TWIT 754: I Dream of Wiki

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What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!

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Section 230’s immunity is being misapplied beyond hardware-only interests, and most certainly has nothing to do with social media. I think platform immunity should be predicated on both being unpaid and also fully exposed to public audits of the source and targets.

As a bare minimum, a 3rd-party consortium, itself accountable to the courts but more nimble, could be charged with issuing injunctions on paid ads which make affirmative claims that are demonstrably verifiable to be objectively false. That would vest power over truth in neither the legislature nor platforms, while extending court-accountable vetting power over real-time ads inappropriate to directly grant journalists. Voluntary tools such as paid influencers whose speech is sponsored would be treated as platforms in and of themselves and their speech as the ads it is, subject to disclosure of both source and targeting as well as determinations over affirmative claims.

Even cable companies don’t deserve 230 immunity because they profit by content. The classification of them according to only hardware, ignoring the software/content, was sheer corruption. The same profiteer’s conceit has metastasized into online and now social media to an extent it maligns society as a whole on a global scale. Rather than hand-wringing over 230’s abuse generating blow-back capable of negatively impacting journalism, I wish you’d have kicked the bastardization of 230 in the first place to the curb, as prerequisite for any reasonable discussion of the topic. Kudos to Georgia for at least attempting to nudge you toward that direction.

The foregoing were proffered as mere remediation meant to redress in a way palatable to its victims’ current disposition the foundational flaw of profiteering predation upon the social. I would much prefer people hew to their own privacy to the extent that “a social media platform” functioning by direct social-graph links rather than performative public broadcast would starve the centralized platform paradigm.

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A small mistake by @Leo, when talking about the NSA reported crypto bug in Windows 10 this month, it isn’t EternalBlue, that is an SMB1 bug that was leaked by Snowden. :wink:


The “ourselves” in your statement clearly, in my view, excludes the populace in favor of private enterprise. And what is being bought? The “right” to “make money”? Or a freedom different in kind from commerce? Because if all that interests you is commerce, authoritarianism will suit you just fine.

You’re focusing on the wrong side of the equation: breaking encryption breaks vital infrastructure such as banking, power plant security, control of transit, etc. and will never stop lawbreakers from using unsanctioned encryption. Zimmerman’s point makes a mockery of your counter-argument in emphasizing how disproportionate the knowledge imbalance is between law enforcement and potential criminals. By the way, are you not familiar with law enforcement infiltration of suspect groups? A whole body of knowledge in intelligence practice stretching back decades that together with meta-information gives them far more than they ever had? In any case, eradication of private expression annihilates the society law enforcement exists to preserve and protect. To forfeit freedom in favor of a hypothetical we’re at the opposite end of a spectrum from shall we say sells short the premise of free and open society on a scale and to a degree far beyond any country’s existence.

Those pesky externalities, amiright? Barriers to entry are one thing; unfettered opportunism is quite another. Or do you count the balkanized telco situation and the ticking time-bomb of woeful IoT insecurity for nothing? How odd that someone whose argumentation seems to center around commerce would be unconcerned with rampant opportunity for ransomware, cracking, and other—to put it exceedingly narrowly—corporate headaches.

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Is your failure to grasp the gravity of the situation so total as to not realize that the issue is banks’ ability to keep their own operations secure, and not what they’re willing to turn over to law enforcement? And again you’ve focused on the wrong half of the equation, in my view: basic infrastructure control systems require secure communications, which also (cough) happens (cough) to facilitate privacy, the bedrock of self-deterministic society. Furthermore, similarly to side-stepping cracked encryption, criminals will abstract their transactions through exchange facilitated by intact encryption regardless of its legality. The impulse to fault tech companies for enabling privacy is dangerously misguided. The political implications alone for dissidents the world over are life-threatening.

Edit: (for those visiting subsequently) the posts to which mine were in response were deleted by their author, though because I did not anticipate that, I took no screenshots of them; I fabricated nothing.


@Leo, you said you guys are going to be in St. Louis at WWT on March 5th. Is it possible to have a meetup? I’m sure St. Louis fans would like to meet everyone.


was surprised that Microsoft’s announcement to go Carbon Negative wasn’t covered at all, and setting up a $1B Climate Innovation fund. Surely that is as important as most of the other stories.

I always hear that “access location ONLY while the app is running” is a better option than “always” but I’ve never come across an explanation of what that really means. To my knowledge, an app can run for days or more. It is closed ONLY if the memory pool gets full. So these apps can be accessing your location days if not weeks after you open and use them.

Another perspective on the “you cannot scale moderation of content to the size of facebook”, put candidly: Facebook made about 25 billion USD in profit in 2018. It is famed for its commercial success and vision and damned for its quality and ill effects. Maybe this is simply a case of a company getting away with a carelessly (or maybe even carefully, but deviously) implemented product - but only in a way that it does not harm, but help their profitability.

