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.


Senators Demand Online Ad Disclosures as Tech Lobby Mobilizes – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain and two Democratic senators will move on Thursday to force Facebook, Google and other internet companies to disclose who is purchasing online political advertising, after revelations that Russian-linked operatives bought deceptive ads in the run-up to the 2016 election with no disclosure required.

But the tech industry, which has worked to thwart previous efforts to mandate such disclosure, is mobilizing an army of lobbyists and lawyers — including a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — to help shape proposed regulations. Long before the 2016 election, the adviser, Marc E. Elias, helped Facebook and Google request exemptions from the Federal Election Commission to existing disclosure rules, arguing that ads on the respective platforms were too small to fit disclaimers listing their sponsors.”

They bring tears to my eyes. Here are some critical comments I support.

ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 2 hours ago

“And, in the weeks leading up to the introduction of the Klobuchar-Warner-McCain bill, Facebook told congressional aides that it is too difficult to figure out if an ad is political or commercial because candidates are often changing messages and topics. The company added that with the sheer number of ads on the site, the engineering involved in identifying political ads would be extremely challenging.”

Sure. Very challenging to their bottom line. I think social media companies should be subject to the same disclosure rules as TV ads, revealing the source behind the ad if not the funding (we can thank Citizens United for that one).

I listened to Cheryl Sandberg responding to critiques at a forum about online truth in advertising, and found her to be both patronizing and insincere–all that talk about “transparency” from the most nontransparent company around.

Bottom line is Facebook, Google and lesser companies won’t change their wild west communication culture unless forced–and they know what following strict FEC laws will cost them, an amount they’re simply not willing to pay.

Their excuse such disclaimers would “stand in the way of innovation” makes me gag–why don’t they just come out and say it, “stand in the way of profits”?

They also know that forcing transparency as the senators propose is probably the last thing this administration–which prospers by falsehood–is interested in.


Erik New York 2 hours ago

Time for these companies to own up to the fact, that they are, at least in part, responsible for the whole Trump presidency debacle. We need to know how it happened so we can take steps to make sure nothing like this happens again. We are all paying for their lack of diligence and greed.


JDH NY 2 hours ago

The WWW is no longer the Wild Wild West. FB and the other carriers of information to the general public have willingly become the modern Trojan Horse. The refusal to see the merits of regulation, including disclaimer rules, as a means to protect the public from propagandist use of the platform, is based on one thing and one thing alone. Greed. The argument that regulation would “stand in the way of innovation” has no merit. Until these companies take their responsibility to the public seriously, we will be vulnerable to a large percentage of that public making choices based on information presented to manipulate. The reasons for political advertising regulation have been well thought out and to say that the internet’s presentation of that advertising is any different is disingenuous at best.


Will Mark Zuckerberg ‘Like’ This Column? – by Maureen Dowd – NYT

“Finally on Thursday, speaking on Facebook Live, Zuckerberg said he would give Congress more than 3,000 ads linked to Russia. As one Facebooker posted: “Why did it take EIGHT MONTHS to get here?”

Hillary is right that this $500 billion company has a lot to answer for in allowing the baby-photo-sharing site to be turned into what, with Twitter, The Times’s Scott Shane called “engines of deception and propaganda.” ”

“As Vanity Fair pointed out, Mueller’s focus on social media during the campaign could spell trouble for Jared Kushner, who once bragged that he had called his Silicon Valley friends to get a tutorial in Facebook microtargeting and brought in Cambridge Analytica — Robert Mercer is a big investor — to help build a $400 million operation for his father-in-law’s campaign.

Some lawmakers suspect that the Russians had help in figuring out which women and blacks to target in precincts in Wisconsin and Michigan.”

“The Sandberg admission was also game, set and match for Elon Musk, who has been sounding the alarm for years about the danger of Silicon Valley’s creations and A.I. mind children getting out of control and hurting humanity. His pleas for safeguards and regulations have been mocked as “hysterical” and “pretty irresponsible” by Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg, whose project last year was building a Jarvis-style A.I. butler for his home, likes to paint himself as an optimist and Musk as a doomsday prophet. But Sandberg’s comment shows that Musk is right: The digerati at Facebook and Google are either being naïve or cynical and greedy in thinking that it’s enough just to have a vague code of conduct that says “Don’t be evil,” as Google does.”

Nice work Maureen Dowd. Here is a comment I support.

