Zuckerberg still thinks freedom of speech is the freedom to lie.
Facebook employees are pushing back at CEO Mark Zuckerberg's decision to let politicians (and probably Russia) post ads on the social media platform stating whatever they hell they want about whomever they want to smear. So far, 250 employees have signed an open letter that's visible on Facebook's internal message board. That's a small fraction of the company's more than 35,000 employees but it's a notable chip in the wall.
You can read the full text here, but this is a key passage:
Free speech and paid speech are not the same thing.
Misinformation affects us all. Our current policies on fact checking people in political office, or those running for office, are a threat to what FB stands for. We strongly object to this policy as it stands. It doesn't protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy.
The letter details the obvious flaws in Zuckerberg's position. The Facebook CEO has tried to present himself as the Frederick Douglass of co-opted Martin Luther Kings of comedy and free speech. Like Dr. Frankenstein, Zuckerberg assumes everyone will thank him later for the monster he's created. He remains oblivious to how Facebook spreads disinformation from the powerful while suppressing minor voices (hi!) with arbitrarily enforced rules.
Has Rudy Giuliani's bottom confessed any crimes to you lately? Today might be the day!
It feels like a long time ago, because so much happened this weekend. Donald Trump went as "Barack Obama Killing Terrorist" for Halloween, and then he went to a baseball game and Americans told him what they thought about that.
But it was just Friday afternoon when we learned that Rudolph Giuliani's ass makes phone calls, and they are perfect.
As NBC News reporter Rich Schapiro explains, it was a dark and stormy night, October 16 to be specific, and he was asleep at the time:
Only You Can Prevent Russian Fuckery In 2020.
As the Trump administration tells Americans not to worry about the creepy Russians knocking on our back door, the FBI has launched a video series to help 2020 candidates up and down ballot. The videos' messages seem to confirm everything the Trump White House and congressional Republicans say isn't happening -- that Eurotrash dudes are still trying to screw with US elections. Strangely, the FBI's videos come just as the administration forces out the very super nerds whose sole mission is to protect the White House from cyber threats.
Lies and racism are fine as long as you sign your real name.
At Georgetown University yesterday, Facebook bossman Mark Zuckerberg gave a great big speech about free speech to explain why he won't do anything about false political ads, even when they included demonstrable lies, not just shadings of opinion. He was a regular John Stuart Mill on digital media's great power to let the people be heard, and insisted that the beauty of Free Speech is that it brought us the Civil Rights Movement, not to mention all the anime porn you can download. And he didn't say anything new at all, except that it was coming from the guy whose company's mistakes involving what reaches readers can be a matter of life and death, like when Facebook literally helped spread genocidal messaging in Burma. But he's very sorry about that, and has installed a patch that should reduce genocides quite a bit.
There really wasn't anything all that new in his argument: The best answer to offensive speech is more speech, and the marketplace of ideas will make sure the truth is known, and please never mind that those with the most money can extend their speech farther and louder while Facebook makes huge profits.
Zuck certainly sparked some negative engagement, however, when he suggested Facebook somehow embodies the ideals of civil rights heroes, who were fighting for the right to be treated as full human beings under the law, not for the beauty of unregulated expression.
How Dare You Say We Showed The Fake Trump Murder Spree Video, Says Trump Conference That Showed The Fake Trump Murder Spree Video
Triumph of the ill.
Visitors to a pro-Trump conference at Donald Trump's Miami resort last week were treated to a super-violent video featuring a fake Donald Trump shooting his way through a "Church of Fake News" filled with figures digitally altered to represent Trump's enemies. In the video, lifted from the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, the fake Trump is seen gleefully shooting, stabbing, and otherwise slaughtering baddies whose faces have been replaced with various evil liberals, news outlet logos, or just labels for things good Americans hate and want to die, like "Black Lives Matter" or "fake news." The New York Times broke the story Sunday afternoon after an attendee of the three-day "American Priority Conference," aka AMPFest, got cell phone video of the clip to a Times reporter.
Featured speakers at the conference, held at Trump National Doral Miami, included Trumpworld luminaries Donnie Jr. and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, plus all sorts of top-flight wingnuts like Rep. Matt Gaetz, Dinesh D'Souza, Charlie Kirk, and Dana Loesch. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was also supposed to appear. Sanders and a flack for Junior told the Times neither had seen the video. Organizers of the conference are busily backing away from the video, because heavens, supporters of the guy who fantasizes about shooting undocumented immigrants, or at least impaling them on spikes, would never condone violent imagery.
