A handful of US tech companies have radicalised the world

There is no doubt that the Internet has dramatically changed how media and politics operate. Over the last few years a few US companies have dominated radically changed how democracy is done, including allowing nefarious interference in election campaigns.

And at the same time there have been a number of political swings to more controversial and extreme leaders and parties.

Broderick (via twitter):

In the last 4 years, I’ve been to 22 countries, 6 continents, and been on the ground for close to a dozen referendums and elections. Three things are now very clear to:

1) A handful of American companies, Facebook and Google more than any other, have altered the fundamental nature of almost every major democracy on Earth. In most of these elections, far-right populism has made huge strides.

2) The misinformation, abuse, and radicalization created by these companies seems to affect poorer people and countries more heavily.

These companies replace local community networks, local media, local political networks and create easily exploitable, unmoderated news ones.

3) It is going to get worse and more connected. It is getting more mobile. It is having more physical real-world effects. Apps like WhatsApp and Instagram are even harder to track than Facebook.

It’s been a decade since I first felt like something was changing about the way we interact with the internet. In 2010, as a young news intern for a now-defunct website called the Awl, one of the first pieces I ever pitched was an explainer about why 4chan trolls were trying to take the also now-defunct website Gawker off the internet via a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. It was a world I knew. I was a 19-year-old who spent most of my time doing what we now recognize as “shitposting.” It was the beginning of an era where our old ideas about information, privacy, politics, and culture were beginning to warp.

I’ve followed that dark evolution of internet culture ever since. I’ve had the privilege — or deeply strange curse — to chase the growth of global political warfare around the world. In the last four years, I’ve been to 22 countries, six continents, and been on the ground for close to a dozen referendums and elections. I was in London for UK’s nervous breakdown over Brexit, in Barcelona for Catalonia’s failed attempts at a secession from Spain, in Sweden as neo-Nazis tried to march on the country’s largest book fair. And now, I’m in Brazil. But this era of being surprised at what the internet can and will do to us is ending. The damage is done. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably spend the rest of my career covering the consequences.

There are certainly signs of major consequences internationally.

In New Zealand we have had political change, but after a nine year National government it wasn’t a big deal, especially as Labour (and NZ First) are not dramatically different to National in most significant policies. It was more of a tweak than upheaval here, probably.

But we can’t help but be affected by what happens in the rest of the increasingly radicalised world.

To be sure, populism, nationalism, and information warfare existed long before the internet. The arc of history doesn’t always bend toward what I think of as progress. Societies regress. The difference now is that all of this is being hosted almost entirely by a handful of corporations.

Why is an American company like Facebook placing ads in newspapers in countries like IndiaItalyMexico, and Brazil, explaining to local internet users how to look out for abuse and misinformation? Because our lives, societies, and governments have been tied to invisible feedback loops, online and off. And there’s no clear way to untangle ourselves.

The worst part of all of this is that, in retrospect, there’s no real big secret about how we got here.

The social media Fordlândias happening all over the world right now probably won’t last. The damage they cause probably will. The democracies they destabilize, the people they radicalize, and the violence they inspire will most likely have a long tail. Hopefully, though, it won’t take us a hundred years to try to actually rebuild functioning societies after the corporations have moved on.

Perhaps. It is very difficult to know where social media, democracy and the world will go to from here.

Trump in Twitter tirade overdrive – who’s panicking?

If we were watching this unfold from some other country, we’d question the US president’s wellness. “Is the president okay?”

Most countries with respectable democracies with appropriate separations between the government and the judiciary would be (or should be) somewhat concerned if a leader ran an ongoing campaign against a legal inquiry and court cases.

But Donald Trump has worked himself into a position where saying outlandish things is just presidenting as usual.

Recent Twitter tirades:

I allowed White House Counsel Don McGahn, and all other requested members of the White House Staff, to fully cooperate with the Special Counsel. In addition we readily gave over one million pages of documents. Most transparent in history. No Collusion, No Obstruction. Witch Hunt!

