I love the Daily podcast, but it may be because I'm a neophyte in most of what they cover. When they cover Facebook, and other tech industry topics, they are the neophytes, and imho, they once again, imho, have missed the story in today's podcast.
The story is Facebook's attempts to regulate the virality of lies. They're not trying to eliminate the lies, because as Zuckerberg states, we all make mistakes, and if they banned people or organizations that told lies, they'd be banning a lot of valuable interactions and people. Instead, when a story starts going viral, and if it's a lie, they tell the algorithm to ignore its popularity. To me, someone with some experience managing online communties, though not at the scale of Facebook, that seems to be a clever and wise solution.
The Times reporter wants them to do more. He says Zuckerberg will have to use his power. He has no obligation to be fair, applying the standards of a western democracy to speech on Facebook. He could do what the NYT would like him to do, ban Infowars, Breitbart and Gateway Pundit, and keep the NYT and Washington Post. But this isn't what Facebook wants.
What would happen if Facebook banned Infowars and Breitbart and other lie-spreading make-believe news orgs? They'd start their own Facebook. You might think it's not possible, but Facebook knows how many followers they have, and how hard the technology is. "Facebook is a business," Zuck said. And as a business he has to think about growth, and defending against potential competition.
The last thing he wants is to give the right-wing infowarriors an excuse to move their users off Facebook and onto a right-wing-approved social network. I am sure that's coming, btw. I'm sure he's sure as well. And he wants to put that out as far in the distance as he can.
If a Republican senator wanted to do something brave to call a timeout on the Trump presidency until some basic questions were answered, all they would have to do is this...
Announce that they were voting against Kavanaugh and make sure everyone understood this is why. Then a few other Republican senators can join in, and then we'd have a bi-partisan discussion of the very minimum loyalty we insist on from a POTUS.
Congress can act as representatives of the people. Never mind what they say to pollsters' questions. Imagine they knew how disloyal the president is. Act as a way of preventing the First Amendment being a suicide pact. Which is what's actually happening. Fox News has taken control of the political process, more than Trump, imho.
Update: Andrew Sullivan explains, persuasively, why this won't happen.
Re exaggeration to feed our rage addiction -- a classic example. The president is considering whether to accept Putin's proposal to give Mueller access to the twelve GRU hackers in exchange for being given access to Ambassador McFaul and Bill Browder and a few others.
This was a cause to set our hair on fire? It's a fantasy. It might happen in a few years if Trump is able to establish a dictatorship with no rule of law. No doubt he fantasizes about that, but it isn't happening now.
Yet Maddow and McFaul and a hundred reporters we'd like to respect pretend that Trump could do this! Hah. He's having a meeting about it, says Maddow. The mood is somber. This is gross malpractice. She must know it's no threat, that someone in the meeting would ask Hey boss, how exactly do you plan to get McFaul to show up for this interrogation? That would be the end of the discussion. No judge would sign a subpoena. No cop would arrest him. What would the charge be? We have the rule of law in the US, and thank goodness it's holding.
There is plenty to be upset about, but this is a cheap thrill. The liberal media is being every bit as bad as Fox News. Cut it out. We have minds, we're educated and we know when you're bullshitting. This is bullshit.
Look at how awful this thing is, and that. And we exaggerate to make things look worse than it is (more on that in a bit). In the meantime, what we were told would happen is happening. We're losing our will to act. We had great demonstrations around the inauguration. But that wasn't enough. Isn't enough. We have to be smart. Learn from the experience of Russia and Ukraine. What would the resistance there do differently if they had a do-over? We have a chance to look at our own future, and change direction. We keep missing chances. We have all the tools we need to make it work. But we have to risk, we have to be willing to sacrifice. Before it's too late. Because every day it's too late for what we could have done yesterday.
Earlier this month I wrote a piece about how Americans are like people who worked at Microsoft in the 90s. You can't separate the people from the group. In that sense, no matter whether you voted for Hillary or Jill or Bernie, or whether you marched with a pussy hat, or write angry tweets, if you're an American, you're complicit. Eventually you will be blamed for what America is doing, and that's fair and just.