I see what we did there.
Apple is not a fan of paying taxes.
Apple's European headquarters is in Ireland. In 2014, Apple paid Ireland just 0.005% of its revenue in taxes. This is par for the course, not just for large corporations generally, but also for Apple specifically. As noted by Gizmodo, "last year Apple paid $0.00 in federal tax in the US despite making $11.2 billion in profit."
The EU said, "Not in our jurisdiction," and the European Commission ordered Apple to pay €13 billion ($14 billion USD) in back taxes. Naturally, Apple balked. So now it's taking the European Union to court over the order. Because taxes are for poor people. Or something.
Incredibly, Ireland is taking Apple's side.
Probably outlaw your catalytic converters too.
The Trump administration is expected to announce today that it's revoking California's ability to set tougher fuel efficiency standards than the federal government, because sweet Jesus that man hates California and he really wants to own the libs. The move is part of the administration's wider rollback of any vestige of federal action aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, because Fox News told Donald Trump science is a hoax, and that eliminating Barack Obama's regulations on CO2 will bring American industry roaring back to life. Get ready for a raft of lawsuits, since California's authority to set its own air quality standards was built right into the 1970 Clean Air Act, and has been repeatedly renewed by Congress.
Oh, yes, and the move will add an extra frisson of uncertainty to the auto market, as vehicle makers are already coping with Trump's trade war with China and his repeated threats to impose tariffs on Mexico, both major sources of parts for US automakers. No big, it's only a major economic sector, why should that worry anyone? Blame Democrats for failing to give up their silly obsession with "doing something" about global warming.
Just as long as short-sighted greedheads aren't running everything. Uh-oh.
One of the big rightwing talking points against pursuing clean energy just got a lot weaker, thanks to a pair of new reports from the Rocky Mountain Institute. We've been told forever that wind and solar (and large-scale storage) will never ever be cheap enough to be economically viable, despite the huge decline in costs of renewable energy over the past decade. Now, the RMI studies project that by 2035, renewable energy will actually undercut the costs of natural gas, to the point that 90 percent of planned new natural gas power plants, and the pipelines that would need to be built to fuel them, won't be able to compete with clean energy. This is good news for the climate, and good news for electric ratepayers -- but only if utilities decide to skip building those gas power plants, which run the risk of becoming expensive white elephants whose losses would have to be eaten by ratepayers.
Instead of natural gas, which has become hugely cheap due to all the fracking, being a "bridge" from coal and oil to a clean energy future, it might make a lot more economic sense for utilities to expand their use of clean sources now, and remember that somebody trying to sell you a bridge is probably running a con.
There can be only one.
There is much handwringing across the Internet as our old NEMESIS (not our nemesis) ThinkProgress announces fuck it, they're done. Most of the handwringing on Twitter has been to remind people that the tweeter in question used to work there, so it wasn't ONLY peopled with neoliberal corporatist sheeple from the Center for American Progress. (They also slam Neera Tanden a lot, but most of the journalistic "interference" they cite from ThinkProgress's umbrella organization, CAP, was either A, Israel yeah for sure, or B, the time CAP bigfooted ThinkProgress because they offended Bernie Sanders by pointing out he stopped saying "millionaires" when he became one.) Some tiny bit of the handwringing has been to remind folks that there is no longer any "center-left" thinktank-funded journalism in all the land, while John McCain's son-in-law Ben Domenech got fat and bloated sucking off whoever funds The Federalist.
While Wonkette would be delighted to buy ThinkProgress, Wonkette does not have three million dollars a year to cover TP's operating shortfall. But thank you in advance for suggesting it in the comments.
ThinkProgress is not the only website Wonkette has defeated. Wonkette has defeated Gawker. (Well, maybe some billionaire vampires did that.) (And okay, we guess it was "bought" by Bustle.) (Like Mic.) (They're both pretty well and truly dead.) (Good luck to recent Bustle purchase The Outline, we're rooting for you.) Wonkette has defeated your twee writerly favorites -- and ours! -- The Toast and The Awl. We have beheaded the excellent Videogum and the decidedly not excellent Weekly Standard and the not-not-excellent PS Mag and the not-not-not-excellent -- actually I've no idea -- Snowden archives, which the Intercept stopped hosting because its billionaire got bored or Glenn Greenwald needed MOAR DOGS. We've also noted with resignation, just weeks ago now, the passing of the often-difficult Shakesville, understanding implicitly her final post about the dagger to your soul and body of sitting on this ungodly Internet 12 hours a day, watching President Fuckhead fuck heads.
