Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Facebook, Google face off against a formidable new foe: State attorneys general

The Washington Post reports: Historically, the federal government has taken the starring role in competition matters, including investigations into potential monopolies and mergers, and such inquiries involving the tech giants are underway. But the states are potent actors in their own right, with the power to invoke local laws on antitrust and consumer-protection and to tap Washington’s antitrust statutes on behalf of their residents. When state attorneys general have banded

When the internet chases you from your home

Sarah Jeong writes: On the night of Aug. 15, 2014, Zoë Quinn was out having a drink with some friends in San Francisco when her phone began to blow up with messages. Something was exploding on the internet — a strange, incoherent maelstrom of outrage that would take over her life. Ms. Quinn, a 27-year-old video game developer, lived in Boston and was in San Francisco only to visit, but

Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times

NBC News reports: By the numbers, there is no bigger advocate of President Donald Trump on Facebook than The Epoch Times. The small New York-based nonprofit news outlet has spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months, according to data from Facebook’s advertising archive — more than any organization outside of the Trump campaign itself, and more than most Democratic presidential candidates have

Facebook and Twitter deployed by China to spread disinformation in Hong Kong

The New York Times reports: China has adopted Russia’s playbook for spreading disinformation on Facebook and Twitter, deploying those tactics in its increasingly heated information war over the protests that have convulsed Hong Kong. In recent weeks, Facebook and Twitter accounts that originated in China acted in a coordinated fashion to amplify messages and images that portrayed Hong Kong’s protesters as violent and extreme, the two social media companies said

Could WordPress with Tumblr create an alternative to Facebook?

Mathew Ingram writes: When Verizon announced earlier this week that it was selling Tumblr, the blogging platform Yahoo acquired in 2013 for $1.1 billion, most of the attention focused on the price: according to Axios, the communications conglomerate sold Tumblr for just $3 million (Vox says closer to $2 million). In other words, Yahoo vaporized about 99 percent of the platform’s theoretical value in the six years it owned the

FBI agents livid that Trump is amplifying ‘bullshit theories’ about Jeffrey Epstein’s death ‘that have no basis in reality’

Business Insider reports: “The Epstein case was hypercharged from the get-go,” one current FBI agent, who requested anonymity to freely discuss Trump’s actions, told INSIDER. “The last thing investigators need is the president of the United States fanning the flames with these bulls— theories that have no basis in reality.” Frank Montoya, Jr., a recently retired FBI special agent, characterized Trump’s actions as “crazy talk coming from no less than

Epstein suicide conspiracy theories: Twitter’s central role in directing the flow of disinformation

Charlie Warzel writes: Epstein’s apparent suicide is, in many ways, the post-truth nightmare scenario. The sordid story contains almost all the hallmarks of stereotypical conspiratorial fodder: child sex-trafficking, powerful global political leaders, shadowy private jet flights, billionaires whose wealth cannot be explained. As a tale of corruption, it is so deeply intertwined with our current cultural and political rot that it feels, at times, almost too on-the-nose. The Epstein saga

The founder of 8chan calls it a terrorist refuge in plain sight

The Washington Post reports: The El Paso massacre began like the fatal attacks earlier this year at mosques in New Zealand and a San Diego-area synagogue: with a racist manifesto and announcement on the anonymous message board 8chan, one of the Web’s most venomous refuges for extremist hate. Like after the shootings in Christchurch and the Chabad of Poway synagogue, the El Paso attack was celebrated on 8chan as well:

Facebook algorithm changes suppressed journalism and meddled with democracy

How do you feel about Facebook? fyv6561/ By Jennifer Grygiel, Syracuse University Facebook’s News Feed algorithm determines what users see on its platform – from funny memes to comments from friends. The company regularly updates this algorithm, which can dramatically change what information people consume. As the 2020 election approaches, there is much public concern that what was dubbed “Russian meddling” in the 2016 presidential election could happen again. But

Neo-Nazi blogger, Andrew Anglin, celebrates Trump’s latest racist tweets

The ADL reports: President Trump’s recent racist tweet, posted on Sunday, July 14, was greeted with enthusiasm by white supremacists and other extremists. Mr. Trump’s inference that four U.S. Representatives who are women of color – Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ayana Pressley (D-MA) – are not U.S. citizens, and that they should “go back” to their “original” countries, was echoed and applauded online by

Neo-Nazi blogger, Andrew Anglin, ordered to pay $14 million to woman targeted in racist ‘troll storm’

BuzzFeed reports: A federal judge ruled more than $14 million should be awarded to a woman who was barraged with anti-Semitic and threatening messages online after a neo-Nazi blogger instructed his followers to target her and her family with a “troll storm.” The ruling was handed down Monday against Andrew Anglin, a white supremacist and publisher of the website The Daily Stormer. In his decision, judge Jeremiah Lynch found that

Twitter finds no fault in Trump’s racism

CNN reports: President Trump’s weekend tweets in which he used racist language to attack four progressive Democratic congresswomen are not against Twitter’s rules, a company spokesperson told CNN Business Monday — a conclusion apparently contradicted by Twitter’s written policies. The episode represents a tough first test for a new stance Twitter announced less than a month ago, in which it will label and down-rank tweets from Trump and other world

Instagramming ourselves to death

Unbelievable. Five people have accidentally plunged to their death off the Horseshoe Bend canyon viewpoint in AZ since it became a favorite Instagram spot two years ago. (No one had died for 7 yrs prior). We are literally Instagramming ourselves to death. — Alec MacGillis (@AlecMacGillis) July 13, 2019 The Wall Street Journal reports: A decade ago, fewer than 40,000 people a year came to Horseshoe Bend, officials in

Trump can’t block critics from his Twitter account, appeals court rules

The New York Times reports: President Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking people from following his Twitter account because they criticized or mocked him, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The ruling could have broader implications for how the First Amendment applies to the social-media era. Because Mr. Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts — and engaging

Tim Wu explains why Facebook should be broken up

Nicholas Thompson interviewed Tim Wu: Nicholas Thompson: What I’m going to do here is present the arguments that Mark Zuckerberg gave on antitrust yester­day in the fairest way I can, and then, Tim, I want you to respond. So it’ll be a bit like Tim being on stage yesterday. Mark made two arguments, and the company often makes a third. Number one, if you break the large platforms into smaller

Russian Twitter propaganda predicted 2016 U.S. election polls

Trump’s poll numbers went up after high levels of Russian troll activity, though Clinton’s didn’t go down. AP/Mary Altaffer, Chuck Burton By Damian Ruck, University of Bristol When Robert Mueller completed his long-awaited investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, he left many questions unanswered. But one conclusion was unequivocal: Russia unleashed an extensive campaign of fake news and disinformation on social media with the aim of distorting