gig. That may have changed when Time magazine named him one of the top 25 most influential people on the internet, alongside President Trump, J.K. Rowling and Kim Kardashian West…”

An open source checklist of resources designed to improve your online privacy and security. Check things off to keep track as you go. – Take 10 minutes to read this article and consider applying one or more of the suggestions. I did and the applications work really well.

I have been recommending one of the suggestions for years now – Use DuckDuckGo rather than Chrome. See:  Nothing Can Stop Google. DuckDuckGo Is Trying Anyway. “2019 may finally be the year for ‘The Search Engine That Doesn’t Track You’ “This, in a nutshell, is DuckDuckGo’s proposition: “The big tech companies are taking advantage of you by selling your data. We won’t.” In effect, it’s an anti-sales sales pitch. DuckDuckGo is perhaps the most prominent in a number of small but rapidly growing firms attempting to make it big — or at least sustainable — by putting their customers’ privacy and security first. And unlike the previous generation of privacy products, such as Tor or SecureDrop, these services are easy to use and intuitive, and their user bases aren’t exclusively composed of political activists, security researchers, and paranoiacs. The same day Weinberg and I spoke, DuckDuckGo’s search engine returned results for 33,626,258 queries — a new daily record for the company. Weinberg estimates that since 2014,DuckDuckGo’s traffic has been increasing at a rate of “about 50 percent a year,” a claim backed up by the company’s publicly available traffic data.”

LINES ON THE MIRROR, LINES ON HER FACE: Aging: Yes, Life in the Fast Lane Kills You.“There’s a cost to living; there’s a cost to doing everything. That cost depends on the speed at which we’re living, to some degree. If we are living our lives at a very fast rate, we tend to wear out sooner. There is a strong relationship between metabolic rate—the rate at which we’re taking in oxygen and burning up food—and lifespan.”

2020 misinformation ramps up

Think it’s too early to focus on the 2020 presidential campaign? The trolls apparently don’t.

For all we learned about misinformation in 2016, it’s already clear journalists and the public will need to be on guard early for bad actors spreading falsehoods about the candidates in the next campaign cycle.

They work fast, too. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), for example, announced her exploratory bid for the White House on Dec. 31. In just three days, users on fringe platforms were posting smears aimed at undermining her campaign, according to a report by Storyful, a company that studies social media analytics. The report drew upon the Facebook API and Storyful’s social monitoring technology to isolate where posts including Warren’s name were being shared the most.

Among public Facebook pages, a top amplifier of hyperpartisan content about Warren was a page titled “Elizabeth Warren is batsh#t crazy,” said Kelly Jones, the researcher who produced the report.

Efforts to stir up discord on the American left were particularly prominent on fringe sites like 4chan. One poster called for people to “Pose as a concerned Democrat and criticize her for being white. Criticize her for being a woman. Do whatever it takes to further divide the left and prevent them from unifying behind a candidate for 2020.”

In late 2017, the American Press Institute published a report looking at how newsrooms were woefully unprepared to deal with misinformation on social media in 2016. The question is whether the early awareness of the problem will help this time around — especially given what we now know about how instrumental anonymous message boards like 4chan are in pushing false narratives online.

“Knowing it’s happening so early, and identifying the initial trends, sets the tone for what we could expect,” Jones said.

Similar efforts were seen after Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s (D-Hawaii) announcement of her 2020 plans, with users on 4chan and 8chan urging people to promote her in a gambit to divide the Democrats.  

The day after California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris announced her candidacy, pro-Donald Trump conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl inaccurately tweeted to his nearly 180,000 followers that she’s not eligible to run for president because of foreign-born parents. PolitiFact (which is owned by Poynter) quickly assigned his statement a “Pants-on-Fire” rating.

And, by the way, that thing on Warren’s shelf in her kitchen as she was having a beer and doing a live Q&A on Instagram on New Year’s Eve? It’s a vase, not a piece of racist memorabilia.

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

This is new

  • Almost half of Trump’s promises from the 2016 campaign have been blocked or dropped, according to PolitiFact. And The Washington Post Fact Checker putthe number of Trump’s falsehoods at 8,158 over the past two years.
  • WhatsApp is now limiting the number of groups to which users can forward messages from 20 to five in an effort to slow the spread of misinformation. The move comes after similar tests in India and Brazil.
  • NewsGuard, a startup that publishes media credibility scores, gave The Daily Mail the same grade as RT. Now Microsoft Edge users are receiving warnings, according to The Guardian.

The Bad Place

  • An Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is proving to be fertile ground for misinformation and conspiracy theories.
  • Deepfake porn videos depicting celebrities are increasingly becoming a threat to women online. Fortune posed the question: Do we need a law to stop them?
  • Now going viral on Facebook: Fake news stories that don’t actually link to anything.

(Screenshot from Twitter)

A closer look

  • Over the past few weeks, the #10yearchallenge has made the rounds on social media, inspiring users to post dramatic before and after pictures. And — just like nearly everything else on the internet — it was gamed to promote false and misleading images.
  • The Duke Reporters’ Lab is getting close to a product that would allow TV networks to live fact-check speeches or debates in the lead-up to the 2020 U.S. election.
  • Last week, activists distributed fake copies of The Washington Post in print and online. April Glaser wrote an excellent piece for Slate about why they didn’t qualifyas what most people think of as fake news.

Fact vs. Fake

It was a bad week for fact checks on Facebook. In the IFCN’s second installment of a weekly column that compares the reach of hoaxes to corresponding fact checks on the platform, Daniel found that one Brazilian hoax got about 250 times more engagements than two debunks — combined.

(Courtesy Akumbom Elvis McCarthy)

If you read one more thing

Last month, the Committee to Protect Journalists published its 2018 census of imprisoned journalists around the world — 28 of which were jailed on “false news” charges. This week, Daniel wrote about what it was like for two Cameroonian journalists to be tried on such charges.

10 quick fact-checking links

  1. The Guardian profiled American fact-checkers covering the Trump administration.
  2. Why do people fall for fake news? Gordon Pennycook and David Rand summarize the research for The New York Times.
  3. Brazilian fact-checker Aos Fatos launched a project that archives all of President Jair Bolsonaro’s tweets.
  4. Facebook removed more fake accounts, pages and Instagram profiles from Russia that were posing as news organizations and political interest pages.
  5. First Draft is hiring 12 people to work in its New York City and London offices.
  6. A massive network of Macedonian fake news sites has been dismantled following an investigation from Lead Stories and Nieuwscheckers.
  7. U.S. Lawmakers are paying attention to the problem of “deep fakes.”
  8. BuzzFeed News is hiring two contractors to help produce debunking videos.
  9. Remember that time U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) had a very public scuttle with fact-checkers? Us too. And this week she tweeted about it again.
  10. Add Glassdoor to the list of apps that is being gamed to push fake positive reviews.

via DanielSusan and Alexios