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posted by martyb on Wednesday December 06 2017, @05:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the thorny-questions dept.

The bloom is off the rose:

It was about an hour and a half into a hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee when Sen. Dianne Feinstein laid into Facebook, Google and Twitter.

"I don't think you get it," she began. "You bear this responsibility. You've created these platforms, and now they are being misused. And you have to be the ones to do something about it. Or we will."

The tech giants were being grilled by Congress over Russian trolls abusing their services to meddle in last year's US election, and the California Democratic lawmaker had had it.

It was just one of very public tongue-lashings the Silicon Valley companies received over the course of three marathon congressional panels last month, held over a two-day span. The hearings were anticlimactic, in part because the three companies only sent their general counsels instead of their famous CEOs -- a point several lawmakers bemoaned during the public questioning.

Is it Google, Twitter, and Facebook who don't get it, or Senators like Dianne Feinstein who don't get it?


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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday December 06 2017, @05:25PM (33 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @05:25PM (#606220)

    If we have to control the message that reaches mainstream media, then it's a little late to try to start doing it through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google, et. al.

    I thought we were a society that taught critical thinking, and relied on ourselves to separate the wheat from the chaff in the daily flood of information that passes over us. Well, not exactly - I thought that when I was like 12 years old. Of course there are people out there who shape the information and perceptions, there are huge thriving industries built up around internet reputation management, search engine optimization, etc. etc. and those industries exist because that's how our society works. When a product reaches you, it almost always has more cost built in for sales and marketing than it does for research and development, and for many things even the cost of production and distribution is dwarfed by the cost of the various forms of advertising used to bring the product to the buyers' attention.

    And don't even start to think that there's even a tiny distinction between consumer products for sale and politicians up for election.

    Facebook, Twitter, Google, et. al. might appear to be the communication enabler of the masses, but they are also the communication enabler of those employed to shape the message, and you can't change that as long as they are freely available to ordinary users.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday December 06 2017, @05:29PM (19 children)

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 06 2017, @05:29PM (#606222) Homepage Journal

    The republicans have made some progress at outlawing critical thinking lessons in public schools

    --
    "MICHAEL DAVID CRAWFORD IS A LYING MOTHERFUCKER."
    -- Anonymous Coward
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06 2017, @05:53PM (18 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @05:53PM (#606237)

      The republicans have made some progress at outlawing critical thinking lessons in public schools

      And what's the problem with that? They're just responding to the desires of their constituents. GOP voters don't want critical thinking taught in public schools, and would much rather the schools teach Christian dogma. GOP politicians would legislate this if they could.

      If you have a problem with these actions by the Republicans, then that means you're opposed to democracy. Same goes for other actions by the Republicans, such as pushing for legalization of discrimination against homosexuals, attempting to ban gay marriage, passing tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, banning or obstructing availability of contraception, removing penalties for police who shoot black people in the back, etc. The GOP voters support all these things.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @06:25PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @06:25PM (#606255)

        Go read up on Liberia.

        It's the state all GOP members toeing the party line want, just with too many negros to actually move there.

        • (Score: 2, Troll) by realDonaldTrump on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:13PM (2 children)

          by realDonaldTrump (6614) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:13PM (#606291) Homepage Journal

          We made Liberia so the blacks could have a country of their own. Thousands of our African Americans emigrated there, it was tremendous. Then Abraham Lincoln said it was a country. He proclaimed it a country. Not many people know, but President Lincoln was a Republican, one of the first. Liberia has done amazingly well. And now many people in my alt-right are saying white people should make a country for themselves. So interesting!

          --
          Text TRUMP to 88022 to join the 🚂 #TrumpTrain [facebook.com]
          • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:21PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:21PM (#606300)

            Why not? The Jews did it with Israel.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by DannyB on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:22PM (12 children)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:22PM (#606304)

        If you have a problem with these actions by the Republicans, then that means you're opposed to democracy.

        If you have a problem with these actions by the ${politicalParty}, then that means you're opposed to democracy.

        Now substitute with: Democrats. Nazis. Pedophiles. Or think of your own great substitution.

        Being opposed to despicable actions by a political party (any party) does not mean one is against democracy.

        Despite what has occurred, I still think Democracy is a good idea. Better than alternatives. I just wish people weren't so amazingly stupid and gullible. We all want a society that works. I can understand some basic disagreements about policy. But what we've got has devolved into something very ugly.

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:50PM (11 children)

          by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:50PM (#606335)

          If you have a problem with these actions by the ${politicalParty}, then that means you're opposed to democracy.

