Opinion | I Invented the World Wide Web. Here’s How We Can Fix It. – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Berners-Lee is a co-founder of the World Wide Web Foundation.

Credit…Wren McDonald

“My parents were mathematicians. My mother helped code one of the first stored-program computers — the Manchester Mark 1. They taught me that when you program a computer, what you can do is limited only by your imagination. That excitement for experimentation and change helped me build the World Wide Web.

I had hoped that 30 years from its creation, we would be using the web foremost for the purpose of serving humanity. Projects like Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap and the world of open source software are the kinds of constructive tools that I hoped would flow from the web.

However, the reality is much more complex. Communities are being ripped apart as prejudice, hate and disinformation are peddled online. Scammers use the web to steal identities, stalkers use it to harass and intimidate their victims, and bad actors subvert democracy using clever digital tactics. The use of targeted political ads in the United States’ 2020 presidential campaign and in elections elsewhere threatens once again to undermine voters’ understanding and choices.

We’re at a tipping point. How we respond to this abuse will determine whether the web lives up to its potential as a global force for good or leads us into a digital dystopia.”

“, , ,I’m introducing a new approach to overcome that stalemate — the Contract for the Web.

The Contract for the Web is a global plan of action created over the past year by activists, academics, companies, governments and citizens from across the world to make sure our online world is safe, empowering and genuinely for everyone.

The contract outlines steps to prevent the deliberate misuse of the web and our information. For example, it calls on governments to publish public data registries, so that they are no longer able to conceal from their own citizens how their data is being used. If governments are sharing our data with private companies — or buying data broker lists from them — we have a right to know and take action.”

Opinion | Facebook Isn’t Just Allowing Lies, It’s Prioritizing Them – By Tim Wu – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Wu is a law professor at Columbia.

Credit…Eric Thayer for The New York Times

” “First, do no harm,” a doctrine typically associated with the practice of medicine, is the right ethic when it comes to decisions surrounding Silicon Valley’s paid promotion technologies and their effects on elections and democracy. A desire to avoid harm — in particular, the spread of misinformation — is part of what persuaded Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, to announce that his company will no longer run political ads. And Twitter is not alone: LinkedIn, Pinterest, Microsoft and Twitch also refuse political ads, while Google accepts them in some states but not others.

Facebook is now the outlier, and it is increasingly hard to understand why it is insisting on accepting not only political advertising, but even deliberate and malicious lies if they are in the form of paid advertisements. Given how much can go wrong — and has gone wrong — the question everyone is asking is: Why does Facebook think it needs to be in this game? Naïveté is at this point the most flattering explanation.

It isn’t, as some think, just about making money, for as a revenue source, the money at stake is minor. But the money does matter, in a different way. Paying for promotion is how, on social media, some speakers gain priority over others. This creates an advantage unrelated to actual popularity. Paired with the freedom to lie, the effect is to give political lies and paid misinformation campaigns a twisted advantage over other forms of election speech (like “the news.”) Even as Facebook’s “integrity” teams try to stamp out other forms of deception, paid promotions gain access to the full power of Facebook’s tools of microtargeting, its machine learning and its unrivaled collection of private information, all to maximize the influence of blatant falsehoods. What could possibly go wrong?

If the idea of prioritizing lies over truth doesn’t sound very appealing, Facebook’s defenses of its policy are almost their own misinformation campaign. Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs and communications, has suggested that Facebook sees itself as providing the “tennis court” where politicians play the game of politics. But tennis actually has strict rules; Facebook has embraced, instead, the norms of a fighting cage. More important, Mr. Clegg is hiding the more fundamental question: Who ever said Facebook needed be the tennis court in the first place?”

Opinion | Aaron Sorkin: An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Sorkin is a playwright and screenwriter.

Credit…Merrick Morton/Columbia Pictures, via Everett Collection

“Mark,

In 2010, I wrote “The Social Network” and I know you wish I hadn’t. You protested that the film was inaccurate and that Hollywood didn’t understand that some people build things just for the sake of building them. (We do understand that — we do it every day.)

