It’s both strange and challenging to see how the Internet has evolved to where you can’t necessarily even trust that someone is who they say they are online, in a multitude of areas.
I suppose this started with the earliest days of spam email and scams with the prince of Nigeria trying to swindle people out of their bank account numbers, which we’ve watched grow much more sophisticated to where today it’s common to get spam email from your friends and family – often when they haven’t even been compromised – because it’s easy enough for scammers to crawl the Internet and build relationships between email addresses and names that it finds on places like Facebook.
Sometimes I’ll open up my spam folder in Gmail just to see what kinds of spam it’s accumulated and it’s admittedly a little impressive to see their capabilities, though also scary because the whole idea of spam exists because some people don’t know better and will get sucked in by those types of tactics…
And so now we’re seeing this taken to new levels with “professional” trolls and people who purposely write misleading, sensationalized, or even just blatantly fake news stories for fun and profit – this article originally from the Washington Post was an interesting insight into the world of a couple of twenty-somethings who do just that, not out of any journalistic passion but simply because apparently it’s very easy work, the money is good without having to ever leave the couch, and frankly it’s also amusing to see people get riled up.
I’m sure we all have at least one or two friends who do that either on Facebook or even in real life, always playing the devil’s advocate just because they take pleasure from ruffling people’s feathers and they enjoy arguing senselessly. And it’s one thing when it’s that friend you knew from high school who was kind of always an asshole, but a lovable asshole at that, versus the complete stranger who has never met any of the people who are reading his “work” – they’re just a number to him, and much like a video game the goal is simply to get the high score and dup as many people as possible, damn the results.
…even if it influences lives and ultimately impacts an election…
It’s bad enough when actual organizations like the mainstream media miss the mark and report something that turns out being false or misleading, but when integrity isn’t even on the table because the entire aim is to deceive and win clicks, it presents a big problem because once again just like spam email, it wouldn’t exist if people knew better. But many, many of them don’t, and so we’ve got this rise of fake news stories written by anonymous tricksters that gain so many likes and shares that they rank higher than legitimate news, and ultimately these are the ideas that shape people’s opinions because they help to reinforce what they already want to believe and even though anyone with five minutes and a free thought can technically setup a webpage, there’s still a certain air of authority to read words in print when you’re not one of those people who knows how easy it is to publish online today.
Of course, anonymity has its uses when it comes to people writing controversial things without feeling repercussions – it’s just unfortunate that the exact same thing is happening here with a very negative intent instead of using anonymity in a positive manner. When becoming a different person is as easy as saving a random portrait from the Internet and posting it as the picture on your new profile on any social network, it makes it all the more challenging for the rest of us to know what’s real and what’s not when we can’t even trust pictures of people we know and love when we see them appear online.
Despite being the most difficult, is teaching users to be skeptical the best approach to fighting these fake identities online? Social networks to some extent can try to ban fake profiles if they set off the necessary red flags, but just like trying to pick which news sources are legit and which are bogus, depending on the activity it becomes an editorial effort that is going to get criticism from either direction.
Maybe the answer isn’t necessarily in re-educating the older generation, but more so in teaching new generations who have never lived when this unprecedented access to information good and bad wasn’t available how to consume it, and what to trust and what to avoid. The sites that we do trust also need to continue to fight these issues from their own angles, but there are always going to be scammers trying to take advantage and trolls looking to stir up controversy, so it’s vital that as information continues to grow by leaps and bounds that it doesn’t just become a useless minefield where one can literally find anything that they want, but with integrity absolutely lost in the revolution.
In a way, I think that the Age of Information will have to evolve in see figuring out how to identify and designate that trustworthy content because otherwise its own growing size will become its downfall, and nobody wants that! We can’t just scrap the whole thing and start Internet2 when this Internet gets so full of garbage that it becomes unusable… 😉
…for your information, that is. 😉
Because somehow in the course of a week we managed to go from needing a more diligent news media to trust no one as if The X-Files is suddenly going to come back into style! And don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly good for people to be skeptical and ask questions about the information that they’re consuming, particularly online, but I’m not so sure it’s to anybody’s benefit when it gets to the extreme of nobody trusting anything that they read because the narratives in their own heads are fueled by anecdotal incidents that get turned into blanket assessments.