          Only if ${politicalParty} is the one that's dominant and has gotten a majority of votes.

          Being opposed to despicable actions by a political party (any party) does not mean one is against democracy.

          Sure it does, if that party has rightfully won elections and thus reflects the will of the majority. If you think their actions are despicable, what that really means is that you think the voters who elected that party are despicable. And as the Nazis showed in the 1930s, the voters frequently *are* despicable.

          I just wish people weren't so amazingly stupid and gullible.

          Maybe we need a form of democracy which only allows non-gullible and non-stupid people to vote. Allowing the poorly-educated to vote has been proven to be a disaster.

          We all want a society that works.

          Yes, but many people are too stupid to understand what it takes to achieve that.

          But what we've got has devolved into something very ugly.

          And history has shown that when that happens, it frequently doesn't get better without truly horrific events.

          • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:14PM (2 children)

            by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:14PM (#606356)

            I'm not going to disagree in general. But only with the assertion that I one I started with, to which you replied "Sure it does".

            Nope. It doesn't. I can definitely state that I am not against democracy, and that I do indeed have a problem with some actions of the Republican party (but not necessarily limited to that party either).

            Therefore you CAN indeed be against that party's actions and still favor democracy.

            Rather than assert Sure it does, I would like to hear an argument that explains how I either don't have a problem with the R's actions, or that I really somehow am not in favor of Democracy even though I am convinced that I am in favor of democracy.

            As for the R's winning the will of the majority, they didn't. Trump is in office because of the electoral college, not because of the popular vote -- despite Trump's assertion that he won the popular vote, which he verifiably did not. Nor Trump's assertion that his electoral college victory was the biggest ever -- again verifiably untrue. However, even if the R's had won by popular vote, that does not invalidate my counter assertion that I can indeed be against certain actions they take yet still be in favor of democracy.

            Am I missing some bit of logic or critical thinking here? (It wouldn't be the first time.)

            • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:17PM (1 child)

              by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:17PM (#606438)

              Therefore you CAN indeed be against that party's actions and still favor democracy.

              It's contradictory, if that party validly represents the majority of the people, unless you're claiming that you're OK with those people (who you disagree with) getting their way, even when the resultant policies are horrible.

              As for the R's winning the will of the majority, they didn't. Trump is in office because of the electoral college, not because of the popular vote

              Trump isn't the only GOP politician in office, or who won in 2016. The GOP swept races across the nation at all levels of government. Those other races are not decided by the EC, they're straight majorities. And while you might scream "gerrymandering", that only applies to US Representative races, not Senate seats, not governorships, etc. The simple fact is that, outside of a few densely-populated coastal cities, most of the country favors the GOP.

              I would like to hear an argument that explains how I either don't have a problem with the R's actions, or that I really somehow am not in favor of Democracy even though I am convinced that I am in favor of democracy.

              Let's ignore the whole Electoral College thing for a bit (esp. in light of my argument above). If the majority are voting for policies you find repugnant, I'm not sure how you can defend democracy as a good system in that case. Perhaps better than the alternatives, but that's arguable; Britain under Elizabeth I was widely considered a golden age, for instance, and there's other cases of autocratic rule that were similar considered quite good (Rome under Marcus Aurelius too I think). (The argument against autocracy is that the good autocrat eventually dies and then it's a toss-up how the next one is.) We can also look at 1930s Germany: they elected Hitler! Now, you might argue that the election system was bad because he didn't win a majority, and it was a 3-way race (IIRC), but this still doesn't excuse democracy, since that's how most democratic systems work. Honestly, your who pro-democracy argument really boils down to "the alternatives are even worse", but that's not exactly a ringing endorsement. Winston Churchill was right when he said "the best argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter".

              • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Saturday December 09 2017, @09:27PM

                by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 09 2017, @09:27PM (#607801)

                That's it. Even though I think the outcome is horrible, I still believe in democracy.

          • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:42PM (2 children)

            by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:42PM (#606377) Journal

            I have to echo DannyB here. I can, and do, find things wrong with BOTH of our dominant parties. Further, I find things wrong with all of our underdog parties. Detesting any and all of the parties involved doesn't make one anti-democracy. It only means that you oppose each of those parties.

            I've always thought that you have to be a damned fool to support any party. You should support candidates, and the issues that they promise to represent. When I hear of a family that has faithfully voted for Party X for the past n generations, I visualize a bunch of inbred idiots with 4th grade educations. None of them were ever smart enough to examine candidates and issues, so they just voted for whoever Grandpa and The Party told them to vote for.

            If the shoe fits, wear it - Dems and Reps alike.

