Transparency-seeking OPEN Government Data Act signed into law

The federal government causes one blaze of a lot of data, but despite desultory careens toward usability, there’s little guarantee that it’s available in a way that represents it useful to anyone. That may be altered for the better with the OPEN Government Data Act, which the president signed into constitution last-place night.

The act virtually involves federal agencies to default when possible to attaining data( and metadata) public, to produce that public data in a machine-readable format and list it online. It likewise mandates that chief data officers be appointed at those agencies to handle the process.

This bipartisan piece of parliament operated through the House and Senate largely uncompromised, though the Treasury was removed from the index of organizations to which it would apply. I’m sure they had their reasons.

It’s a big win for defenders of open government, though considering the towering ineptitude and obsolescence of the federal information technology sphere, it’s probably a little bit early to celebrate. By necessity many new policies and systems will have to be updated before any busines is reasonable supposed to comply with the law, and who are able to take times. However, it certainly seems like a good direction for them to be on.

Government investigation finds federal agencies miscarrying at cybersecurity basics

https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/30/government-investigation-finds-federal-agencies-failing-at-cybersecurity-basics/embed/#?secret=wxZslaxoTm

Another part of the law as signed( OPEN was combined with a few others for availability and horse-trading roles) is that these agencies are also now officially required to find and existing attest for any new programs or changes. Some agencies, like the FCC, are already required to do this, but others have a more free hand.

It may seem obvious — shouldn’t every program be justified by ground? — but this codifies the rules, for example requiring the agencies to publicly present directories of relevant questions and the means( down to the statistical techniques) they are taking to answer them.

If you’re curious about the purposes of the act itself or its sisters elapsed simultaneously, there’s a record of the OPEN act here; the complete text of the proposal is here; the announcement of the signature is here.

Read more:

The big shutdown threat we aren’t talking about

( CNN) As the governmental forces shutdown draws on, its visible blows organize — overflowing trash bin and vandalism at national parks and “CLOSED” signeds at Smithsonian museums. But some of the most significant impacts are invisible.

The shutdown is a call to action for cyber criminals at home and around the globe to probe for vulnerabilities and strategically outlook themselves for decided impress in the future. While they were able to not do the big break right now, their silent successful invasions of networks today — and their devastating impact — would not be known for months, or even longer.

We faced various potential shutdowns during my term as CIO for the Executive Office of the President at the White House, from 2006 to 2008. We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. Thankfully, we never ended up having to execute those proposals. But I can tell you that simply focusing on a shutdown generates a recreation from the field missions, and critical momentum is lost. For reference, an impending authority shutdown normally expected three lead epoches of preparation to ensure things operated appropriately and securely.

El Chapo trial: An epic narco drama unfolds in a New York courtroom

New York( CNN) In the epic narco drama spread in a federal courtroom in Brooklyn, the defendant, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, gave his usual brandish and smile to his former beauty queen partner near the end of a devastating week.

Riveting details of Guzman’s paranoia and obsession with the electronic monitoring of his wife, mistresses and accompaniedscaptivated courtroom regulars this week, including so-called narco-tourists drawn to the Latin American soap-opera atmosphere of the proceedings.

At least one of the 18 jurors and alternates, though , nodded off now and then.

Shareholder sues Alphabet board over handling of harassment

San Francisco( CNN Business) An Alphabet shareholder is suing the company’s board of directors, claiming it facilitated cover up allegations regarding sex misconduct by former Google executives.

Francis Bottini, a solicitor for Martin, told CNN Business that the clothing claims to have times from Alphabet( GOOG) card rallies molted light on how the company treated the research of Android creator Andrew Rubin and former is chairman of Google search Amit Singhal. Those areas of the filing are redacted because of a confidentiality agreement that shareholders have with Alphabet.

Rubin and Singhai did not immediately respond to a request for mention. Rubin’s lawyer previously denied the mismanagement accusations to CNN Business, saying any relation he had while at Google was consensual.

Trump’s TV speech and the Democratic response has this federal worker ready to look for a new job

( CNN) When Dante Biss-Grayson Halleck, a veteran and federal employee, watched Tuesday night’s made a statement in President Trump and the Democratic response, he said he felt motivated. Motivated to smack the send button on brand-new activity applications.

