❝ Fake news is nothing new. But bogus stories can reach more people more quickly via social media than what good old-fashioned viral emails could accomplish in years past.
Concern about the phenomenon led Facebook and Google to announce that they’ll crack down on fake news sites, restricting their ability to garner ad revenue. Perhaps that could dissipate the amount of malarkey online, though news consumers themselves are the best defense against the spread of misinformation.
❝ Not all of the misinformation being passed along online is complete fiction, though some of it is. Snopes.com has been exposing false viral claims since the mid 1990s, whether that’s fabricated messages, distortions containing bits of truth and everything in between. Founder David Mikkelson warned in a Nov. 17 article not to lump everything into the “fake news” category. “The fictions and fabrications that comprise fake news are but a subset of the larger bad news phenomenon, which also encompasses many forms of shoddy, unresearched, error-filled, and deliberately misleading reporting that do a disservice to everyone,” he wrote…
My advice, the advice of the folks at factcheck.org –
❝ Consult the experts. We know you’re busy, and some of this debunking takes time. But we get paid to do this kind of work. Between FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, the Washington Post Fact Checker and PolitiFact.com, it’s likely at least one has already fact-checked the latest viral claim to pop up in your news feed…
❝ On our Viral Spiral page, we list some of the claims we get asked about the most; all of our Ask FactChecks can be found here. And if you encounter a new claim you’d like us to investigate, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
❝ An Obama administration working group has explored four possible approaches tech companies might use that would allow law enforcement to unlock encrypted communications — access that some tech firms say their systems are not set up to provide.
The group concluded that the solutions were “technically feasible,” but all had drawbacks as well.
The approaches were analyzed as part of a months-long government discussion about how to deal with the growing use of encryption in which no one but the user can see the information. Law enforcement officials have argued that armed with a warrant they should be able to obtain communications, such as e-mails and text messages, from companies in terrorism and criminal cases.
❝ Senior officials do not intend to advance the solutions as “administration proposals” — or even want them shared outside the government, according to a draft memo obtained by The Washington Post.
Why? — They’re afraid Americans still believe our government should protect our privacy.
“Rather than sparking more discussion, government-proposed technical approaches would almost certainly be perceived as proposals to introduce ‘backdoors’ or vulnerabilities in technology products and services and increase tensions rather [than] build cooperation,” the memo said.
❝ …National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh stated in an e-mail that “these proposals are not being pursued.”
And we’re supposed to believe him…after the Obama White House spent a month trying to figure out how to get away with achieving these proposals.
❝ Instead of offering technical solutions, the working group drew up a set of principles to guide engagement with the private sector. They include: no bulk collection of information and no “golden keys” for the government to gain access to data.
All of which were suggested by assorted government experts in the Obama administration.
❝ All four approaches amount to what most cryptography experts call a “backdoor” because they would require developers to alter their systems by adding a surreptitious mechanism for accessing encrypted content, according to Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology…
Technologists have said such approaches weaken the security of encryption by adding layers of complexity that might hide bugs and creating new potential targets for hackers.
In general, creating an “aftermarket solution” instead of designing a solution into the platform from the start “brings in additional vulnerabilities” that could be exploited, the law enforcement official acknowledged.
❝ These are some of the reasons why federal officials say they want the companies themselves to craft solutions based on their own systems.
❝ …A number of encryption solutions are built by groups of open-source developers, who make the software available for free on the Internet. The open-source nature of the code makes it harder to hide a backdoor. And because the developers are often dispersed among different countries and volunteers who are not working for any company, it is impractical for law enforcement to serve an order on one that’s enforceable on all.
“These challenges mean that inaccessible encryption will always be available to malicious actors,” the memo said…And to individuals who still think their privacy trumps a government run to satisfy police above all else..
❝Oh, the irony. Observe the GIF above, which illustrates how one of Donald “Donnie Boy” Trump’s properties will be affected by rising sea levels in South Florida. The map is part of a great series BuzzFeed created with data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The kicker, of course, is that Donald Trump doesn’t believe in climate change. Speaking with Bill O’Reilly last year, Trump referred to the Paris climate talks as “ridiculous,” and called climate change “a big scam for a lot of people to make a lot of money.”