            --
            Hawking believes that alien life forms will likely be simple and primitive, or, as they’re known on Earth, Democrats.
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:23PM (1 child)

              by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:23PM (#606446)

              Basically you're arguing in favor of some idealistic form of democracy that doesn't actually exist. Sure, you *should* support candidates, but how many people do? Almost none. In reality, voters don't really have the time or attention to learn about every single candidate on the ballot in many cases. In Arizona, for instance, the ballot will have the names of a couple *dozen* judges that you're supposed to vote whether to renew their term or not. Now how the hell is the average voter supposed to know whether some judge is any good or not? And figure this out for 20 of them? Along with a bunch of other races including the local school board, the local mayor, plus a bunch of ballot propositions (written in tricky language so you don't really know what you're voting for), as well as the usual national-level races?

              When I hear of a family that has faithfully voted for Party X for the past n generations, I visualize a bunch of inbred idiots with 4th grade educations.

              Yes, and this is pretty common among average voters, the people who constitute *actual* democracies.

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:57PM (2 children)

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:57PM (#606431)

            I don't think that splitting "fair hairs" is really getting the point of representative democracy.

            We've got a system, it can be, and is, gamed, it can, and does, give control to people who have less than 50% of the vote - that's the system we have, suck it up and deal with it, or take real action to change it, whatever.

            What our system DOES do is make sure that people with only 20 or 30% of the popular vote support get elected, and that's something to be thankful for. Military junta and similar organizations can make 95%+ of their population suffer miserably for years, we at least get to fix our mistakes within 4 - if they're bad enough to really piss off a clear majority of the people.

            • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday December 07 2017, @01:21AM

              by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday December 07 2017, @01:21AM (#606517) Homepage Journal

              "In revolutions people die." -- J. Random Slashbot

              Some other slashbot was advocating for changing our system by having a revolution.

              Out of everything I ever read on the green site, "In revolutions people die" is clearest in my memory.

              --
              "MICHAEL DAVID CRAWFORD IS A LYING MOTHERFUCKER."
              -- Anonymous Coward
            • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Friday December 08 2017, @10:16PM

              by fustakrakich (6150) on Friday December 08 2017, @10:16PM (#607465) Journal

              Military junta and similar organizations can make 95%+ of their population suffer miserably for years, we at least get to fix our mistakes within 4...

              Within 2... one (of many) fantasy I have is that we sweep the house of all democrats/republicans and vote independent. What would Plato do? They had a pretty good grasp of the problem back then. I mean, really, it wasn't even necessary to run the experiment to predict the outcome.

          • (Score: 2, Flamebait) by DeathMonkey on Thursday December 07 2017, @02:40AM (1 child)

            by DeathMonkey (1380) on Thursday December 07 2017, @02:40AM (#606578) Journal

            Only if ${politicalParty} is the one that's dominant and has gotten a majority of votes.

            The Democrat got the most votes. So, therefore, Republicans are fair game!

            Glad we got that sorted out.

            • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by Grishnakh on Thursday December 07 2017, @03:36PM

              by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday December 07 2017, @03:36PM (#606823)

              No, the Democrats did NOT get the most votes in most races. Did they get the most votes in Pennsylvania? Michigan? Anyplace besides California? No? How about for all the down-ticket races, like governorships, state legislature positions, etc., in most states?

              Glad we got that sorted out.

              Weird how people like you think there's only one election and one elected position in the entire country. It's no wonder Democrats keep losing and can't control Congress with that kind of mindset.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07 2017, @08:15AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07 2017, @08:15AM (#606711)

        If you have a problem with these actions by the Republicans, then that means you're opposed to democracy. Same goes for other actions by the Republicans, such as pushing for legalization of discrimination against homosexuals, attempting to ban gay marriage, passing tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, banning or obstructing availability of contraception, removing penalties for police who shoot black people in the back, etc. The GOP voters support all these things.

        Yeah that's a funny thing the libtards, Democrats and gang claim they support Democracy, but when it works as designed and doesn't produce the result they want, they blame everyone else except themselves. They blame the electoral college and racists for their loss but the fact is a BLACK guy won TWICE with a similar electoral college and bunch of racist voters.

        Same like they're claim they are for freedom of speech except when it comes to people who don't want to make cakes for a gay marriage. What happened to the "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.".

        The real problem is "half" of America are just as fascist as the other "half" and they both disagree with each other.

        I see plenty of the liberal media going on and on preaching to their choir about how Trump is a failure and hasn't achieved anything and then complaining that Trump is doing lots of terrible stuff (which is actually delivering to his voters what they want ;) ).

