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Inside the Weird, and Booming, Industry of Online Influence | WIRED

Paris Martineau writing for WIRED

Popular vendors like Cloud Socials and BoostUp Social charge fledgling influencers $35 to $799 a month for a steady stream of interactions from prominent Instagrammers. Or aspiring influencers can go full automatic: For $10 to $100 a month and your login, automation apps will send your social media profile into a frenzy of liking, commenting, and following other accounts en masse, in an attempt to snag you a follow back.

Think that post is popular? Think again. For $3 one can buy 1000 Instagram comments, or 1000 YouTube views.


Cox wants gamers to pay $15 more for ‘elite’ internet that isn’t faster - The Verge

Chris Welch writing for The Verge

Many people on Reddit are highly skeptical of Cox Elite Gamer. Cox claims subscribers can “control their connection from end to end,” but the company simply doesn’t have the sort of infrastructure to make good on that promise. Cox has no say on what happens to your gaming activity outside of its own network. The most it can do is determine the best path to a server. That’s doable, and it might be enough to produce at least some improvement in terms of latency and jitter.

What a scam.


Canada's new far right: A trove of private chat room messages reveals an extremist subculture - The Globe and Mail

Shannon Carranco writing for The Globe and Mail

Dank told the online group that he was using his position as a student teacher to influence young minds.

These people are despicable.

The story goes on to tell the story of a Canadian Armed Forces member.

He also described an incident in Canada in which a Jewish military colleague complained that Rusty and other soldiers were being anti-Semitic. Rusty said he responded by arranging several handguns in the shape of a swastika on the Jewish soldier’s desk.

However, after looking bad in the media, the group decided they needed a rebrand.

A week after Charlottesville, SLUG2, one of the founding members of the chat room and a host of the white-nationalist podcast This Hour Has 88 Minutes, announced a change in tactics. "I personally want to ask everyone not to use swastikas or other obvious National Socialist imagery [publicly]," he wrote to the group. "We are not changing any of our beliefs or opinions, just how we present publicly. Sorry."

He was not alone in his call for circumspection. Many felt that the group, and the broader far-right movement, needed to appear less extreme if they were to gain widespread acceptance.

The posters carried a simple but provocative slogan: "It's Okay To Be White." The thinking behind that slogan was articulated in a post that appeared on 4chan, the image-based internet forum, which called for followers to distribute such posters as part of a co-ordinated North America-wide effort to spread white-nationalist propaganda.
Participants were excited by how their dog-whistle campaign had gained such coverage: "Bigger and bigger papers are publishing. Like dominoes. Hopefully we're just getting started."

I remember when this story happened. The alt-right and Nazis are trying to use "softer" messaging to make their views more acceptable and mainstream. We can't let them. Racism in all its forms needs to be stamped out.


In Push for 2020 Election Security, Top Official Was Warned: Don’t Tell Trump - The New York Times

Eric Schmitt, David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman writing for The New York Times:

But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”

Even though the Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for civilian cyberdefense, Ms. Nielsen eventually gave up on her effort to organize a White House meeting of cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect next year’s elections.

Trump's ego is so fragile.


The Problem isn't Sharing Misinformation Online; it's Believing it

So, when social media platforms are merely a vessel for sharing information, one of many vessels these groups have at their disposal, what must be addressed is the “why.” Why is misinformation so readily believed? The long-term solution isn’t censoring the information that people share; it’s educating our society to evaluate and determine information as scientific and factual.

This is what I've been saying for a while. The only way to combat this is through education. We need to bring back scepticism. Remember the saying "Don't believe everything you read"?


Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police - The New York Times

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries writing for The New York Times:

The new orders, sometimes called “geofence” warrants, specify an area and a time period, and Google gathers information from Sensorvault about the devices that were there. It labels them with anonymous ID numbers, and detectives look at locations and movement patterns to see if any appear relevant to the crime. Once they narrow the field to a few devices they think belong to suspects or witnesses, Google reveals the users’ names and other information.


In 2009, the company introduced Location History, a feature for users who wanted to see where they had been. Sensorvault stores information on anyone who has opted in, allowing regular collection of data from GPS signals, cellphone towers, nearby Wi-Fi devices and Bluetooth beacons.

People who turn on the feature can see a timeline of their activity and get recommendations based on it. Google apps prompt users to enable Location History for things like traffic alerts. Information in the database is held indefinitely, unless the user deletes it.

The article goes on to describe a situtation where a man was arrested for murder because his location history showed him roughly taking the path of the vehicle used in the killing. He ended up being fired from his job and losing his car. It turned out, however, that he was innocent. He had proof showing he was nowhere near the crime scene at the time of the murder.

This is a terrifying use of location data. If you've got Google's Location History turned on, probably best to turn it off.