For example, “None of this violence by Trump supporters against Muslims is actually happening…” because one case was investigated and proven to be false.
Or even just yesterday – Mike Pence gets booed going to see the play Hamilton … but did the cast boo him or did the audience boo him??? I’ve read accounts both ways, however Donald Trump has already tweeted that the cast owes him an apology and plenty have picked that version of the truth up to run with, but it’s a pretty big difference whether it was the cast on stage or simply people in the audience because I’ve got to think that the latter is going to happen a lot!
This whole concept of fake news being shared virally around social media is kind of crazy because even taking it a step beyond people reading into The Onion thinking that it’s actual news, I feel like a lot of the problem especially on Facebook is that people don’t even read articles anymore – instead they just react to and share headlines and memes that get them riled up. Hell, I’ve even witnessed this with my own family reacting to things that I’ve written where they go off on a rant without taking into any consideration the points that I actually wrote about!
It seems a little ironic to find ourselves in the middle of the Information Age yet people are so inundated with data that they either don’t know what to believe or just believe the thing that most closely aligns with what they already want to believe.
Even some of the bigger professional news sources are getting scrutinized right now, which in a way is good because they need to be held accountable if we’re going to rely on them holding other people accountable. But it can admittedly be hit and miss when the same news organizations can be on the ball one minute and literally reporting on tweets the next … which as far as I’m concerned is almost as unforgivable as reputable publications having Taboola ads beneath their otherwise reputable content!
Seriously, you shouldn’t be writing legitimate news stories from a 140-character tweet any more than you should be selling your journalists out with ads pointing to The Photos That Ronda Rousey DOESN’T Want You to See underneath their investigative work!!!
I thought it was interesting to see Mark Zuckerberg talking about how they can address the issue on Facebook because let’s be honest, a growing number of people’s information gathering both begins and ends with their Facebook News Feed. And it’s not as easy of a problem to solve as one would think on the surface because any type of filtering or adjustments to their news feed algorithm is by nature going to insert (more) editorial insight and political bias – they’ve experienced that already with their Trending Topics and being accused of suppressing conservative links…
I like some of the things that Google has done over the years as link harvesters and content farms chase link juice by looking at things like page quality in comparison to similar sites, load speed, and even evaluating design to encourage sites built for people as opposed to search engine spiders. But reliability of the content itself is another level tougher still, particularly because one thing you can’t rely on is social performance because we’re seeing people so actively liking and sharing absolute garbage! 🙁
It’s a problem that’s going to take multiple approaches to solve – it can’t be just the folks like Facebook and Google because, well, there’s only so much they can do, but I do think that it’s their responsibility to do as much as they can because having the largest user bases sharing around irrelevant and incorrect ideas isn’t really in anybody’s best interests. Yet just like Google has actually faced lawsuits about changing its algorithms to favor some sites over others, social networks will see the same thing, and really, if you’re Facebook you can’t really say that Occupy Democrats is ok but The Comical Conservative‘s links are crap … not only is the issue on both sides of the table, but unlike Google’s approach, they’ve got more support of their fans because it’s not like click farms are known for their loyal followers.
I’d like to say that a big part of this is somehow making more people aware of the fake that these links that they’re liking and sharing aren’t true, but whew – would that be a big nut to crack. 😛
For starters, it’s kind of shocking how this movie even got made and that someone managed to convince a studio that it was worth spending $165 million to make because as far as I could tell, I’m still not sure how this didn’t end up a straight-to-DVD feature!
You’d think that Will Smith’s absence would’ve been the only clue needed that this was destined for failure…
And yet nearly every other B-character, plus Jeff Goldblum!, managed to take time out of their busy schedules to return. It almost became a game trying to remember who each of them played in the original movie before their character ended up getting killed this second time around! I mean, good on Will Smith’s widow for actually going to school with that stripping money of hers and all, but so many of these characters were just such a stretch with this movie, it was almost hard to remember that in fact the original Independence Day was a bonafide blockbuster. 😛
I think I was earnestly rooting for the aliens by about the 20 minute mark? I don’t know – when did that weird sphere thing show up that they immediately blasted out of the sky? That was when I was more or less done, and this isn’t a short movie!