After being honorably discharged from members of the military, he wanted to save lives and reinforce underserved Native Americans. He fulfilled that calling, he said, with a position as a safety officer for a federal hospital that responds to tribal nations in New Mexico. He and his wife only welcomed their second child, and he recently got a promotion.

But then on December 22 the government shut down, leaving he and 800, 000 other federal works hoping their next paycheck will come soon.

See Trump’s national address from Oval Office

Democratic leads respond to Trump’s address

Federal contract worker: I don’t get back pay

What history could tell Mark Zuckerberg

Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg obsessed over the wrong bit of history. Or else didn’t study his preferred slice of classical antiquity carefully enough, faced, as he now is, with an existential crisis of ‘fake news’ simultaneously undermining trust in his own empire and in democracy itself.

A recent New Yorker profile — questioning whether the Facebook founder can fix the creation he pressed upon the world before the collective counter-pressure emanating from his billions-strong social network does for democracy what Brutus did to Caesar — touched in passing on Zuckerberg’s admiration for Augustus, the first emperor of Rome.

“Basically, through a really harsh approach, he established two hundred years of world peace,” was the Facebook founder’s concise explainer of his man-crush, freely accepting there had been some crushing “trade-offs” involved in delivering that august outcome.

Zuckerberg’s own trade-offs, engaged in his quest to maximize the growth of his system, appear to have achieved a very different kind of outcome.

Empire of hurt

If you gloss over the killing of an awful lot of people, the Romans achieved and devised many ingenious things. But the population that lived under Augustus couldn’t have imagined an information-distribution network with the power, speed and sheer amplifying reach of the internet. Let alone the data-distributing monster that is Facebook — an unprecedented information empire unto itself that’s done its level best to heave the entire internet inside its corporate walls.

Literacy in Ancient Rome was dependent on class, thereby limiting who could read the texts that were produced, and requiring word of mouth for further spread.

The ‘internet of the day’ would best resemble physical gatherings — markets, public baths, the circus — where gossip passed as people mingled. Though of course information could only travel as fast as a person (or an animal assistant) could move a message.

In terms of regular news distribution, Ancient Rome had the Acta Diurna, A government-produced daily gazette that put out the official line on noteworthy public events.

These official texts, initially carved on stone or metal tablets, were distributed by being exposed in a frequented public place. The Acta is sometimes described as a proto-newspaper, given the mix of news it came to contain.

Minutes of senate meetings were included in the Acta by Julius Caesar. But, in a very early act of censorship, Zuckerberg’s hero ended the practice — preferring to keep more fulsome records of political debate out of the literate public sphere.

“What news was published thereafter in the acta diurna contained only such parts of the senatorial debates as the imperial government saw fit to publish,” writes Frederick Cramer, in an article on censorship in Ancient Rome.

Augustus, the grand-nephew and adopted son of Caesar, evidently did not want the risk of political opponents using the outlet to influence opinion, his great-uncle having been assassinated in a murderous plot hatched by conspiring senators.

The Death of Caesar

Under Augustus, the Acta Diurna was instead the mouthpiece of the “monarchic faction.”

“He rightly believed this method to be less dangerous than to muzzle the senators directly,” is Cramer’s assessment of Augustus’s decision to terminate publication of the senatorial protocols, limiting at a stroke how physical voices raised against him in the Senate could travel and lodge in the wider public consciousness by depriving them of space on the official platform.

Augustus also banned anonymous writing in a bid to control incendiary attacks distributed via pamphlets and used legal means to command the burning of incriminatory writings (with some condemned authors issued with ‘literary death-sentences’ for their entire life’s work).

The first emperor of Rome understood all too well the power of “publicare et propagare.”

It’s something of a grand irony, then, that Zuckerberg failed to grasp the lesson for the longest time, letting the eviscerating fire of fake news rage on unchecked until the inferno was licking at the seat of his own power.

So instead of Facebook’s brand and business invoking the sought-for sense of community, it’s come to appear like a layer cake of fakes, iced with hate speech horrors.