Truth is, Americans are lazy. How did we get this way? We let two wars be fought in the 2000s, with no draft, not only no wartime tax increase, but a tax cut. And we let the government get away with not showing the returning flag-draped coffins. We fought two wars in Asia (still are, btw) and you'd never know it at home. That imho is a crime. You shouldn't be able to fight a war without feeling a lot of pain.
With that in mind, maybe we should be doing more than being outraged at why the Republicans don't act. Remember Gandhi said "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." In other words, in more American terms, stop waiting for other people to save your ass, risk some of your security for the greater good.
Off the top of my head I thought of something we can do right now. Stop. Don't go to work for the rest of the week. Don't buy anything. Stay home, or go out and march. Stop the US economy. Make it clear what we want. Trump either resigns or the House impeaches him. There's plenty of time between now and Friday to do that.
If we ground the economy to a stop that would make the world take note. Very likely the big companies would join the protest, and people around the world would join too. We fancy the US is the leader of the free world (obviously our president no longer is). How about a little of that famous leadership, from the people of the United States?
As I wrote earlier this week, listening is hard. It's even more difficult when someone wants to report a problem. This comes up in all kinds of relationships, it even models software bug reporting.
Here's a scenario. A person with a missing leg says "When you push me, I fall over and that hurts." Here's a list of possible responses, from best to worst.
I'm sure you see the analogy to software bug reporting. We want to know that something went wrong, so we can fix it, and make the product work properly. Same thing in personal relationships. If you care about the other person, you want to know that something you're doing is trouble for them, so you can stop doing it. There really is no better way to show that you care for them than listening when it's especially hard to.
Finally, why keep the response focused on the problem?
Here's a timeline.
One year ago today I introduced a feature that allowed me to include a post from Scripting News within another post. Here's the example, and the video demo. I wondered if I would use the feature. I haven't. But I forgot it was there, and forgot how it works. There's a CSS problem that's shown up, when I increased the size of the titles on the story pages. I'll fix that now.
This is a test. Breakage fixed. I changed the way permalinks to stories work. If an item has subs it's rendered on its own page. The URL will be different, so it has to be parsed differently when setting up the xref node. So this points to a story on its own page, and I'm going to work on the code to detect this and properly compute the location of its corresponding JSON file.
For the test above, the xref value is http://scripting.com/2018/07/09/143533.html
The JSON derived from that URL should be http://scripting.com/items/2018/07/09/a143533.json
This node is an xref. That means that in the OPML, it has an xref attribute, which is a link to a story on this blog. It's converted to the URL of a JSON file, which is then read, and included under this headline when it's expanded.
After forcing a change to HTTPS, there are going to be other requirements. They'll try to eliminate fake news from the web as Facebook is trying (and failing) to eliminate it from their silo. That's the slippery slope they are starting down. They may not feel they have a lot to lose, but we do. Last year I wrote a piece about why I like to develop on the open web. If I get an idea for a feature, I can just do it. I could wait forever for Facebook, they don't listen to me (neither does Google) but I listen to me. I can do it without getting the approval of a big company -- that's the magic of an open platform. I will never give that up. I'd rather retire to Italy and make pottery and drink espresso and bubbly water. Grazie!
Most of the time I spend watching MSNBC is a waste, but yesterday there were two items that were important.
A Twitter account called Black and Proud addresses white people:
I agree. Race is visible, and the statement that you don't see it is ludicrous. We see it. To say otherwise is to push it aside. I've written about this a few times before, once in an explainer about Black Lives Matter, and what it means, from a white person's perspective.
I want to do more. I feel compelled, not just to make life safer and simpler for people of color, but also to put up a roadblock to racism, to let it know that it will encounter resistance. Some things are better kept under cover. Racism for sure is one of them.
In the past I've proposed that we all wear Martin Luther King buttons. I felt his image was perfect because he's a black man, he preached non-violence, and was active, not passive, in his quest for equality and fairness. A white person wearing a MLK button makes a statement of equivalence. Treat me as you would treat a black person. If a majority of whites wore these buttons it would make a promise to our fellow citizens, that if there's trouble, we're standing with you. When there's trouble.
It would be like Article 5 in NATO. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. As a white person I can't become black. But I can make a statement that I stand with people of color.