Facebook has offered a status update about what happens to democracy when social media gets involved.The social network, which boasts 2 billion users worldwide, acknowledged in three posts on Monday that social media can be problematic for democracies.This comes more than a year after the company's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, said it was "crazy" to think that fake news on Facebook.swayed the 2016 presidential election.In one of the posts, Facebook's product manager of civic engagement, Samidh Chakrabarti, pointed directly at fake news as an issue that plagues social media, along with foreign interference, political harassment, unequal participation and echo chambers."In 2016, we at Facebook were far too slow to recognize how bad actors were abusing our platform," Chakrabarti said in the post.The posts on Monday come as Facebook and Zuckerberg have shifted their tones on social media and political issues.
Facebook’s ongoing attempt to reckon with its impact on civil life continued today with the company acknowledging that its platform is not always good for democracy.In a set of blog posts published as part of its “Hard Questions” series, Facebook execs and outside experts assess the company’s impact on elections, partisan politics, and fake news.For example, referring to “the damage that the internet can do to even a well-functioning democracy” (our emphasis), rather than damage caused by Facebook specifically.But, it does admit to a sliver more responsibility — taking the company one step further from CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s comments in 2016 that it was “crazy” to say Facebook influenced the US election.As Facebook’s global politics and government outreach director Katie Harbath tells it, this was the moment the company began to recognize its influence on democracy, for better or for worse.“From the Arab Spring to robust elections around the globe, social media seemed like a positive,” writes Harbarth.
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The book is a thought-provoking study of why disparate, nebulous groups come together online on platforms such as Twitter to gang up on individuals, as well as a look at how the targeted handle en masse shaming and, in some cases, how they’ve grown.In 2008, Mosley was exposed by the News of the World as visiting dominatrixes and partaking in what the paper described as a ’SICK NAZI ORGY’, replete with whipping, spanking, shaving… the works.Mosley, the son of fascist politician Oswald Mosley, admitted being involved with one key reservation - there was nothing ‘Nazi-themed’ about the event.He arrives at: “As soon as the victim steps out of the pact by refusing to feel ashamed, the whole thing crumbles.” Simply, a refusal to feel ashamed.The first year of the Trump presidency has been marked by innumerable torrid things, each of which taken individually should discredit him for public office.“Very fine people on both sides”.
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When the economy is talked about by politicians or on the news, it’s laced with jargon about “quantitative easing” and “stock market bubbles”, making it hard to understand how it relates to our lives.However, despite the enormous potential democratising the economy has for strengthening and making our economic institutions more fair and inclusive, a large democratic deficit in economics continues to exist.The council engaged 54 randomly selected citizenson a journey through national economic policy over five days in five months with officials and policymakers from the Bank of England, pension funds, business, Chambers of Commerce and economists.A variety of different activities were used to engage and empower those taking part.For example, participants were encouraged to “call out” and “jargon bust” any terminology that was unclear to them during the process.The frequency with which they did this clearly demonstrated the seemingly impenetrable barrier economic language poses to clarity about economics, and led the citizens to co-produce a “jargon buster”, which will be published online in the programme’s final series of resources.This included an Economic Inclusion Roadshow, running workshops across the UK, from Port Talbot in Wales, to London, to Clacton-on-sea, to bring in a wide variety of voices from those most left behind by economic policy.
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As the US media, tech world and the powers that be in Washington continue to try to figure out how to tackle things like fake news, the level of discourse, and how to keep the business of publishing from falling off a virtual cliff, one of the media properties that has been instrumental in influencing how news is framed online is making a big change.HuffPost in the US today announced that it is sunsetting its contributors platform — also known as its unpaid blogger platform.The news was broken by HuffPost (which, like TechCrunch, is part of Oath), which directly tied the move to the changing tides (not Tide Pods, although I personally think there is a connection) in the world of news media and how technology is used to distribute it.“Now, there are many places where people can share and exchange ideas,” HuffPost editor in chief Lydia Polgreen writes in a post on the site.“Perhaps a few too many: One of the biggest challenges we all face, in an era where everyone has a platform, is figuring out whom to listen to.Open platforms that once seemed radically democratizing now threaten, with the tsunami of false information we all face daily, to undermine democracy.