On the fake front, there are fake accounts, fake newsinauthentic adsfaux verifications and questionable metrics. Plus a truck tonne of spin and cynical blame shifting manufactured by the company itself.

There’s some murkier propaganda, too; a PR firm Facebook engaged in recent years to help with its string of reputation-decimating scandals reportedly worked to undermine critical voices by seeding a little inflammatory smears on its behalf.

Publicare et propagare, indeed.

Perhaps Zuckerberg thought Ancient Rome’s bloody struggles were so far-flung in history that any leaderly learnings he might extract would necessarily be abstract, and could be cherry-picked and selectively filtered with the classical context so comfortably remote from the modern world. A world that, until 2017, Zuckerberg had intended to render, via pro-speech defaults and systematic hostility to privacy, “more open and connected.” Before it got too difficult for him to totally disregard the human and societal costs.

Revising the mission statement a year-and-a-half ago, Zuckerberg had the chance to admit he’d messed up by mistaking his own grandstanding world-changing ambition for a worthy cause.

Of course he sidestepped, writing instead that he would commit his empire (he calls it a “community”) to strive for a specific positive outcome.

It’s something of a grand irony, then, that Zuckerberg failed to grasp the lesson for the longest time, letting the eviscerating fire of fake news rage on unchecked until the inferno was licking at the seat of his own power.

He didn’t go full Augustus with the new goal (no ‘world peace’) — but recast Facebook’s mission to: “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

There are, it’s painful to say, “communities” of neo-Nazis and white supremacists thriving on Facebook. But they certainly don’t believe in bringing the world closer together. So Facebook’s reworked mission statement is a tacit admission that its tools can help spread hate by saying it hopes for the opposite outcome. Even as Zuckerberg continues to house voices on his platform that seek to deny historical outrages like the Holocaust, which is the very definition of antisemitic hate speech.

“I used to think that if we just gave people a voice and helped them connect, that would make the world better by itself. In many ways it has. But our society is still divided,” he wrote in June 2017, eliding his role as emperor of the Facebook platform, in fomenting the societal division of which he typed. “Now I believe we have a responsibility to do even more. It’s not enough to simply connect the world, we must also work to bring the world closer together.”

This year his personal challenge was also set at “fixing Facebook.”

Also this year: Zuckerberg made a point of defending allowing Holocaust deniers on his platform, then scrambled to add the caveat that he finds such views “deeply offensive.” (That particular Facebook content policy has stood unflinching for almost a decade.)

It goes without saying that the Nazis of Hitler’s Germany understood the terrible power of propaganda, too.

More recently, faced with the consequences of a moral and ethical failure to grapple with hateful propaganda and junk news, Facebook has said it will set up an external policy committee to handle some content policy decisions next year.

But only at a higher and selective appeal tier, after layers of standard internal reviews. It’s also not clear how this committee can be truly independent from Facebook.

Quite possibly it’ll just be another friction-laced distraction tactic, akin to Facebook’s self-serving ‘Hard Questions’ series.

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 11: Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Revised mission statements, personal objectives and lashings of self-serving blog posts (playing up the latest self-forged “accountability” fudge), have done nothing to dim the now widely held view that Facebook specifically, and social media in general, profits off of accelerated outrage.

Cries to that effect have only grown louder this year, two years on from revelations that Kremlin election propaganda maliciously targeting the U.S. presidential election had reached hundreds of millions of Facebook users, fueled by a steady stream of fresh outrages found spreading and catching fire on these “social” platforms.

How Russia’s online influence campaign engaged with millions for years

https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/17/how-russias-online-influence-campaign-engaged-with-millions-for-years/embed/#?secret=5fEpE5kN0O

Like so many self-hyping technologies, social media seems terribly deceptively named.

“Antisocial media” is, all too often, rather closer to the mark. And Zuckerberg, the category’s still youthful warlord, looks less “harshly pacifying Augustus” than modern day Ozymandias, forever banging on about his unifying mission while being drowned out by the sound and fury coming from the platform he built to programmatically profit from conflict.

And still the young leader longs for the mighty works he might yet do.

