2x57: Banned, On The Run

Stuart Langridge, Jono Bacon, and Jeremy Garcia present Bad Voltage, in which we h4XX0r the Dark Web to pwn your s3ns3s, other people are inexplicably less annoyed about this than Stuart is, and:

  • [00:01:15] After a terrorist murdered 22 people and injured 24 others in the mass shooting in El Paso in 2019, police said that they are "reasonably confident" that the shooter published an anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant manifesto published on 8chan, a messageboard heavily linked to alt-right propaganda and mass shootings. Cloudflare then dropped their support for 8chan, refusing to provide them with DDOS protection.
    In the midst of this, Kevin Roose, a tech writer for the NYT, said: there's a big, interesting debate here about which layers of the internet should be responsible for banning extreme content. And we agree. So, this is that interesting debate: which levels should be banning stuff like this? ISPs, literally the provision of an internet service? Facebook and other end-user applications? Cloudflare and other infrastricture providers? And what justifies a decision to ban? Government regulation? Corporate PR? The CEO's personal opinions? Is there a risk that challenging the orthodoxy results in banning by the mob, or is that just a fig-leaf used by those who want to keep their awful opinions? A bit of all of that, perhaps: we dig into the whole topic from a few different angles.

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A good show

Carole Cadwalladr did a TED talk about Facebook and Brexit etc, It’s worth a watch.

I also saw Fredrick Brennan regrests creating 8chan https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/technology-49249575/8chan-founder-i-regret-my-creation



I don’t think the problem is simply technology, software or hardware. Rather, the affects of technology on wetware.

Specifically: Dopamine and the building of new and reorganising of existing neural networks. Be it from acts of tyranny (paying a fiver to have 20 unique account up votes to exact “p0wnies” on someone who dared question your social status even though you knew you were wrong), from a gamblers high, or accurately interpreting the prevailing views of your community and conforming well; The release of easy dopamine is addictive should be treated as an addiction accordingly. The first step is admitting the problem.

Matt Richtel (Pulitzer winning columnist and now novelist) has written extensively about technology’s affect on the brain and endocrine system and there is actual research in the medical and psychological fields being carried out. There’s actually entire industries that profit greatly from laying down new and/or reforming our neural networks to crave dopamine hits regardless of what it does to us psychologically and the changes it makes to our expectations of “normal”. I would talk about that here…I woullllld…but I’m afraid of getting S.W.A.T.ed.

Last weekend I was out with a friend I had known over 20 years. Her husband is doing well and her kids are upper school aged now so she decided to go to university (I’m super proud of her, btw :)). I’ve noted though, she is picking up some modern traits such as relying on consensus to form firm opinions rather than investigating on her own. I had brought up “The Boys” which I had recently binged and loved. She said she didn’t like it because it was sexist… very matter of factly. When asked further she said that the man seeking vengeance because his girlfriend/wife dies is a sexist trope. It was Friday night at the pub (being a shift worker that’s my only time to go out really) so I put good times above all else and changed the topic as soon as I could. How I know she didn’t watch it and instead was relying on consensus of a particular group (probably facebook) is that she didn’t mention Simon Peg at all (plays the dad) and I know she enjoys his work. Not even a “I can’t believe he associated himself with that project” or anything else indicating she knew he was in it (it’s not sexist and actually addresses the issue of superhero sexism quite effectively, btw). I don’t know if it’s that we’re so bombarded with information and demands on our attention, that we’re expected to have a polarized/definite opinion on almost anything now, or maybe we’re just too tired…but this joining the majority as a way of shortcutting investigation makes for an ungood world.

This is actually why I’m thankful for the conspiracy theorists and tin foil hat nutters (not sexists, racists, classists, etc. etc.) of the world :slight_smile: While more often than not just cheesy clickbait, at least they present the idea that ‘same’ is not the only way. I don’t know for how long most will be around though :frowning: There’s a memo from the Phoenix FBI field office equating conspiracy theorists with domestic terrorists.

People appropriating Pastor Niemoller is one of my personal pet peves but I do have to state that (despite a law suit against the FBI in 2013 by the Michigan ACLU) all Juggalos/Jugalettes are now deemed members of a hybrid gang for simply liking a band (that includes the effects of that designation on boarder crossing, sentencing, etc. etc.). Most are not fans of Insane Clown Posse though and probably …don’t care. Now, in 2019, they’d like to apply a designation to ‘conspiracy theorist’, but most are probably not one of those either and likewise probably …don’t care. Regardless of what you, you make part of most, identify as or don’t identify as you should notice this and look into it further because you don’t get to define what will be designated next …and you should care about that.

The problem with the 8chan-style arguments, and so the reason this is the one place I unilaterally side with the gate-keeping companies on this, is that they’re not looking for “free speech.” They’re looking to leverage the credibility of large companies to do the work of spreading their messages for them. Because, as mentioned in the episode (I think by @sil), nobody’s stopping them from paying for a web host that’ll risk liability for their actions and building a system to protect the server from overload. They don’t want that, they want people to say “I saw it on Facebook” or “it was the first search result on Google” and they also don’t want it all done for them on the cheap, even over the objections (the “free speech rights,” if you will) of the people who run those platforms. This, from people who will turn around and say that getting rid of the government would allow us to all do what we want, even as companies act like feudal lords.
Can it be turned against people we should protect? Of course it can, and it already happens with alarming regularity, with everything from breast-feeding mothers being marked as pornography, transgender people (and non-Europeans whose names might resemble those of fictional characters) getting banned for violating hand-wavy Real Name™ policies, banning people who point out that their harassers are “white men” (two identifiers making it “hate speech,” in contrast to advocating for the extermination of an entire religious group, which only has the one identifier, basically), giving police departments say over when to ban people streaming their actions, spotty banning of liberal groups, and so forth. Those stories don’t generally make much of a splash, though, stuffed as they are between the right-wing outrage machine churning out articles wringing their hands over not being allowed to advocate for ethnic cleansing like we used to be and the media giving us its endless parade of “racists don’t want to be called racist, because words hurt and it never occurred to us to suggest maybe not being racist” stories. It’s a “big deal” when it happens to conservatives, because they’ve become a lock-step group that echoes their messages widely across social media.
But even so, nobody has a right to the assistance of Facebook’s algorithm or a right to cheap hosting, and if companies (not people running the company, but the actual company itself) have the right to religious beliefs, then those companies surely have the right to decide they don’t want to help 8chan or Alex Jones.
And yes, now there’s the problem that these creeps are harder to intercept before they turn violent. But I’d argue that nobody has bothered to stop them before (even though that’s not out of the question, so making the cops install Tor (and go on their Journey to the Center of the Dark Web) to continue to not stop anybody isn’t exactly a huge cost while making it not worth the trouble of your average teenager to go get regaled by warmed-over readings from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or whatever QAnon dimwits are going on about, this week.

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@jonobacon appears to be the only person getting good service from Comcast.


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re: the issue of ‘free speech’ on the internet and who should be able to speak to what.
I am probably totally misrepresenting his ideas here, but

Jaron Lanier

has some really interesting ideas on how to reshape the internet to address such issues as advertsing driven internet and censorship.

Seem worth mentioning on this topic.

The Ezra Klein Show
Jaron Lanier’s case for deleting social media right now
Jul 9, 2018

His books (from the wikipedia article):

You Are Not a Gadget (2010)
Who Owns the Future (2013)
Dawn of the New Everything (2017)
Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (2018)

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