Showing posts from 2016

How to Fight Back When You Become an Out-Of-Control Meme


BY SASHA LEKACH 12/9/2016 You've got the "Success Kid," Gavin, "First Day on the Internet Kid" and many more awkward teens rounding out the ever-growing collection of memes featuring kids. They go insanely viral due to funny faces, gestures and expressions that describe a universal sense of frustration, achievement or utter despair. But sometimes, these viral photos are snatched from unknowing users' social media pages and used for nasty and offensive messages. When this happens, life can turn ugly real fast.  A photo of Hillary Clinton with a 4-year-old lookalike at an October 2015 campaign event in South Carolina started circulating around the web after the photo made it onto the "Hillary for America" Flickr page. The image spread as a meme, but not as a funny or relatable one. Instead, it was twisted from a joyous moment meeting a political hero to a disturbingly…

Thank You For Being Such A Jerk Mr. Trump

We  may actually owe Donald Trump a thank you for being a jerk.

Donald Trump's rhetoric during and since the campaign has certainly emboldened haters. There is no doubt about that. The hate incident statistics and clear increase in online incivility speaks for itself.

However, it is very unlikely that these are newly minted haters. Quite the opposite. Many of the so called "alt-right" leadership and core members are  white supremacists that have been known for years. Similarly, emergent vocal anti-gay, misogynist, anti-immigrant, fake news and anti-Semitic social media trolls are familiar names or closely connected to obvious networks of haters. For bringing them together and bringing many more to the surface, we owe Trump a thank you.

It seems that Trump's election has managed to prove the full extent of bias, hate and distrust in our country. Unfortunately, he harvested that cesspool for votes instead of using it as an example of what we need to overcome to be a be…

Today We Won a Battle Against Hate

DECEMBER 1, 2016

By Shaun Kozolchyk
Development Director, ADL San Francisco Regional Office There are days when working for the ADL—coming face-to-face with so much hate and vitriolone wonders, howdo I get through today? Then there are other days when good things happen. A few days ago. ADL was able to strike a blow against hate in a measurable, concrete permanent and HOPEFUL way.  We do that every day, behind the scenes, but on this day we did it in full view, and got amazing results. But let me back up: A few weeks ago, I saw the most jarring Facebook post by a woman whose beautiful four-year-old daughter had been violated publically and horrifically. You see: A lovely picture of her daughter with Hillary Clinton had been turned into a hateful meme spread by bigots. I believed ADL could help.  And we did. Now it’s gone viral — and the focus of an inspiring news story in The Washington Post. The following is Jennifer Jones’s story, in her own words: I took my daughter to meet Hillary Clinton…

Hey World - You Haven't Lost Us Yet, Love America

Yes, "we" elected Donald Trump as our next President. Now the good news,  half the voters 60,981,000 (roughly the population of England) supported someone else. 

Governments can do a lot of damage. They can compromise international relationships. They can impede economic growth and make unimaginable numbers of people feel threatened.

Most governments are temporary.  Trump will be temporary. Regardless what barriers or divisions may be fostered,  we don't need to worry, we can render them moot. We have the internet. 

No borders or walls or fences can truly stop us from connecting with people in any country. 

I will not abandon my friends and colleagues, no matter where they live, their color or religion.

If our international relations need to be extra-governmental, so be it. 

So says me and 60,981,000 or so friends.

Cyber Savannah - South Africa's Great Opportunity

South Africa stands on the verge of something amazing, again. A mere 20 years after one of the great bloodless social revolutions in history, Africa's new economy and society are on the brink of a unique digital age.

Much of South Africa, and Africa in general, has no infrastructure for advance data access  for the public.  Broadband wireless is about to change that. In the very near future, the most remote or under served communities will have the same access to the internet and other digital vistas as anyone else.

Code knows no color, age or status. It speaks all languages and does not care where it is written or used - Soweto, Miami or Tokyo

Yes, there will be economic barriers, but they will be low compared to the burden of wiring and maintaining lines over endless miles of veldt. Mobile devices also have the advantage of offeting a much lower cost entry point .

But just as South Africa has a chance to launch a new chapter in its economy, it is also vulnerable to tech predat…

Fundamentalism, Absolutism and the First Amendment.

The First Amendment is not absolute, it has limits.  As important as those limits are, it is even more important that the First Amendment, and its limits, apply to everyone equally.

Whether based on the spirit, legal or societal commitment to the First Amendment, it is easy to start carving out exceptions to protect segments of society in unusual situations. Easy is rarely right or good. We choose easy because new definitions and demarcations can be very difficult. Even understanding that free speech is not absolute is hard. Even harder when we start talking about exactly where those limits are.

