Trump’s Tweets. It’s been a long week, but near the start of it (last Wednesday to be exact), US President Trump sent a Tweet containing the phrase “when the looting starts the shooting stars.” Twitter didn’t remove it, but they did hide the contents so that users would have to click into it to view, on the basis that it promotes or glorifies violence. The same post was shared on Facebook, but the company has left it unchanged.
Twitter seems to be viewing this as a choice between two evils – either promoting a message that glorifies violence, or hiding from the public the fact that the president holds these views, which might be important for people to know. This is how they arrive at the half-way solution of leaving it accessible, but adding a warning.
It’s unclear how effective this strategy is. Studies in the past showed that marking only some posts as “disputed” made people more likely to believe all of the others that were not. The little exclamation marks or warning symbols also drew more attention to the content. That happened here too – the fact that Twitter did this made headlines and the Tweet itself was read out on the RTE 9 O’Clock news.
Trump then threatened legislative changes in retaliation. Many speculate that his retaliation is really aimed at Facebook. He’s seeking to intimidate them into inaction as his campaign plans to use the platform for voter suppression to secure re-election in November.
“We see the executive order as very clear retaliation that’s designed to deter social media companies from fighting misinformation and voter suppression,” said Alexandra Givens, the leader of Center for Democracy and Technology.
Mark Zuckerberg continues to stand over the decision not to moderate any of Trump’s actions, which a lot of Facebook employees are unhappy about.
These are difficult decisions. You probably have your own opinion on whether or not these posts should be left alone, removed, or tagged in some way. Whatever your opinion, it’s useful to understand the decision making process within these companies, as they will continue to impact the spread of political speech throughout the world.
Testing the limits. Someone set up a Twitter account that tweets Trump’s tweets word-for-word, which Twitter then suspended for 12 hours for glorifying violence. Link.
Fake pics. Twitter are also adding “manipulated media” tags to posts. For example, this one of a photoshopped photo of Hitler to make it look like he and Trump held the bible in the same way. Link.
Profiling the Police. There are many stories of police using big data and algorithms to try predict bad behaviour in the public, but what if we turned the tech around and used it to predict bad behaviour from the police? This study in 2019 did just that, with two very interesting (but probably unsurprising) findings. 1. “You are the average of the company you keep” applies to police too, with bad behaviour in one acting as a strong predictor of bad behaviour in their partner. 2. “The presence of female officers in the group reduced the chances of anyone receiving complaints of excessive force in the future.” Read More.
Grow Remote, a group trying to revive rural Irish towns with remote working, are hiring a General Manager. Link.
Local Digital in the UK have a good repository of online resources to help local councils in their response to Covid-19, including frequent webinars that anyone can join. Read more.
Ireland’s Competitiveness Scorecard 2020 was published. I’ve never read one before, so I was surprised by how holistic the focus is – on environmentally sustainable growth, quality of life, civic engagement and, of course, the main economic indicators. The full PDF is worth a skim, but the key out-take is that we perform well in many areas, but quite poorly on “the environment, broadband coverage, digital skills, and the productivity of the SME sector. Dealing with these competitiveness weaknesses will be paramount to achieving a sustainable and balanced recovery in a period of heightened global uncertainty.” Read more.
Data Protection and Contact Tracing. The ICCL, Digital Rights Ireland and other experts have published a set of guidelines for any new technology the HSE may wish to use to help fight Covid. The framework seems sensible, aiming for a good balance that allows for enough data gathered to be useful, but no more than necessary, and urging careful consideration of where that line is drawn. Read more.
5km. Apparently 2 million of us used the 2kmfromhome website David Bolger built in his spare time, to see how far we could roam during lockdown. Read more.
First Tiki-Torches, now Hawaiian shirts. A bizarre but interesting thread on why, based on memes about the 1980s movie “Breaking 2: Electric Boogaloo”, racist young men in America now wear Hawaiian shirts to signify the coming of a second civil war. Link.
Print Newspaper’s ad revenues fell by 70% in the UK. Link.
Health Tracking. The Chinese city of Hangzhou has announced plans to extend it’s health-tracking QR code for monitoring people’s health status at all times — regardless of whether there is a public health emergency. It’s already meeting intense backlash online in China as a privacy overreach. Read More.