Saturday, September 30, 2017
"Responding to President Trump’s tweet this week that “Facebook was always anti-Trump,” Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, defended the company by noting that Mr. Trump’s opponents also criticize it — as having aided Mr. Trump. If everyone is upset with you, Mr. Zuckerberg suggested, you must be doing something right.
“Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”
This doesn’t hold water at all.
Are you bothered by fake news, systematic misinformation campaigns and Facebook “dark posts” — micro-targeted ads not visible to the public — aimed at African-Americans to discourage them from voting? You must be one of those people “upset about ideas” you disagree with.
Are you troubled when agents of a foreign power pose online as American Muslims and post incendiary content that right-wing commentators can cite as evidence that all American Muslims are sympathizers of terrorist groups like the Islamic State? Sounds like you can’t handle a healthy debate.
Does it bother you that Russian actors bought advertisements aimed at swing states to sow political discord during the 2016 presidential campaign, and that it took eight months after the election to uncover any of this? Well, the marketplace of ideas isn’t for everyone.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s preposterous defense of Facebook’s failure in the 2016 presidential campaign is a reminder of a structural asymmetry in American politics. It’s true that mainstream news outlets employ many liberals, and that this creates some systemic distortions in coverage (effects of trade policies on lower-income workers and the plight of rural America tend to be underreported, for example). But bias in the digital sphere is structurally different from that in mass media, and a lot more complicated than what programmers believe.
In a largely automated platform like Facebook, what matters most is not the political beliefs of the employees but the structures, algorithms and incentives they set up, as well as what oversight, if any, they employ to guard against deception, misinformation and illegitimate meddling. And the unfortunate truth is that by design, business model and algorithm, Facebook has made it easy for it to be weaponized to spread misinformation and fraudulent content. Sadly, this business model is also lucrative, especially during elections. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, called the 2016 election “a big deal in terms of ad spend” for the company, and it was. No wonder there has been increasing scrutiny of the platform.
However, at the slightest sign that Facebook might be pressured to institute at least some sensible oversight (as has happened recently in the German and French elections, when the platform mass-deleted fake accounts), right-wing groups and politicians can swiftly bring Facebook to its heels with charges of bias, because Facebook responds to such pressure as much of the traditional media do: by caving and hiding behind flimsy “there are two sides to everything” arguments.
This right-wing strategy has been used to pressure Facebook since before the presidential election. It was revealed in April 2016, for example, that Facebook was employing a small team of contractors to vet its “trending topics,” providing quality control such as weeding out blatant fake news. A single source from that team claimed it had censored right-wing content, and a conservative uproar ensued, led by organizations like Breitbart. Mr. Zuckerberg promptly convened an apologetic meeting with right-wing media personalities and other prominent conservatives to assure them the site was not biased against them.
Facebook got rid of those contractors, who were already too few for meaningful quality control. So what did it do to stem the obvious rise in the scale and scope of misinformation, fake news and even foreign state meddling on the site in the months leading up to the election? Clearly not enough — for fear, no doubt, that it would again be accused of bias.
Make no mistake: The flood of misinformation and fake news that went viral on the site was visible even to casual observers. A good chunk of such content featured outrageous claims about Hillary Clinton — that she had murdered F.B.I. agents, for example — as well as unfounded assertions that millions of undocumented immigrants were illegally voting.
Even the conservative pundit and wild-eyed conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck, of all people, has expressed befuddlement at the charge that Facebook censored conservative content. He has correctly pointed out that Facebook had been a boon for right-wing groups, especially of the alt-right and Breitbart variety. There has been no change in this state of affairs since the election. Last week, the best-performing post on Facebook was a Breitbart article that called African-American athletes protesting police misconduct “millionaire ingrates.”
While there are plenty of left-wing conspiracy theories, outright fake news and fraudulent sites are more prevalent on the right, especially the far right. Opportunist fake news producers who were creating such content purely to make money typically gave up trying to monetize left-leaning fake news because it didn’t go viral as easily on Facebook.
After the election, Mr. Zuckerberg characterized the suggestion that such misinformation campaigns played an important role in the election to be a “crazy idea.” This week, Mr. Zuckerberg reconsidered that comment, saying it was too dismissive. But his latest comments are still too dismissive, portraying those of us who are worried about misinformation campaigns and deception online as intolerant censors bothered by “ideas and content.”
A more astute observer of American politics than Mr. Zuckerberg might consider that Mr. Trump’s comments are part of an effort to depict Facebook as anti-conservative, lest outrage about the company’s role in the 2016 election prompt the site to adopt policies that would make a repeat of 2016 more difficult.
