Given the credible evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, it’s only natural that Americans are concerned about the possibility of further foreign interference, especially as the midterms draw closer.
But I worry that we’re focusing too much on the foreign part of the problem — in which social media accounts and pages controlled by overseas “troll factories” post false and divisive material — and not enough on how our own domestic political polarization feeds into the basic business model of companies like Facebook and YouTube.
It’s this interaction — both aspects of which are homegrown — that fosters the dissemination of false and divisive material, and this will persist as a major problem even in the absence of concerted foreign efforts.… Seguir leyendo »
Al parecer, los magnates de Silicon Valley creen que pueden arreglar prácticamente todo y se ofuscan cuando sus intentos no son recibidos con gran entusiasmo.
El multimillonario de la tecnología Elon Musk estuvo entre los millones de personas cautivadas por el drama de los doce adolescentes y su entrenador de fútbol que quedaron atrapados en una cueva en Tailandia. Sin embargo, a Musk no le bastó con ver los acontecimientos en las noticias o las redes sociales; él tiene enormes recursos, así que también intentó ayudar.
Dio la orden a sus ingenieros de construir un “minisubmarino” (en esencia, un sofisticado cilindro de metal) con la esperanza de que pudiera usarse para el rescate.… Seguir leyendo »
This week, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to testify before two congressional committees amid the growing outcry over the company’s data collection practices. Because I have been analyzing the potential negative effects of Facebook on politics for a long time, I am fielding a lot of inquiries about what legislators should ask Mr. Zuckerberg.
Here’s my answer: Nothing. We already know most everything we need for legislators to pass laws that would protect us from what Facebook has unleashed.
The sight of lawmakers yelling at Mr. Zuckerberg might feel cathartic, but the danger of a public spectacle is that it will look like progress but amount to nothing: a few apologies from Mr.… Seguir leyendo »
At one point during the 2016 presidential election campaign, I watched a bunch of videos of Donald Trump rallies on YouTube. I was writing an article about his appeal to his voter base and wanted to confirm a few quotations.
Soon I noticed something peculiar. YouTube started to recommend and “autoplay” videos for me that featured white supremacist rants, Holocaust denials and other disturbing content.
Since I was not in the habit of watching extreme right-wing fare on YouTube, I was curious whether this was an exclusively right-wing phenomenon. So I created another YouTube account and started watching videos of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, letting YouTube’s recommender algorithm take me wherever it would.… Seguir leyendo »
The path to a global outbreak on Friday of a ransom-demanding computer software (“ransomware”) that crippled hospitals in Britain — forcing the rerouting of ambulances, delays in surgeries and the shutdown of diagnostic equipment — started, as it often does, with a defect in software, a bug. This is perhaps the first salvo of a global crisis that has been brewing for decades. Fixing this is possible, but it will be expensive and require a complete overhaul of how technology companies, governments and institutions operate and handle software. The alternative should be unthinkable.
Just this March, Microsoft released a patch to fix vulnerabilities in its operating systems, which run on about 80 percent of desktop computers globally.… Seguir leyendo »
On Tuesday morning, WikiLeaks released an enormous cache of documents that it claimed detailed “C.I.A. hacking tools.” Immediately afterward, it posted two startling tweets asserting that “C.I.A. hacker malware” posed a threat to journalists and others who require secure communication by infecting iPhone and Android devices and “bypassing” encrypted message apps such as Signal and WhatsApp.
This appeared to be a bombshell. Signal is considered the gold standard for secure communication. WhatsApp has a billion users. The C.I.A., it seemed, had the capacity to conduct sweeping surveillance on what we had previously assumed were our safest and most private digital conversations.… Seguir leyendo »
Donald J. Trump’s supporters were probably heartened in September, when, according to an article shared nearly a million times on Facebook, the candidate received an endorsement from Pope Francis. Their opinions on Hillary Clinton may have soured even further after reading a Denver Guardian article that also spread widely on Facebook, which reported days before the election that an F.B.I. agent suspected of involvement in leaking Mrs. Clinton’s emails was found dead in an apparent murder-suicide.
There is just one problem with these articles: They were completely fake.
