Archive for the ‘#gamergate’ Category

Monetizing Twitter Trolls

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

Alex Hern‘s coverage of Twitter’s fail-to-sell story, Did trolls cost Twitter $3.5bn and its sale?, is a typical short on facts story about abuse on Twitter.

When I say short on facts, I don’t deny any of the anecdotal accounts of abuse on Twitter and other social media.

Here’s the data problem with abuse at Twitter:

As of May of 2016, Twitter had 310 million active monthly users over 1.3 billion accounts.

Number of Twitter users who are abusive (trolls): unknown

Number of Twitter users who are victims: unknown

Number of abusive tweets, daily/weekly/monthly: unknown

Type/frequency of abusive tweets, language, images, disclosure: unknown

Costs to effectively control trolls: unknown

Trolls and abuse should be opposed both at Twitter and elsewhere, but without supporting data, creating corporate priorities and revenues to effectively block (not end, block) abuse isn’t possible.

Since troll hunting at present is a drain on the bottom line with no return for Twitter, what if Twitter were to monetize its trolls?

That is create a mechanism whereby trolls became the drivers of a revenue stream from Twitter.

One such approach would be to throw off all the filtering that Twitter does as part of its basic service. If you have Twitter basic service, you will see posts from everyone from committed jihadists to the Federal Reserve. Not blocked accounts, no deleted accounts, etc.

Twitter removes material under direct court order only. Put the burden and expense on going to court for every tweet on both individuals and governments. No exceptions.

Next, Twitter creates the Twitter+ account, where for an annual fee, users can access advanced filtering that includes blocking people, language, image analysis of images posted to them, etc.

Price point experiments should set the fees for Twitter+ accounts. Filtering will be a decision based on real revenue numbers. Not flights of fancy by the Guardian or Sales Force.

BTW, the open Twitter I suggest creates more eyes for ads, which should also improve the bottom line at Twitter.

An “open” Twitter will attract more trolls and drive more users to Twitter+ accounts.

Twitter trolls generate the revenue to fight them.

I rather like that.

You?

Another Data Point On Twitter Censorship Practices

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

twitter-censor-olympics-460

Twitter Too Busy With Censorship To Care About Abuse

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Complaints about Twitter ignoring cases of abuse are quite common, “A Honeypot For Assholes” [How To Monetize Assholes/Abuse]. I may have stumbled on why Twitter “ignores” abuse cases.

Twitter staff aren’t “ignoring” abuse cases, they are too damned busy being ad hoc government censors to handle abuse cases.

Consider: How Israel is trying to enforce gag orders beyond its borders by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man.

From the post:

Israeli authorities are taking steps to block their own citizens from reading materials published online in other countries, including the United States.

The Israeli State Attorney’s Office Cyber Division has sent numerous take-down requests to Twitter and other media platforms in recent months, demanding that they remove certain content, or block Israeli users from viewing it.

In an email viewed by +972, dated August 2, 2016, Twitter’s legal department notified American blogger Richard Silverstein that the Israeli State Attorney claimed a tweet of his violates Israeli law. The tweet in question had been published 76 days earlier, on May 18. Silverstein has in the past broken stories that Israeli journalists have been unable to report due to gag orders, including the Anat Kamm case.

Without demanding that he take any specific action, Twitter asked Silverstein to let its lawyers know, “if you decide to voluntarily remove the content.” The American blogger, who says he has not stepped foot in any Israeli jurisdiction for two decades, refused, noting that he is not bound by Israeli law. Twitter is based in California.

Two days later, Twitter sent Silverstein a follow-up email, informing him that it was now blocking Israeli users from viewing the tweet in question. Or in Twitter-talk, “In accordance with applicable law and our policies, Twitter is now withholding the following Tweet(s) in Israel.”

It’s no wonder Twitter lacks the time and resources to think of robust solutions that enable free speech and at the same time, protects users who aren’t interested in listening to the free speech of certain others.

Both rights are equally important but Twitter has its hands full responding in an ad hoc fashion to unreasonable demands.

Adopt a policy of delivering any content, anywhere, from any author and empower users to choose what they see.

The seething ball of lawyers, which add no value for Twitter or its users, will suddenly melt away.

No issues to debate.

Governments block content on their own or they don’t.

Users block content on their own or they don’t.

