TikTok: The Fluttering Sound Is Hand Waving

January 13, 2021

I read “TikTok: All Under-16s’ Accounts Made Private.” The write up explains:

TikTok users aged under 16 will have their accounts automatically set to private, as the app introduces a series of measures to improve child safety. Approved followers only can comment on videos from these accounts. Users will also be prevented from downloading any videos created by under-16s. TikTok said it hoped the changes would encourage young users to “actively engage in their online privacy journey”.

That sounds good. But is it the sound of hand waving in the thick atmosphere of appearing to do something when nothing is really being done?

Questions the Beeb’s write up sparked are:

  • How will TikTok know the verifiable age of a new user?
  • How will TikTok know if an over age user pays an under age user to create an account?
  • How will TikTok verify that “all” accounts are made private?
  • Won’t system administrators and others have access to these data?

Flutter, flutter, flutter.

Stephen E Arnold, January 13, 2021

Facial Recognition: Not As Effective As Social Recognition

January 8, 2021

Facial recognition is a sub-function of image analysis. For some time, I have bristled at calls for terminating research into this important application of algorithms intended to identify, classify, and make sense of patterns. Many facial recognition systems return false positives for reasons ranging from lousy illumination to people wearing glasses with flashing LED lights.

I noted “The FBI Asks for Help Identifying Trump’s Terrorists. Internet (and Local News) Doesn’t Disappoint.” The article makes it clear that facial recognition by smart software may not be as effective as social recognition. The write up says:

There is also Elijah Schaffer, a right-wing blogger on Glenn Beck’s BlazeTV, who posted incriminating evidence of himself in Nancy Pelosi’s office and then took it down when he realized that he posted himself breaking and entering into Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office. But screenshots are a thing.

What’s clear is that technology cannot do what individuals’ posting to their social media accounts can do or what individuals who can say “Yeah, I know that person” delivers.

Technology for image analysis is advancing, but I will be the first to admit that 75 to 90 percent accuracy falls short of a human-centric system which can provide:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Background details
  • Telephone and other information.

Two observations: First, social recognition is at this time better, faster, and cheaper than Fancy Dan image recognition systems. Second, image recognition is more than a way to identify a person robbing a convenience store. Medical, military, and safety applications are in need of advanced image processing systems. Let the research and testing continue without delay.

Stephen E Arnold, January 8, 2021

Social Media Is Allegedly No More Addictive Than Other Fun Activities

December 10, 2020

Thumbtypers, rejoice.

Documentaries are informative films that tell factual stories, but they are edited to tell the most entertaining story to earn money. Netflix recently released the The Social Dilemma documentary that explains how Facebook is an addictive activity. People are now ranting about social media addiction, but they have been doing that for years. Axios states humans become fearful about addiction with every new media technology, like the novel. Read more about the so called “addiction” in: “The Social Media Addiction Bubble.”

There is no denying that social media can be addictive. The same can be said for other media technology: videogames, TV, Internet. Addiction is a problem, but labeling something as an addiction does not help find solutions. Psychology professionals have not created an official “Facebook addiction” diagnosis, however, there is a Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale that determines individuals’ dependency on social media.

Facebook addiction is a subset of Internet addiction. Social media and technology experts do not want their creations to cause harm. For the most part, social media does not cause harm. Projecting fear onto information media is a “moral panic” and masks bigger issues. There is usually something else that is the root of addictive behavior whether it is in the form of depression or simple escapism:

“Addiction theories also promote a sense of powerlessness by imposing “all or nothing” thinking, as sociologist Sherry Turkle argued in her 2011 book “Alone Together.”

• “To combat addiction, you have to discard the addicting substance,” Turkle wrote. “But we are not going to ‘get rid’ of the internet. We will not go ‘cold turkey’ or forbid cell phones to our children…. The idea of addiction, with its one solution that we know we won’t take, makes us feel hopeless.”

Our thought bubble: Addictions typically are driven by an effort to numb pain or escape boredom, and solutions need to address demand for the addiction, not just the supply.

• People with fulfilling jobs, healthy families and nourishing cultures are a lot less likely to get addicted to Facebook or anything else.”

It is easier to blame something that is a tool and easily controllable than focus on the deeper issues behind the underlying behavior. Cars cause accidents, pollute the environment, and drain natural resources. Cars, though, are a tool and are not the underlying problem behind death, pollution, or depletion. The problem is humanity. How to fix the problem? You repair human habits by addressing what is wrong.