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Americans say social media has had a negative effect on the news.That's according to a new report released by Gallup and the Knight Foundation.19,000 Americans responded to questions on trust in the media.Summarising 10 of the poll's key findings in a blog post, the Knight foundation wrote, "Americans believe that the media have an important role to play in our democracy -- yet they don't see that role being fulfilled."Americans were largely positive about changes technology has brought to the news.Most respondents approved of videos shot by ordinary people and then shared on multiple news outlets, including: Aggregators that gather news from multiple sources, cable news and the internet in general.
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An African American writer calls out racist hate speech—and gets suspended from Facebook.A Google engineer writes a controversial memo, and instantly becomes a villain to one army of online readers and a hero to another.These are just a few stories—told in the subjects' own words—that capture what it’s like to live and post in this, our corrosive, divisive, democracy-poisoning golden age of free speech.On being blocked by Trump, and suing him for itI had an alert that would go off whenever Trump tweeted, and I would reply to most of his tweets.Nine months before my fifth novel, American Heart, was published, I got an email saying “There’s a discussion happening on Twitter about the problematic white-savior narrative in your novel.” I thought that was strange.
Canceling the match was too risky for the junta; doing so might incite a protest.It was still a risk, but a managed one.Whose throat do you squeeze when anyone can set up a Twitter account in seconds, and when almost any event is recorded by smartphone-wielding members of the public?In today’s networked environment, when anyone can broadcast live or post their thoughts to a social network, it would seem that censorship ought to be impossible.Have invisible, angry hordes ordered 100 pizzas to your house?Did they call in a SWAT team—men in black arriving, guns drawn, in the middle of dinner?
The UK Independence Party (Ukip) has been ridiculed on social media after indicating the party is "ready for war" should the government fail to leave the European Union (EU).Currently led by embattled politician Henry Bolton, who said Monday (15 January) he had split with his girlfriend over racist comments she made about soon-to-be royal Meghan Markle, the party's verified Twitter account was hit with a slew of memes in response to the comment.In the widely critiqued tweet, published Saturday (13 January), it wrote: "UKIP does not want another referendum, but we MUST be ready for war if the government fails to deliver."The statement followed the news that former Ukip leader Nigel Farage had voiced his support for a second referendum on whether Brexit should go ahead in order silence its opponents.In an interview on The Wright Stuff, he said: "If we had a second referendum we'd kill it off for a generation as the percentage of the vote to leave next time will be very much bigger than it was last time.And speaking to Sunday Politics over the weekend (14 January), Bolton said his predecessor's words had been misconstrued.
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The world is witnessing the biggest protest movement in Iran since the 2009 Green Movement uprising.Over the last two weeks, there has been unrest in nearly every major Iranian city and dozens of smaller towns.The repression is felt not only on the streets: Iranian authorities disrupted internet access across the country and blocked Instagram and the messaging app Telegram.Freedom of expression—which includes secure internet access—is the bloodline of democracy, but with the internet shut down, Telegram’s more than 40 million users in Iran have essentially had their communication cut off.The decision to restrict communications has had an immense impact on the daily lives of Iranian citizens, including the more than 48 million smartphone users.That’s because Iranians do online what they cannot usually do in the streets: Assemble, organize, and express themselves.
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On Friday The Mirror published research findings showing that 39% of all cash donations to the Conservative Party declared so far this year are from 64 individuals and their businesses.The 64 in question are all members of an exclusive donor club with a £50,000 annual membership fee.Ministers who have attended in the first half of this year include Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Philip Hammond and Jeremy Wright.There are plain risks for democracy of such access to politicians - echoed earlier this week following revelations about continued dining privileges for retired peers.It appears there is more than one Private Members’ Club in Westminster of which membership comes with the potential of exerting great influence.Another concern about these 64 donors afforded time with ministers is that there is a huge gender imbalance.
