Law and Legal

Media Manipulation – Efforts to exploit technical, social, economic and institutional configurations of media

The Media Manipulation Initiative (MMI) examines how different groups use the participatory culture of the internet to turn the strengths of a free society into vulnerabilities, ultimately threatening expressive freedoms and civil rights. Efforts to exploit technical, social, economic, and institutional configurations of media can catalyze social change, sow dissent, and challenge the stability of social institutions. Broadly, this initiative takes a sociotechnical approach to understanding the social, political, and economic incentives to game information systems, websites, platforms, and search engines—especially in cases where the attackers intend to destabilize democratic, social, and economic institutions. Through empirical research, we identify the unintended consequences of socio-technical systems and track attempts to locate and address threats, with an eye towards increasing organizational capacity across fields, so that action can be taken as problems emerge. From social movements, to political parties, governments, dissidents, and corporations, many groups engage in active efforts to shape media narratives. Media manipulation tactics include: planting and/or amplifying misinformation and disinformation using humans (troll armies, doxxing, and bounties) or digital tools (bots); targeting journalists or public figures for social engineering (psychological manipulation); gaming trending and ranking algorithms, and coordinating action across multiple user accounts to force topics, keywords, or questions into the public conversation. Because the internet is a tool, a tactic, and a territory – integral to challenging the relations of power– studying studying the new vulnerabilities of networked media is fundamental to the future of democracies…” [h/t Pete Weiss – see also Pete’s weekly column on LLRX]

Categories: Law and Legal

The Grand Old Tradition of Gaming at the Library

JSTOR Daily: “Visit your local public library today and you may find rows of kids playing computer games, or even a couple of Xboxes. That might seem like evidence that libraries have drifted from a pure focus on the printed word. But, as gaming scholar Scott Nicholson finds, gaming at the library is a tradition that goes back to the 1850s. In mid-nineteenth century Great Britain, the pattern of the industrial workday—solid hours of intense work followed by leisure time—meant many men spent their off-hours gambling and playing games in public houses. Social reformers responded by creating game rooms and billiard parlors at libraries, considered a more respectable setting for recreation. In the United States, meanwhile, the idea of using libraries for recreation—even in the form of recreational reading—was a controversial idea. Some of the founders of the Boston Public Library, which opened in 1854, argued that it was inappropriate to buy popular fiction books. (They ended up losing that debate.) But, Nicholson writes, even then games were part of some U.S. libraries. For one example, the Mechanics’ Institute Library in San Francisco, founded in 1854 to serve the city’s growing population in the gold rush years, housed a chess room from the start. Nicholson notes that the library is the home of the oldest chess club still existing in the U.S.

Categories: Law and Legal

BUNET: Screenshots of the FBI’s Internal Website

AltGov2: “BUNET is the FBI’s internal, employees-only website (a/k/a intranet). As far as I can tell, it’s never been seen by the public until now. In August 2017, I [Russ Kick] filed a FOIA request for color screenshots of the homepage and of each page linked from the homepage. I received the PDF above. It doesn’t contain every page linked from the homepage, though. Depending on how you’re counting, there are 18 or 28 pages one click away from the homepage, and the FBI FOIA office sent screenshots of 11 of them. I’ll be trying to rectify this. You’ll also notice that the quality of the screenshots is mystifyingly awful. Or maybe the screenshots are accurate and the FBI’s intranet really is grayscale and pixelated almost to the point of unreadability…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Turmoil at the New York Times

Vanity Fair – Hive: “The Newsroom Feels Embarrassed”: Backfires and Explosions at The New York Times as a Possible Future Chief Re-Invents the Paper’s Opinion Pages – “A yoga-pants refusenik, a climate-science skeptic, and a tech writer with a neo-Nazi pal, among other offenders, have put James Bennet in the crosshairs.”

“Leading the country’s most closely observed Opinion page is an unfathomably complex job, largely because of two interrelated factors: the outrage culture of the Internet in general, and Donald Trump in particular. For the Times, this conundrum often reduces to the question of how hospitable the op-eds should be to illiberal and sometimes unscientific positions—where do facts end and values begin? For many Times readers—and many scientists, for that matter—questioning the science of global warming is not different in kind than, say, not ruling out the possibility that the world may be flat. And many Times readers believe, with some justification, that only one of the political parties is truly a full citizen of the reality-based community. What is the responsibility to provide equal time in such circumstances? These are not at all simple lines to draw.

Categories: Law and Legal

Children struggle to hold pencils due to too much tech, doctors say

The “Children are increasingly finding it hard to hold pens and pencils because of an excessive use of technology, senior paediatric doctors have warned. An overuse of touchscreen phones and tablets is preventing children’s finger muscles from developing sufficiently to enable them to hold a pencil correctly, they say. “Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago,” said Sally Payne, the head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust. “Children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not be able to hold it because they don’t have the fundamental movement skills….”

“It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes. Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil.”

I cannot help but say, I told you so – it is not only kids who cannot hold pencils or pens and actually write on paper anymore – it is adults as well. And how many people do you know (excluding librarians please) who actually type – with two hand over a keyboard, using all their respective fingers (I am raising my hand but you cannot see me) – and I own so many pens that I am afraid of being shamed for what is considered an odd collection of otherwise “useless objects.” I actually use them daily to write real cards – to people I know – and to take notes – every day – but then – I am a librarian/researcher/knowledge manager – who does not own a phone that I can “swipe.” I have an 8 year old “smartphone” with whom I have an increasingly contentious relationship – but I digress. If people do not use the muscles in their hands, will they eventually be of no use (an unimaginable fate for some, most..of us?).

Categories: Law and Legal


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