Whitney Grace, December 10, 2020

LinkedIn Analyzed: Verrry Interesting

December 4, 2020

I read “LinkedIn’s Alternate Universe.” I was poking around in an effort to find out how many social profiles are held by Microsoft. The write up provides a number 722 million. However, for my purposes I used a less robust estimate of 660 million. I ran out of space for decimal places. Check the story on Monday, and you will understand my space challenge. The story is Disinterest in Search and Retrieval Quantified.

I recommend this Divinations’ write up because it is amusing, and it helped me understand why the service has become some what peculiar in a social network world in which Ripley’s Believe It or Not! content has become normative.

Here are three examples:

  • Posts by living people announcing that the author is dead. Ho, ho. Alive, not dead for the denizens of a personnel department site.
  • Begging for dollars and attention. The two seem to be joined at the medulla for some LinkedIn members.
  • The antics of recruiters become Twitter jokes.

What is fascinating is that we have a WordPress plug in that posts headlines to LinkedIn automatically. This creates some interesting reactions. First, the software bot has about 800 LinkedIn friends. Okay. I think that’s good. Second, the stories about the MSFT social network service have been filtered as I recall.

The article is worth a gander.

Stephen E Arnold, December 4, 2020

What Does Disappearing Mean?

November 2, 2020

Do messages disappear? A user may not be able to view them, but is it possible that those messages reside in a server, indexed, and ready to analyze? “WhatsApp Disappearing Messages Coming Soon: Everything Explained” does not pursue this line of thinking. The write up states:

You should use disappearing messages only with trusted individuals and groups because the recipient can still take screenshots, forward, or copy disappearing messages before they disappear. Also, if you share a photo, video, or document using disappearing messages, it’ll get deleted from the chat window; if the receiver has auto-download turned on, it’ll be saved to their device.

The article points out: “It’s not a foolproof solution for sharing secrets over the instant messaging platform.”

What if Facebook retains these data? What if these disappearing chats include details about digital currency transactions? How likely is it that certain governments will curtail Facebook’s most recent initiative? Some regulators and enforcement authorities may find value in Facebook’s allegedly deleted messages. With enough value, Facebook is unlikely to explain what “disappearing” means.

What is the solution? Stop using Facebook? No problem.

Stephen E Arnold, November 2, 2020

Music Star Dubs Social Media As Mob Mentality

October 31, 2020

I am not sure I knew about Taio Cruz before I read “Taio Cruz: Social Media Has a Mob Mentality.” Mr. Cruz is a musician. He knows about social media, or, at least, he knows more than I do. Plus he makes an interesting connection:

“I think there’s a mob mentality that happens in comment sections. “A lot of the time people will see something, then look at the comments to give them the answer of how they should feel about it, or how they should behave. “And I think that’s really what happened with with my stuff. I was making fun videos, then someone decided to be toxic – and a bunch of other people decided, ‘Oh, I’m gonna join in on that.'”

The social media which sparked Mr. Cruz’s insight was TikTok, the data Hoover and entertainment mecca for people who are young at heart.

Mr. Cruz allegedly observed:

“Tik Tok really emphasizes making users’ content go viral through their ‘For You’ page – and it has this sort of feedback loop or a feedback spiral. “So if you create a piece of content, then someone else creates content from your content, it loops over and over and over again.”

Suggestion: The elected officials investigating social media may want to reach out to Mr. Cruz. He may have some insights and the language skills to explain impacts of social media upon users and stars alike.

The music for “Hangover” would enliven the forthcoming hearings.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2020

Pundit Wants Everyone Unplugged

October 21, 2020

Douglas Rushkuff is a prominent writer on technology, media, and the future. According to Coin Desk, Rushkuff believes that when it comes to the Internet’s development: “‘We Blew It.’ Douglas Rushkoff’s Take On The Future Of The Web.” Rushkoff does not like that the big tech companies, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, are monetizing our attention. He recommends that people unplug from screens and return to the world around us.

The interview focuses on Rushkuff’s experience writing about the Internet’s early days. He described the early days of the Internet as an altruistic, idealist time, when the Internet was viewed as a way to combat established powers and hierarchies. Rushkuff stated everything disappeared when:

“I think people sense the potential is still there. If we hadn’t weaponized this stuff against humanity in the name of increasing the Nasdaq stock exchange, what may have we gotten? Would we have saved – now it’s too late – civilization? That was the last moment at which we had the potential to change the world. But we decided it was more important to build up our 401(k)s.”

He believes that humanity might have passed a tipping point for civilization’s salvation. The biggest problems are climate change and more diseases. He notes that whenever a new technology is invented such as crypto currencies, people are not using them for their intended purpose. Instead they are being used to generate money and support the old power structures.