Look on my works, ye mighty…

For all the positive connections flowing from widespread access to social media tools (which of course Zuckerberg prefers to fix on), evidence of the tech’s divisive effects are now impossible for everyone else to ignore: Whether you look at the wildly successful megaphoning of Kremlin propaganda targeting elections and (genuine) communities by pot stirring across all sorts of identity divides; or algorithmic recommendation engines that systematically point young and impressionable minds toward extremist ideologies (and/or brain-meltingly ridiculous conspiracy theories) as an eyeball-engagement strategy for scaling ad revenue in the attention economy. Or, well, Brexit.

Whatever your view on whether or not Facebook content is actually influencing opinion, attention is undoubtedly being robbed. And the company has a long history of utilizing addictive design strategies to keep users hooked.

To the point where it’s publicly admitted it has an over-engagement problem and claims to be tweaking its algorithmic recipes to dial down the attention incursion. (Even as its engagement-based business model demands the dial be yanked back the other way.)

Facebook’s problems with fakery (“inauthentic content” in the corporate parlance) and hate speech — which, without the hammer blow of media-level regulation, is forever doomed to slip through Facebook’s one-size-fits-all “community standards” — are, it argues, merely a reflection of humanity’s flaws.

So it’s essentially asking to be viewed as a global mirror, and so be let off the moral hook. A literal vox populi — warts, fakes, hate and all.

Zuckerberg created the most effective tool for spreading propaganda the world has ever known without — so he claims — bothering to consider how people might use it.

It was never selling a fair-face, this self-serving, revisionist hot-take suggests; rather Facebook wants to be accepted as, at best, a sort of utilitarian plug that’s on a philanthropic, world-spanning infrastructure quest to stick a socket in everyone. Y’know, for their own good.

“It’s fashionable to treat the dysfunctions of social media as the result of the naivete of early technologists who failed to foresee these outcomes. The truth is that the ability to build Facebook-like services is relatively common,” wrote Cory Doctorow earlier this year in a damning assessment of the Facebook founder’s moral vacuum. “What was rare was the moral recklessness necessary to go through with it.”

Even now Zuckerberg is refusing the moral and ethical burden of editorial responsibility for the content his tools auto-publish and algorithmically amplify, every instant of every day, using proprietary information-shaping distribution hierarchies that accelerate machine-selected clickbait through the blood-brain barrier of 2.2 billion-plus users.

These algorithmically prioritized comms are positioned to influence opinion and drive intention at an unprecedented, global scale.

Asked by the New Yorker about the inflammatory misinformation peddled by InfoWars conspiracy theorist and hate speech “preacher,” Alex Jones, earlier this year, Zuckerberg’s gut instinct was to argue again to be let off the hook. “I don’t believe that it is the right thing to ban a person for saying something that is factually incorrect,” was his disingenuous response.

It was left to the journalist to point out InfoWars’ malicious disinformation is rather more than just factually incorrect.

Facebook has taken down some individual InfoWars videos this year, in its usual case by case style, where it deemed there was a direct incitement to violence. And in August it also pulled some InfoWars pages (“for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies”).

But it has certainly not de-platformed the professional purveyor of hateful conspiracy theories who sells supplements alongside his attention-grabbing lies.

One academic study, published two months ago, found much of the removed InfoWars content had managed to move “swiftly back” onto the Facebook platform. Like radio and silence, Facebook hates a content vacuum.

The problem is its own platform also sells stuff alongside attention-grabbing lies. So Jones is just the Facebook business model if it could pull on a blue suit and shout.

“Senator, we run ads”

It’s clear that Facebook’s adherence to a rules-based, reactive formula for assessing speech sets few if any meaningful moral standards. The company has also preferred to try offloading tricky decisions to third-party fact checkers and soon a quasi-external committee — a strategy that looks intended to sustain the suggestive lie that, at base, Facebook is just a “neutral platform.”

Yet Zuckerberg’s business is the business of influence itself. He admits as much. “Senator, we run ads,” he told Congress this April when asked how the platform turns a profit.

If the ads don’t work that’s an awful lot of money being pointlessly poured into Facebook’s coffers.

At the same time, the risk of malicious manipulation of Facebook’s machinery of mass manipulation is something the company claims it simply hadn’t thought of until very, very recently. 

