The Biggest Spender of Political Ads on Facebook? President Trump – By Sheera Frenkel – NYT

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Facebook Tried to Rein In Fake Ads. It Fell Short in a California Race. – The New York Times

“SAN FRANCISCO — Regina Bateson had just finished an Easter egg hunt with her children on April 1 when her phone started buzzing. Take a look at Facebook, messages from her friends and colleagues urged.

Ms. Bateson, a Democrat running for Congress in the California primaryon Tuesday, quickly opened up the social network. There, she saw what appeared to be a news article that painted her as underhandedly trying to torpedo the campaign of a rival Democratic candidate. When Ms. Bateson clicked through the article, she was directed to a Facebook page run by Sierra Nevada Revolution, a local progressive group she had clashed with in the past.

The article was not a news story, she found, but a political ad paid for by Sierra Nevada Revolution. And while Facebook rolled out new rules on April 6 mandating that campaign ads be clearly labeled and say who had purchased them, Sierra Nevada Revolution’s ad about Ms. Bateson continued to be targeted to local voters throughout that month without any of those disclosures.”

Is Facebook Just a Platform? A Lawyer to the Stars Says No – by David D. Kirkpatrick – NYT

By David D. KirkpatrickMay 21, 2018BELFAST, Northern Ireland —

“Paul Tweed made his name suing news organizations like CNN, Forbes and The National Enquirer on behalf of Hollywood movie stars, winning high-profile cases for celebrities like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake by hopscotching among Belfast, London and Dublin to take advantage of their favorable defamation or privacy laws.” . . .

“Social media companies have faced allegations about enabling Russia’s interference in elections in the United States and Europe, fueling outbursts of ethnic violence in countries like Sri Lanka and Myanmar, broadcasting a gang rape in Brazil and, most recently, allowing the transfer of user information to the voter-targeting company Cambridge Analytica.

Amid the public backlash, the British information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has told Facebook, “It’s not just a platform anymore; there are some legal and social responsibilities, too.”

President Trump recently signed the first American law to regulate social media companies as publishers, imposing new civil liability and criminal penalties for content that facilitates prostitution or sex trafficking.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Bravo to Germany and the EU. Excellent article.
“Germany is now requiring social media companies to remove any hate speech within 24 hours after their notification of its posting, forcing teams of Facebook employees to evaluate the content almost as editors do. A new European Union regulation to protect online privacy that goes into effect this Friday is providing new opportunities for lawyers to sue. Congress is weighing legislation to require internet companies to disclose the buyers of political advertising, just as traditional news media outlets have to do.”
We should do all of the above, asap. It is OK with me to call Facebook a platform, rather than a publisher, but it still needs strict , adult, government regulation, to require it not to be a rogue nuisance and force for evil. Germany has passed a 50 Million Euro fine for not removing fake news quickly. We should implement the German actions now, before the next election.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Opinion | Free Speech and the Necessity of Discomfort – 2/22/18 – by Bret Stephens – NYT

This is the text of a lecture delivered at the University of Michigan on Tuesday. The speech was sponsored by Wallace House.

“I’d like to express my appreciation for Lynette Clemetson and her team at Knight-Wallace for hosting me in Ann Arbor today. It’s a great honor. I think of Knight-Wallace as a citadel of American journalism. And, Lord knows, we need a few citadels, because journalism today is a profession under several sieges.

To name a few:

There is the economic siege, particularly the collapse of traditional revenue streams, which has undermined the ability of scores of news organizations to remain financially healthy and invest in the kind of in-depth investigative, enterprise, local and foreign reporting this country so desperately needs.

There is a cultural siege, as exemplified by the fact that a growing number of Americans seem to think that if something is reported in the so-called mainstream media, it is ipso facto untrue.”

David Lindsay:   “Excellent piece. I applaud it. I also recommended the two top comments, which reflect my concerns, as someone who wrote to the NYT complaining that Amy Chosick was on occassion unfair to Hillary Clinton, and appeared to hate her. Chosick has written a book, where she has admitted to her distaste for Hillary’s aloofness.

Lynn
New YorkFeb. 22
“Some readers, for example, still resent The Times for some of the unflattering coverage of Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign, as if the paper’s patriotic duty was to write fluff pieces about her in order to smooth her way to high office.”

No, we resent you for not doing what you so righteously claim to do. We resent you for not covering Hillary Clinton’s daily, substantive, issue-oriented responses to voters’ serious questions, and instead shallow email email email.

