[News] The Internet Was a Mistake

Pages

A thread for updates on the various ways the internet is destroying everything and the undying hellsites of social media. Let's all laugh at the abyss.

Prederick wrote:

Me: /watches some Breaking Bad clips.

YouTube: "Huh! Breaking Bad eh? So I assume that, despite literal years of you tuning your recommendations against this, you'd like to see a Jordan Peterson video linked to the subject?"

I wonder, on a fresh account, how many clicks from top-ranked recommendations it'd take for YouTube to take you from "Video game Let's Play" to "Jews will not replace us."

I'm guessing no more than 10.

Sounds like a PhD thesis. Should be pretty easy to automate a test setup.

Seriously...
When I am not signed in, how do you get from the following youtube tags at the top:
NBA, blender, electric bicycle, science fiction, gaming computers, comedy, warhammer, role playing, solid state batteries

to 1/3 of my videos of anti wokeness, the better bachelor, over the top anti karen, jordan peterson, thot shaming, both sidesing, anti AOC, vaccine coverup, and on and on?

Even on my personal account when signed in I have similar tags and much more history. Yet I've had to not recommend channels consistently and I still get 1 crap video per dozen suggestions.

The Anxiety of Influencers

Lotsa $10 words in here, but interesting. I don't know if there's any way for someone in my age coterie (or older) to express criticism of Tik Tok and influencer culture without becoming Skinner.

IMAGE(https://www.mouser.in/blog/Portals/11/mrb-singularity-f1.png)

Prederick wrote:

Lotsa $10 words in here, but interesting. I don't know if there's any way for someone in my age coterie (or older) to express criticism of Tik Tok and influencer culture without becoming Skinner.

Sure there is - but it's by being Abe instead:

Someone did a riff on this for my fellow "Geriatric millennials" and I was dying.

"Now! To use the internet, you had to have a CD first with a certain number of minutes on them! You'd go to the store and say 'Give me 100 hours of internet!'"

Prederick wrote:

The Anxiety of Influencers

Lotsa $10 words in here, but interesting. I don't know if there's any way for someone in my age coterie (or older) to express criticism of Tik Tok and influencer culture without becoming Skinner.

IMAGE(https://www.mouser.in/blog/Portals/11/mrb-singularity-f1.png)

The way to avoid it is to have valid criticisms. Not sentences that start with "I don't understand..."

Mixolyde wrote:

The way to avoid it is to have valid criticisms. Not sentences that start with "I don't understand..."

When it comes to inter-generational cultural differences, what one generation views as “valid criticism” tends to just be:

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/KcWZdxXZ/Ref3a12f621183df0dea5fac0d7f799b7-rik-f-Zd-Va-Lpp-JLy-DA-riu-http-i0-kym-cdn-com-entries-icons-faceboo.jpg)

Prederick wrote:

The Anxiety of Influencers

Lotsa $10 words in here, but interesting. I don't know if there's any way for someone in my age coterie (or older) to express criticism of Tik Tok and influencer culture without becoming Skinner.

I'm not sure there's much difference between a TikTok influencer of today and, say, a young starlet during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Both are just attractive--but disposable and easily replaceable--assets that are being used to make money for other people and companies. Both exist in a fantasy world that's largely disconnected to reality.

The only real differences is that the economic viability of TikTok influencers (or any social media influencer) isn't governed by them being blockbuster successes and household names like a Hollywood starlet had to be. It's that they can reliably pull a decent numbers of viewers in particular demographics that advertisers will pay to reach. That and the barrier of entry is much, much lower.

OG_slinger wrote:
Prederick wrote:

The Anxiety of Influencers

Lotsa $10 words in here, but interesting. I don't know if there's any way for someone in my age coterie (or older) to express criticism of Tik Tok and influencer culture without becoming Skinner.

I'm not sure there's much difference between a TikTok influencer of today and, say, a young starlet during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Both are just attractive--but disposable and easily replaceable--assets that are being used to make money for other people and companies. Both exist in a fantasy world that's largely disconnected to reality.

The only real differences is that the economic viability of TikTok influencers (or any social media influencer) isn't governed by them being blockbuster successes and household names like a Hollywood starlet had to be. It's that they can reliably pull a decent numbers of viewers in particular demographics that advertisers will pay to reach. That and the barrier of entry is much, much lower.