That’s the official explanation for why senior executives failed to pay any mind to the tsunami of politically charged propaganda blooming across its U.S. platform, yet originating in Saint Petersburg and environs.

An astute political operator like Augustus was entirely alive to the risks of political propaganda. Hence making sure to keep a lid on domestic political opponents, while allowing them to let off steam in the Senate where a wider audience wouldn’t hear them.

Zuckerberg, by contrast, created the most effective tool for spreading propaganda the world has ever known without — so he claims — bothering to consider how people might use it.

That’s either radical stupidity or willful recklessness.

Zuckerberg implies the former. “I always believed people are basically good,” he wrote in his grandiose explainer on rethinking Facebook’s mission statement last year.

Though you’d think someone with a fascination for classical antiquity, and a special admiration for an emperor whose harsh trade-offs apparently included arranging the execution of his own grandson, might have found plenty to test that theory to a natural breaking point.

Safe to say, such a naive political mind wouldn’t have lasted long in Ancient Rome.

But Zuckerberg is no politician. He’s a new-age ad salesman with a crush on one of history’s canniest political operators — who happened to know the power and value of propaganda. And who also knew that propaganda could be deadly.

If you imagine Facebook’s platform as a modern day Acta Diurna — albeit, one updated continuously, delivered direct to citizens’ pockets, and with no single distributed copy ever being exactly the same — the organ is clearly not working toward any kind of societal order, crushing or otherwise.

Under Zuckerberg’s programmatic instruction, Facebook’s daily notices are selected for their capacity to emotionally tug at the individual. By design the medium agitates because the platform exists to trade attention.

It’s really the opposite of “civilization building.” Outrage and tribalism are grist to the algorithmic mill. It’s much closer to the tabloid news mantra — of “if it bleeds it leads.”

But Facebook goes further, using “free speech” as a cloaking mechanism to cross the ethical  line and conceal the ugly violence of a business that profits by ripping up the social compact.

The speech-before-truth philosophy underpinning Zuckerberg’s creation intrinsically works against the civic, community values he claims to champion. So at bottom, there’s yet another fake: no “global community” inside the walled garden, just a globally scaled marketing empire that’s had raging success in growing programmatic ad sales by tearing genuine communities apart.

Here confusion and anger reign.

The empire of Zuckerberg is a drear domain indeed.

One hundred cardboard cutouts of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stand outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, April 10, 2018.
Advocacy group Avaaz is calling attention to what the groups says are hundreds of millions of fake accounts still spreading disinformation on Facebook. (Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Fake news of the 1640s

Might things have turned out differently for Facebook — and, well, for the world — if its founder had obsessed over a different period in history?

The English Civil War of the 1640s has much to recommend it as a study topic to those trying to understand and unpick the social impacts of the hyper modern phenomenon of social media, given the historical parallels of society turned upside during a moment of information revolution.

It might seen counterintuitive to look so far back in time to try to understand the societal impacts of cutting-edge communications technologies. But human nature can be surprisingly constant.

Internet platforms are also socio-technical tools, which means ignoring human behavior is a really dumb thing to do.

As the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, said recently of modern day anthropogenic platforms: “As we’re designing the system, we’re designing society.”

The design challenge is all about understanding human behaviour — so you know how and where to place your ethical guardrails.

Rather than, per the Zuckerberg fashion, embarking on some kind of a quixotic, decade-plus quest to chase a grand unifying formula of IFTTT reaction statements to respond consistently to every possible human (and inhuman) act across the globe.

Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker made a related warning earlier this year, when she called for humanities and ethics to be baked into STEM learning, saying: “One thing that’s happened in 2018 is that we’ve looked at the platforms, and the thinking behind the platforms, and the lack of focus on impact or result. It crystallised for me that if we have Stem education without the humanities, or without ethics, or without understanding human behaviour, then we are intentionally building the next generation of technologists who have not even the framework or the education or vocabulary to think about the relationship of Stem to society or humans or life.”

