So every day, the news headlines shout about something media rarely talks about. That something is religious hatred and harassment. Now, Twitter is doing something about it. Twitter combats religious persecution.
In fact, starting today, Twitter updates and intensifies it’s rules against hate speech. This especially includes tweets that attack religions and religious groups and denominations. In a safety statement, Twitter blogged their new hate speech rule will include those that dehumanizes other people’s religion. It will remove tweets the bully and troll others based on their faith beliefs. Twitter will also charge those doing this kind of trolling with violating Twitter’s code of conduct.
So basically, they will remove such tweets, no matter when they made the statement. However, they will not suspend the offender…yet. This is because they made the statement before they implemented this new policy. But if the Twitter user makes such offensive statements now, then you can bet they can face suspension. Twitter ensures this new rule for just religious groups, not political ones. And terror groups like ISIS and hate groups like the KKK do not qualify under this rule. So they can’t use this new ruling to get a pass and continue to promote their hatred.
So, we all know by now that AI can do many things. Some of them good, but some of them scary and even detrimental. However, Facebook came up with an AI use that could help an entire continent. Facebook AI maps Africa’s population.
They have a map that shows where the African continent’s 1.3 billion people live. Not only does it go country by country, but it can pinpoint right down to neighborhood by neighborhood. One reason they’re doing this is to help humanitarian organizations reach out to the places they need the most help. Another reason is to help bring Internet access, especially to places in the continent that have little or no access.
But this system is by no means perfect, and far from it. Yes, it tells you the density of a certain area. But of course, it doesn’t tell you who needs more and who needs less. These AI maps tell you nothing about economies, demographics, and computer literacy. Who needs more IT support and IT service? Who already has it? The Facebook AI teams of actual humans check and double check to weed out regional biases. And some of this AI might be wrong. But so far, very few of it is. Because of every 1,000 buildings it picked up, 996 of them were accurate.
Yes, much needs to be done. But this is a huge step up. At least they know where the people are. This way, teams can get there to help and deliver goods and services quicker and with more accuracy. However, there are lots of things to air out. For example, I didn’t see any roads or highways that led to these places. So how are the teams going to get to these places? And which places are in more need? Which African nation do you start with and which city/town and do you start?
So Facebook is in hot water again. But this time, it’s due to a potential security leak. It’s another Facebook venerability exposed.
So here it is. A cyber security firm they call Up Guard discovered over 500 million Facebook records in a public server. To be more specific, a media company in Mexico named Cultura Collectiva left such records in an Amazon S3 server. These records include names, comments, posts, and likes. It may not sound like much. But if you look at previous leaks, look at what a little leak can lead to. Also keep in mind the Amazon S3 server they used has no password. Therefore, anybody who wants to can access it with little struggle.
Then there is former app maker At The Pool. The same security company, Up Guard, found over 22,000 users’ Facebook accounts just sitting there, ripe for the taking. These accounts includes names, posts, friends’ lists, group listings, etc. According to TechCrunch, Facebook reached out to Amazon, and asked them to get the remove the data before it falls into the wrong hands. But so far, we haven’t heard anything from Amazon nor At The Pool.
This isn’t the first time Up Guard caught Facebook with their pants down. Because back in 2018, they found over 48 million Facebook records just floating around. However, I want to get off Facebook for a minute. Because this is a great time for Amazon to do the right thing. In this case, it’s erase those hundreds of millions of files off the venerable S3 server. If I were a leader of this IT service giant, I would do so like yesterday. Because what if these things did get in the wrong hands? Then, what if they did get exploited, and ruined the lives of so many millions? Could they have that on their conscious?
So, do you ever wonder about the products big tech and big IT support disposes of? I’m talking about plans and/or products that never make it past Silicon Valley boardrooms. But now, there is a website that reports on Google on just that. These are the things Google killed.
So yes, there is a list out there. They call it, “Killed by Google”. This includes things like the Inbox email service. It also includes the Google+, that would challenge Facebook. But these ideas went nowhere. It’s simply a list of former Google ideas and products with a tombstone beside them.