It even went so far that when your reporter, Amy Chozik, wrote about the book of policies Clinton and Kaine put together, all Chozik described were book sales.

The 2016 election was a perfect case study: a serious, policy-wonk candidate who devoted time to talk with a wide-range of stakeholders and to put together serious proposals to address a wide range of problems vs a candidate whose “policy” was to say “you’re really going to like it, believe me” or to claim “cheaper better” health care with no further details.

The serious policy proposals were ignored, the candidate who proposed them rejected as a poor politician, because details are boring and slogans are catchy.

And, after such shallow campaign reporting, you complain that readers aren’t interested in long-form journalism. We did not want “fluff”–which is what we got (and polls)–what we wanted was long-form journalism. The Times’ campaign coverage was sound-bites, personalities, and polls, and, of course, emails. Do better next time.

13 Replies481 Recommended

Paul-A commented February 22
P
Paul-A
St. Lawrence, NYFeb. 22
Times Pick
While I don’t always agree with Stephens, he’s the most thoughtful of the conservative columnists at the NYTimes; and this piece demonstrates his insightfulness.

However, there’s an important issue that he glosses over in this column. He does note that Rightwing media like Fox, Limbaugh, Beck, the Hill, Breitbart, etc. stopped being “news” outlets a long time ago. But he’s implying that most media on the Left have been following suit, and are drifting almost as far over the edge. This is a false equivalence.

Does he really believe that even the most Lefty media (like MSNBC and Huffington Post) are becoming nearly as bad as Fox and Breitbart?

And he also fails to acknowledge the impact that time adds to the equation: Rightwing media became partisan propaganda 20+ years ago, and their brainwashing/poisoning of our political and journalism discourse has accumulated to be ingrained in 35% of our citizens. The Left’s drift leftward has only been a recent response, in order to try to save our country.

And he also omits discussion of putatively moderate/reasonable Rightwing media, such as the Wall Street Journal (where hs used to work). The WSJ is much more biased than the NYTimes, or even the Washington Post. Yet why didn’t he speak out against that drift when he wrote for them? Why didn’t he decry what Fox et al were doing to “conservative news” over the past decades?

Reasonable conservatives need to come to terms with their silent complicity in what has brought us here.

14 Replies347 Recommended

Small Idea for the New York Times Paper Edition – by David Lindsay

To  the editors of the New York Times

I recently realized an idea that could help the survival  of the New York Times Paper Edition for several more centuries. Perhaps I exaggerate, but it is unlikely you will be around to know.

We read the New York Times paper edition religiously Friday through Sunday, and there is always an awkward and embarrassing conflict. We can not comfortably share the first section. While I am reading the front page and its leads into the depths of section one,  my fabulous lady cannot read the editorial page and op-ed page, since they are attached umbilicallly to the front page and page three, and vice a versa.

Alas, this conflict has disturbed the wa, or peace and harmony, of our household.

The solution is so simple. Just move the editorial page and op-ed page to the center of section one, as a two sheaf, with 4 printed paged Pullout, so one member of a household can read the front page, and the contents of section one, while another member of the household can read the editorials and op–ed.  

The only possible improvement to this simple idea, would be to cut the center sheaf  into two separate pages,  so that one could pull out both the editorial page and op-ed page separately, so that three people could enjoy starting with section one at the same time.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam, which came out this September, and blogs at The TaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Trump Hacked the Media Right Before Our Eyes – by Ross Douthat – NYT

“But the liberal establishment’s fixation on Facebook’s 2016 sins — first the transmission of fake news and now the exploitation of its data by the Trump campaign or its appendages — still feels like a classic example of blaming something new because it’s new when it’s the old thing that mattered more. Or of blaming something new because you thought that “new” meant “good,” that the use of social-media data by campaigns would always help tech-savvy liberals and not their troglodytic rivals — and the shock of discovering otherwise obscures the more important role that older forms of media played in making the Trump era a reality.

No doubt all the activity on Facebook and the apparent use of Facebook’s data had some impact, somewhere, on Trump’s surprise victory. But the media format that really made him president, the one whose weaknesses and perversities and polarizing tendencies he brilliantly exploited, wasn’t Zuckerberg’s unreal kingdom; it wasn’t even the Twitter platform where Trump struts and frets and rages daily. It was that old pre-internet standby, broadcast and cable television, and especially TV news.