For those of us who are tolerant of a wide range of ideas and arguments, but would still like deception and misinformation to not have such an easy foothold in society, Mr. Zuckerberg’s comments do not inspire hope. Indeed, people across the political spectrum should be able to agree that not making it so easy, and so lucrative, for fake news to spread widely is better for all of us, since fake news isn’t necessarily a right-wing phenomenon. But since Facebook has no effective competition, we can look forward only to being lectured on being more tolerant of “ideas” we don’t like, and to smug talk of the false equivalency of “both sides.”
Zuckerberg’s Preposterous Defense of Facebook - The New York Times
Friday, September 29, 2017
My update crashed by 2012 15 inch MacBook Pro. I had to format the SSD, install Lion then do a Time capsule update then update from Sierra to High Sierra again. The second time was a charm. Thanks to Time capsule I lost no data. My 2016 MacBook update with no issues.
Apple MacBooks at risk from flawed updates, Duo Security says - CNET
Thursday, September 28, 2017
"Facing scrutiny from Congress, Twitter today disclosed that more than 200 Russia-linked accounts had been used to spread propaganda and misinformation on the company’s platform.
The news follows similar disclosures from Facebook, and Twitter points out that it found 22 accounts corresponding to those Facebook found. Additionally, Twitter found another 179 accounts. All of those accounts, Twitter said, had been or were soon banned, usually for violating spam rules. Unlike on Facebook, Twitter said the accounts it identified were not registered as advertisers.
Twitter’s blog post, while not quite directly attributing any activity to those accounts, discussed what the company does to combat issues like gaming Trending Topics and automating spam. The company noted that a large source of spam had historically been “Russia and other post-Soviet states,” but said it was “much trickier” tracking activity coordinated by humans.
The company said that, over coming months, it will be introducing new ways to detect malicious activity, although it did not provide specifics. “These are not meant to be definitive solutions,” the company said in the post. “We’ve been fighting against these issues for years, and as long as there are people trying to manipulate Twitter, we will be working hard to stop them.”
Twitter says it banned more than 200 Russia-linked propaganda accounts - The Verge
"...The loss of the headphone jack feels like yet another choice that's being forced on smartphone owners -- another way phones are being hammered into forms that are roughly indistinguishable from each other.
Remember when hardware QWERTY keyboards were an option? Remember when flagship phones with small screens were, too?
Those things went away not because phone buyers were asking for bigger screens and software keyboards, but because phone makers and cellular carriers needed big, bold features to drive a new upgrade cycle. Big screens trumped everything else.
Killing off the headphone jack is arguably even worse, because we're seemingly getting nothing in return. We lose guaranteed compatibility with countless millions of audio devices for what, exactly?
It doesn't make a phone much thinner to remove it, and phones are thin enough anyhow. Show me a brick with a three-day battery and an indestructible case, and I'll show you a happy camper. (Literally -- I'll take it camping.) Maybe if a company was getting rid of all its ports -- a wirelessly charging phone with wireless USB -- I could understand it. But that's not a reality yet..."
I won't buy a Pixel 2 without a headphone jack - CNET
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
"...The Notebook 9 Pro is for the user who wants a large screened Windows laptop, with the added benefits of an S Pen and plenty of power for your dollar. If you’re a fan of the Galaxy Note smartphone, it’s even better.
The added utility of a pen in a laptop doesn’t make using it worlds better, but in the case of the Notebook 9 Pro, it doesn’t take away from it either."
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro review: plastic and pens - The Verge
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
"The tweets in your timeline are about to get super-sized. Twitter said today that it has started testing 280-character tweets, doubling the previous character limit, in an effort to help users be more expressive. “Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English,” the company said in a blog post. “When people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting — which is awesome!”
About 9 percent of all tweets today are exactly 140 characters, Twitter says. It’s tough to do that on accident, suggesting that users frequently have to edit their initial thoughts to get them under the limit. (It’s certainly true for me.) Now Twitter hopes to ease that burden by doubling the character limit in what it calls “languages impacted by cramming,” which includes every language except for Japanese, Chinese, and Korean."
Twitter just doubled the character limit for tweets to 280 - The Verge
"Windows Phone has been dead for a good year now, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has decided it’s also time to move on. In an interview with Fox News Sunday (spotted by On MSFT), Gates reveals he’s now using an Android phone. While Gates doesn’t reveal the exact model, he does note that it has ‘a lot of Microsoft software’ on it, which could suggest it’s a special Microsoft Edition Samsung Galaxy S8 handset with bundled software.
Microsoft started selling the Samsung Galaxy S8 handset in its retail stores earlier this year, and it includes apps like Office, OneDrive, Cortana, and Outlook. Any Android phone also supports these apps, but Microsoft’s customized S8 does suggest the company might continue to offer this for other Android devices in the future.
While Gates is switching to Android, he’s still not interested in an iPhone. Gates famously banned iPhones and iPods at home in the past, but he does admit that Steve Jobs was a ‘genius’ in the Fox interview. Gates is still using Windows-based PCs, but he’s still not switching over to an iPhone, despite the Steve Jobs praise."