The failing wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type “RAT.” But I allowed him and all others to testify – I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide and have demanded transparency so that this Rigged and Disgusting Witch Hunt can come to a close. So many lives have been ruined over nothing – McCarthyism at its WORST! Yet Mueller & his gang of Dems refuse to look at the real crimes on the other side – Media is even worse.

No Collusion and No Obstruction, except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats. All of the resignations and corruption, yet heavily conflicted Bob Mueller refuses to even look in that direction. What about the Brennan, Comey, McCabe, Strzok lies to Congress, or Crooked’s Emails!

The Failing New York Times wrote a story that made it seem like the White House Councel had TURNED on the President, when in fact it is just the opposite – & the two Fake reporters knew this. This is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America!

So the enemy of the truth continues with his ‘enemy of the people’ attacks.

Some members of the media are very Angry at the Fake Story in the New York Times. They actually called to complain and apologize – a big step forward. From the day I announced, the Times has been Fake News, and with their disgusting new Board Member, it will only get worse!

Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!

That’s preposterous, and dangerous rhetoric from a president.

Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller and his whole group of Angry Democrat Thugs spent over 30 hours with the White House Councel, only with my approval, for purposes of transparency.

Anybody needing that much time when they know there is no Russian Collusion is just someone looking for trouble. They are enjoying ruining people’s lives and REFUSE to look at the real corruption on the Democrat side – the lies, the firings, the deleted Emails and soooo much more! Mueller’s Angry Dems are looking to impact the election. They are a National Disgrace!

Who is the national disgrace?

Where’s the Collusion? They made up a phony crime called Collusion…

I think it’s Trump who made up a claim there was a crime called collusion.

…and when there was no Collusion they say there was Obstruction (of a phony crime that never existed). If you FIGHT BACK or say anything bad about the Rigged Witch Hunt, they scream Obstruction!

I hope John Brennan, the worst CIA Director in our country’s history, brings a lawsuit. It will then be very easy to get all of his records, texts, emails and documents to show not only the poor job he did, but how he was involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt. He won’t sue!

Everybody wants to keep their Security Clearance, it’s worth great prestige and big dollars, even board seats, and that is why certain people are coming forward to protect Brennan. It certainly isn’t because of the good job he did! He is a political “hack.”

He seems to be trying to make it sound like revoking security clearance is a prestige damaging punishment.

Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions “Justice” Department? A total joke!

“Bruce Ohr is at the center of FALSE ALLEGATIONS which led to a multi-million dollar investigation into what apparently didn’t happen.” Darrell Issa, House Oversight. We can take out the word “apparently.”

It is outrageous that Poisonous Synthetic Heroin Fentanyl comes pouring into the U.S. Postal System from China. We can, and must, END THIS NOW! The Senate should pass the STOP ACT – and firmly STOP this poison from killing our children and destroying our country. No more delay!

A switch to something else. Why doesn’t he do something, rather than waste time and credibility tweeting?

Image result for madness of king trump

 

Twitter suspending accounts, Young Green affected

Twitter has been doing a major clean up of accounts, and the Young Greens seem to have been affected.

Reuters: Twitter shares fall after report says account suspensions to cause user decline

Shares of Twitter fell 9 percent on Monday after a report said the social media company had suspended more than 70 million fake accounts in May and June, which could lead to a decline of monthly active users in the second quarter.

The company has suspended more than one million accounts a day in recent months to reduce the flow of misinformation on the platform, the Washington Post reported late on Friday, citing data it obtained.

I don’t know if it’s related to that, but a Young Green co-coordinator has had his account suspended.

Young Greens of Aotearoa @YoungGreenNZ:

The official youth wing of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. 🌱 Authorised by Gwen Shaw, Level 1, 17 Garrett Street, Wellington

While Max’s tweet has been deleted from the account, with an explanation posted:

Finn Jackson is one of the YoungGreens Social Media Coordinators.

