Opinion | We Talked to Andrew Yang. Here’s How He’d Fix the Internet. – By Charlie Warzel – The New York Times

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Mr. Warzel is an Opinion writer at large.

CreditCreditMark Makela/Reuters

“This week’s Privacy Project newsletter is a pre-debate conversation with the former entrepreneur and current presidential candidate Andrew Yang. I wanted to speak to Yang since he’s the only candidate to address data privacy as a campaign policy issue. He’s a proponent of an idea that’s somewhat controversial among privacy professionals, which is that we should own our own data.

Our short conversation turned out to be pretty sprawling, touching on subjects like data dignity, whether Facebook should be able to run political ads, whether any of us have free will and what his proposed Department of the Attention Economy might look like.

This is a condensed and edited version of our conversation:

You’re the only candidate who has decided to make privacy a campaign issue. How’d you get there?

I’m an avid user of the internet and I understand that users are completely at the mercy of tech companies in terms of what happens to our data. They pretend it’s our choice. In reality, 99.9 percent of people scroll down and hit “I agree.” The trade we’re making is for cost and convenience, but in return we’re forfeiting our data.

That data is packaged and sold and resold and we are none the wiser. We occasionally get notifications of a data breachClose X and think, “Oh, snap, should I change my password?” That’s an irritation but what’s going on with our data is much bigger than that.”

This Is the Moment Rachel Maddow Has Been Waiting For – by Amanda Hess – The New York Times

“Maddow has hosted “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC at 9 p.m. five nights a week for 11 years. But over the past three, her figure has ascended, in the liberal imagination, from beloved cable-news host to a kind of oracle for the age of Trump. If her show started out as a smart, quirky, kind-of-meandering news program focusing on Republican misdeeds in the Obama years, it has become, since the 2016 election, the gathering place for a congregation of liberals hungering for an antidote to President Trump’s nihilism and disregard for civic norms.

CreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times

Maddow does not administer beat-downs or deliver epic rants. She is not a master of the sound bite. Instead, she carries her viewers along on a wave of verbiage, delivering baroque soliloquies about the Russian state, Trump-administration corruption and American political history. Her show’s mantra is “increasing the amount of useful information in the world,” though the people who watch it do not exactly turn to it out of a need for more information. They already read the papers and scroll through Twitter all day. What Maddow provides is the exciting rush of chasing a set of facts until a sane vision of the world finally comes into focus.”

David Lindsay:

My good friend Vin Gulisano had me over for dinner about a few years before he died, and what he really wanted to share with me was his passion for Rachel Maddow. We watched an episode, and I was ambivalent. She was sharp and articulate, but she gave her opinions loosely, as part of the news she reported, in a way that I thought was unprofessional.

The story above by Amanda Hess describes someone who has perfected a strong story telling style. I taped her show last night, and was deeply impressed. She has truly studied, relentlessly, Trump’s relations with Russia, and it gave depth and gravity to her understanding of the problems Trump now is having with the Ukraine. Her quote, from her recently published book, was shockingly news worthy and to the point. She was the first opinion journalist to say clearly, Donald will be impreached by the house, since he has already admitted to doing what he is accused of doing, asking a foreign government to meddle in our next election to help Trump.

One of my favorite commentors at the NYT.com, Christine McMorrow, had this comment about Maddow:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

“By the time she cut to her first commercial break, she had zoomed out so far that Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine appeared to be just one little pushpin on a map of vast global corruption.” That’s what she does, and that’s why some of us love her to death.

Yes, her monologues can be tedious (Get to the point, Rachel!) but always in the end, well worth it. She manages to pack 100 pounds of news into a 5-pound news slot, weaving and integrating building blocks of understanding. It’s truly amazing how she writes her openings, and yet, at a dime, changes them in seconds to meet the latest late-breaking.

I’ve never seen any media person like her, and consider her a rare treasure in a sea of repetitive pundits. She may urge us to watch what Trump does, not says, but in her case, I want to watch what she says, each and every night.

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Opinion | Trump Is Too Dangerous for Twitter – By Kara Swisher – The New York Times

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Ms. Swisher covers technology and is a contributing opinion writer.

CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“It’s almost as if Donald Trump is trying to get impeached.

By Twitter, I mean.

That’s where the twitchy fingers of the president of the United States have been working overtime to try to get him tossed off the digital communications service by posting all kinds of rule-breaking things and often in all caps with lots of exclamation marks — just so we don’t miss them.

But just as the internet companies have been gifted with a big hug of a law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which extends them broad immunity from controversial content that is posted on their platforms, Mr. Trump has been given an epic pass on Twitter for whatever he does.

Why? Basically, he’s been deemed newsworthy by the company.

True enough. But that means that every day and literally twice on Sunday, it’s more incendiary tweets and rage-filled tweets and appalling tweets and reckless tweets and misleading tweets and inaccurate tweets and really inaccurate tweets. And the many lies as tweets — so, so many tweet lies.”

How YouTube Radicalized Brazil – The New York Times

“NITERÓI, Brazil — When Matheus Dominguez was 16, YouTube recommended a video that changed his life.

He was in a band in Niterói, a beach-ringed city in Brazil, and practiced guitar by watching tutorials online.

YouTube had recently installed a powerful new artificial intelligence system that learned from user behavior and paired videos with recommendations for others. One day, it directed him to an amateur guitar teacher named Nando Moura, who had gained a wide following by posting videos about heavy metal, video games and, most of all, politics.

In colorful and paranoid far-right rants, Mr. Moura accused feminists, teachers and mainstream politicians of waging vast conspiracies. Mr. Dominguez was hooked.

As his time on the site grew, YouTube recommended videos from other far-right figures. One was a lawmaker named Jair Bolsonaro, then a marginal figure in national politics — but a star in YouTube’s far-right community in Brazil, where the platform has become more widely watched than all but one TV channel.”

David Lindsay:  When Elizabeth Warren included Google in her list of major Social Media and Tech companies that should be broken up and heavily regulated, I thought she had gone overboard. It turns out, she was right, and I was clueless as to what a nightmarish monster parts of Google, such as Youtube, have become, aiding and abetting the rise of facists and extreme right wingers around the world. I now join Elizabeth Warren, that Google is on the list of oversized and dangerous monoliths that have to be broken up and carefully regulated to protect democratic and open market values.

The Weekly | Facebook Love Scams: Who’s Really Behind That Friend Request? – The New York Times

Producer/Director Rolake Bamgbose

“A lonely Florida woman established a Facebook romance with a man she thought was an American soldier in Iraq. It wasn’t until she had sent him tens of thousands of dollars from her and her husband’s life savings that she learned her buff, blue-eyed friend was a fake.

Online scams may be as old as the internet, but Facebook has made it easier for scammers to victimize users longing for connection, and to draft unwitting U.S. service members into their schemes. Neither the world’s largest social network nor the world’s most powerful military seem to be able to stop it.

In a special one-hour episode of “The Weekly,” our technology reporter Jack Nicas tries to track down some of these digital con artists.”

In Push for 2020 Election Security- Top Official Was Warned: Don’t Tell Trump – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities as homeland security secretary: preparing for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election.

President Trump’s chief of staff told her not to bring it up in front of the president.

Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids.

But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”

Even though the Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for civilian cyberdefense, Ms. Nielsen eventually gave up on her effort to organize a White House meeting of cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect next year’s elections.

Opinion | Think You’re Discreet Online? Think Again – The New York Times

Zeynep Tufekci

By Zeynep Tufekci

Dr. Tufekci is a professor of information science who specializes in the social effects of technology.

CreditAlexis Beauclair
“People concerned about privacy often try to be “careful” online. They stay off social media, or if they’re on it, they post cautiously. They don’t share information about their religious beliefs, personal life, health status or political views. By doing so, they think they are protecting their privacy.

But they are wrong. Because of technological advances and the sheer amount of data now available about billions of other people, discretion no longer suffices to protect your privacy. Computer algorithms and network analyses can now infer, with a sufficiently high degree of accuracy, a wide range of things about you that you may have never disclosed, including your moods, your political beliefs, your sexual orientation and your health.

There is no longer such a thing as individually “opting out” of our privacy-compromised world.