This. Every age has its charisma monetization schemes. At least contemporary starlets aren't as beholden to old white male gatekeepers, just vapid capitalism in general.

People Are Ready To Log Off Social Media For Good

I know, for my part, I have made a vested attempt to drop my Twitter time significantly since roughly mid-2020.

Like, I don't think I'm making any meaningful difference, and the sh*t's still going to cause untold destruction (pursuant to the "Culture War" story I just posted in the Political Story thread) but at least, for now, I don't have to see every last bit of the garbage.

There’s one line from Twitter power user Chrissy Teigen’s latest mea culpa that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. Teigen, who recently returned to the platform less than a month after announcing she was quitting it forever, tweeted an apology to media personality Courtney Stodden, who had accused her of harassing them online when they were just 16 years old.

"I’m mortified and sad at who I used to be," Teigen wrote to her 13.6 million followers last week. "I was an insecure, attention seeking troll. I am ashamed and completely embarrassed at my behavior but that is nothing compared to how I made Courtney feel."

It was the next bit, though, that’s been haunting me: "I have worked so hard to give you guys joy and be beloved and the feeling of letting you down is nearly unbearable.” There’s something deeply telling about Teigen’s admission that she works hard to “be beloved” — which, as writer Bolu Babalola notes, “is not the same as working to be a good person.”

The vast majority of people on social media aren’t mega celebrities attempting to charm ginormous audiences while also carrying on strange and vicious vendettas. But Teigen’s failure to leave a site that makes her feel terrible — and her bald-faced attempts to “be beloved,” which tend to backfire spectacularly — are emblematic of how a lot of people have felt about social media lately, and especially over this past year.

The pandemic has robbed us of many months’ worth of precious IRL moments with our loved ones, making us more reliant on the internet for community and connection than ever before. When you’re unable to travel to see family or friends on other sides of the country or the globe for months on end, WhatsApp group chats and weekly Zoom calls have become essential tools during a lonely and terrifying time.

But being so dependent on our devices also comes at a cost. Having to socialize almost entirely online has meant most of us now know far more than we’d like to about our neighbors’ and old classmates’ bad political opinions — not to mention their clandestine indoor parties and questionable pandemic vacations. And, to the detriment of our mental health, it has also meant an increase in doomscrolling. Perhaps you’ve used social media to shame others for their careless pandemic behavior; perhaps you’ve been shamed yourself. Meanwhile, throwback features remind us of parts of our past that might be embarrassing or painful: Facebook surfaces a photo of you with your friends in a bar last year, maskless and carefree, and you feel a stab of sadness for how things once were; your iPhone reminds you that you were once married to someone with whom you no longer speak, or that you previously held opinions you’re now ashamed of.

It makes complete sense, then, that some people have decided they’ve had enough.

I gave up facebook (not that I was on it for any big stretch of time) when my mom passed in Dec 2016. My wife keeps telling me that I should at least sign in on my birthday because there are a lot of people that message me that I have lost touch with. I still refuse.

I have a twitter that I signed up to see updates for Diablo 3 before launch. I haven't touched it more that 10 times. (every now and then I am re-directed to it by clicking on links in posts for upcoming 3D apps I am interested in) But in truth I have never been active and probably wouldn't even know how to post something on it at this point.

Slack saw pretty heavy use at a lot of my prior workplaces. Since then, it gathers dust.

Linkedin and Youtube are my only real adventures into social media. On the former, I am almost always positive, forward thinking and futuristic. On the latter I have had to become increasingly involved in pruning garbage out of my suggestions.

If you are done with Facebook, you should think about asking them to delete your account.

I did the full Facebook account deletion back in early-ish 2017. I'd been on the verge of being rid of it for a couple years by that point anyway, but that was when the mixture of concerns about social media as well as the sheer toxicity level reached a point where I knew I was done with it for good. I've not regretted it once ever since.

Never so much as created a Twitter account, nor any of the other adjacent apps (Instagram, Snapchat, whatever). It's not merely that I have zero interest in any of that, but that I abhor the toxic and harmful behaviors those platforms seem to encourage.

As it is, I sometimes even question whether my engagement in mild social media is a net positive or negative (meaning sites like this, or Reddit, or other similar messaging platforms). I'd like to think the net is positive, but I have my doubts at times.