Add another item to the 'Donald Trump's Dumb Obsessions' list.
it shouldn't be the least bit surprising to see Axios reporting that Donald Trump has repeatedly asked whether the USA could just snuff out hurricanes by dropping hydrogen bombs into them. It's exactly the sort of thing you'd expect from a guy who says he has a really good brain for science, and that's why he thinks all the climate scientists are wrong. Remember, while he got more attention for being the Chosen One and the King of Israel last week, Trump also tweeted a bunch of nonsense about how if car companies just started building all their vehicles as pollute-y as they used to be, new cars would cost thousands of dollars less. Everyone's dumb uncle knows cars were cheaper without all that emissions crap.
He is the stupidest man in the bar and wants everyone to know it. President Cliff Clavin, your dirigible will be here shortly. You know, we could fly those a lot more cheaply than jets, and they're definitely ripe for a comeback.
How many of today's news articles make Facebook look like a goddamned idiot that's destroying America? ALL OF THEM, KATIE.
How about some tech news from the very good company called Facebook? OK!
Did we mention those systems aren't supposed to be on the internet? That's the bad part.
Motherboard broke a story about election security yesterday that may not quite rise to the level of pants-pissing OMG panic, but which ought to have people good and concerned. You see, one of the reasons we're supposed to not worry too much about hacking of election systems is that election officials and the companies who sell the elections systems assure us those systems aren't on the internet, so they can't be hacked. Except, oops!
[A] group of election security experts have found what they believe to be nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states. These include systems in nine Wisconsin counties, in four Michigan counties, and in seven Florida counties—all states that are perennial battlegrounds in presidential elections.
The research project started about a year ago, and some of the systems were on the internet all that time. The researchers notified a Homeland Security information-sharing group about the problem last year, and some systems got off the internet, yay them. But! "[A]t least 19 of the systems, including one in Florida's Miami-Dade County, were still connected to the internet this week," according to the researchers.
The article reminds us frequently that all the researchers found were potential vulnerabilities, some ways the election systems might be open to hacking -- not any evidence of actual tampering. In fact, as long as all the state and county election systems are set up with exactly the right safeguards recommended by the systems' manufacturers, then no baddies should be able to get in.
Problem is, one big hairy security recommendation is that election systems not be connected to the internet at all, so maybe there's not much cause for confidence about the rest of the possible vulnerabilities, either. Hi-ho!
WHINE WHINE WHINE WHINE WHINE.
Good news, everyone, the real president is back. Oh wait, that is the opposite of good news. Well, anyway, the moron who sniffed and gummed his way through five or six canned words about how hate and murder in El Paso are bad, but did not see fit to mention Latinos in an address about the mass murder of Latinos, is back on his Twitter machine, which means he's A) watching Fox News instead of going to work, as usual, and B) expressing his true feelings on life, love and things that are Barack Obama's fault.
And oh, what a morning of Executive Time Poop-Squatting Twitter-Punching he's had!
First you should know that he's mad about Barack Obama's statement about our weekend of mass shooting terrorism, because Fox News told him to be mad.
Hot new Missouri senator wants to break Facebook and Twitter for all the wrong reasons.
Missouri's new Republican Senator Josh Hawley is the dashing, baby-faced freshman who thinks he's got big tech all figured out. He keeps introducing bills aimed at slapping tech companies who've become too big for their bits. The only problem -- and really, it's so minor! -- is that Hawley is a fucking idiot who doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.
As the rest of Congress is getting ready to bugger off for a month, Hawley quietly dropped a bill that would turn Uncle Sam into a social media nanny. Called the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act (SMART), Hawley's bill would force social media platforms to limit the amount of time people spend dicking around on their platforms each day. Hawley's bill would also force social media companies to kill off trademark features like autoplay and infinite scrolling, and similarly ban systems that reward users for their engagement, like Snapchat streak trophies.
Reach out and touch someone.
Everyone who has a cell phone essentially has a geo-tracking device on them at all times. Cell phone companies have the ability to track their users both through cell tower tracking and through precise GPS tracking. They have legal access to this data so they can pass it along to 911 in case of an emergency. But cell providers have been doing more than that -- they've also been selling this data to third parties, who then sell it to other third parties. This data can be used to track a phone in real time and even put together patterns of when a person is at home, when they're at work, and so on.
This week, privacy watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a lawsuit in California, challenging these practices. Here's what you need to know.
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