This Country's Leader Shut Down Democracy – With A Little Help From Facebook
Hun Sen’s party still won the election, though there were allegations of voting irregularities and fraud afterward, leading to tens of thousands of Cambodians protesting in the streets. But the prime minister learned an important lesson — that Facebook has a way of getting out your message that would be foolish to ignore.
Anatomy of an online misinformation network
Massive amounts of fake news and conspiratorial content have spread
over social media before and after the 2016 US Presidential Elections despite
intense fact-checking efforts. How do the spread of misinformation
and fact-checking compete? What are the structural and dynamic characteristics
of the core of the misinformation diffusion network, and who are
its main purveyors? How to reduce the overall amount of misinformation?
To explore these questions we built Hoaxy, an open platform that enables
large-scale, systematic studies of how misinformation and fact-checking
spread and compete on Twitter. Hoaxy filters public tweets that include
links to unverified claims or fact-checking articles. We perform
decomposition on a diffusion network obtained from two million retweets
produced by several hundred thousand accounts over the six months before
the election. As we move from the periphery to the core of the network,
fact-checking nearly disappears, while social bots proliferate. The
number of users in the main core reaches equilibrium around the time of
the election, with limited churn and increasingly dense connections. We
conclude by quantifying how effectively the network can be disrupted by
penalizing the most central nodes. These findings provide a first look at
the anatomy of a massive online misinformation diffusion network.
PDKL-Ninety-five  cybersecurity_class 
Examining Trolls and Polarization with a Retweet Network
This research examines the relationship between political homophily
and organized trolling efforts. This is accomplished by analyzing
how Russian troll accounts were retweeted on Twitter in the context
of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. This analysis shows that
these conversations were divided along political lines, and that
the examined trolling accounts systematically took advantage of
these divisions. The findings of this research can help us better
understand how to combat systematic trolling.
After Carillion we have the chance to build a better country | Jonathan Freedland | Opinion | The Guardian
p suits and high gloss of the business world.

That myth has been torn apart in recent years, first by the crash of 2008 when the bankers, the supposed masters of the universe, were exposed as mortal, if not useless and greedy. The proof has kept on coming: witness the army being drafted in to provide security at the London Olympics after the corporate provider, G4S, confessed they couldn’t cope.

The public mood on this question has shifted over the course of a generation. Once British Rail – its delays, the state of its sandwiches – was the butt of countless sitcom gags. Today, it’s the likes of Southern Rail that are despised, while more travellers would prefer the east coast mainline to be run by the government than by Virgin. Polls on the renationalisation of the railways, the Royal Mail, water and energy, confirm that if a job really needs doing, these days we’d rather the government did it.
2 days ago
The Least Important #Resistance Figures of 2017
Louise Mensch
Mensch is another in the long line of ignominious grifters who cross the pond once every back home in the U.K. realizes what a fraud they are.

At the beginning of the year, Mensch was not entirely a figure of ridicule; in March, she had an op-ed in the New York Times. (JESUS CHRIST THAT HAPPENED.) Since then, she has lost most, if not all, of her credibility, though not before she gifted us all “marshal of the Supreme Court” jokes. I honestly find myself missing Louise a bit these days. Maybe I’m not following the right people, but I feel like, as with Eric Garland, people aren’t even taking the piss out of her anymore? Perhaps it’s because jumped the shark when she said Trump and Bannon may be facing the death penalty for their crimes against America, and at that point, even the most die-hard Menschie would have to take a step back. Right? Right?

Seth Abramson
2 days ago
In Defense of Economic Populism by Dani Rodrik - Project Syndicate
The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.
This is a dangerous approach to politics, because it allows a majority to ride roughshod over the rights of minorities. Without separation of powers, an independent judiciary, or free media – which all populist autocrats, from Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Viktor Orbán and Donald Trump detest – democracy degenerates into the tyranny of whoever happens to be in power.

Periodic elections under populist rule become a smokescreen. In the absence of the rule of law and basic civil liberties, populist regimes can prolong their rule by manipulating the media and the judiciary at will.

Populists’ aversion to institutional restraints extends to the economy, where exercising full control “in the people’s interest” implies that no obstacles should be placed in their way by autonomous regulatory agencies, independent central banks, or global trade rules. But while populism in the political domain is almost always harmful, economic populism can sometimes be justified.