I have no idea how old ‘Max’ is now, but suspending an account because he started it before he was 13 is a curious claim. When asked how they found out on Facebook:

Idk must’ve done some math based on my birthday

This is the Max:

Max Tweedie, Young Greens Male Co-Convenor

Max Tweedie

Co-Convenor (Any Gender)

Based in Auckland

Max began his Green Party journey as Co-Convenor of the Mana Electorate Branch in Wellington. Since then he has campaigned with Jan Logie, sits on the Rainbow Greens exec, and has worked for the Party Office in Wellington.

Max currently works for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation as a Volunteer & Events Officer, as well as the lead on youth. He has previously held roles with World Vision New Zealand as well.

Max’s passion for progressive politics was born out of 2013 Marriage Equality debate, at the stark realisation that human rights weren’t guaranteed, rather they must be fought for. Since then he has endeavoured to work for and volunteer for causes he believes improve the lives of many, and works towards justice for marginalised people across the world. He’s in the Green Party because he believes that revolutionary, progressive structural change is the path forward for this nation, and is looking forward to working with communities across Aotearoa to achieve this. When he’s not working or volunteering, he’s either drinking wine or sleeping.

When he is not working towards “revolutionary, progressive structural change” he is drinking wine and sleeping. He must be 18 by now, so Twitter must have check his age back to 5 years+ of Twitter use to have suspended his account for having an account younger than 13.

Curious to see that Young Greens have a Co-Convenor (Female) and a Co-Convenor (Any Gender).

So their Social Media Coordinator has had to step in and delete a Tweet and ‘clarify’ the use of their twitter account by a co-coordinator (which seems to be the lead co-role in the Young Greens).

It looks like he is going to tweet with another account;

Victoria Walsh You can take over my Twitter.

Max Tweedie Omg yes

Victoria Walsh I’ll give you my log in tomorrow. It’s all yours till you’re free from twitter jail.

 

Twitter comeback

Twitter became one of the new big things on the Internet, but faltered. It’s demise was predicted. But it has come back stronger – on the stock market at least.

 

 

Fun fact: Twitter’s stock is up nearly 3X since the day this story was published:

So a major turnaround in two years.

I am regularly on Twitter. I don’t tweet or retweet or ‘like’ much. I use it mostly to follow news in New Zealand and world wide (in the UK and US), and I also keep a bit of an eye on journalist interactions behind the news, as well as general social media activity.

Some aspects of twitter are a bit annoying but I generally find it quite useful. However I can leave it alone when I want a break from the ‘net.

Simon Bridges embarrassed by Twitter ‘like’

Simon Bridges says that it was an accidental ‘like’ on Twitter, but whether it was or not it is seriously embarrassing for him associating himself with a Whale Oil attack on Clarke Gayford.

NZH: National leader Simon Bridges accidentally ‘liked’ social media post mocking Clarke Gayford

National leader Simon Bridges has admitted ‘liking’ a social media post by Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater in which the Prime Minister’s partner was mocked.

But Bridges said he did it by accident and then withdrew the “like” he had placed on Slater’s Twitter account.

He said “too much tweeting maketh a twat”.

Bridges blamed a thumb error for accidentally hitting the “like” button on Slater’s post and that it was done while scrolling through his Twitter feed.

It had the effect of broadcasting Slater’s tweet, in which a photoshopped image of Gayford holding a fish was depicted. Slater started running a “Fish of the Day” feature making fun of Gayford immediately after the rumours were dismissed.

Bridges said:”I’m not on Twitter very often and I think this shows why. Effectively I was scrolling down and I saw a tweet there that you’re referring to.

“I noticed it. I accidentally liked it. I got rid of that within literally a second and kept on moving but I’m regretful about it actually because I’ve been really clear with my caucus colleagues that we don’t want families brought in to politics.

