The Flourishing Business of Fake YouTube Views - The New York Times
Still, the challenges are significant. At one point in 2013, YouTube had as much traffic from bots masquerading as people as it did from real human visitors, according to the company. Some employees feared this would cause the fraud detection system to flip, classifying fake traffic as real and vice versa — a prospect engineers called “the Inversion.”
America’s Global Human Rights Policy: The Corporate Lobby Emilie M. Hafner-Burton and Heidi M. McNamara University of California, San Diego
Abstract: Interest groups take an active stance on America’s human rights policy, with implications
for countries around the wrld. Today, publicly traded companies are responsible for the majority of
all lobbying dollars spent on the issue. This article leverages a unique dataset on congressional
lobbying from 2007-2010 to map and explain variation in corporate lobbying on America’s human
rights-related legislation. We substantiate and explain why large oil, defense, and technology
companies have greater representation in terms of dollars spent trying to influence America’s
approach to managing human rights around the globe than any other lobbying group. Rarely do
these companies publically explain their interests or intentions when lobbying a policy. Moreover,
Congressional efforts to link human rights to other areas of legislation (such as trade) has
incentivized certain firms—some likely without any direct interests in human rights—to weigh in to
the human rights policymaking process. Whether this is good or bad news for the promotion of
human rights around the world is an open—and pressing—question
2 days ago
Moravcsik - Is there a ‘Democratic Deficit’ in World Politics? A Framework for Analysis
The most common distortion is the
capture of government policy by narrow but powerful interest groups
opposed to the interests of majorities with diffuse, longer-term, less
self-conscious concerns. Consider free trade: even Adam Smith and
Richard Cobden realized that the broadly liberal interests of diffuse
consumers and firms would often be trumped by pressure from concentrated
groups of protectionist producers. Many of the same Europeans
who criticize the democratic deficit also call for the US to
retain ‘fast track’ authority to pass trade liberalization – nothing less
than empowering the US executive to act with minimal legislative
constraints. In this and other areas, the WTO and NAFTA might be
thought of as institutional complements to ‘fast track’ – and, in the
case of the EU, perhaps a substitute for it – in that they empower
national executives to override powerful particularistic interests in
the name of the national (or median) interest
10 days ago
How to Beat Science and Influence People: Policy Makers and Propaganda in Epistemic Networks
In their recent book Merchants of Doubt [New York:Bloomsbury 2010], Naomi Oreskes and
Erik Conway describe the “tobacco strategy”, which was used by the tobacco industry to
influence policy makers regarding the health risks of tobacco products. The strategy involved
two parts, consisting of (1) promoting and sharing independent research supporting the
industry’s preferred position and (2) funding additional research, but selectively publishing
the results. We introduce a model of the Tobacco Strategy, and use it to argue that both
prongs of the strategy can be extremely effective—even when policy makers rationally update
on all evidence available to them. As we elaborate, this model helps illustrate the conditions
under which the Tobacco Strategy is particularly successful. In addition, we show how
journalists engaged in ‘fair’ reporting can inadvertently mimic the effects of industry on
public belief
cognitive_democracy  collective_cognition  science 
10 days ago
Keohane article on legitimacy of IOs
Furthermore, in many countries, including the United States, the WTO
enhances democracy, since its rules limit the ability of special interests to
gain advantages at the expense of the public as a whole. Effective democratic
governance requires devices to make it difficult for lobbyists seeking
special advantage to siphon off economic rents; the WTO is one of the most
effective such devices in existence, since its rules cannot be changed unilaterally
by any single state. Hence it can properly be seen in many countries,
including the United States, as a democracy-enhancing institution (Keohane,
Macedo and Moravcsik, 2007).