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We are less than 15 months from the end of the Brexit negotiating deadline.Last week, Owen Jones published a piece in the Guardian arguing that only a ‘populist strategy’ can stop Brexit, but that the anti-Brexit movement has so far failed to deliver it.However, he isn’t totally right on this point - crucial groundwork has been done by many across the country and there were some huge wins in 2017 that have set the stage for this year.We’ve been fighting to keep the EU membership door open and we strongly believe that the only way to make this happen is by activating people who agree with us, but, more importantly, working to connect with those that are weighing up Brexit, and to connect them with their MPs.In April 2017, Best for Britain, along with other anti-Brexit groups, launched a grassroots tactical voting campaign to help pro-EU voters to get organised and use their vote to (successfully) challenge the Tories’ Extreme Brexit in the June General Election.Since last September, our barnstorm programme has trained over 1000 people from Bridgend, Bristol, Doncaster, Norwich, Portsmouth, Southampton and all across the South East.
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Since 2009, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly announced a personal improvement challenge in January, a sort of New Year's resolution and Oprah’s Book Club rolled into one.But this year, Zuckerberg pledged to spend 2018 "fixing" big problems at Facebook."The world feels anxious and divided," he wrote, "and Facebook has a lot of work to do—whether it's protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”This is quite a pivot from Zuck 2017, when he promised to visit folks around the country in a whistlestop tour that copied the trappings of a presidential campaign, including hiring a White House photographer to capture him in the act.But this year, with Facebook down in the polls, Zuckerberg, like all good candidates for a cause, read the room and updated his slogan accordingly.Less Obama ‘08 and more Paul Ryan last month.
The dense network of pro-Kremlin Twitter accounts tracked by the group Alliance for Securing Democracy has spent the last year spreading chaos and discord about topics as diverse as NFL players refusing to stand during the national anthem and Al Franken's alleged sexual misconduct.On the website Hamilton68, the Alliance tracks some 600 Twitter accounts it says are associated with a Russia-linked influence network.According to newly released figures, in the month of December, by far the most popular articles shared by the trolls aimed to undermine Mueller and the Department of Justice's investigation into Russian interference.The Hamilton68 team keeps its list of suspected Kremlin trolls secret, but it consists of a balance between openly pro-Russia accounts, like Sputnik and RT, as well as bot accounts run by troll factories, and other accounts that consistently amplify pro-Russia themes.Founded by former FBI agent Clint Watts and J.M.But December's onslaught represents the biggest uptick in attacks on Mueller yet.
"The city is a people's art, a shared experience," a Philadelphia architect and planner named Edmund Bacon once wrote, adding that any urban designer's job was to "conceive an idea, implant it, and nurture its growth in the collective minds of the community."It sounds like a common-sense approach to city building -- and one that could lead to a pleasing urban mosaic, as both community needs and architectural styles change over time.But according to MIT professor Brent D. Ryan, this approach to designing cities that are of the people and for the people has been absent from most urban design work.Instead, Ryan thinks, today's cities have been saddled with grandiose urban projects that, although they may have flashy veneers and stylistic coherence, lack sensitivity to the diverse needs of city life and the long timeframes over which urban development is evaluated.Ryan, an associate professor of urban design and public policy in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, has detailed this perspective in a new book, "The Largest Art: A Measured Manifesto for a Plural Urbanism," recently published by the MIT Press.The book is a call for a pragmatic and democratic approach to urban design, one that often acknowledges community input and recognizes the many kinds of "pluralism" in urban life: the numerous interests and built elements that exist, in multiple layers, as cities get built up over time.