It might be a place where a functioning government would set limits and judiciously say: let’s have them put 20 billion a year towards quality, consumer safety, and against creating societal harm.We might be surprised how far smart solutions propelled by 20 billion could take them.

In that case, I even might be on board with Jeff’s grandiose argument of “going off facebook is a position of privilege” (I still believe that’s somewhere between a dearly held Freudian slip and purely nonsensical “too big to fail” brand fandom), but in another way: currently, it’s the sad truth of the social darwinist that if you cannot afford to, you’re bound to eat dirt - media wise. And, btw., we’ve written them off, since there’s no way of fixing this.

It’s like no-one ever stopped Boeing building the 737max. Every week one plane crashes. You cannot fix the problem (hands are tied, impossible, so sad). You cannot make people stop flying in them (that would be elitist). Those who can afford to don’t fly it anymore - those who cannot: oh well…

Which leads me to “you cannot put a drag especially on the large and successful companies, because then no one would want to be large and successful anymore”: the large and successful are also the powerful. If you do not motivate the powerful to behave responsibly and pull for and not against the masses, you’ve kind of given up on the concept of a diverse society. No?

I am certain I am wrong in many ways - and love to learn about all of them. :slight_smile:


You can always manually stop the app, when you aren’t using it.

A lot of these companies know of the problems from the beginning, or at least they should be aware of the laws they have to obey. But they seem to ignore the laws until the cost of the lawyers and fines outweighs “doing it properly”, by which point it is too late to actually do a proper job, because of the scale of the product.

YouTube is another example. They knew they’d have to deal with copyright infringement at some point, but it was the copyrighted material that made them popular, so they tried to bend the law as much as possible and pay fines, so they could keep growing. Then, when they finally can’t avoid it any more, they complain that the problem is too big, that there is no easy solution. Well, no, not now, but if they had implemented the required legal controls from the get-go, they would have scaled with the product and they also wouldn’t face a horrendous dip in profits that would scare investors, if they did the job properly now. So they do the minimum they can get away with.
Facebook is the same. In most European countries, there are very strict laws about political advertising and what can be done when, which Facebook blatantly ignores, because it is too big a problem for them to deal with, without carving deeply into their profits.

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Luckily, that’s pretty logical and transparent behaviour. It’s not evil - it’s simply greedy. And I have come to accept, too, that this greed is not that of all other people, but also mine who loves seeing his pension investment go up by double digits some years.

The question now really becomes who are the thundering, revered, and respected voices that say “there is a limit to much greed should steer what’s acceptable - and this limit is here”? We kind of don’t have these voices in society anymore. Feels like the ultimate Achilles heel of democratic technological advancement: the voices that might guide it are drowned out by the chatter of the empowered masses.

Ok - the last sentence is a bit grandiose, maybe.

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This dithering is more evil than greed: a preoccupation with abstract notions of whether or not it’s some received definition of absolute omnipotent destruction, verifiable only after it’s become too late by that myopia allowing its decay to progress to such a state that no such thing can be verified because not only is neither there anything left to do the verification, but nor is there anything left to be verified.

Grandiose? Hardly. It’s mewlingly timid, maudlin in its coddling of unenlightened self-interest.

Look, I’m not here to vilify you personally, but to point out the shall we say intellectual bankruptcy of even so tacit a critique as yours of corporate brokered capitalism, where individuals operate in its shadows and it serves as their personal bulwark against loss and engine of gain. Corporatism has made it more lucrative to flip companies than to run them, to raid countries than to trade with them, let alone invest in them and their resources other than to more aggressively raid them.

Also, there “kind of” are such voices: Bernie Sanders blusters it; Warren chirps it; the Greens’ Jill Stein and her running-mate Ajamu Baraka touted it (the young, incidentally, increasingly advocate it). They’re dismissed as foolhardy for being counter-productive to “growth” and self-limiting politically for exactly the reasons of the affluent who are best positioned to vote and exert influence you’ve mentioned. Wait around for conditions to naturally buoy you without furthering decay, and it’ll come for you, too. I suggest that rather than accepting navel-gazing and calls for government regulation, the affluent (as opposed to the super-rich), while they still can, avail themselves of the influence democracy affords them to exert to reign in corporatism, unsparing, unsentimental, and dispensing with the halo of respectability business has enjoyed simply because it under capitalism claims control over the transactions facilitating the means of production. Partnering with the rest of the populace while you’re at it I doubt would hurt, especially considering that they otherwise pose you a liability if you’re expecting the continuance of a comfortable life.

That’s a good point.