11 days ago
China's Strategic Censorship - Lorentzen - 2014 - American Journal of Political Science - Wiley Online Library
While it is often assumed that authoritarian regimes inevitably fear and restrict media independence, permitting watchdogjournalism can actually help such regimes maintain power by improving governance. Yet such a strategy risks facilitating acoordinated uprising if discontent is revealed to be widespread. A formal model shows that under some conditions, a regimeoptimally permits investigative reporting on lower-level officialdom, adjusting how much reporting is allowed dependingon the level of underlying social tensions. This strategy yields many of the benefits of free media without risking overthrow.An extension shows why an increase in uncontrollable information, such as from the Internet, may result in a reduction inmedia freedom. The model sheds light on important aspects of China’s media policy and its evolution and on authoritarianmedia control more broadly.
11 days ago
Remarks of Secretary Lew on the Evolution of Sanctions and Lessons for the Future at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
It is important to make sure these tools remain available and effective. And there is a risk that overuse could ultimately reduce our capability to use sanctions effectively. While sanctions are a valuable alternative to more severe measures, including the lawful use of force, it is a mistake to think that they are low-cost. And if they make the business environment too complicated—or unpredictable, or if they excessively interfere with the flow of funds worldwide, financial transactions may begin to move outside of the United States entirely—which could threaten the central role of the U.S. financial system globally, not to mention the effectiveness of our sanctions in the future. ...

Secondary sanctions prompt particular concerns. Unlike primary sanctions, which focus on activities of U.S. individuals and companies, secondary sanctions generally are directed towards foreign persons. These measures threaten to cut off foreign individuals or companies from the U.S. financial system if they engage in certain conduct with a sanctioned entity, even if none of that activity touches the United States directly. As a result, they are viewed, even by some of our closest allies as extra-territorial attempts to apply U.S. foreign policy to the rest of the world.

The risk that sanctions overreach will ultimately drive business activity from the U.S. financial system could become more acute if alternatives to the United States as a center of financial activity, and to the U.S. dollar as the world's preeminent reserve currency, assume a larger role in the global financial system. Global norms are hard to reshape, existing alternatives are not well positioned to fully fill the role of U.S. markets and the U.S. dollar, and there are many factors that will continue to make the United States the most attractive financial system in the world. But our central role must not be taken for granted. If foreign jurisdictions and companies feel that we will deploy sanctions without sufficient justification or for inappropriate reasons—secondary sanctions in particular—we should not be surprised if they look for ways to avoid doing business in the United States or in U.S. dollars. And the more we condition use of the dollar and our financial system on adherence to U.S. foreign policy, the more the risk of migration to other currencies and other financial systems in the medium-term grows. Such outcomes would not be in the best interests of the United States for a host of reasons, and we should be careful to avoid them.
11 days ago
How Trump Should Renew Oil Sanctions on Iran
China, unlike Europe, is also well prepared to resist threats of sanctions against its companies. A number of China’s smaller “teapot” refiners have essentially no business exposure to the United States and could keep importing Iranian oil even if Washington sanctioned them. China also has a number of domestic banks that could process payments for Iranian oil even if sanctioned. (Large Chinese oil companies, on the other hand, do have exposure to the United States and will likely seek to avoid running afoul of U.S. sanctions.) Indeed, Beijing has experience with this model. In 2012, Washington sanctioned China’s Bank of Kunlun for transacting with Iran despite U.S. sanctions. China responded by beginning to route billions of dollars of Iranian oil transactions through the Bank of Kunlun, which had little commercial exposure to the United States. This also meant that other, larger Chinese banks—banks that had significant U.S. exposure—could avoid Iran-related transactions.
12 days ago
Why Facebook’s Thinning Profit Margins Are a Secret Asset | WIRED
As part of my unenviable duty in ad review, I presented the team’s results to Sheryl Sandberg each quarter. The key slide was the one that showed an increasing number of successfully reviewed ads with a flat employee headcount.
15 days ago
Philip Hammond warns over French effort to stifle City with red tape | Financial Times
“It is important that the UK is able to display in parallel, a strategy to grow non-European financial services business, such that the threat to pull out of EU arrangements is seen to be real,” Mr Hammond is reported to have said.
15 days ago
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