The fundamental absolute about the First Amendment is that it was intended to be as dynamic and changeable as the Constitution itself. That's why the founding fathers built-in a the capability to make amendments. The First Amendment and the Constitution were created by mortal men, but men smart enough to know that change is the only constant in the universe. Change is inevitable, necessary…

What if Heaven is Empty

Some aspire to go to heaven, others just wish to avoid hell, there are those who believe in neither and then there are those who don't care.

If heaven does exist, so does hell. There is always balance. Perhaps there are a spectrum of places between them. It seems unlikely that if you aren't an absolute paragon of virtue, and nobody is, you are doomed to the place reserved for the worst of humanity. I doubt that I will end up as Hitler's roommate for eternity because I lied to my mother about how her favorite vase got broken. However, possible sins, and the opportunities for exclusion from heaven are plentiful.

Even people who strive to live vitreous lives, with the expectation of going to heaven are committing a sin (hubis) and are therefore excluded. Being ignorant of heaven, religion or the striving for eternal reward seems the only relatively good path to the Kingdom of God. A catch-22, if there ever was one.

It seems unbalanced, getting into heaven so hard and getting …

Apologies to Pepe the Frog

There is something in the Pepe the Frog issue to piss-off just about everyone; a beloved meme hijacked to promote a hateful political agenda, media attention that now permanently casts a shadow on the beloved image and so much attention being paid to such a comparatively small thing at a time of rampant hate and discord.

Humans have a habit of co-opting items from popular culture for their own purposes. There is a long tradition of such things. Mostly, usually, it's benign and sometimes productive. The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the winter solstice goes back to the vikings. It is also no coincidence that every major religion  has festivals, holidays or rituals for  autumn, midwinter and spring. We use the familiar to make the new or different more acceptable. Sort of a social Trojan horse.

However, there is a darker side to this characteristic behavior. Famously, destructively and relevantly, there is Hitler's appropriation of the swastika. The same holds true for man…

The Tolerance Weapon

Don't we feel foolish.  Tolerance, the once promising key to a better tomorrow, has been turned to crap.

The haters,  in this case the self-anointed victims of the Civil Rights Movement, have finally figured out how to screw up our best intentions. They now claim that they too are entitled to be tolerated.

As truly social deviants, and unlikely to qualify to be tolerated, the haters have recast themselves in more socially neutral terms. They no longer call themselves right-wing, white rights or European traditionalists.

They are now Alt-Right. A term so ambiguous as to obscure their true principals and confuse the less informed. As a result, the fringes of the Alt Right contain some relatively normal people. The true right-wing core of the Alt Right movement uses the appearance of normality at its fringes to claims a right to be tolerated in the social and political arena.

Make no mistake, these are white supremacists and fascists trying to paint their picture with a brush broad …


DEAR INTERNET, IT’S been a while, right? We here at WIRED talk about you a lot (mostly good things!), and we’ll admit it feels a little weird to address you directly. But we need to have a talk. And yeah, no, this is not going to be a fun one. Because things aren’t great, Internet. Actually, scratch that: they’re awful.
You were supposed to be the blossoming of a million voices. We were all going to democratize access to information together. But some of your users have taken that freedom as a license to victimize others. This is not fine.
Are we talking about Leslie Jones? Sure. Today. But we should’ve mentioned something to you Monday when some of you went after the woman running Ireland’s Twitter account. Or earlier this summer when anti-Semitic trolls started crowing about their nested-parentheses bat…

The Fiction of Non-Fiction

Historically, libraries have divided books into two broad categories; fiction and non-fiction. Examples of fiction are stories, fables and fantasies. The rest is non-fiction, widely considered as fact.
Merriam-Webster defines it as: "writing that is about facts or real events: all writing that is not fiction."

The digital world has inherited that default definition for non-fiction and is suffering for it. 
The first of many problems is that the fiction or non-fiction classification is bestowed by the author. A written piece about traveling to the moon in a basket carried by geese could be speculative non-fiction on alternative methods of spaceflight or a fictional fairy-tale. There is no objective measure which way it is classified. As a result, there are non-fiction writings about  how the Holocaust did not happen, genetic superiority or how the government is controlling people through microwave towers, among various other nonsense. 
If people just laughed, and some do, that…

We Are All Journalists

So many of us are journalists, storytellers, relaters of experience. Blogging, vlogging and micro-blogging. Some hoping to be the next Drudge or Huffington, others just needing to speak. Not since the Instamatic camera has our existence been chronicled so richly.