I didn’t push back on your public accusation that the movie was a lie because I’d had my say in the theaters, but you and I both know that the screenplay was vetted to within an inch of its life by a team of studio lawyers with one client and one goal: Don’t get sued by Mark Zuckerberg.

It was hard not to feel the irony while I was reading excerpts from your recent speech at Georgetown University, in which you defended — on free speech grounds — Facebook’s practice of posting demonstrably false ads from political candidates. I admire your deep belief in free speech. I get a lot of use out of the First Amendment. Most important, it’s a bedrock of our democracy and it needs to be kept strong.

But this can’t possibly be the outcome you and I want, to have crazy lies pumped into the water supply that corrupt the most important decisions we make together. Lies that have a very real and incredibly dangerous effect on our elections and our lives and our children’s lives.”

David Lindsay:   Here are the top, most recommened NYT comments, which I supported:

Didier
Charleston. WV

If Facebook is really about people joining together to share their lives, it should follow Twitter’s lead and ban all political advertising. People can still discuss politics and Facebook will survive without the revenue from those who would use its platform to disseminate lies. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.

14 Replies1355 Recommended

 
Mary commented 5 hours ago

Mary
Lake Worth FL

When did free speech become synonymous with spreading lies for profit? When did antitrust laws disappear and corporations become we the people. When did it become ok to destroy truth if the price is right?

8 Replies1130 Recommended

 
David commented 5 hours ago

David
Major

Bravo. Most in media are scared to attack facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg this honestly and directly. Hopefully this is a piece that will bring more voices to the fore…. Antitrust as we know it today must evolve…and do so quickly or we will all pay much more dearly…

4 Replies773 Recommended

 
Just Ben commented 5 hours ago

Just Ben
Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico

Wishful thinking: No, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about the damage his site does. That’s clear from both his actions and his words. The only things that motivate him are greed and growth. A solution is to write the “law”, or un-write it: repeal the exemption from the Communications Decency Act (which ought have been called the Communications Indecency Act) that shields Facebook from liability for what it publishes. Then, with any luck at all, lawsuits will put Facebook out of business lickety-split.

4 Replies626 Recommended

Opinion | Trump, Zuckerberg & Pals Are Breaking America – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“If America’s worst enemies had spent years designing a plan to erode our greatest strengths, they could not have done better than what some of our fellow citizens are doing to the country every day for short-term financial or political gain.

Prominent figures in government, politics and commerce are behaving in ways that are so destructive of the core institutions and norms that underpin our democracy, one can only assume that they take the country’s stability as a given — that they can abuse and stress it all they want and it won’t break.

They are wrong. We can break America, and right now we’re on our way there. Not in the Cold War, not during Vietnam, not during Watergate did I ever fear more for my country.

This moment “is like Wall Street before the financial crisis, when everyone just took for granted that the system was forever stable,” remarked Gautam Mukunda, research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and author of “Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter.” “

“. . .  And, finally, there’s the internet barons who for too long ignored the weaponization of social media, which is turning our free press into a house of mirrors, where citizens can no longer cognitively discern fact from fiction and make informed judgments essential for democracy.

I watch it all and wonder: “Are you really doing that? Do you all go home at night to some offshore island where the long-term damage you’re doing to America doesn’t matter?”

Here is my question to the NYT, and the two top comments, which I recommended.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT |
Does the NYT and most other newspapers fact check political ads before running them?

