Revealing Zello's role in last week's riot, making a case for deplatforming, and exploring the idea of responsible social media.
Evidence shows that insurrectionists used the walkie-talkie app Zello to help organize the riot at the capitol. On this week’s On the Media, a look at how the platform has resisted oversight, despite warnings that it was enabling right-wing extremism. Plus, how to sniff out the real corporate boycotts from the PR facades. And, how to build social media that doesn't exploit users for profit.
1. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] on Zello's role in last week's insurrection, and what the app is finally doing about its militia members. Listen.
2. Casey Newton [@CaseyNewton], writer for Platformer, on why this wave of social media scrubbing might not be such a bad thing. Listen.
3. Siva Vaidhyanathan [@sivavaid], professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, and Americus Reed II [@amreed2], professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business, on the true costs of corporate boycotts. Listen.
4. Eli Pariser [@elipariser], co-director of Civic Signals, on how to build digital spaces that do not monetize our social activity or spy on us for profit. Listen.
Music from the show:
Fallen Leaves — Marcos Ciscar
The Hammer of Loss — John Zorn — A Vision in Blakelight
Hard Times — Nashville Sessions — Songs of the Civil War
What’s that Sound? — Michael Andrews
In the Bath — Randy Newman
Boy Moves the Sun — Michael Andrews
Ain’t Misbehavin’ — Hank Jones
Yo, decentralizers. If our projects are ONLY about censorship resistance and NOT about better algorithms for elevating truth, and NOT about creating constrained but real powers of moderation, then we're making things worse. 1/n
It kills me, absolutely kills me, that after years of decentralization advocacy it's a moment like this when all the dweb projects pop up on HN and social media. The interest popped -- not when truth became inconvenient for corporate power, but when lies did.
Charitably, people may be reflecting on the kind of power imbalance being revealed and reflecting on how it could be abused.https://twitter.com/pwang/status/1348335710303096833
Uncharitably? Do I need to even say it.
For anybody still unsure:
We have to find a way to square our ideals and our fears about monopoly control with the realities of how our technology is working. It's not enough to defend an ideal. We need to be effective.
We've all done our spiderman homework. What comes with great power?
If we really believe that free speech is important -- as I do -- and we want to protect it, then we need to work hard to make sure that free speech provides value to people. Otherwise they're going to shrug and let it drift away, "a nice idea, but impractical, really"
The question isn't "how do we make moderation impossible?" The question is, how do we make moderation trustworthy.
That, it turns out, is much harder than p2p tweets
It's also about *checking* power, not just distributing it. Like code-forking: FOSS doesn't always mean "anybody can contribute," but it definitely means that the users can fork if the core devs abuse their position. How can we get that kind of check on power here?
It's nuanced. It's harder to sell than "censorship resistance." Maybe we need a new framework for discussing this, a new set of words. I don't know what to tell you, but the reward is equal to the challenge. n/n
Trump’s ban from the platform is the latest battle in a 50-year war over media filters.
“What excuse did we use not to ban him this time?”
There is no question that social media played a role in the siege and take-over of the US Capitol on January 6.
Platforms are rapidly removing Trump’s account or those affiliated with pro-Trump violence and conspiracies.
A different sort of NASCAR problem…
After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.
Too little, too late, but nonetheless.
👓 Twitter Just Suspended My Account After The Cover Of My Book Offended Their Algorithm | Crooks and Liars
The cover of my book, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right, is now being equated to actual hate speech that I report on.
👓 Twitter Bans #Resistance-Famous Krassenstein Brothers for Allegedly Operating Fake Accounts | The Daily Beast
Ed and Brian Krassenstein are banned for life after ‘operating multiple fake accounts and purchasing account interactions,’ a Twitter spokesman said.
👓 The year we step back from the platform | Nieman Journalism Lab | Ernie Smith
"Let's replace the shadows that Twitter and Facebook and Google have been on the media with some business-model fundamentals. As 2018 has shown, they've offered us a lot more heartache than it feels like they're actually worth."