What’s fascinating about the English Civil War to anyone interested in current day Internet speech versus censorship ethics trade-offs, is that in a similar fashion to how social media has radically lowered the distribution barrier for online speech, by giving anyone posting stuff online the chance of reaching a large audience, England’s long-standing regime of monarchical censorship collapsed in 1641, leading to a great efflorescence of speech and ideas as pamphlets suddenly and freely poured off printing presses.

This included an outpouring of radical political views from groups agitating for religious reforms, popular sovereignty, extended suffrage, common ownership and even proto women’s rights — laying out democratic concepts and liberal ideas centuries ahead of the nation itself becoming a liberal democracy.

But, at the same time, pamphlets were also used during the English Civil War period as a cynical political propaganda tool to whip up racial and sectarian hatred, most markedly in the parliament’s fight against the king.

Especially vicious hate speech was directed at the Irish. And historians suggest anti-Irish propaganda helped fuel the rampage that Cromwell’s soldiers went on in Ireland to crush the rebellion, having been fed a diet of violent claims in uncensored pamphlet print — such as that the Irish were killing and eating babies.

For a modern day parallel of information technology charging up ethnic hate you only have to look to Facebook’s impact in Myanmar where its platform was appropriated by military elements to incite genocide against the minority Rohingya population — leading to terrible human rights abuses in the modern era. There’s no shortage of other awful examples either.

“There are genuine atrocities in Ireland but suddenly the pamphleteers realise that this sells and suddenly you get a pornography of violence when everyone is rushing to put out these incredibly violent and unpleasant stories, and people are rushing to buy them,” says University of Southampton early modern history professor, Mark Stoyle, discussing the parliamentary pamphleteers’ evolving tactics in the English Civil War.

“It makes the Irish rebellion look even worse than it was. And it sort of raises even greater levels of bitterness and hostility towards the Irish. I would say those sorts of things had a very serious effect.”

The overarching lesson of history is that propaganda is baked indelibly into the human condition. Speech and lies come wrapped around the same tongue.

Stoyle says pamphlets printed during the English Civil War period also revived superstitious beliefs in witchcraft, leading to an upsurge in prosecutions and killings on charges of witchcraft which had dipped in earlier years under tighter state controls on popular printed accounts of witch trials.

“Once the royal regime collapses, the king’s not there to stop people prosecuting witches, he’s not there to stop these pamphlets appearing. There’s a massive upsurge in pamphlets about witches and in no time at all there’s a massive upsurge in prosecutions of witches. That’s when Matthew Hopkins, the witchfinder general, kills several hundred men and women in East Anglia on charges of being witches. And again I think the civil war propaganda has helped to fuel that.”

If you think modern day internet platforms don’t have to worry about crazy superstitions like witchcraft and devil worship just Google “Frazzledrip” (a conspiracy theory that’s been racking up the views on YouTube this year which claims Hillary Clinton and longtime aide Huma Abedin sexually assaulted a girl and drank her blood). The Clinton-targeted viral “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory also combines bizarre claims of Satanic rituals with child abuse. None of which stopped it catching fire on social media.

Indeed, a whole host of ridiculous fictions are being algorithmically accelerated into wider view, here in the 21st (not the 17th) century.

And it’s internet platforms that rank speech above truth that are in the distribution saddle.

Stoyle, who has written a book on witchcraft and propaganda during the English Civil War, believes the worst massacre of the period was also fueled by political disinformation targeting the king’s female camp followers. Parliamentary pamphleteers wrote that the women were prostitutes. Or claimed they were Irish women who had killed English men and women in Ireland. There were also claims some were witches.

“One of these pamphlets describes the women in the king’s camp — just literally a week before the massacre — and it presents them all as prostitutes and it says something like ‘these women they revel in their hot blood and they deserve a hotter punishment’,” he tells us. “Just a week later they’re all cut down. And I don’t think that’s coincidence.”

In the massacre Stoyle says parliamentary soldiers set about the women, killing 100 and mutilating scores more. “This is just unheard of,” he adds.

The early modern period even had the equivalent of viral clickbait in pamphlet form when a ridiculous story about a dog owned by the king’s finest cavalry commander, prince Rupert, takes off. The poodle was claimed to be a witch in disguise which had invested Rupert with magical military powers — hence, the pamphlets proclaimed, his huge successes on the battlefield.