 

Socrates commented October 29

Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJ
Times Pick

Zuckerberg has a lot of social problems for a guy who runs a social network. You would think he’d have a special sensitivity to the obvious human horrors of propaganda that we all know helped destroy European society eighty years ago. You would think that his education and rarified, privileged status might endow him with a sliver of humanity, wisdom and goodwill toward others, but instead he appears to be just a run-of-the-mill greedy corporate soul who has trouble seeing the destruction he and his Frankenstein invention have wrought on society. Most people don’t read much…most people don’t research much….most people aren’t great critical thinkers….many people are easily duped…most people aren’t well-informed…and these folks love Facebook and their minds are easily hijacked by professional gaslighters, liars and propagandists; Facebook allows these folks to be specifically targeted and manipulated into the twilight zone thanks to Facebook’s human-privacy-organ-harvesting business model. FOX News and Hate Radio also deserve credit for whipping up voters into a rabid, irrational state of fear and loathing as well; Rupert Murdoch is one of the worst things to happen to America. Murdoch, Zuckerberg and all the other gaslighting Robber Barons are long overdue for a heavy dose of reality and government regulation to keep the public safe from Grand Old Propaganda, a known hazard to human civilization. Time to regulate Facebook and bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

64 Replies3212 Recommended
ChristineMcM commented October 29

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts
Times Pick

I’m just as frightened as you, Tom Friedman, maybe even longer than you–I saw the signs of Trumps power abuses starting with the inauguration accounting issues. In addition to Zuckerberg, Graham, and Trump smashing the country to smithereens, you should have mentioned Bill Barr. He’s put least 5 nails in the coffin of American democracy by conducting a criminal investigation of FBI and CIA individuals who were so alarmed by intelligence intercepts of members of the Trump campaign that they reacted as any good security experts do: investigate. If that isn’t Putin territory Barr is taking us to, I don’t know what is. He’s weaponizing the DOJ to appease Trump’s lust for vengeance. Trump gets away with everything because he’s enabled. He’s getting plenty of help as he brings us all down.

21 Replies2754 Recommended

Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy – Vincent Bugliosi – Books – The New York Times

“LOS ANGELES, May 13 — The prosecutor who put Charles Manson behind bars now wants to solve another crime — a really simple one, he insists. So simple that it takes only 1,612 pages to prove his case.

Vincent Bugliosi, whose prosecution of Charles Manson in 1970 led him to write one of the best-selling true-crime books of all time, “Helter Skelter,” has now turned his attention to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

And that is his full attention: 20 years of research, more than one million words, hundreds of interviews, thousands of documents and more than 10,000 citations. The result, “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” (W. W. Norton), is due out tomorrow. His conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy, and acted alone.

Why would such a simple conclusion require so much argument?

“Because of the unceasing and fanatical obsession of thousands of researchers over the last 43 years, from around the world but mostly in the United States,” Mr. Bugliosi said in an interview at the cafe of the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel in Studio City, Calif. “Examining under a high-powered microscope every comma, every period, every detail on every conceivable issue, and making hundreds and hundreds of allegations, they have transformed this simple case into its present form.”

Mr. Bugliosi likes to tell a story illustrating why he believes this book is necessary. In 1992, less than a year after the debut of Oliver Stone’s conspiracy-minded film “J.F.K.,” Mr. Bugliosi was addressing a group of trial lawyers when a member of the audience asked him about the assassination.”

David Lindsay:  Today, I attended the Yale SEA brown bag lecture by Michele Thompson on Tue Tinh of 14th century Vietnam. At the lunch after, I talked with two of her graduate students from Southern CT State U., one of whom named Matt, mentioned this book above, which he used in his master’s paper on Richard Nixon and the history of the Republican Party through Nixon’s presidency. Matt insisted that it was impossible to read this book and not agree that Oswald did, in fact, like the Warren Commission found, acted alone. I should not be surprised that the Warren Commission did a good job, since  my uncle, John Lindsay, the mayor of NYC, and my father, David Lindsay, thought highly of it. From Wikipedia I found:

Committee

Equal-time rule – Wikipedia

“The equal-time rule specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political candidates who request it. This means, for example, that if a station gives a given amount of time to a candidate in prime time, it must do the same for another candidate who requests it, at the same price if applicable.[1] This rule originated in §18 of the Radio Act of 1927; it was later superseded by the Communications Act of 1934. A related provision, in §315(b), requires that broadcasters offer time to candidates at the same rate as their “most favored advertiser”.

