About Twitter: Kill It, Kill It Now

January 14, 2017

I am not sure what to make of “It’s Time to Kill Twitter, Before It Kills Us.”  I understand how drone swarms can kill. I grasp the notion of fungibles doing bad in airport baggage claim. But I had not considered the idea that sending short digital messages would kill “us.”

The write up explained to me:

The best thing you might say about Twitter is that it’s become the new micro press release—a way for the famous and powerful to promote, with as little effort as possible, their next project, product or random thought.

Twitter, therefore, can trigger people to do bad things. Therefore, kill Twitter.

The logic is obviously rock solid for some folks.

The write up continued:

From its founding, Twitter never had a purpose.

Okay, new media have no purpose. Interesting notion, particularly when viewed in the context of the tradition of communication methods.

But Twitter might be tough to kill. The write up pointed out:

Twitter might prove harder to get rid of than raccoons at a campsite. The company is still worth nearly $12 billion. It still has around 300 million monthly users. And it still has Trump, so if anyone tried to shutter it, he’d probably step in and classify Twitter as essential to our national security and install Ivanka to run it.

Fascinating. The question is, “Is the write up humorous like the Beyond Search weekly video news program, or is the write up making clear that certain types of communication must be stopped?”

News week or news weak?

Stephen E Arnold, January 14, 2017

The Dark Web and Surface Web Connection

January 11, 2017

IBM is doing its part to educate about the Dark Web. IBM Big Data and Analytics Hub shared a podcast episode entitled, Should we shut down the Dark Web?, which addresses the types of illegal activities on the Dark Web, explains challenges for law enforcement and discusses the difficulty in identifying Dark Web actors. Senior product manager of cyber analysis with IBM i2 Safer Planet, Bob Stasio, hosts the podcast. We found what one of the guests, Tyler Carbone, had to say quite interesting,

The parts of the internet we’re particularly interested in is where stolen information is posted and traded. What’s interesting is that that’s happening not through Tor…For what we’re interested in, a lot of stolen information is posted (traded and sold) on lite web sites — you can access them in Internet Explorer or Chrome. They’re just hosted in countries that aren’t particularly listed. One of the most well-known carding marketplaces…is hosted on a .cm….That’s not hidden within Tor at all. The problem is that individuals are logging in in an anonymous way so we can’t follow up with the individuals.

The line between the Surface Web and the Dark Web may be blurring or blurred. Ultimately, the internet is rooted in connection, so it’s hard to imagine clear separation between actors and activities being relegated to one or the other. We recommend giving this podcast a listen to ruminate on questions such as whether the Dark Web could and should be shut down. 

Megan Feil, January 11, 2017

Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube: A Spirit of Cooperation

December 6, 2016

I found this write up interesting. No philosophy or subjective comment required. The title of the write up is “Partnering to Help Curb Spread of Online Terrorist Content.” This is what is called “real” news, but that depends upon one’s point of view.

I highlighted this passage:

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube are coming together to help curb the spread of terrorist content online. There is no place for content that promotes terrorism on our hosted consumer services. When alerted, we take swift action against this kind of content in accordance with our respective policies.

The idea is to use “digital fingerprints” in the manner of Terbium Labs and other companies to allow software to match prints and presumably take action in an automated, semi automated, or manual fashion. The  idea is to make it difficult for certain content to be “found” online via these services.

The write up adds:

As we continue to collaborate and share best practices, each company will independently determine what image and video hashes to contribute to the shared database. No personally identifiable information will be shared, and matching content will not be automatically removed. Each company will continue to apply its own policies and definitions of terrorist content when deciding whether to remove content when a match to a shared hash is found. And each company will continue to apply its practice of transparency and review for any government requests, as well as retain its own appeal process for removal decisions and grievances. As part of this collaboration, we will all focus on how to involve additional companies in the future.

I noted the word “collaborate” and its variants.

The filtering addresses privacy in this way:

Throughout this collaboration, we are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and their ability to express themselves freely and safely on our platforms. We also seek to engage with the wider community of interested stakeholders in a transparent, thoughtful and responsible way as we further our shared objective to prevent the spread of terrorist content online while respecting human rights.

Fingerprints in the world of law enforcement are tied to an individual or, in the case of Terbium, to an entity. Walking back from a fingerprint to an entity is a common practice. The business strategy is to filter content that does not match the policies of certain organizations.