The action sequences were forgettable, or at least the ones that weren’t carbon copy versions from when they happened in the first movie, anyways. If you took away all of the cribbing and unnecessary callbacks to the 1996 movie, they probably could’ve got this thing done in under an hour and had people moving on with their lives a bit sooner, but instead we had to meet Will Smith’s son, and understand his backstory … which is basically the same as his Dad’s, and then his Mom has to die – literally before his very eyes.
The only way it could’ve been made any more tedious would’ve been if Jaden Smith had actually been cast as Will’s son.
Bill Pullman’s character is made kind of sad and pathetic, which is too bad because he was awesome in the first one, and the whole idea of the alien queen chasing a school bus through the desert just didn’t work at all.
Plus, when she died all of the other ships just packed up and left – even the great big one the size of the continental US?!
I could’ve swore that we shared our tactics around the world and blew everything up in the last one … we didn’t just zap one and the rest fled like this movie seemed to imply.
But I think I’ve gone on long enough – this movie is great if you’re looking for a really bad movie to watch late on a Friday night, and maybe you’ll only be half paying attention or your spouse will fall asleep partway through.
I can’t wait for Independence Day: Part 3 which is apparently coming out in a couple of years FOR REAL! Maybe they’ll make all of the aliens women to change it up a bit, or maybe they’ll just go the straight-to-DVD route…
…because DVD as a format should be completely dead by 2018, wouldn’t you think?
Another YouTube video blog post … I suppose it’s just that kind of day, but I stumbled across these videos of Donald Trump being interviewed by Conan O’Brien back in 2005/2006 – plus one of him singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with Regis Philbin?! – and I guess after watching his campaign for the last 16 months, I can’t help but think how…
…NORMAL HE SOUNDS!!!
I mean, I have to remind myself that 2005 was when that whole “grab her by the pussy” tape was from, and maybe it’s partly Conan’s personality driving the segments, but it’s so bizarre even trying to compare these interviews to some of the angry and crude rally cries that we saw from him over the last year and a half.
Here he seems eccentric, but still reserved; personable, and not just to his brain-dead loyalists; playful and even polite!
This was a few years into The Apprentice, so the “You’re fired!”-shtick had become a thing. I even remember specifically watching the season in 2005 because it was when Randal and Rebecca were in the finale and Trump asked one if he should hire both, which would’ve been well-deserved, but the guy said no and so he didn’t!
Maybe I’ll just go back through YouTube and only watch clips of Trump from at least a decade ago for the next four years to help get me through this Donald Trump Presidency™… 😛
It started out with just a random suggested video to watch during lunch – this one was about Commander Chris Hadfield returning to Earth after living on the International Space Station, talking about his reacclimation and all of the great creative things that he did to help “sell space” to a curious public during his stay…
From there I was pointed to this related video about fellow astronaut/cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko from Russia, who most recently spent a full year on the ISS to study the effects of space on the body with the thought of travel to Mars in our not-so-distant future…
…and I think what I loved about watching both of these videos back to back is that they’re really a great reminder of how space exploration brings us together, from listening to the passion that both of these men share in talking about their work as well as the things that they each missed back on Earth while they were away.
Even something as simple as the need for subtitles were a positive reminder because in a way they’re proof that despite Kornienko clearly speaking Russian throughout the interview, that passion and humanity still shines through that he’s talking about returning to Earth and its natural features that he loves.
There’s also a couple of scenes of all the astronauts together on the ISS and they’re always smiling and waving and working together towards a common goal. It just seems like if they can come together for the greater cause of science to transcend boundaries up there, we should be able to figure it out back down here on Earth, too. 😉
An ongoing theme that I’ve been noticing over the last week, and honestly something that I’ve keyed into for a while, is that frankly a lot of people don’t really seem to know what racism even is.
If they did, we wouldn’t keep hearing the same excuse over and over again – “I didn’t mean it in a racist way” or “My comment wasn’t intended to be racist…” The latter was the response given by the mayor of a small town in West Virginia after supporting the post of a county employee who wrote on Facebook, “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels.”
You know, because apparently West Virginia never got word that references to apes and monkeys have long since been established as ethnic slurs against black people.