Paul Wortman

East Setauket, NY 1 day ago

Yes Maureen, Facebook was used by the Russians. Unfortunately, they exploited a major gap in our campaign laws that do not regulate social media. That, and not just Mark Zuckerberg, is what needs to change. We desperately need to end the money in politics that has bought most of both political parties leaving many angry at the “establishment.” That is why we have Donald Trump in the White House. And don’t forget, The Donald continues to take advantage of Twitter to run a 24/7 political campaign. So, what we’ve learned is that social media can be “weaponized” not just by the Russians, but also by the man now occupying the Oval Office. We need to have “regulation,” but with an anti-regulatory Republican Congress and Supreme Court that is unlikely. Prepare yourself for the battle of the bots in 2020! You can even tweet that if you like.

 Steve Mnuchin’s Wife Has a Talent for Being Tone-Deaf – By TARIRO MZEZEWA – NYT

“As a native Zimbabwean, I know “In Congo’s Shadow” should offend me. And it does. But it’s also so over the top that I can’t help finding it hilarious.

“I soon learned that Africa is rife with hidden danger,” she wrote. “I witnessed random acts of violence, contracted malaria and had close encounters with lions, elephants, crocodiles and snakes. As monsoon season came and went, the Hutu-Tutsi conflict in neighboring Congo began to escalate and then spill over into Zambia with repercussions all along the lake.”

Zambia doesn’t have a monsoon season. And the Hutu-Tutsi conflict happened in Rwanda.

Later, in a line that rivals the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad, Ms. Linton wrote: “Whenever that happens, though, I try to remember a smiling gaptoothed child with H.I.V whose greatest joy was to sit on my lap and drink from a bottle of Coca-Cola.” At one point, she actually called herself “angel-haired.” I could go on.

When the self-published book raced around the Web last year, Ms. Linton apologized, hid her social media accounts and pulled the book, and Africans around the world rebuked her #LintonLies. Apparently that wasn’t enough to teach her to avoid blitzing the world with her deeply misguided, angel-haired views.”

Yes, and the Hutu-Tutsi conflict happened in Burundi, next to Rwanda, as well.

The Right Way to Brag on Instagram – by Lindy West – NYT

“Louise Linton, wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, raised ire this week with an Instagram post depicting herself descending the steps of a government jet accompanied by the caption, “Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #rolandmouret pants, #hermesscarf, #tomford sunnies, and #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa.” In the photos, the 36-year-old Scottish actress, who grew up in a castle and married Mr. Mnuchin, a multimillionaire, earlier this year, is clad in what appeared to be approximately $16,000 of luxurious cream wool crepe designer clothing and opulent accessories, which she dutifully tagged for any Real Americans currently in the market for thousand-dollar white pants.

Several Instagram commenters pointed out that, in a country where an estimated 43 million people live below the poverty line and 6.4 million children live with food insecurity, flaunting ostentatious wealth at least partially supported by taxpayer money goes beyond tackiness and approaches sadism. One user wrote: “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.” Added another: “Please don’t tag your Hermes scarf. Distasteful.” ”

Don’t miss the rest of it. It is priceless.

Here is a comment I took issue with.


Astoria, NY 20 hours ago

The Instagram post was revolting, but I have no doubt Ms. Linton’s sentiments are widely shared by her fellow members of the 1%.

Frankly, this is what happens when a nation spends four decades gutting the middle class for the benefit of the wealthiest. This is what happens when we allow our government to be for sale, and our elected officials dependent upon the financial influence of the wealthiest to gain and maintain office. Finally, this is what happens to a class of individuals who are allowed to rig the economic game to their benefit, regardless of the destruction it causes most Americans, and are lead to believe that their avarice is somehow indicative of greater talent, higher intelligence, or harder work. (Spoiler: not true).

This is a symptom of a diseased nation, suffering under grotesque income and wealth inequality. If you want to strut around like Marie Antoinette, it may be instructive to remember how her story ended.

David Lindsay

Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Dominic, your comment was OK until you maligned Marie Antoinette. I recommend you actually pick up a book about her and read it. I recommend Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser, which I listened to as a talking book by Random House audio. Marie Antoinette was the 7th or 8th daughter of the Queen of Austria. She came to the French court as a bride as an innocent 14 year old. By about 20, she was reprimanded for sharing a large part of her stipend with hospitals and orphanages.  Etc.

The “Let them eat cake” expression, was fake news. It had been uttered 100 years earlier by another female. Revolutionaries who wanted to bring down the monarchy, and did, printed hundreds of pamphlets maligning the foreign born queen, to help rouse the public in anger at the monarchy.


brandchannel: Wikipedia Founder Aims to Counter Fake News

“Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has stepped to the forefront in the fight against ‘fake news,’ launching a crowdfunded online publication, WikiTribune.Its purpose is to cover a broad range of general issues – politics, science, technology – with each fact-checked by an army of proof readers and ‘beefed up’ when required.”