There are all kinds of journalists. Career journalists, science journalists, entertainment journalists and foremost, citizen  journalists. All are important and valuable, but a mixed bag. Some career journalists are amateurs and some citizen journalists are professionals. The difference between professionals and amateurs is not a matter of experience. It is a matter of dedication to journalistic standards, ethics and practices. Not everyone has that dedication.

The problem is dedication and commitment are great attributes, but not a great shield from abuse. More and more, as we citizen journalists, we need a shield or two.  In this election year we have seen just how badly  professional journalists can be abused for seemingl…

The Sightless Still See Hate

Many online service platforms have long advocated user initiated local blocking as a preferred method for fighting hateful content.  As much as I appreciate the problems faced by the companies, simply having users block hate from their feeds is a bit like stopping the bleeding,  but leaving in the bullet.  The problem is still there, and will fester.

Think of a hearing impaired person, walking down the street, followed by someone screaming obscenities, abuse and taunts at them. Just because the victim can't hear the abuse does not mean they are not being abused.

When hate is directed at a person,  or a group, or is posted in a place where the person or members of the group are likely to encounter it, that's wrong, inappropriate, uncivilized. Even if blocked from the victims view, it is seen and used by collaborative haters. It feeds the destructive environment.

User experience controls are a useful feature, but they do not combat cyberhate.

Let's be real. I can't rec…

Cyber Civil War

We often talk about the internet as being borderless, as if it were a country. Maybe it is.

Even countries predicated on the grand concept of the internet can have problems.

What happens if/when the EU enacts laws which allows victims of terrorism or racism to sue the platform, ISP or hosting company connected to the transmission of the hate or terrorism. Think of the Ford Motor Company being sued because their cars were used as  in a robbery or a bombing.  When faced with untold millions of dollars in lawsuits and court costs, what would a  company do? One answer is to leave Europe.

What would happen if Google, Facebook or Twitter suddenly closed all their offices in Europe and decided to take their chances as solely US entities, responsible solely to US law? Not happening? Already is. Wikipedia, has no offices outside the US..This is a conscience move to protect their content. For all their massive info source, on a world of topics, they are not beholding to any law other than the …

Auschwitz Game Highlights Serious Holes in Google’s Review Process


Drew Gerber | June 23, 2016 Controversy raged this week over news that the Google Play store had allowed a free mobile game that promised players could “live like a real Jew” at Auschwitz.
For the second time in a month, Google’s review process was brought into serious question. But now, the game’s creators have come forward to say that was the point of the game.
TRINIT, a vocational school teaching video game design in Zaragoza, Spain, asked their students to design games that would test the strength of Google’s policy on hateful speech and inappropriate imagery during the review process, the institute told The Forward in an email.
“Surprisingly, Google denied almost all of the test apps, but [the Auschwitz game] was approved,” the institute said.
TRINIT said it pulled the game, which it said was nonfunctional and only included a start page, on Sunday night after realizing it had sparked media…

Cyberhate Arms Race - Making Better Haters

Cyberhate is only getting worse. More vicious, insidious, malicious and more technologically driven.

Online hate, either combating it or perpetuating it, requires the participants to continually escalate their position in an attempt to out-maneuver the opponent. An endless cycle of  anti-hate and more hate.

At the same time as we oppose haters online, we also make them better at hating. The numerous times David Duke's websites and YouTube channels have been taken down has served to teach him how better to evade the rules of the various platforms. The haters also make the anti-hate community larger, stronger and more innovative.

Cybrehate predates the internet. Active hate communities existed on pre-internet dial-up networks. Bigots, racists and misogynists have always invaded new digital technology as quickly as possible. Technology platforms have a checkered past when it comes to responding to hate, but the public and community organizations have been responding from the earlies…

Beyond ((( ))): Three More Ways to Troll the Internet’s Nazis

Image Here’s how you can show anti-Semites that they’re outside acceptable online discourse, show solidarity with the people they harass, and take back Taylor Swift By Yair (((Rosenberg)))|June 17, 2016 10:02 AM
This month, thousands of users took to Twitter to messwith the Nazis . Following media reports detailing how Trump-supporting white supremacists were targeting Jews online by placing parentheses around their names to harass and intimidate them on social media, Twitter users appropriated the symbol. The trend soon spread to politicians, celebrities, journalists, and more. From Atlantic correspondent ((((((Jeffrey Goldberg)))))) to West Wing and Scandal actor (((Josh Malina))) to Colorado congressman ((((((Jared Polis)))))), Jews and non-Jews alike showed solidarity against the anti-Semites. The movement even made TheNew York Times . Beyond raising awareness about anti-Semitism online, the pilfe…