The frustrating aspect is that I love the tools that technology provides us and I see all the great potential they hold.... but then I see how they feed into the darker tribalistic and narcissistic impulses of our species.

'FIND THIS f*ck:' Inside Citizen’s Dangerous Effort to Cash In On Vigilantism

"The whole idea behind Protect is that you could convince people to pay for the product once you’ve gotten them to the highest point of anxiety you can possibly get them to," one former employee said, referring to Citizen's subscription service. "Citizen can’t make money unless it makes its users believe there are constant, urgent threats around them at all times," they added. A Citizen spokesperson denied this in a statement: "It’s actually the opposite. With user feedback in mind, we have designed the Citizen home screen so users only see relevant, real-time information within their immediate surroundings," the spokesperson said.

And of course:

One former Citizen employee told Motherboard that a portion of the app's user base is "insanely racist, which comes out in comment sections that are especially vile even by the standards of internet comment sections." Citizen does moderate comments, but "two people having an argument about whether or not someone’s comment is racist drives engagement," the source added. A hacker recently scraped a wealth of information from Citizen, including user comments that repeatedly use the N-word, according to a screenshot provided by the hacker. Some of these were deleted by Citizen, but racist comments are regularly posted on incidents.

"Racism drives engagement" should be the slogan for all social media.

Isn't that a protection racket?

fangblackbone wrote:

Isn't that a protection racket?

Kind of, yeah? Usually a protection racket is an acctual threat unless you pay up, instead of just fabricating a sense of threat, but hey. No one can say Silicon Valley isn't innovating new ways to destroy the social fabric.

Amazon US customers have one week to opt out of mass wireless sharing

Lovely.

Amazon customers have one week to opt out of a plan that would turn every Echo speaker and Ring security camera in the US into a shared wireless network, as part of the company’s plan to fix connection problems for its smart home devices.

The proposal, called Amazon Sidewalk, involves the company’s devices being used as a springboard to build city-wide “mesh networks” that help simplify the process of setting up new devices, keep them online even if they’re out of range of home wifi, and extend the range of tracking devices such as those made by Tile.

But Sidewalk has come under fire for the apparent lack of transparency with which Amazon has rolled out the feature, as well as the limited time available for users to complete the tricky process required to opt out. Other critics have expressed concerns that failing to turn the setting off could leave customers in breach of their internet service provider’s terms and conditions.

“Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better,” the company said in a Q&A document for users. “In the future, Sidewalk will support a range of experiences from using Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as smart security and lighting and diagnostics for appliances and tools.”

I wonder if it will use up cable users unused data and fill their data caps on a monthly basis.
Looks like my plan with xfinity has a 1.2 TB monthly data cap. So it probably won't use it all up but still this is one area where I want every ounce of what I pay for.

Revealed: rightwing firm posed as leftist group on Facebook to divide Democrats

The Guardian wrote:

A digital marketing firm closely linked to the pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA was responsible for a series of deceptive Facebook ads promoting Green party candidates during the 2018 US midterm elections, the Guardian can reveal.

In an apparent attempt to split the Democratic vote in a number of close races, the ads purported to come from an organization called America Progress Now (APN) and used socialist memes and rhetoric to urge leftwing voters to support Green party candidates.

Facebook was aware of the true identity of the advertiser – the conservative marketing firm Rally Forge – and the deceptive nature of the ads, documents seen by the Guardian show, but the company determined that they did not violate its policies.

Rally Forge would go on to set up a pro-Trump domestic “troll farm” for Turning Point Action, a “sister” organization of Turning Point USA, in 2020, earning a permanent ban from Facebook.

“There were no policies at Facebook against pretending to be a group that did not exist, an abuse vector that has also been used by the governments of Honduras and Azerbaijan,” said Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook employee and whistleblower who played a small role in the investigation of the Green party ads.

She added: “The fact that Rally Forge later went on to conduct coordinated inauthentic behavior with troll farms reminiscent of Russia should be taken as an indication that Facebook’s leniency led to more risk-taking behavior.”

I feel very fortunate that my YouTube recommendations are really well-tuned to what I like. The top eight videos on my recommendations Home right now:

  • Battlefield 2042 trailer
  • Bicycle/swimming video
  • CSS video
  • Asking Hunter-Gatherers Life's Toughest Questions
  • 8-Year-Old Runs National 1500m Record At AAU!
  • Avengers: Infinity War clip
  • Saying Goodbye, a video by a bicycle messenger from last year
  • Piriformis Syndrome Treatment ...