Source: brandchannel: Wikipedia Founder Aims to Counter Fake News

Good luck. I hope Facebook really takes on this problem in-house. The WikiTribune approach might prove useful, in which case, Facebook will probably copy some of it.

Can Facebook Fix Its Own Worst Bug? – by Farhad Manjoo – NYT

“After the election, Margaret Sullivan, the Washington Post columnist and a former public editor of The Times, called on Facebook to hire an executive editor who would monitor News Feed with an eye to fact-checking, balance and editorial integrity. Jonah Peretti, the founder of BuzzFeed, told me that he wanted Facebook to use its data to create a kind of reputational score for online news, as well as explore ways of strengthening reporting through monetary partnerships.

“At some point, if they really want to address this, they have to say, ‘This is good information’ and ‘This is bad information,’ ” says Emily Bell, the director for the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School. “They have to say, ‘These are the kinds of information sources that we want to privilege, and these others are not going to be banned from the platform, but they are not going to thrive.’ In other words, they have to create a hierarchy, and they’re going to have to decide how they’re going to transfer wealth into the publishing market.””

Mark Zuckerberg: The end of smartphones and TVs is coming | World Economic Forum

“It’s no secret Mark Zuckerberg is pinning Facebook’s prospects on augmented reality — technology that overlays digital imagery onto the real world, like Snapchat’s signature camera filters.At this year’s F8 conference, taking place this week, Zuckerberg doubled down on the company’s ambitious 10-year master plan, which was first revealed in 2016. According to this timeline, Facebook expects to turn artificial intelligence, ubiquitous internet connectivity, and virtual and augmented reality into viable parts of its business over the next decade.The Facebook 10-year road map, first revealed in April 2016.Facebook”

Source: Mark Zuckerberg: The end of smartphones and TVs is coming | World Economic Forum

They once said books would disappear too. This would be more threatening, if more of us actually liked Facebook., rather than just finding it too powerful to completely ignore.

In One Facebook Post- Three Misleading Statements by President Trump About His Immigration Order – The New York Times


“…..“We need to stand up against anything that pits Christians and Muslims against each other,” said Jen Smyers, the associate director for immigration and refugee policy at Church World Service, a ministry affiliated with dozens of Christian denominations.Religious leaders, both Muslim and Christian, said that temporarily suspending the refugee program and barring Syrian refugees indefinitely shut the door to the most vulnerable people. More than 3,500 religious leaders have signed a letter voicing support for the United States refugee program.”

The article ended with the paragraph above, which introduced me to the Church World Services, which started with 17 religious organizations or churches, and now has 37 participating, according to Wikidpedia.

There was also a link at the end to the 3500 religious leader petition.


Unfortunately, the list of names is not alphabetical, and is too long to search.

I find theses refugee issues extremely challenging. I hope my minister Luk DeVolder of Trinity on the Green Episcopal of New Haven has signed this eloquent interfaith letter, but I also am for negative population growth, in order to slow down climate change and the sixth extinction. So I want the US to do its part to help the 65 million refugees in the world today, but also, to advocate for and move towards strict family planning. I support Obama’s compromise immigration number. He decided the U.S. should allow in 110,000 refugees. Trump is cutting that number down to 55,000. Both are small numbers compared to the 65 million refugees who need relief from war or climate change.

How a Putin Fan Overseas Pushed Pro-Trump Propaganda to Americans – The New York Times

“The Patriot News Agency website popped up in July, soon after it became clear that Donald J. Trump would win the Republican presidential nomination, bearing a logo of a red, white and blue eagle and the motto “Built by patriots, for patriots.”

Tucked away on a corner of the site, next to links for Twitter and YouTube, is a link to another social media platform that most Americans have never heard of: VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. It is a clue that Patriot News, like many sites that appeared out of nowhere and pumped out pro-Trump hoaxes tying his opponent Hillary Clinton to Satanism, pedophilia and other conspiracies, is actually run by foreigners based over

But while most of those others seem be the work of young, apolitical opportunists cashing in on a conservative appetite for viral nonsense, operators of Patriot News had an explicitly partisan motivation: getting Mr. Trump elected.

Patriot News — whose postings were viewed and shared tens of thousands of times in the United States — is among a constellation of websites run out of the United Kingdom that are linked to James Dowson, a far-right political activist who advocated Britain’s exit from the European Union and is a fan of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

But while most of those others seem be the work of young, apolitical opportunists cashing in on a conservative appetite for viral nonsense, operators of Patriot News had an explicitly partisan motivation: getting Mr. Trump elected.

Patriot News — whose postings were viewed and shared tens of thousands of times in the United States — is among a constellation of websites run out of the United Kingdom that are linked to James Dowson, a far-right political activist who advocated Britain’s exit from the European Union and is a fan of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.”