Ernie, should you see this, I’d welcome you to come join a rapidly growing group of creators who have been doing almost exactly what you’ve prescribed. We’re amassing a wealth of knowledge, tools, code, and examples at Indieweb.org to help you and others on their journey to better owning and controlling their online identities in almost the exact way in which you’re talking about in your article. Both individually and together we’re trying to build web websites that allow all the functionality of the platforms, but in a way that is both easy and beautiful for everyone to manage and use. Given the outlet for your piece, I’ll also mention that there’s a specific page for IndieWeb and Journalism.
I’d invite you to join the online chat and add yourself as an example to any of the appropriate pages, including perhaps for Craft. Also feel free to discuss your future plans and ask for any help or support you’d like to see for improving your own website. Together I hope we can all make your prediction for 2019 a reality.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
But what if, in 2019, we take a step back and decide not to let the platform decide how to run the show? ❧
January 09, 2019 at 07:55AM
I’ve been working on a redesign of my site recently, using a more robust CMS, and the advantages of controlling the structure of the platform soup-to-nuts are obvious, even if it requires more upfront work. ❧
January 09, 2019 at 07:57AM
2019 is the year when publishers — whether big ones like Axios or the Los Angeles Times or tiny ones like mine or Judd Legum’s Popular Information — move away from letting someone else call all the shots. Or, at least, they should. ❧
January 09, 2019 at 08:01AM
👓 Deplatforming the platforms | Richard MacManus
Platforms are the key to influence in the modern era. We’ve spent years being burned by them and complaining about them for either doing too much or not enough. But what if, in 2019, we take a step back and decide not to let the platform decide how to run the show? Great points by Ernie Smith in a...
🎧 This Week in Google 481 Stoned on Cheese | TWIG.tv
Foldable Phone, Online Civility
- The Samsung Developers Conference Keynote features a foldable phone, SmartThings IoT, and Bixby innovations.
- Android will support foldable phones.
- Google employees stage a walkout over sexual harassment
- Tim Berners-Lee's Contract for the Web
- How to encourage civility online
- YouTube Content ID
- Facebook and "White Genocide"
- Young people are deleting Facebook in droves
- Facebook's holiday pop-up store
- Everybody gets free Amazon shipping
- Amazon's new HQ2(s)
- 8 new Chromebook features
- Google Home Hub teams up with Sephora
- Ajit Pai's FCC is hopping mad about robocalls
Picks of the Week
- Jeff's Number: Black Friday home tech deals
- Stacey's Thing: Extinct cables, Alexa Christmas Lights
While most people are forced to rely on Google as their silo of choice for video and specifically live streaming video, he points out a painful single point of failure in their system with regard to copyright rules and Google’s automatic filters that could get a user/content creator permanently banned. Worse, as Leo indicates, this ban could also extend to related Google accounts (YouTube, Gmail, etc.) One is thus open to potential chilling effects of intimidation, censorship, and deplatforming.
Leo discusses the fact that he’s not as beholden to YouTube because he streams and hosts all of his content on his own website and only utilizes silos like YouTube as ancillary distribution. In IndieWeb parlance what he does is known as POSSE or Post to your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere and this prevents his journalism, commentary, and even his business from being ravaged by the whims of corporate entities whose rules he can’t control directly.
The discussion starts at 1:05:11 into the episode and goes for about 10 minutes for those who are interested in this particular sub-topic.
This idea also impinges on Cal Newport’s recent article Is YouTube Fundamental or Trivial? which I read the other day.
👓 What Does Gab’s Demise Mean For Federation? | Interdependent Thoughts
The Twitter-like platform Gab has been forced offline, as their payment providers, hosting provider and domain provider all told them their business was no longer welcome. The platform is home to people with extremist views claiming their freedom of speech is under threat. At issue is of course wher...
📑 Reply to Ben Werdmüller | Interdependent Thoughts
👓 Reply to Ben Werdmüller | Interdependent Thoughts
I think this is a false dilemma, Bernd.
I’d say that it would be great if those extremists would see using a distributed tool like Mastodon as the only remaining viable platform for them. It would not suppress their speech. But it woud deny them any amplification, which they now enjoy by being very visible on mainstream platforms, giving them the illusion they are indeed mainstream. It will be much easier to convince, if at all needed, instance moderators to not federate with instances of those guys, reducing them ever more to their own bubble. They can spew hate amongst themselves for eternity, but without amplification it won’t thrive. Jotted down some thoughts on this earlier in “What does Gab’s demise mean for federation?“