The pope, a vociferous advocate for refugees, never endorsed anyone. The Denver Guardian doesn’t exist.… Seguir leyendo »
Los simpatizantes de Donald Trump probablemente se alegraron mucho en septiembre cuando el candidato recibió el respaldo del papa Francisco, según un artículo que se compartió cerca de un millón de veces en Facebook. Las opiniones negativas de estos sobre Hillary Clinton tal vez se acrecentaron después de leer un artículo del Denver Guardian, que también se difundió ampliamente en Facebook, en el cual se señalaba que días antes de la elección se había encontrado muerto, en un aparente homicidio-suicidio, a un agente del FBI sospechoso de haber filtrado los correos electrónicos de Clinton.
Pero hay un problema con estos artículos: son completamente falsos.… Seguir leyendo »
When I was stuck at the airport in this city in southern Turkey, on Friday night, I had many things to worry about. A coup attempt had just begun and the country was in turmoil. My plane to Istanbul had almost flown into the worst of the fighting, but luckily we were prevented from taking off at the last minute when the airspace was closed.
One thing I did not have to worry about, though, was running out of data on my phone. In the early morning hours, Turkey’s leading cellphone provider topped up the internet allowance of every subscriber. This was more than unusual.… Seguir leyendo »
Is the ability to send encrypted messages making it hard to stop terrorists? That’s what many intelligence officials and politicians have been saying about rumors that the terrorists in France communicated using encrypted services like WhatsApp or Apple iMessage.
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For decades, government officials have been warning about the threat of criminals and terrorists “going dark” — becoming impenetrable to law enforcement surveillance — through the use of encryption. There is a bill in Britain calling for weaker encryption. Here in the United States, Senator John McCain says he will hold hearings in the Senate and propose legislation on this topic, while Hillary Rodham Clinton warned that encryption was a “particularly tough problem.”
And yet, just last month, people claiming to be teenagers hacked into the AOL account of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan.… Seguir leyendo »
The world is facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, a staggering 60 million people displaced from their homes, four million from Syria alone. World leaders have abdicated their responsibility for this unlucky population, around half of whom are children.
The situation is sadly reminiscent of that of refugees fleeing the destruction of World War II and the Nazi onslaught. Then, too, most governments turned their backs, and millions who were trapped perished.
We are mired in a set of myopic, stingy and cruel policies. The few global institutions dedicated to supporting this population are starved of resources as governments either haven’t funded them or have reneged on their pledges of funds.… Seguir leyendo »
“Did we make a difference?” the young organizer asked.
As that question hung in the air, all our phones buzzed at once. We had a new message from the WhatsApp group being used to coordinate the more than 300 people who acted as poll monitors on Sunday in Bayrampasa, an Istanbul neighborhood where 172,000 people had just voted in parliamentary elections.
The “Oy ve Otesi” (Votes and More) volunteers had set up in a coffee shop — the Wi-Fi, power outlets and caffeine making it an ideal activist gathering spot in this neighborhood, a stronghold of Turkey’s ruling party, the Islamist Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P.… Seguir leyendo »
UBER, the popular car-service app that allows you to hail a cab from your smartphone, shows your assigned car as a moving dot on a map as it makes its way toward you. It’s reassuring, especially as you wait on a rainy street corner.
Less reassuring, though, was the apparent threat from a senior vice president of Uber to spend “a million dollars” looking into the personal lives of journalists who wrote critically about Uber. The problem wasn’t just that a representative of a powerful corporation was contemplating opposition research on reporters; the problem was that Uber already had sensitive data on journalists who used it for rides.… Seguir leyendo »
Last Wednesday, more than 100,000 people showed up in Istanbul for a funeral that turned into a mass demonstration. No formal organization made the call. The news had come from Twitter: Berkin Elvan, 15, had died. He had been hit in the head by a tear-gas canister on his way to buy bread during the Gezi protests last June. During the 269 days he spent in a coma, Berkin’s face had become a symbol of civic resistance shared on social media from Facebook to Instagram, and the response, when his family tweeted “we lost our son” and then a funeral date, was spontaneous.… Seguir leyendo »