BTW, 972mag.com needs your financial support to keep up this type of reporting. If you are having a good month, keep them in mind.

Manhandled

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Manhandled by Robert C. Martin.

From the post:

Warning: Possible sexual abuse triggers.

One of my regular bike-riding podcasts is Astronomy Cast, by Dr. Pamela Gay and Fraser Cain. Indeed, if you go to cleancodeproject.com you’ll see that Astronomy Cast is one of the charities on my list of favorites. Make a contribution and I will send you a green Clean Code wristband, or coffee cup, or sweatshirt. If you listen to Astronomy Cast you’ll also find that I am a sponsor.

This podcast is always about science; and the science content is quite good. It’s techie. It’s geeky. It’s right up my alley. I’ve listened to almost every one of the 399 episodes. If you like science — especially science about space and astronomy, this is a great resource.

But yesterday was different. Yesterday was episode 399; and it was not about science at all. It was entitled: Women in Science; and it was about — sexual harassment.

Not the big kind that gets reported. Not the notorious kind that gets people fired. Not that kind — though there’s enough of that to go around. No, this was about commonplace, everyday, normal sexual harassment.

Honestly, I didn’t know there was such a thing. I’ve always thought that sexual harassment was anomalous behavior perpetrated by a few disgusting, arrogant men in positions of power. It never occurred to me that sexual harassment was an everyday, commonplace, run-of-the-mill, what-else-is-new occurrence. But I listened, aghast, as I heard Dr. Gay recount tales of it. Tales of the kind of sexual harassment that women in Science regularly encounter; and have simply come to expect as a normal fact of life.

You need to read Bob’s post in full but in particular his concluding advice:

  • You never lay your hands on someone with sexual intent without their explicit permission. It does not matter how drunk you are. It does not matter how drunk they are. You never, ever manhandle someone without their very explicit consent. And if they work for you, or if you have power over them, then you must never make the advance, and must never accept the consent.
  • What’s more: if you see harassment in progress, or even something you suspect is harassment, you intervene! You stop it! Even if it means you’ll lose a friend, or your job, you stop it!

Bob makes those points as a matter of “professionalism” for programmers but being considerate of others, is part and parcel of being a decent human being.

SXSW Conference Reinstates Two Panels… [Summit on Harassment – Free Streaming]

Friday, October 30th, 2015

SXSW Conference Reinstates Two Panels Following Gamergate Backlash by Seung Lee.

In politics this is called “flip-flop.”

SXSW flipped one way because of fear of violence and now SXSW has flopped the other way because of public anger at their flip.

From the SXSW flop statement:

It is clear that online harassment is a problem that requires more than two panel discussions to address.

To that end, we’ve added a day-long summit to examine this topic. Scheduled on Saturday, March 12, the Online Harassment Summit will take place at SXSW 2016, and we plan to live-stream the content free for the public throughout the day.

Hope and pray that Hugh Forrest doesn’t attempt to cross a piece of paisley between now and the Summit on Harassment.

The strain of changing his colors that rapidly could be harmful.

NarcoData [Why Not TrollData?] + Zero Trollerance

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

NarcoData is a new collaboration that aims to track and visualize the drug cartels of Mexico by Laura Hazard Owen.

From the post:

NarcoData, a collaboration between Mexican digital news site Animal Politico and data journalism platform Poderopedia, launched Tuesday with a mission to shine light on organized crime and drug trafficking in Mexico.

“The Mexican state has failed in giving its citizens accurate, updated, and systematic information about the fight against organized crime,” said Dulce Ramos, editor-in-chief of Animal Politico and the general coordinator for NarcoData. “NarcoData wants to fill that empty space.”

The site examines four decades of data to explain how drug trafficking reached its current size and influence in the country. The idea for the project came about last year, when Animal Politico obtained, via the Mexican transparency act, a government chart outlining all of the criminal cells operating in the country. Instead of immediately publishing an article with the data, Animal Politico delved further to fill in the information that the document was missing.

Even a couple of months later, when the document went public and some legacy media outlets wrote articles about it and made infographics from it, “we remained sure that that document had great potential, and we didn’t want to waste it,” Ramos said. Instead, Animal Politico requested and obtained more documents and corroborated the data with information from books, magazines, and interviews.