❝Trump, it seems, knows nothing of science…Although [Trump’s] buildings may remain just above sea level, access will likely be a problem by the end of the century, as much of the surrounding area disappears beneath the waves.
“Even though a certain property might be sort of dry, there’s going to be absolutely no way of getting to it,” says Billy Brooks, a geospatial analyst at NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management…
Regardless of the timing, one thing is clear: If these very real threats to Donald Trump’s own fortune can’t make the man change his mind, clearly, it can’t be changed at all.
Changing Trump’s mind presumes reasoned rational processes. Opportunism is the only reason for anything Trump does or says.
❝Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday nixed a bill that would have barred carjackers or anyone convicted of gang activity or terroristic threats from owning or purchasing a firearm.
Christie, who’s seeking the Republican nomination for president, failed to act on the bill (A4182) by its end-of-legislative session deadline, effectively killing a measure that received overwhelming bipartisan support in the state Legislature…
That’s called a pocket veto. He has more than bills in his pants, obviously.
❝Under current law, people convicted of certain serious crimes, such as aggravated assault, arson, burglary, homicide, extortion, endangering the welfare of a child, stalking and burglary, are not allowed to own or purchase a firearm in the state.
The bill sought to add people convicted of “carjacking, gang criminality, racketeering and terroristic threats” to that list.
The bill passed the State Assembly 68 to 0, the State Senate 37 to 0.
❝Christie’s office declined to offer insight into the reason for the veto…
Some people choose intelligent allies. Some pick friends for favors. Some kiss butt because they’re opportunists and cowards. Which one is Christie?
Cartoon of the day – and more years than I’ve been alive.
When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech before huge crowds on the National Mall in August 1963, the FBI took notice.
“We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security,” FBI domestic intelligence chief William Sullivan wrote in a memo two days later. A massive surveillance operation on King was quickly approved, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover became increasingly fixated on proving that King had Communist ties, and discrediting him generally.
The surveillance failed to show that King was a Communist, but it did result in many tapes of extramarital sexual liaisons by King. So, the next year, Sullivan sent the following unsigned letter to King’s home. An unredacted version of it was only recently unearthed by Yale historian Beverly Gage, and published in the New York Times in November:
RTFA for all the racist and reactionary crap involved in this FBI project. Understand one thing – one thing the nicely-nicely journalists who published this in the NY Times and at Vox.com online will not say.
The miserable lowlife pricks who think like this have infected our government since before we won our independence. They have occasionally been shut down. They never left. Preserving creeps like this, saving them to get their taxpayer-funded pension, is part of what Good Old Boys Clubs are for. They’ve learned not to be as public about their racism, they don’t even use code words like the smarmy bigots in the Tea Party.
But, they’re still here. They still get their chances at character assassination every time someone decides security is a higher priority than democracy and transparency.
(The Borowitz Report) — An Ohio man has become infected with misinformation about the Ebola virus through casual contact with cable news, the Centers for Disease Control has confirmed.
Tracy Klugian, thirty-one, briefly came into contact with alarmist Ebola hearsay during a visit to the Akron-Canton airport, where a CNN report about Ebola was showing on one of the televisions in the airport bar. “Mr. Klugian is believed to have been exposed to cable news for no more than ten minutes, but long enough to become infected,” a spokesman for the C.D.C. said. “Within an hour, he was showing signs of believing that an Ebola outbreak in the United States was inevitable and unstoppable.”
Once Klugian’s condition was apparent, the Ohio man was rushed to a public library and given a seventh-grade biology textbook, at which point he “started to stabilize,” the spokesman said.
But others exposed to the widening epidemic of Ebola misinformation may not be so lucky. “A man in Oklahoma was exposed to Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Fox for over three minutes,” the C.D.C. spokesman said gravely. “We hope we’re not too late.”
We’re only about three weeks from the mid-term election. Be prepared for the next wave of infection from Republican Candidates – for any office, local, state or national – demanding our borders be closed to prevent Africans entering the United States via Canada or Mexico while pretending to suffer from hayfever.