Even earlier today I read a report quite literally from the local high school less than 5 miles down the street from my house where a white teacher said to a group of black students, “Don’t make me call Donald Trump and get you sent back to Africa.”
A high school teacher – someone who the community has trusted with teaching our children – doesn’t understand what racism is.
I get the impression that most people’s understanding of racism basically begins and ends at slavery and segregation, so anything that’s ever happened since the 1960’s can’t possibly fall into the same category – no jokes, no offhand comments, no words that they hear other races say that they can’t imagine why they can’t say them, too. These things are all said in jest and no harm is intended, so they can’t possibly be racist … and if they are, then it’s just the PC police pulling the race card to make everything about race.
Here’s a ProTip for you – If you don’t mean to be racist, then stop doing things that are racist! – it’s not complicated!!!
Making jokes about lynching the president … who’s black … happens to be racist.
Continuing to use racial slurs that anyone over the age of about 22 knows are racial slurs … is a racist thing to do.
There’s no excuse for this stuff. My oldest son is 2.5 years old and actively working on talking, and we already have to steer him away from saying words that are only for adults. As far as I’m concerned, once you’re old enough to have taken a history class or two, you should start to understand that racism is bad and as a society it’s something that we try to steer away from.
Because the thing is, I’d love to give these people the benefit of the doubt and say that “they just didn’t know!” but come on now. These people are nowhere near 22 years old – one is a high school gym teacher, the other is the director of a non-profit – they’re both old enough to know better. They just don’t want to.
Disappointingly, I have friends and family who use the same excuses and it’s absolutely cringeworthy every time, not only because they should know better, too, but also because I like to think of them as better people than that.
It’s not “political correctness,” it’s you behaving like a racist.
If you don’t want to be called a racist, then don’t act like one.
It’s hard to say whether things are truly cooling down or if social media has just gotten quieter over the weekend because people are actually out doing things instead of sitting at work posting 😉 , but the time to process and soak up opinions and information has been useful, I think.
In particular, I’ve been weighing a lot the idea of responsibility as a result of the “I’m not a racist, I just like what he says about ______”-argument and I think the reason why I struggle with it is because for me when we talk about all of the different political issues, I find myself dividing them up into different groups and prioritizing them. So while I’m also concerned about the economy and ISIS and immigration and whatnot, when there are civil rights issues on the table like repealing LGBT rights or marginalizing women, it’s hard for me to even talk about something like immigration because I don’t see how we can discuss other things when equal rights for our citizens isn’t the #1 priority.
That said, I do find it interesting how it’s already being reported that Trump is wavering on some of his key policies such as looking into amending Obamacare instead of repealing it altogether, softening his stance on immigration, and even using fencing for parts of his monumental wall instead of just miles and miles of infallible concrete as far as the eye can see.
Same thing for his cabinet – for an anti-establishment candidate, Trump certainly ran straight back to the well to pick top lobbyists and the current head of the RNC for his cabinet just like the politician’s playbook calls for, not so much “emptying the swamp” as emptying the swamp … right into his new administration.
I also read that there’s some confusion about how his businesses will actually be handled because traditionally it’s expected that a politician would put his assets into a blind trust to avoid any conflict of interest over policy decisions … however having the kids run the business in his place is a very different thing than a blind trust!
…particularly when it’s also being reported that he may desire to only live in the White House part-time and spend some of his days back in his penthouse in Trump Tower, which obviously has direct access to the office where he normally works…
I’ve got to say that it was a little weird reading about that suggestion because not only does it pose the question that a lot of people are asking about whether Donald Trump expects to be a part-time president, to me even more so it raises a lot of logistical questions about whether something like that would even be possible!
Already almost immediately after he won the election, the FAA declared a temporary No Fly Zone over Trump Tower in Manhattan until he is expected to move to the White House after being sworn in in January, however even though mum is typically the word when it comes to presidential security measures, it’s no secret that lots and lots of security is built into the White House and its surrounding area to protect the President and all of his staff.
Plus, his staff is all there, too!
How would President Trump work from his golden tower in NYC while the rest of his support staff is left running around back in Washington??? Not that leading his own companies is a 9-to-5 job, either, but the president pretty much works non-stop all of the time … aside from maybe spending vacation time in New York, and even then, what kind of disruption to the rest of the city would it pose to have the president coming in and out on a regular basis?