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The instructors, advised by Thomas Kalil, former director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, aimed to teach students the Lean Launchpad approach to building a startup, which involves a huge amount of effort figuring out the needs of the potential user of a product, and then iteratively building basic prototypes of potential solutions and testing those with users.“I thought that, after a decade of teaching, is there a way to give final course projects a life, not to just have them sit in my laptop.”Herr, who had taken Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad course at Stanford, and was aware of the Hacking for Defense and the more recent Hacking for Diplomacy courses.After brainstorming with Blank, followed by discussions with professors at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, she teamed up with Steven Weinstein, founder and CEO of MovieLabs and one of the instructors of Stanford’s Hacking for Defense classes, to start the new course.The two found a host of sponsors looking for help with real world problems—including the Surfrider Foundation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Democracy Labs, and Sandia National Labs along with mentors not affiliated with specific sponsors.Some 120 students indicated interest in the 32 spots in the course, despite limited publicity and short lead time, Herr said.
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Admittedly not all of this has been positively channeled.But we must not let the relentless negativity of Conservatism, often demonstrated in this country by hardcore Tory Brexiteers, deflect us from the positive changes that flow from the new political phase we have entered.Part of the reason I am running for the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee is because I feel the Labour Party has a serious opportunity to become the community based movement that at its best it has always been.We need to up engagement from women, ethnic minorities, disabled people, LGBT members, particularly those in the trans community, and those with mental health issues.This won’t be done through blandly issuing generic invites to dreary meetings or committees, as important as they are for Party democracy, it will only be done by creating a transparent, open and inclusive climate in the party.That means banning the sort of aggression that mars too much of our discourse, putting in place buddy schemes so new and older members can come together and learn from each other and expanding our use of digital tools to open up our discussions to wider audiences, especially those who don’t have the luxury of spending many hours a week in party meetings.
Called the Secure Elections Act, the bill aims to eliminate insecure paperless voting machines from American elections while promoting routine audits that would dramatically reduce the danger of interference from foreign governments.Post-election investigation hasn't turned up any evidence that foreign governments actually altered any votes.However, we do know that Russians were probing American voting systems ahead of the 2016 election, laying groundwork for what could have become a direct attack on American democracy.The Secure Elections Act would give states grants specifically earmarked for replacing these systems with more secure systems that use voter-verified paper ballots.The legislation's second big idea is to encourage states to perform routine post-election audits based on modern statistical techniques.That often leads to either counting way too many ballots (wasting taxpayer money) or too few (failing to fully verify the election outcome).
“All opinions are not equal.Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.” - Douglas Adams2016 and 2017 brought with them a shift in attitudes toward the concept of ‘expertise’ on both sides of the Atlantic.In Britain, Justice Secretary Michael Gove (defending Brexit) publicly announced that ‘people in this country have had enough of experts.’ In America, President Trump dismissed the almost unanimous scientific view of global warming in favour of tweeting his own unscientific views to his Twitter audience.Increasingly, when the viewpoints of experts are challenged the position is being taken that all people are entitled to have an opinion and that those opinions are equally worthy.Yes, if we wish to avoid Orwell’s thought crime dystopia, we do not want to enter the murky waters of telling people what they may and may not think, for therein lies fascism.
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The Collins English Dictionary named “fake news” as Word of the Year 2017.The Great Moon Hoax increased the newspaper’s circulation.What is new is the way fake news is organised: they have moved from traditional media to the networked online and social media environment, where fake news created in troll factories by low-paid fake news labour spreads through targeted advertisements, personal networks, fake profiles, bot-generated attention and likes.Between September and November 2016, at least 3,000 political ads that seem to have contained election-relevant fake news and targeted US citizens, were posted on Facebook.There is evidence that suggests that also on Twitter fake accounts tried to influence US election results.Google revealed that it is likely that between 2015 and summer 2017, fake accounts had uploaded more than 1,100 videos with a total of 43 hours of content to YouTube and had bought Google ads.
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