I'm surprised there's not more BreadTube stuff in there, and I'm sure if I watched a The Quartering video (not for its own "merits", but as preparation to watch a response video), my recommendations would go south a little. Maybe it's my very narrow interests that keep things mostly well-contained?

I have a very small pool of types of things I watch on YT. My recs are all guitar, cooking, music and popular science videos.

Sometimes if I watch a few media criticism related videos, it will throw me a Steven Crowder video of all things. I usually report the video, and that seems to keep all that sh*t out of my recs.

AI Can Write Disinformation Now—and Dupe Human Readers

Wired wrote:

WHEN OPENAI DEMONSTRATED a powerful artificial intelligence algorithm capable of generating coherent text last June, its creators warned that the tool could potentially be wielded as a weapon of online misinformation.

​Now a team of disinformation experts has demonstrated how effectively that algorithm, called GPT-3, could be used to mislead and misinform. The results suggest that although AI may not be a match for the best Russian meme-making operative, it could amplify some forms of deception that would be especially difficult to spot.

Over six months, a group at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology used GPT-3 to generate misinformation, including stories around a false narrative, news articles altered to push a bogus perspective, and tweets riffing on particular points of disinformation.

“I don't think it's a coincidence that climate change is the new global warming,” read a sample tweet composed by GPT-3 that aimed to stoke skepticism about climate change. “They can't talk about temperature increases because they're no longer happening.” A second labeled climate change “the new communism—an ideology based on a false science that cannot be questioned.”

“With a little bit of human curation, GPT-3 is quite effective” at promoting falsehoods, says Ben Buchanan, a professor at Georgetown involved with the study, who focuses on the intersection of AI, cybersecurity, and statecraft.

The Georgetown researchers say GPT-3, or a similar AI language algorithm, could prove especially effective for automatically generating short messages on social media, what the researchers call “one-to-many” misinformation.

In experiments, the researchers found that GPT-3’s writing could sway readers’ opinions on issues of international diplomacy. The researchers showed volunteers sample tweets written by GPT-3 about the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and US sanctions on China. In both cases, they found that participants were swayed by the messages. After seeing posts opposing China sanctions, for instance, the percentage of respondents who said they were against such a policy doubled.

Mike Gruszczynski, a professor at Indiana University who studies online communications, says he would be unsurprised to see AI take a bigger role in disinformation campaigns. He points out that bots have played a key role in spreading false narratives in recent years, and AI can be used to generate fake social media profile photographs. With bots, deepfakes, and other technology, “I really think the sky's the limit unfortunately,” he says.

To be fair, it doesn't take much to fake out our electorate.

Nevin73 wrote:

To be fair, it doesn't take much to fake out our electorate.

My primary pushback when I hear people saying we need better civics classes and that we can educate our way out of this is that education really doesn't matter if people want to believe the lie. Lots of people with degrees were at the capitol on January 6.

Prederick wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:

To be fair, it doesn't take much to fake out our electorate.

My primary pushback when I hear people saying we need better civics classes and that we can educate our way out of this is that education really doesn't matter if people want to believe the lie. Lots of people with degrees were at the capitol on January 6.

The type of education matters. Civics on its own does nothing. It’s not enough to counteract the decades of propaganda people marinate in.

Prederick wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:

To be fair, it doesn't take much to fake out our electorate.

My primary pushback when I hear people saying we need better civics classes and that we can educate our way out of this is that education really doesn't matter if people want to believe the lie. Lots of people with degrees were at the capitol on January 6.

THIS. Intelligence!=wisdom

Finland has extremely robust anti-disinformation and anti-propaganda education for its population to fight a hundred years of Russian influence operations and it seems to work well for them. Yes, education isn't a panacea, but it helps if done right.

Of course there is no political will to fix it here, which is part of why we are doomed.

Think about how you receive information today, compared to fifteen years or twenty years ago.

Social media, internet search, click-based advertising: innovations in information technology and new mechanisms for monetizing information have rewired human communication.

The problem is that this enormous transformation has taken place not as a stewarded effort to improve information quality or to further human well-being, but more or less simply for the purpose of keeping people engaged online in order to sell ads.

A big ol' Tweeter thread, with a link to a paper.

Pages