Start with the fake news that laid the foundation for Trump’s presidential campaign — not the sort that circulates under clickbait headlines in your Facebook feed, but the sort broadcast in prime time by NBC, under the label of reality TV. Yes, as media sophisticates we’re all supposed to know that “reality” means “fake,” but in the beginning nobody marketed “The Apprentice” that way; across most of its run you saw a much-bankrupted real estate tycoon portrayed, week after week and season after season, as a titan of industry, the for-serious greatest businessman in the world.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Atta boy Douthat, as my father liked to say, You’re not as dumb as you look.

The commenters tear at your arguments on the periphery, and some them make good points, but the heart of your argument is impeccable. I hope the TV executives and managers and talking heads are taking notes.

im·pec·ca·ble NYT, why is there no spell check in this writing box. Help us out.

F.C.C. Is Said to Plan Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules

“WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is preparing a full repeal of net neutrality rules that require broadband providers to give consumers equal access to all content on the internet, putting more power in the hands of those companies to dictate people’s online experiences.

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the F.C.C., plans to reveal a sweeping proposal to scrap the net neutrality rules on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details are not public. The rules, created during the Obama administration, prohibit broadband providers from blocking, slowing down or charging more for the delivery of certain internet content. The proposal will be presented in a December meeting of F.C.C. commissioners and is expected to pass in a 3-to-2 vote along party lines.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Help, Help, Stop these people. I am not an expert on this complicated subject, but there was a terrific video on youtube by John Oliver, explaining Net Neutrality. The Obama Administration regulators decided the public needed this protection for a good reason. It will be all too easy for big corporations to stiffle competion, benefiting themselves at the expense of consumers and the ecoomy.

Joseph Mitchell- Chronicler of the Unsung and the Unconventional- Dies at 87 – The New York Times

“Joseph Mitchell, whose stories about ordinary people created extraordinary journalism in the pages of The New Yorker, died of cancer yesterday at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan. He was 87 and lived in Manhattan.At the height of his creative powers, from the 1930’s to the mid-60’s, Mr. Mitchell tended to avoid the standard fare of journalists: interviews with moguls, tycoons, movie stars and captains of industry. Instead, he pursued the generals of nuisance: flops, drunks, con artists, panhandlers, gin-mill owners and their bellicose bartenders, at least one flea circus operator, a man who sold racing cockroaches, a bearded lady and a fast talker who claimed to have written nine million words of “An Oral History of Our Times” when, in fact, he had written no words at all.

Mr. Mitchell was also the poet of the waterfront, of the limelight of New York’s greatness as a seaport, of the Fulton Fish Market, of the clammers on Long Island and the oystermen on Staten Island: people who caught, sold and ate seafood and talked about it incessantly. One Sunday in August 1937, he placed third in a clam-eating tournament at Block Island after consuming 84 cherrystones. He regarded that, he said, as “one of the few worthwhile achievements” of his life.

For him, people were always as big as their dreams, as mellow as the ale they nursed in the shadows of McSorley’s saloon off Cooper Square in the East Village. He wrote during a time when New Yorkers were mostly convinced that they were of good heart and that they had the best of intentions, whatever the rest of the world thought of their abrasivness and contentiousness. Mr. Mitchell’s articles offered evidence that they were right.When somebody suggested that he wrote about the “little people,” he replied that there were no little people in his work. “They are as big as you are, whoever you are,” he said.”

F.C.C. to Loosen Rules on Local Media Ownership – The New York Times

“It was the latest action by Mr. Pai, who was appointed by President Trump in January, to overhaul the media industry. Since Mr. Pai has taken the top seat at the F.C.C., his deregulatory actions have ushered in the possibility of consolidation in the broadcast television industry.

In the spring, soon after he lifted a cap on how many stations a single company can own, the Sinclair Broadcast Group announced its intention to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion. The merger, which the F.C.C. and the Department of Justice are reviewing, would give Sinclair access to more than 70 percent of all television viewers in the United States. This week, the commission’s Republican majority lifted rules that required television stations owners to operate a main studio in each locality, which Mr. Pai said was unnecessary and costly for TV station owners.”

Sinclair was featured recently in a Public Televisionn News Hour expose, as extremely right wing, evil, and forcing its editorials on the thousands of local TV news shows it owns. These local news companies do not have editorial control. This is essentially a right wing conspiracy that is real.