        The worrying thing is if they don't get their heads out of their butts in time and start addressing the real reasons why they lost, Trump might actually win a second term (assuming he hasn't started global nuclear war before that...).

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @06:22PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @06:22PM (#606253)

    The US has long had lofty ideals but shitty SHITTY implementation. Now we have the internet and it is dragging some of the remaining mud holes into the 21st century where bigotry is bad. The locals get to see how life could be, and the dark corners are getting an uncomfortable amount of light shining down on them.

    The education system has been screwed up for a while now, 2000 was really the turning point when they began implementing all the standardized testing / exit exam bullshit. Critical thinking was replaced by rote memorization. It is hard to tell whether this was an intentional dumbing down or just a colossal fuck up in the quest for metrics. We really need to worry less about bean counting beyond making sure civilization has what it needs along with stores for future crises. After that squeezing every last minute of productivity out of a worker's day is counter productive to society as a whole, stress and all that.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday December 06 2017, @06:23PM (4 children)

    by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @06:23PM (#606254) Journal

    We are a society that requires disclosure of political ad-buys in the name of transparency.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:02PM (3 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:02PM (#606283)

      So, I think of posting on Facebook like riding a bicycle on the street... no license required - very hard to regulate. CDL for big-rigs does keep most of them under reasonable control, but if a bunch of kids want to do something crazy there's not much our legal system can do about it.

      Thing is, there's no "Big Rig" in the internet, it's all a bunch of unregulated bike riders out there, but some are legitimate little kids, others are heavily backed representatives of industry.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:21PM (2 children)

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:21PM (#606302) Journal

        So, I think of posting on Facebook like riding a bicycle on the street...

        They didn't merely post on Facebook. They purchased political ads. There's a big difference.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:00PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:00PM (#606397)

          O.K. - that's something you can regulate, and should - with clear labeling of paid political advertisement just like television and radio.

          Open and shut, if the organization is taking money for something that is regulated and requires labeling, they have to include adequate labeling to meet the regulation.

          Of course, as soon as they do that, the unregulated forums of "user contributed content" will be overflowing with paid shills. Scratch that, make it past tense, it's been happening since Obama's first campaign and even before.

        • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Friday December 08 2017, @10:24PM

          by fustakrakich (6150) on Friday December 08 2017, @10:24PM (#607468) Journal

          Why? What is the difference? The smart thing to do is not read and believe paid political advertising, not ban or regulate it. It's very easy to figure out who's hot and who's not. The burden of verification is on the reader, not the author

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @06:27PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @06:27PM (#606261)

    A good example that critical thinking has been overridden by glossy words from Trump-esque demagogues for at least 120 years.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday December 06 2017, @06:59PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @06:59PM (#606278)

      Longer than that - yellow press wasn't a new invention at the time, just the latest example of how powerful it can be.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by DutchUncle on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:10PM (4 children)

    by DutchUncle (5370) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:10PM (#606289)

    >>> I thought we were a society that taught critical thinking

    I just hurt myself falling over laughing.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:45PM (1 child)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:45PM (#606382) Journal

      Get even. If you're an R, get a gun. If you're a D, get a lawyer. Whichever way you swing, that'll fix him for making you hurt yourself!

      --
      Hawking believes that alien life forms will likely be simple and primitive, or, as they’re known on Earth, Democrats.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07 2017, @10:03AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07 2017, @10:03AM (#606747)

        As an I, I will invent a better chair.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:11PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:11PM (#606405)

      Well - I can see that perspective. Could I restate: "We were a society that operates on the principles of caveat emptor, and presume that the citizenry will either be capable of evaluating risks for themselves, hiring competent fiduciary agents to evaluate risks for them, or suffer the consequences of their ignorance of the risks."?

      Yeah, it just gets more absurd as you go. They've actually taken the "fiduciary duty" language out of real estate licensing and contracts in Florida recently, I doubt it ever happened even before I was born, but it's clearly not been practiced for decades.

      This is the same society that's bidding up bitcoin at a ~200% gain per year, sustained for the last 7 years... makes me want to quote Morrison:

      But anyway, I don't believe in it
      I think it's a bunch of bullshit, myself
      But I tell you this, man, I tell you this
      I don't know what's gonna happen, man, but I wanna have
      My kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames
      Alright!

    • (Score: 1) by messymerry on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:20PM

      by messymerry (6369) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:20PM (#606442)

      Let's see: LOL, LMAO, ROFL, LMFAO,

      Did I miss any?

      --
      Only fools equate a PhD with a Swiss Army Knife...