Are the windows in Trump Tower bullet proof? And missile-proof?!
It’s kind of like the same reason why he won’t be able to use his own jet that he’s used for years as well as the entire campaign. The two jets currently used today as Air Force One are highly customized aircraft between being able to also transport his entire support staff and also hosting security features managed by the defend the President and his staff against everything from other aircraft to even the EMP that would result from a nuclear blast.
It’s not like they make an aftermarket air force defense kit that Trump can just pick up to have installed onto his own plane, and I would think that the same thing would apply to Trump Tower, too.
Would they just close Fifth Avenue whenever President Trump feels like sleeping in his golden bed instead of the public housing that taxpayers pay for at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave?!
Ultimately I’m sure a lot of this stuff will work itself out, and for what it’s worth, Donald Trump is allowed to have anxiety for the job just like anybody else would … even though right now some people are interpreting all of these things bundled together as a question of how much he really wants the job in the first place.
Is there any possibility that Donald Trump actually wanted to win the presidency more than he really wants to be the president for the next four years, where his every move will be choreographed by Secret Service agents and his gold anointed life as a billionaire in Manhattan will have to be put on hold for him to hold this otherwise highly coveted office that only forty-four other men have ever held in the history of the entire country?
I may end up writing a whole series of posts on this topic – we’ll see how it goes – but in spending a lot of time over the last couple of days thinking about how both our election process as well as the day-to-day democracy in general could be improved, I feel like a BIG AREA that is ripe for improvement … though I admittedly don’t know exactly what these improvements are … is around the area where a lot of folks from both sides of the aisle have been pointing their fingers – the media.
Especially here in the age of information where groups of all sizes, individuals, and even people just creating memes can be “news sources” for people online, it seems like it’s more difficult than ever to get information in front of people that’s unbiased and factual…
For those who still get their news from TV, it doesn’t help that more likely rely on commentators than actual reporters – arguably because that’s what happens when you’ve got 24 hours to fill with coverage without 24 hours of legitimate reporting coverage to offer.
And for those who get their news from the Internet … whoa boy! Where to even start?! Almost every site sways one way or the other, some quite blatantly so, some are deliberately just spreading fake news and not with humorous intent like I do, and social media can be an absolute mess – as Facebook is currently arguing right now – with regards to best distributing the posts of the users while also taking care not to promote false and defamatory content along the way.
I certainly won’t go so far as to say that online and especially social media doesn’t still offer news value, however I think it’s reasonable to say that regardless of format, what the American people need more than ever is news outlets who can be relied upon to report the news and do it fairly, accurately, and reliably … which admittedly gets tricky in this divided country that we currently live because right now so many people want their news slanted the way that they do, which just exacerbates the problem of having highly polarized news outlets catering to party lines instead of ones down the middle that report on the entire landscape equally.
Even when we have those professional sources to fall back on, that still doesn’t help the fact that far too many Americans literally get their “news” from soundbites and memes and Facebook shares where they don’t even necessarily read the article as much as they allow themselves to get riled up by the headlines that show up in their news feeds as they scroll for the next issue that queues up in their social media echo chamber.
I really don’t know how you ween people off of unreliable social media “sources,” but I’ve got to think that it starts with having solid, reliable news sources for both sides that you can point people to as an alternative.
Right now I hate the idea that in a way people are really able to “choose their own facts” because each side has their networks and websites that lean in their directions which reliably contradict the other side, so it’s easy enough to just label the other side as liars whenever any conflict comes up and they’ve almost automatically got “news sources” that they can point to in support of their position whether in reality something is really actually true or not.
We need to get past this desire to spin every story in the direction of the target audience and instead be able to rely on our media to report the news in the best manner fit to serve the facts that are actually present.
I think only when we can get the people back to a point where both sides can trust a single news source collectively instead of their own niche versions can we expect them to really come together and realize that maybe the two parties’ beliefs aren’t all that different after all. But as long as people have their own version of the truth to point back to, we’re never going to get anywhere.
In short – there’s only one true version of fact, and we need to be able to rely on our news media to deliver that information to the people.