The basic idea of data inference is not new. Magazine subscriber lists have long been purchased by retailers, charities and politicians because they provide useful hints about people’s views. A subscriber to The Wall Street Journal is more likely to be a Republican voter than is a subscriber to The Nation, and so on.”

Opinion | A Way to Detect the Next Russian Misinformation Campaign – The New York Times

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By Philip N. Howard
Professor Howard is the director of the Oxford Internet Institute and the author of “Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up.”

March 27, 2019

Some of the Facebook ads linked to a Russian effort to disrupt the 2016 American presidential election, released by members of the House Intelligence Committee in late 2017.
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Jon Elswick/Associated Press

“Despite the best efforts of several technology firms, there still seem to be secretive groups distributing political ads without disclosing who is funding those ads. Even if Facebook starts discouraging advertisers from targeting users on the basis of race, gender or age, as it recently announced, the wealth of existing data that it has already collected will still allow advertisers to do sophisticated ad targeting.

Social media firms want to regulate themselves, and Google has threatened to withdraw all political ads in Canada if it finds transparency rules too onerous. Facebook offers political ad archives in a few countries, and searching by hand is laborious. Independent researchers can investigate trends computationally, but Facebook, Twitter and Google are doing more and more to restrict access. There is negligible access to Instagram, where huge volumes of Russian-origin misinformation now flows. Banning political ads or creating partial ad archives in some countries won’t strengthen the world’s democracies. Ad bans give incumbent politicians an unfair advantage, and establishing partial ad archives gives political ad buyers an incentive to not declare their ads as political.

Elections officials and ad regulators in the world’s democracies urgently need to sort this out: Nearly a billion people in India and across Europe will prepare to vote in the next few months, and presidential campaigning in the United States has already started. The solution is to have all technology companies put all ads, all the time, into public archives.”

via Opinion | A Way to Detect the Next Russian Misinformation Campaign – The New York Times

Opinion | If Stalin Had a Smartphone – By David Brooks – The New York Times

David Brooks

By David Brooks

Opinion Columnist

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A woman in Moscow taking a selfie with an image of Stalin, on the anniversary of his death.CreditCreditMladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“I feel bad for Joseph Stalin. He dreamed of creating a totalitarian society where every individual’s behavior could be predicted and controlled. But he was born a century too early. He lived before the technology that would have made being a dictator so much easier!

In the first place, he’d have much better surveillance equipment. These days most interactions are through a computer, so there is always an electronic record of what went on.

The internet of things means that our refrigerators, watches, glasses, phones and security cameras will soon be recording every move we make. In 2017, Levi Strauss made an interactive denim jacket, with sensors to detect and transmit each gesture, even as minimal as the lifting of a finger. Soon prosecutors will be able to subpoena our driverless cars and retrieve a record of every place they took us.

And this is not even to mention the facial recognition technology the Chinese are using to keep track of their own citizens. In Beijing, facial recognition is used in apartment buildings to prevent renters from subletting their apartments.”

Mark Zuckerberg Wants Facebook to Emulate WeChat. Can It? – By Li Yuan – The New York Times

“SAN FRANCISCO — As Mark Zuckerberg begins shifting Facebook to private messaging and away from public sharing and open conversations, the vision he has sketched out for the future of social networking already exists — just not in the United States.

Instead, it is a reality in China through a messaging app called WeChat.

Developed by the Chinese internet giant Tencent in 2011, WeChat lets people message each other via one-on-one texts, audio or video calls. Users can also form groups of as many as 500 people on WeChat to discuss and debate the issues of the day.

While Facebook users constantly see ads in their News Feeds, WeChat users only see one or two ads a day in their Moment feeds. That’s because WeChat isn’t dependent on advertising for making money. It has a mobile payments system that has been widely adopted in China, which allows people to shop, play games, pay utility bills and order meal deliveries all from within the app. WeChat gets a commission from many of these services.

“WeChat has shown definitively that private messaging, especially the small groups, is the future,” said Jeffrey Towson, a professor of investment at Peking University. “It is the uber utility of business and life. It has shown the path.” “

Source: Mark Zuckerberg Wants Facebook to Emulate WeChat. Can It? – The New York Times