It comes in the wake of Bridges attempting to distance the National Party from gossip mongering over Clarke Gayford, and just over a week after he told his MPs to have nothing to do with the rumours.

Whatever the explanation or excuse this is going to be a difficult association for bridges to shrug off.

Slater has denied having anything to do with pushing the Gayford rumours. He is being approached for comment.

Those denials look dubious given the campaign attacking both Ardern and Gayford that started in September last year, There are still some dirty looking posts up on Whale Oil.

Bridges can’t just shrug this off. He was fairly limited in his condemnation of the dirty rumour mongering targeting Gayford.

He needs to step up and make it absolutely clear that he and the National Party disassociate themselves from dirty politics and from ‘Dirty Politics’.

What the hell is Bridges following an openly dirty account like this?

He should make it clear that dirty politics is a bad thing, especially for the leader of a major party in Parliament.

He also needs to make it absolutely clear that the National Party disassociate themselves from Whale Oil, which is inextricably linked with ‘Dirty Politics’,  brags about doing dirty politics, and has clearly been running a dirty campaign against Gayford and Ardern, and continues with it daily despite the rumour mongering story going public last week.

Most retweeted tweets of 2017

2017 isn’t over yet but the most retweeted tweets of the year are already announced. Some of them are a result of campaigns to get retweets, two for a good cause, #1 inane.

Interestingly Donald Trump isn’t included, but Barack Obama features thrice (#8, #5 and #2).

10.

9.

8.

7.

6.

5.

4.

3.

2.

1.

Source: http://time.com/5048929/most-retweeted-tweets-2017/

Golriz Ghahraman, hate and discrimination

There is a feature article at The Wireless new Green MP Golriz Ghahraman (“the first MP to have entered New Zealand as a refugee”) by Meg Williams, who is disclosed as “has a strong connection to the Green Party as Young Greens Co-Convener, and has been a member of the party for the last three years”. It could be seen to an extent as a party promotional piece.

The headline makes strong assertions: Golriz Ghahraman on discrimination, hate, and white dudes on Twitter

To me ‘hate’ is a strong word and is overused a lot. It’s common for people to use it for dislike and disagree.

“I got such a broad spectrum of attacks. They were sort of ranging from race hate to muslim hate to immigration hate, women, young women, women that look a certain way…”

Did anyone on Twitter hate Golriz? Was it clear they hated her for being a Muslim? Possibly, there is quite a bit of prejudice about Muslims.

Was it clear they hate immigrants? Possibly, there has been a lot of anti-immigration feelings stoked in the election campaign, with Winston Peters playing the anti-immigrant card quite a bit – he’s the leader of the party who Golriz’s Greens are supporting to form a new government.

I’m a lot more dubious about hate on “women, young women, women that look a certain way…” – there’s a tendency for people to make ill-founded presumptions when they are criticised and politically attacked.

The headline includes ‘white dudes on Twitter’ alongside hate and discrimination.  The reference to white dudes is here:

Ghahraman laughs in disbelief as she tells the story of a political commentator who questioned her intelligence on Twitter. Realising he had perhaps gone too far, and that his behaviour warranted an apology, the commentator decided to send a private apology to Ghahraman’s partner, comedian Guy Williams, instead of apologising to her.

A private apology, made public to make a point. Golriz will need to be more careful with private communications now she is an MP.

“How embarrassing is that?” she says, her hands held up to the sides of her face with second-hand shame. “Every time I say it I feel so embarrassed for this dude… he said in that message, ‘I just don’t want you to think I’m another one of those white guys who just hates Golriz.’ But he didn’t apologise to me, like I wasn’t human enough for him to apologise to.”

“Wasn’t human enough”? Perhaps that’s how people who are subjected to racial and religious discrimination feel. That’s sad.

There may have been a simpler explanation – the ‘commentator’ may have known Williams, they must at least have cross-liked each other to be able to send private messages, and he may not have been able to private Golriz.