Last night’s post really blew up on Facebook in ways that I didn’t intend. I purposely made it public instead of using off my No Politics filter and the result was a lot of name calling and fighting, and even a really nasty exchange with my Dad.
It still shocks me how anyone could look at so many examples of violence and hate and have their first response be anything other than shock and disgust.
That said, late this evening it was reported that one of the stories about a Muslim woman getting her Hijab torn off was fabricated, and I fear that people will use that example to assume that every last story they hear must also be false.
I refuse to believe that.
It’s also been hard for me to process people arguing that the protests taking place are “just sore losers” and not a legitimate voice worth listening to. If nothing else, our own Constitution guarantees people the Freedom to Assemble, and though it doesn’t condone any violence or destruction of property, I think compared to people actually getting hurt in the name of racism/sexism/etc… it’s a minor concern at best.
That said, with all of the negativity and fear being harbored, I’ve found comfort in a smaller group of likeminded friends and family whom I respect and trust on social media – many of whom are also struggling with how to process everything that’s taking place – and it’s nice to see that there are others who also deem what’s taking place to be something serious that shouldn’t just be swept under the rug.
I also took a lot of comfort in this compilation of stories from teachers about how they’ve addressed their students’ responses to Trump’s election from pretty much all grade levels. As much as I worry about youth hearing the horrible things that are being said and parroting them, the fact that many children identify that this sort of behavior is wrong and are willing to help support one another across demographic barriers gives me hope.
And finally, in that same story I came across a quote by Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu that I liked quite a bit:
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
As I walked through Walmart late this evening, I found myself reminding myself that there are so many good people still in the world – complete and total strangers, with no idea how or if they even voted – and it made me think of the things that I can do to help try to see that light among the darkness…
- Be kind to people, especially those who I’ve never met … because why not?
- Heaven forbid I witness something, be the person who steps forward to call out bigotry and not the one who turns a blind eye.
- Don’t allow myself to become complacent should these bad stories continue to surface.
- Use this passion for what’s right to make good art, whether it’s humor or editorials or just my own processing, and encourage my colleagues who strive to do the same.
- Look for the best in people, in society, in our future, even when all signs point to chaos. Have faith in America.
This is disgusting – a collection of the abuse shared by minorities from Trump supporters only a day after he is elected president – as found on social media…
A Muslim American is confronted by a woman in Walmart who pulls off her Hijab and tells her, “These aren’t allowed anymore, so go hang yourself with it around your neck, not your head.”
A group of white men on the subway sees a woman by herself in a dress and joke about “grabbing her by the pussy,” and one physically tries to do so as she walks by. She yells as they laugh it off until the group is kicked off the subway by some onlookers.
An African-American woman in Indiana is approached by some white men in a truck and taunted, “Fuck you, nigger bitch. Trump is going to deport you back to Africa.”
A Muslim woman in Louisiana is assaulted by two men and has her Hijab and wallet stolen.
A woman is presumed Hispanic when she has a cup of water thrown in her face by an older white man after he tells her, “I can’t wait until Trump asks us to rape your people and send you back over the biggest damn wall we’re going to build. Go back to hell, wet back.”
An African-American woman in Michigan is taunted by a group of men while pumping gas, “Yeah, we were talking to you, nigger – go back to Africa, Trump doesn’t want you here!”
A woman in Philadelphia finds her car graffitied with “Trump Rules” and “Black Bitch.”
A Muslim woman at San Diego State University is assaulted by two white men making derogatory comments about the Muslim community as they take her purse and backpack, and then proceed to steal her car.
An African-American woman is confronted in line by two men, “I’m so glad Trump won. Now all the niggers can go back to where they came from. Y’all don’t belong here. You shouldn’t even be able to vote.”
A gay man finds a note left on his car that reads, “Can’t wait until your ‘marriage’ is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. #Trump2016 #REPENT #GODBLESS”
Multiple stances of school kids as young as kindergarteners teasing their Hispanic and Latino classmates about getting sent back to Mexico.
A Hispanic boy is beaten by his classmates and told they can’t wait until Trump deports him. When reported to the police, they deem it a school matter and do nothing.
Many of these stories were shared via @ShaunKing on Twitter, though I can imagine that even more occurred that weren’t shared at all…