If you are unfamiliar with the status of the drug war in Mexico, consider the following:

Mexico’s drug war is getting even worse by Jeremy Bender:

At least 60,000 people are believed to have died between 2006 and 2012 as a result of the drug war as cartels, vigilante groups, and the Mexican army and police have battled each other.

The Staggering Death Toll of Mexico’s Drug War by Jason M. Breslow:

Last week, the Mexican government released new data showing that between 2007 and 2014 — a period that accounts for some of the bloodiest years of the nation’s war against the drug cartels — more than 164,000 people were victims of homicide. Nearly 20,000 died last year alone, a substantial number, but still a decrease from the 27,000 killed at the peak of fighting in 2011.

Over the same seven-year period, slightly more than 103,000 died in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to data from the and the website .

mexico_homicides

‘Journalists are being slaughtered’ – Mexico’s problem with press freedom by Nina Lakhani.


Journalists and press freedom groups have expressed growing anger at Mexican authorities’ failure to tackle escalating violence against reporters and activists who dare to speak out against political corruption and organised crime.

Espinosa was the 13th journalist working in Veracruz to be killed since Governor Javier Duarte from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI) came to power in 2011. According to the press freedom organisation Article 19, the state is now the most dangerous place to be a journalist in Latin America.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, about 90% of journalist murders in Mexico since 1992 have gone unpunished.

Patrick Timmons, a human rights expert who investigated violence against journalists while working for the UK embassy in Mexico City, said the massacre was another attempt to silence the press: “These are targeted murders which are wiping out a whole generation of critical leaders.”

Against that background of violence and terror, NarcoData emerges. Mexican journalists speak out against the drug cartels and on behalf of the people of Mexico who suffer under the cartels.

I am embarrassed to admit sharing U.S. citizenship with the organizers of South by Southwest (SXSW). Under undisclosed “threats” of violence because of panels to discuss online harassment, the SXSW organizers cancelled the panels. Lisa Vaas captures those organizers perfectly in her headline: SXSW turns tail and runs, nixing panels on harassment.

I offer thanks that the SXSW organizers were not civil rights organizers in: SXSW turns tail and runs… [Rejoice SXSW Organizers Weren’t Civil Rights Organizers] Troll Police.

NarcoData sets an example of how to respond to drug cartels or Internet trolls. Shine a bright light on them. Something the SXSW organizers were too timid to even contemplate.

Fighting Internet trolls requires more than anecdotal accounts of abuse. Imagine a TrollData database that collects data from all forms of social media, including SMS messages and email forwarded to it. So that data analytics can be brought to bear on the data with a view towards identifying trolls by their real world identities.

Limited to Twitter but a start in that direction is described in: How do you stop Twitter trolls? Unleash a robot swarm to troll them back by Jamie Bartlett.

Knowing how to deal with Internet trolls is tricky, because the separating line between offensive expression and harassment very fine, and usually depends on your vantage point. But one subspecies, the misogynist troll, has been causing an awful lot of trouble lately. Online abuse seems to accompany every woman that pops her head over the parapet: Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Zelda Williams and so on. It’s not just the big fish, either. The non-celebs women cop it too, but we don’t hear about it. Despite near universal condemnation of this behaviour, it just seems to be getting worse.

Today, a strange and mysterious advocacy group based in Berlin called the “Peng! Collective” have launched a new way of tackling the misogynistic Twitter trolls. They’re calling it “Zero Trollerance.”

Here’s what they are doing. If a Twitter user posts any one of around one hundred preselected terms or words that are misogynistic, a bot – an automated account – spots it, and records that user’s Twitter handle in a database. (These terms, in case you’re wondering, include, but are not limited to, the following gems: #feministsareugly #dontdatesjws “die stupid bitch”, “feminazi” and “stupid whore”.)

This is the clever bit. This is a lurking, listening bot. It’s patrolling Twitter silently as we speak and taking details of the misogynists. But then there is another fleet of a hundred or so bots – I’ll call them the attack bots – that, soon after the offending post has been identified, will start auto-tweeting messages @ the offender (more on what they tweet below).

“Zero Trollerance” is a great idea and I applaud it. But it doesn’t capture the true power of data mining, which could uncover trolls that use multiple accounts, trolls that are harassing other users via other social media, not to mention being able to shine light directly on trolls in public, quite possibly the thing they fear the most.

TrollData would require high levels of security, monitoring of all public social media and the ability to accept email and SMS messages forwarded to it, governance and data mining tools.