Stephen E Arnold, December 6, 2016

The Google: A Real Newspaper Discovers Modern Research

December 4, 2016

I read “Google, Democracy and the Truth about Internet Search.” One more example of a person who thinks he or she is an excellent information hunter and gatherer. Let’s be candid. A hunter gatherer flailing away for 15 or so years using online research tools, libraries, and conversations with actual humans should be able to differentiate a bunny rabbit from a female wolf with baby wolves at her feet.

Natural selection works differently in the hunting and gathering world of online. The intrepid knowledge warrior can make basic mistakes, use assumptions without consequence, and accept whatever a FREE online service delivers. No natural selection operates.

image

A “real” journalist discovers the basics of online search’s power. Great insight, just 50 years from the time online search became available to this moment of insight in December 2017. Slow on the trigger or just clueless?

That’s scary. When the 21st century hunter gatherer seems to have an moment of inspiration and realizes that online services—particularly ad supported free services—crank out baloney, it’s frightening. The write up makes clear that a “real” journalist seems to have figured out that online outputs are not exactly the same as sitting at a table with several experts and discussing an issue. Online is not the same as going to a library and reading books and journal articles, thinking about what each source presents as actual factoids.

Here’s an example of the “understanding” one “real” journalist has about online information:

Google is knowledge. It’s where you go to find things out.

There you go. Reliance on one service to provide “knowledge.” From an ad supported. Free. Convenient. Ubiquitous. Online service.

Yep, that’s the way to keep track of “knowledge.”

Read more

Info-Distortion: Suddenly People Understand

November 16, 2016

I have watched the flood of stories about misinformation, false news, popular online services’ statements about dealing with the issue, and denials that disinformation influence anything. Sigh.

I have refrained from commenting after reading write ups in the New York Times, assorted blogs, and wild and crazy posts on Reddit.

A handful of observations/factoids from rural Kentucky:

  • Detection of weaponized information is a non trivial task
  • Online systems can be manipulated by exploiting tendencies within the procedures of very popular algorithms; most online search systems rely on workhorse algorithms that know their way to the barn. Their predictability makes manipulation easy
  • Textual information which certain specific attributes will usually pass undetected by humans who have to then figure out a way to interrelate a sequence of messages distributed via different outlets

There is some information about the method at my www.augmentext.com site. The flaws in “smart” indexing systems have been known for years and have been exploited by individual actors as well as nation states. The likelihood of identifying and eliminating weaponized information will be an interesting challenge. Yep, I know a team of whiz kids figured out how to solve Facebook’s problem in a short period of time. I just don’t believe the approach applies to some of the methods in use by certain government actors. How do you know an “authority” is not a legend?

Stephen E Arnold, November 16, 2016

Cyber Security Factoids

October 31, 2016

I came across “Luxembourg to Become a Cyber Security Hub.” I usually ignore these blue chip consulting firm public relations love fests. I did not some interesting factoids in the write up. Who knows if these are correct, but some large organizations pay a lot of money to have the MBAs and accountants deliver these observations:

  • “In Luxembourg, 57%* of players expect to be the victim of cybercrime in the next 24 months.” (I assume that “players” are companies which the consulting firm either has as clients or hopes to make into clients.)
  • There are four trends in cyber security: “1) digital businesses are adopting new technologies and approaches to Cyber Security, 2) threat intelligence and information sharing have become business-critical, 3) organizations are addressing risks associated with the Internet of Things (IoT), and 4) geopolitical threats are rising.”
  • “In the 2017 Global State of Information Security Survey, PwC found more than 80% of European companies had experienced at least on Cyber Security incident in the past year. Likewise, the number of digital security incidents across all industries worldwide rose by 80%. The spending in the Cyber Security space is also increasing with 59% of the companies surveyed affirming that digitalization of the business ecosystem has affected their security spending.”
  • Companies the consulting firm finds interesting include: “Digital Shadows from the UK, Quarkslab from France, SecurityScorecard, enSilo, Skybox Security and RedOwl from the US, NetGuardians from Switzerland,Ironscales and Morphisec from Israel, and Picus Security from Turkey.”

Interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2016

Another US Outfit Learns about the Online Idiosyncrasies of Nation States

October 27, 2016

Google learned that China does not listen to suggestions from the ad giant about its online policies. Now LinkedIn has bumped into a similar ethnocentrism in Russia, altogether a really fun place in some folks’ eyes. I read “LinkedIn Runs Afoul of Russian Data Law — Is It on the Verge of Being Banned?” I highlighted this passage:

Russia could end up banning LinkedIn in a matter of weeks as the government reportedly seeks to make an example of the business-oriented social network. The company is being targeted following its failure to comply with a 2014 federal law that demands online firms that deal with the personal information of Russian citizens store their data within the country. Earlier this year, the Kremlin’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor attained an injunction against LinkedIn from a lower court. If a Moscow city court decides to reject an appeal, set for November 10, the platform will be blocked.

As the punk band learned in 2012, Russian authorities have some interesting approaches to resolving life’s little challenges. Not only did the band end up in jail, few knew in which jail the musicians resided. I was told at a conference in Prague that losing track of the female prisoners was an unfortunate administrative error.

LinkedIn may want to keep the fate of the punk rock band in mind if the Moscow authorities gear up and speed to locations where LinkedIn may have advisors, employees, fellow travelers, or folks who are championing the social media recruitment online service. Just an idle thought.,

Stephen E Arnold, October 27, 2016

HonkinNews for 25 October 2016 Now Available

October 25, 2016

This week’s video roundup of search, online, and content processing news is now available. Navigate to this link for seven minutes of plain talk about the giblets and goose feathers in the datasphere. This week’s program links Google’s mobile search index with the company’s decision to modify its privacy policies for tracking user actions. The program includes an analysis of Marissa Mayer’s managerial performance at Yahoo. Better browser history search swoops into the program too. Almost live from Harrod’s Creek in rural Kentucky. HonkinNews is semi educational, semi informative, and semi fun. Three programs at the end of the year will focus on Stephen E Arnold’s three monographs about Google.

Kenny Toth, October 25, 2016

The Thrill of Rising Yahoo Traffic

October 21, 2016

I love the Gray Lady. The Bits column is chock full of technology items which inspire, excite, and sometimes implant silly ideas in readers’ minds. That’s real journalism.

Navigate to “Daily Report: Explaining Yahoo’s Unexpected Rise in Traffic.”

The write up pivots on the idea that Internet traffic can be monitored in a way that is accurate and makes sense. A click is a click. A packet is a packet. Makes sense. The are the “minor” points of figuring out which clicks are from humans and which clicks are from automated scripts performing some function like probing for soft spots. There are outfits which generate clicks for various reasons including running down a company’s advertising “checkbook.” There are clicks which ask such questions as, “Are you alive?” or “What’s the response time?” You get the idea because you have a bit of doubt about traffic generated by a landing page, a Web site, or even an ad. The counting thing is difficult.

The write up in the Gray Lady assumes that these “minor” points are irrelevant in the Yahoo scheme of themes; for example:

an increased number of people were drawn to Yahoo in September. The reason may have been Yahoo’s disclosure that month that hackers stole data on 500 million users in 2014.

“People”? How do we know that the traffic is people?

The Gray Lady states:

Yahoo’s traffic has been declining for a long time, overtaken by more adept, varied and apparently secure places to stay on the internet.

Let’s think about this. We don’t know if the traffic data are counting humans, software scripts, or utility functions. We do know that Yahoo has been on a glide path to a green field without rocks and ruts. We know that Yahoo is a bit of a hoot in terms of management.

My hunch is that Yahoo’s traffic is pretty much what it has been; that is, oscillating a bit but heading in for a landing, either hard or soft.

Suggesting that Yahoo may be growing is interesting but unfounded. That traffic stuff is mushy. What’s the traffic to the New York Times’s pay walled subsite? How does the Times know that a click is a human from a “partner” and not a third party scraping content?

And maybe the traffic spike is a result of disenchanted Yahoo users logging in to change their password or cancel their accounts.

Stephen E Arnold, October 21, 2016

HonkinNews for October 18, 2016 Now Available

October 18, 2016

From the wilds of rural Kentucky, Stephen E Arnold highlights the week’s search, online, and content processing news. Two services make it easy to buy a product with a mouse click. Will Amazon’s eCommerce business be threatened by eBay and Pinterest? Plus, this week’s program comments about Google and Pindrop, National Geographic’s new topographic maps, and another of Yahoo’s mounting public relations challenges. The program explains that Google is taking a step toward marginalizing the “regular” Web in favor of the mobile Web. You can view the video shot in eight millimeter film from a cabin in a hollow at this link.

Kenny Toth, October 18, 2016

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