“In a time when we’ve got no pictures at all of some of the most important men and women in the country we’ve got six different pictures of prince Rupert’s dog circulating. So this is absolutely fake news with a vengeance,” says Stoyle.

And while parliamentarian pamphlet writers are generally assumed to be behind this particular sequence of Civil War fakes, Stoyle believes one particularly blatant pamphlet in the series — which claimed the dog was not only a witch but that the prince was having sex with it — is a doubly bogus hoax fake.

“I’m pretty certain now it was actually written by a royalist to poke fun at the parliamentarians for being so gullible and believing this stuff,” he says. “But like so many hoaxes it was a hoax that went wrong — it was done so well that most people who read it actually believed it. And it was just a few highly educated royalists who got the joke and laughed at it. And so in a way it was like a hoax that backfired horribly.

“A classic case of fake news biting the person who put it out in the bum.”

Of course this was also the prince’s dog pamphlet that got the most attention and “viral engagement” of the time, as other pamphlet writers picked up on it and started referencing it.

So again the lesson about clickbait economics is a very old one, if you only know where to look.

Fake news most certainly wasn’t suddenly born in 2016. Modern hoaxers like Jones (who has also been at it for far longer than two years) are just appropriating cutting-edge tech tools to plough a very old furrow.

Equally, it really shouldn’t be any kind of news flash that free speech can have a horribly dark side.

The overarching lesson of history is that propaganda is baked indelibly into the human condition. Speech and lies come wrapped around the same tongue.

The stark consequences that can flow from maliciously minded lies being crafted to move a particular audience are also writ large across countless history books.

So when Facebook says — caught fencing Kremlin lies — “we just didn’t think of that” it’s a truly illiterate response to an age-old problem.

And as the philosophical saying goes: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

That’s really the most important history lesson of all.

“As humans we have this terrible ability to be angels and devils — to use things for wonderful purposes and to use things for terrible purposes that were never really intended or thought of,” says Stoyle, when asked whether, at a Facebook-level scale, we’re now seeing some of the limits of the benefits of free speech. “I’m not saying that the people who wrote some of these pamphlets in the Civil War expected it would lead to terrible massacres and killings but it did and they sort of played their part in that.

“It’s just an amazingly interesting period because there’s all this stuff going on and some of it is very dark and some of it’s more positive. And I suppose we’re quite well aware of the dark side of social media now and how it has got a tendency to let almost the worst human instincts come out in it. But some of these things were, I think, forces for good.”

‘Balancing angels and devils’ would certainly be quite the job description to ink on Zuckerberg’s business card.

“History teaches you to take all the evidence, weigh it up and then say who’s saying this, where does it come from, why are they saying it, what’s the purpose,” adds Stoyle, giving some final thoughts on why studying the past can provide a way through modern day information chaos. “Those are the tools that you need to make your way through this minefield.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/25/what-history-could-tell-mark-zuckerberg/

Amid plummeting stocks and political uncertainty, VCs urge their portfolios to prepare for winter

The warning signs are flashing faster and more strenuously now and investors are increasingly pushing their startups to take notice.

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average enduring a Christmas eve rabble of historic balances and other indicators entering bear market country, the long-predicted intent of the most recent bull market is upon the technology industry.

Stock markets digest their worst Christmas Eve trading date

https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/24/twas-the-trading-day-before-christmas/embed/#?secret=zimnKI0XP0

While tech corporations managed to escape the worst parts of the great recession in 2008, increasing regulatory scrutiny read in conjunction with a broadest set of financial determining factor( including a craft crusade with China, flagging domestic industrial expend, and — perhaps more worrying — the$ 9 trillion in debt sitting on corporate balance sheets) may offset projected increment in information technology spendings from companies to create a scenario where the howl teenages of the tech industry’s millennial times manager into the frightful twenties of the new century.

That entails risk capital investors are once again breaking out the RIP Good Times slither deck from Sequoia Capital and prudence their portfolio firms about what comes next.