If he questioned her intelligence publicly on Twitter he should have apologised publicly on Twitter. Perhaps he did, but that isn’t mentioned.

But there’s a bigger issue here – the claims of hate and discrimination directed against Golriz (fair enough) while targeting ‘white dudes’. That is also discrimination.

You won’t fight discrimination with counter discrimination.

You can call out individual attacks and individual examples of discrimination, but implicating a whole racial or gender group is discriminatory.

I often see attacks on white males on Twitter and elsewhere in social media.

I’m a white male, and I’ve been attacked quite nastily on Twitter, and elsewhere. Some of those attacks are from younger people, some from females, some from people with different religious views, some possibly from immigrants.

And I’ll point out that Green supporters are amongst those who have attacked me on political grounds, it’s not uncommon for some of them to get nasty and personal when they disagree on political or party or ideological topics.

Is any of it hateful? That’s hard to judge, it’s common for people to overstate emotions online, and it’s common for people to e-abuse others when they wouldn’t do it face to face. This is a major issue with the Internet.

Golriz talked of having her intelligence questioned on Twitter. A couple of weeks ago a Green supporter tweeted to me “Shit your arrogance is quite astounding. Your ignorance is also shining through”.

Petty attacks can be confused with hate and discrimination. An accumulation of petty attacks can constitute discrimination.

Attacks in social media fly in all directions. They can be hurtful, they can be damaging to individuals.

And they are not confined to females, or to young people, or to Muslims, or to immigrants, or to Green candidates or MPs.

Hateful speech and discrimination are sadly very common in New Zealand political and social forums.

They should be confronted and criticised. Good people have to speak up.

But care needs be taken not to try to fight discrimination with counter discrimination, as that’s more likely to antagonise and inflame than to fix anything.

Golriz says “And I can’t shed my skin”. Neither can I.

It’s going to be tough for Golriz now she is an MP and will be the focus of a lot of attention. Some of that attention won’t be nice – there will be discrimination, and there may be justified perceptions of hate.

But hating on others, and discriminating against different groups of people, are not solutions.

I hope this is something Golriz will learn.

Party impact on social media

Here is the current imp[act of the major parties on Facebook and twitter, as measured by Zavy.

Facebook:

ZavyFacebook20170912

That may be a reflection of the amount of negative and attack politics that us prevalent.

Twitter:

ZavyTwitter20170912

Twitter is dominated by media reports, journalist comment and reactions to those. Labour dominates the activity but has the poorer ‘pulse’.

Both Facebook and Twitter pulses suggest that National is struggling to turn things around

 

‘Mother of all scandals’ a wind up?

The Winston Peters superannuation overpayment story has highlighted, amongst other things, the dangers of over-egging things on Twitter,

Tim Murphy kicked things off in a tweet on Saturday.

This initiated a lot of speculation and questions over the weekend. The Super story eventually broke on Sunday evening when Peters issued a press statement.

A day later:

A danger of social media and disproportionate interest media coverage.

Winding Patrick Gower up should be avoided, he seems highly enough strung as it is.

When winding people up on Twitter these days could potentially escalate into nuclear war journalists should perhaps tweet with more care.

In New Zealand politics Twitter has become a significant factor. It is a small niche in social media generally, much of the public is oblivious to it and it’s influence, but it is a major player in exchanges amongst journalists.

Competition for the next click bait headline, joking and winding each other up, could have major repercussions.

We are hardly at risk of a nuclear war here, but we are risk of serious fallout potentially from a single tweet starting a history making change.

Trump’s feed on Twitter

If you want to see what Donald trump sees on his Twitter feed you can follow this Twitter account.

Trump doesn’t seem to just feed himself on Twitter, he gorges himself.

Trump's Feed

Trump’s Feed

@trumps_feed

A bot that retweets tweets from people the president follows on Twitter. A project of .