Rushkuff advises people to support mutual aid endeavors, where people cooperate and help each other for society’s benefit. Crypto currencies are a way to establish mutual aid and authenticate business transactions without relying on big business and/or banks.

In the 1990s, Rushkuff wrote of the dangers about teaching computers how to manipulate human behavior and thought. Based off how technology is advancing, computers will only get better at understanding humans. His views on the future are thinking, but he does offer some wise words:

“When you only look forward you don’t see your own exhaust. There’s a disconnect from the consequences of your actions.”

Hindsight is twenty-twenty when one rides the Google bus.

Whitney Grace, October 21, 2020

LinkedIn and Facebook Envy: A Me Too in Progress

October 20, 2020

LinkedIn is a social media platform for “professionals,” however, it is better described as Microsoft’s version of the classifieds with a lot of interactive bells and whistles. In order to maintain LinkedIn’s relevancy, Microsoft recently upgraded it to include shinier features says Gadgets360 says in, “LinkedIn Introduces Stories, Video Chats, And Other New Features.”

One of LinkedIn’s new features is Stories that is best described as posts with a twenty-four hour self-destruct button. Nothing gets deleted on the Internet and content people posted in their youth can come back to haunt them as an adult. Stories allows LinkedIn users to share updates about their professional life without fear of it becoming a closet skeleton.

There is also a new video calling integration that will make it easier to initiate video calls from LinkedIn messages:

“LinkedIn announced the new features via a blog post. It will now allow users to start a video call over Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or BlueJeans by Verizon directly from LinkedIn messages. LinkedIn said that it aims to make it easy to switch conversations from chat to face-to-face video.”

Other LinkedIn updates include a dark mood, a better, streamline search experience, and flashier message options:

“Other notable features the Microsoft-owned platform introduced include the ability to edit and delete messages, react to a message or Story with an emoji, and select multiple conversations at a time to archive, delete, or mark them as read/unread. LinkedIn has also enhanced the way users can report inappropriate messages. You can also invite others to join an existing conversation, while keeping the original conversation history private.”

With these new features, Microsoft makes LinkedIn more useful but it does not erase its reputation as an “interesting” service among some professionals.

Whitney Grace, October 20, 2020

Selling the Millennial MBA Way

October 15, 2020

How does a company sell in the era of the Rona, social unrest, financial uncertainty, international tension, and misinformation? The answer appears in “Drive Growth by Picking the Right Lane — A Customer Acquisition Playbook for Consumer Startups.” The advice is interesting because it pays scant attention to most of the traditional methods. (Methods are explained as “lanes” and “social media”.)

Here’s an example from the introduction to the free how-to. The focus of the write up is narrowed to:

Performance marketing (e.g. Facebook and Google ads)

Virality (e.g. word-of-mouth, referrals, invites)

Content (e.g. SEO, YouTube)

The essay points out that fuddy duddy techniques are not included. The explanation is:

There are two additional lanes (sales and partnerships) which we won’t cover in this post because they are rarely effective in consumer businesses. And there are other tactics to boost customer acquisition (e.g PR, brand marketing), but the lanes outlined above are the only reliable paths for long-term and sustainable business growth.

The how-to includes screenshots, tables, and graphs.

Need a playbook to sell the millennial way? This may be for you.

Stephen E Arnold, October 15, 2020

China Alert from the FBI

October 10, 2020

DarkCyber noted “New FBI Film Warns about China’s Recruitment of US Officials.” The DarkCyber research team has not viewed this video. We did note this statement in the article about the video:

FBI Director Christopher Wray and other officials have said that China’s goal of becoming the world’s top technology provider is fueling Beijing’s aggressive techniques to get as much information on technologies from around the world as possible. “Social media deception continues to be a popular technique for foreign intelligence services and other hostile actors to glean valuable information from unsuspecting Americans,” NCSC Director William Evanina said in a statement. “Through this movie and other resources, we hope to raise awareness among Americans so they can guard against online approaches from unknown parties that could put them, their organization, and even national security at risk.”

Data generated by social media provides one skilled in certain arts to:

  • Identify individuals who may be susceptible to pressure or payoffs
  • Provide hints about an individual’s weaknesses or pressure points
  • Pinpoint activities, including destinations, so that person contact can be initiated.

The cavalier dismissal of social media like TikTok as no big deal is not warranted. The FBI’s concern is understandable. If anything, enforcement agencies should have been more aggressive. The film is a useful first step, but more communication about the risks certain countries pose to the security of US businesses and governmental agencies is needed.

Stephen E Arnold, October 8, 2020

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