” In the course of preparing a blueprint for 2019, the majority of members of our matured companionships have internalized health risks for a downturn, but I think it’s hard to really pattern what the impact will be ,” wrote Founder Collective managing partner David Frankel in an email.” You could imagine a slowdown in capital groceries due to an increase in interest rates, that might hurt some corporations that are overly dependent on VC, but leave the strong firms predominantly unscathed. It’s also easy to suppose a more systemic correction that decimates the horizontals that were (& this will be easy with hindsight of course)’ vitamins’ not drugs .”

For some startups that symbolizes making hay while the sunbathe gleams and promoting more uppercase now. As Joshua Hoffman, the chief executive of synthetic biology startup Zymergen, explained to Bloomberg when discussing its most recent $400 million round led by SoftBank Vision Fund,” We wanted to have some fatty on our bones for sure … The time to raise money is when people are establishing it to you .”( Even if that fund is tied to the dismemberment-and-beheading-happy Saudi Arabian authority .)

For some, the times gaze very similar to the early 2000 s when the dot-com bubble erupt. In 2000, venture investors employed around $99 billion into crusade backed startups. Eighteen years later that figure is approximately $96 billion.

In the first time of the millennium development goals a Japanese house called SoftBank had established a global network of funds to invest millions of dollars into startup companies that were going to change information and communication technologies industry. Now, SoftBank is once again the house hurling millions( hundreds of millions) against the proverbial wall in hopes that billions will come bouncing back.

Recapping a year of high-priceds and lows for SoftBank

https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/19/softbank-year-in-review/embed/#?secret=FtfT7ynFHG

Venture houses are expected to raise around $45 billion this year, while back in 2000 funds were sitting on about $80 billion in capital, according to a 2005 consider from University of Western Ontario prof Milford Green.

There are important differences between the early part of the millennium and today’s engineering and risk capital marketplaces. Business frameworks for engineering firms are far more mature( Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, and Microsoft are among the world’s more valuable business) and the replacement of “eyeballs” with ad dollars can’t be overstated as an engine for financial growing and value.

At the same time, the fact that an entire generation of entrepreneurs have not knowledge an economic down repetition is a signed of refer for some investors.

” There’s a large cohort of founders who haven’t seen a down economy and that’s increased risk to the ecosystem ,” Frankel writes.” Many founders believe that in a feeble economy, that they might have to accept a down round, but few have coped with the reality that capital groceries don’t soften, they hijack and uppercase exactly can’t be had, at almost any price, for months or more .”

So investors like Lux Capital’s Bilal Zuberi has begun admonishing portfolio companies to start preparing for seasons they’ve never seen. Winter … is indeed coming.

In a direct message Zuberi wrote 😛 TAGEND

” Yes, for all obvious reasonableness we do accept startups should be thinking hard about their uppercase involves going to get 2019 and beyond, and how to not get caught in a firestorm.( a) the amount of money flowing in SV startups has necessitated startup crews and investors are not used to being frugal. Consider this, numerous junior marriages at VC houses have never seen an economic downturn — and they are sitting on Timbers of startups wasting tons of money,( b) promoting money sooner than afterwards, but not increasing scorch is a prudent circumstance to do for companies that have access to more uppercase,( c) when decline stumbles there will be special situations opportunities to invest in good companies but at very low valuations. All VC conglomerates know…But I wouldn’t want any of my companies to become a’ special situation ‘. So pushing hard now to reach escape velocity is also prudent. And( d) you are seeing VC firms bulk up their own stores, elevate debt monies, and so on…this should be a signal to startups that where capital follows from upstream is starting to worry. Smart founders should take that as a signal, and prepare accordingly .”

For Zuberi, grooming aims a few acts. Founders need to think about their financing plans beyond the next 12 to 18 months, and promote capital only if that cost of uppercase is low-cost. Preparation also intends obstructing tabs on blaze frequencies and fiscals in general, and begin proposing on how to move aggressively should opponents start growing “special situations” that investors may look to offload.

Of course, there’s still the possibility that all of this worrying will be for nothing. Bill Gurley warned about a culling of the unicorn flock in 2015, and there have been rumblings about a startup crash since the Brexit vote went through.

At this quality though, the similarities are beginning to look more than spooky and it may behoove founders to take the informs as more than exactly another instance of investors screaming wolf — if simply because it seems that the wolf is certainly at the door.

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