Mexican journalists are willing to face death to populate NarcoData, what do you say to facing down trolls?


In case you want to watch or forward the Zero Trollerance videos:

Zero Trollerance Step 1: Zero Denial

Zero Trollerance Step 2: Zero Internet

Zero Trollerance Step 3: Zero Anger

Zero Trollerance Step 4: Zero Fear

Zero Trollerance Step 5: Zero Hate

Zero Trollerance Step 6: Zero Troll

SXSW turns tail and runs… [Rejoice SXSW Organizers Weren’t Civil Rights Organizers] Troll Police

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

SXSW turns tail and runs, nixing panels on harassment by Lisa Vaas.

From the post:

Threats of violence have led the popular South by Southwest (SXSW) festival to nix two panel discussions about online harassment, organizers announced on Monday.

In his post, SXSW Interactive Director Hugh Forrest didn’t go into detail about the threats.

But given the names of the panels cancelled, there’s a strong smell of #gamergate in the air.

Namely, the panels for the 2016 event, announced about a week ago, were titled “SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community” and “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games.”

This reaction sure isn’t what they had in mind, Forrest wrote:

We had hoped that hosting these two discussions in March 2016 in Austin would lead to a valuable exchange of ideas on this very important topic.

However, in the seven days since announcing these two sessions, SXSW has received numerous threats of on-site violence related to this programming. SXSW prides itself on being a big tent and a marketplace of diverse people and diverse ideas.

However, preserving the sanctity of the big tent at SXSW Interactive necessitates that we keep the dialogue civil and respectful.

Arthur Chu, who was going to be a male ally on the Level Up panel, has written up the behind-the-scenes mayhem for The Daily Beast.

As Chu tells it, SXSW has a process of making proposed panels available for – disastrously enough, given the tactics of torch-bearing villagers – a public vote.

I rejoice the SXSW organizers weren’t civil rights organizers.

Here is an entirely fictional account of that possible conversation about marching across the Pettus Bridge.

Hugh Forrest: Yesterday (March 6, 1965), Gov. Wallace ordered the state police to prevent a march on between Selma and Montgomery by “whatever means are necessary….”

SXSW organizer: I heard that! And the police turned off the street lights and beat a large group on February 18, 1965 and followed Jimmie Lee Jackson into a cafe, shooting him. He died eight days later.

Another SXSW organizer: There has been nothing but violence and more violence for weeks, plus threats of more violence.

Hugh Forrest: Run away! Run away!

A video compilation of the violence Hugh Forrest and his fellow cowards would have dodged as civil rights organizers: Selma-to-Montgomery “Bloody Sunday” – Video Compilation.

Hugh Forrest and SXSW have pitched a big tent that is comfortable for abusers.

I consider that siding with the abusers.

How about you?

Safety and Physical Violence at Public Gatherings:

Assume that a panel discussion on online harassment does attract threats of physical violence. Isn’t that what police officers are trained to deal with?

And for that matter, victims of online harassment are more likely to be harmed in the real world when they are alone aren’t they?

So a public panel discussion, with the police in attendance, is actually safer for victims of online harassment than any other place for a real world confrontation.

Their abusers and their vermin-like supporters would have to come out from under their couches and closets into the light to harass them. Police officers are well equipped to hand out immediate consequences for such acts.

Abusers would become entangled in a legal system with little patience with or respect for their online presences.

Lessons from the Pettus Bridge:

In my view, civil and respectful dialogue isn’t how you deal with abusers, online or off. Civil and respectful dialogue didn’t protect the marchers to Montgomery and it won’t protect victims of online harassment.

The marchers to Montgomery were protected when forces more powerful than the local and state police moved into protect them.

What is required to protect targets of online harassment is a force larger and more powerful than their abusers.

Troll Police:

Consider this a call upon those with long histories of fighting online abuse individually and collectively to create a crowd-sourced Troll Police.

Public debate over the criteria for troll behavior and appropriate responses will take time but is an essential component to community validation for such an effort.

Imagine the Troll Police amassing a “big data” size database of online abuse. A database where members of the public can contribute analysis or research to help identify trolls.

That would be far more satisfying than wringing your hands when you hear of stories of abuse and wish things were better. Things can be better but if and only if we take steps to make them better.

I have some ideas and cycles I would contribute to such an effort.

How about you?