According to many online sources, this is the brainchild of Cody Odgen. He is a web developer who lives in the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area. His list got so much social media buzz that it even shocked him. But it also reminded him of not just how much we use technology and IT service. We also bond with it. He even compares it to a loving relationship. This is the truth. I notice it myself. We’re coming to a point where we mourn the loss of a smartphone more intensely than we do a close human friend. Odgen backs up his point by highlighting comments about the now defunct Google devices and services. Right here is the list.
In fact, I’m reading some of the comments now. Some people still mourn the loss of Google Reader, a service that ended years ago. So why are we interested in the things Google killed? Maybe it’s a nostalgic trip. It’s a time when we could go back and say, “I remember when they tried that.” Or maybe it’s a reminder that even the best of us mess up sometimes. People often think Google can do no wrong. Yes they can. And here is proof they do wrong often. It’s proof Google leaders and employees are actually human, liable to make mistakes and bad creations. It also gives us a bunch of what ifs. What is these Google products did well?
So in 2010, I logged onto Facebook for the first time. Before long, I was excited to reunite with friends and classmates I haven’t heard from in years. Then, as the years dragged on, the excitement wore off and the misery began. Also, I read an article that begs the question. Is social media making us worse?
So this TechCrunch article says social media is changing, and not for the better. It uses a stat saying unhappier and lonelier people spend more time online, especially on social media. In fact, some argue it too much of it can lead to depression, even suicide. They say it is worse now than it was even five years ago. Or you could blame the social media algorithms.
Because these algorithms do their job keeping us on these sites as long as possible. The longer we’re on there, the more advertising. The more ads, the more profits. And the more profits, the more algorithms, because they measure the profits as success. See the cycle here? Also, there are more algorithms in control now than back in 2014.? Then again, that’s true for any IT support. But let’s look deeper. Back in the early-mid 2010s, most people, especially in IT service, would say social media made us happier. But now, we’re seeing it’s just not true.
Some would argue the world was a better place 5-10 years ago. People weren’t as divided then as they are now. I’m not sure. But since 2016, as the division grew, it added to the misery. For instance, I made a vow to fast off Facebook for the Lenten season, taking Sundays off. Sunday, yesterday, I posted something on Facebook wishing New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski a happy retirement. One man was so angry about it he not only questioned my integrity, but my humanity. Golly gee Wally, if we can’t even wish a football player a happy retirement, then we’re all in trouble. Is social media making us worse, instead of better?
So thirty years ago, Sir Tim Berners-Lee gave a plan for a computer information management system. That system eventually became what we know today as the Internet. The IT support era was about to begin. But now, he finds himself in a new battle. Let’s see how this Internet pioneer fights online misinformation.
So Berners-Lee’s new letter of concern talks about three issues of misinformation. The first is malicious intent. This includes hacking, online bullying, sextortion, and promoting criminal behavior like terrorism. Then there is the second concern. Berners-Lee calls this, “…creating perverse incentives.”. This includes companies rewarding third-parties to publish misinformation. But the third is the grayest of them all. This is what he calls, “…unintended negative consequences”. You may not mean to harm someone. But the damage is already done.
But first, let me call to Berners-Lee’s optimist spirit. He says we should never give up on the Internet. However, he makes it clear there is a lot of work to do. He calls on laws to make the first concern tougher for the bad guys to do. For the second and third concerns, he calls for all of us in the IT service industry to consider new designs and patterns. Like most, he’s tired of the social division online and calls for us all to come together. Because all of us, governments, businesses and individuals need to come together to solve these problems.
I agree with Berners…somewhat. Look at his first concern. How many lives do malicious intent destroy? I think too many to count. So yes, I’m with him there. But the second, and especially the third, I don’t know. Because this is what could lead to censorship. What I mean is, if it offends somebody, then they can just take it down. That’s an assault on free speech. Yes, we do need to exercise responsibility and common sense.? But I’m afraid where this could lead. They could call anything that offends anybody, “misinformation”. Censorship is even more dangerous than the bad content itself. So this is how this Internet pioneer fights online misinformation. I agree it’s a big problem. But what do we do about it?