The equal-time rule was created because the FCC was concerned that broadcast stations could easily manipulate the outcome of elections by presenting just one point of view, and excluding other candidates. The equal-time rule should not be confused with the now-defunct Fairness Doctrine, which dealt with presenting balanced points of view on matters of public importance.

There are four exceptions to the equal-time rule. If the airing was within a documentary, bona fide news interview, scheduled newscast or an on-the-spot news event, the equal-time rule does not apply. Since 1983, political debates not hosted by the media station are considered “news events,” and as a result, are not subject to the rule. Consequently, these debates may include only major-party candidates without having to offer air time to minor-party or independent candidates. Talk shows and other regular news programming from syndicators, such as Entertainment Tonight, are also declared exempt from the rule by the FCC on a case-by-case basis.[2]

The equal-time rule was temporarily suspended by Congress in 1960 in order to permit the Kennedy-Nixon debates to take place.[3]

The Zapple Doctrine was similar to the equal-time rule, but applied to different political campaign participants. The equal-time rule applies to the political candidate only. The Zapple Doctrine had the same purpose and requirements of equivalent coverage opportunity as the equal-time rule, but its scope included the candidate’s spokesman and supporters, not the candidate.[4]

Source: Equal-time rule – Wikipedia

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

By 

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.”

Opinion | The Growing Threat to Journalism Around the World – by A G Sulzberger – The New York Times

“Since assuming office, President Trump has tweeted about “fake news” nearly 600 times. His most frequent targets are independent news organizations with a deep commitment to reporting fairly and accurately. To be absolutely clear, The Times and other news organizations are fair game for criticism. Journalism is a human enterprise, and we sometimes make mistakes. But we also try to own our mistakes, to correct them and to rededicate ourselves every day to the highest standards of journalism.

But when the president decries “fake news,” he’s not interested in actual mistakes. He’s trying to delegitimize real news, dismissing factual and fair reporting as politically motivated fabrications.

So when The Times reveals his family’s fraudulent financial practices, when The Wall Street Journal reveals hush money paid to a porn star, when The Washington Post reveals his personal foundation’s self-dealing, he can sidestep accountability by simply dismissing the reports as “fake news.”

Even though all those stories — and countless more that he’s labeled fake — have been confirmed as accurate, there is evidence that his attacks are achieving their intended effect: One recent poll found that 82 percent of Republicans now trust President Trump more than they trust the media. One of the president’s supporters was recently convicted of sending explosives to CNN, one of the most frequent targets of the “fake news” charge.

But in attacking American media, President Trump has done more than undermine his own citizens’ faith in the news organizations attempting to hold him accountable. He has effectively given foreign leaders permission to do the same with their countries’ journalists, and even given them the vocabulary with which to do it.

They’ve eagerly embraced the approach. My colleagues and I recently researched the spread of the phrase “fake news,” and what we found is deeply alarming: In the past few years, more than 50 prime ministers, presidents and other government leaders across five continents have used the term “fake news” to justify varying levels of anti-press activity.

The phrase has been used by Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, who have levied massive fines to force independent news organizations to sell to government loyalists. It’s been used by President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, who have attacked the press as they’ve led bloody crackdowns.”

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.

Opinion | It’s Time to Break Up Facebook – by Chris Hughes – The New York Times

“Over a decade later, Facebook has earned the prize of domination. It is worth half a trillion dollars and commands, by my estimate,more than 80 percent of the world’s social networking revenue. It is a powerful monopoly, eclipsing all of its rivals and erasing competition from the social networking category. This explains why, even during the annus horribilis of 2018, Facebook’s earnings per share increased by an astounding 40 percent compared with the year before. (I liquidated my Facebook shares in 2012, and I don’t invest directly in any social media companies.)”