Start with why restraints on economic policy may be desirable in the first place. Economists tend to have a soft spot for such restraints, because policymaking that is fully responsive to the push and pull of domestic politics can generate highly inefficient outcomes. In particular, economic policy is often subject to the problem of what economists call time-inconsistency: short-term interests frequently undermine the pursuit of policies that are far more desirable in the long term.

A canonical example is discretionary monetary policy. Politicians who have the power to print money at will may generate “surprise inflation” to boost output and employment in the short run – say, before an election. But this backfires, because firms and households adjust their inflation expectations. In the end, discretionary monetary policy results only in higher inflation without yielding any output or employment gains. The solution is an independent central bank, insulated from politics, operating solely on its mandate to maintain price stability.

Jan 6, 2018 ELIZABETH DREW sees in the feud between Donald Trump and his former chief strategist an ideal political distraction.

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The costs of macroeconomic populism are familiar from Latin America. As Jeffrey D. Sachs, Sebastián Edwards, and Rüdiger Dornbusch argued years ago, unsustainable monetary
global_governance  globalization 
6 days ago
The spreading of misinformation online
The wide availability of user-provided content in online social media facilitates the aggregation of people around common interests, worldviews, and narratives. However, the World Wide Web is a fruitful environment for the massive diffusion of unverified rumors. In this work, using a massive quantitative analysis of Facebook, we show that information related to distinct narratives––conspiracy theories and scientific news––generates homogeneous and polarized communities (i.e., echo chambers) having similar information consumption patterns. Then, we derive a data-driven percolation model of rumor spreading that demonstrates that homogeneity and polarization are the main determinants for predicting cascades’ size.
18 days ago
The study analyzed relevant stories published or aired in the two-year period of January 1, 2015 -
December 31, 2016. Specifically, it investigated the extent to which national and local news and opinion
media outlets present distorted representations of Black families and engage in inaccurate and racially
biased coverage, both in word and image. The study involved a systematic content analysis of a recent
two-year sample of cable and network news shows, national and local newspaper articles, and online
opinion site content. The findings of the study indicate that news and opinion media do, in fact, perpetuate
inaccurate representations of Black families across several different areas of coverage. Overall, the findings
show that news and opinion media outlets routinely and inaccurately portray Black families as sources of
social instability in society and portray white families as sources of social stability in society, irrespective of
facts to the contrary.
Several more specific key findings support the overall finding. First, news and opinion media
overwhelmingly portray families living in poverty as being Black families rather than White families,
contrary to fact. Second, news and opinion media exaggerate the proportion of families receiving welfare
who are Black while also wrongly attributing the use of (and need for) government programs to laziness,
dependency or dysfunction, contrary to fact. Third, news and opinion media incorrectly depict Black
fathers as uninvolved or not present in the lives of their children, inaccurately suggesting that Black
fathers abandon their children and that Black mothers make bad decisions about family structures and/or
relationships. Fourth, news and opinion media significantly overrepresent the association between Black
families and criminality while significantly underrepresenting White families’ association with criminality,
distorting the overall picture of crime and those who commit crime
22 days ago
News media literacy and conspiracy theory endorsementCommunication and the Public - Stephanie Craft, Seth Ashley, Adam Maksl, 2017
Conspiracy theories flourish in the wide-open media of the digital age, spurring concerns about the role of misinformation in influencing public opinion and election outcomes. This study examines whether news media literacy predicts the likelihood of endorsing conspiracy theories and also considers the impact of literacy on partisanship. A survey of 397 adults found that greater knowledge about the news media predicted a lower likelihood of conspiracy theory endorsement, even for conspiracy theories that aligned with their political ideology.
23 days ago
Who Falls for Fake News? The Roles of Analytic Thinking, Motivated Reasoning, Political Ideology, and Bullshit Receptivity by Gordon Pennycook, David Rand :: SSRN
Fake news represents a particularly egregious and direct avenue by which inaccurate beliefs have been propagated via social media. Here we investigate the cognitive psychological profile of individuals who fall prey to fake news. We find a consistent positive correlation between the propensity to think analytically – as measured by the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) – and the ability to differentiate fake news from real news (“media truth discernment”). This was true regardless of whether the article’s source was indicated (which, surprisingly, also had no main effect on accuracy judgments). Contrary to the motivated reasoning account, CRT was just as positively correlated with media truth discernment, if not more so, for headlines that aligned with individuals’ political ideology relative to those that were politically discordant. The link between analytic thinking and media truth discernment was driven both by a negative correlation between CRT and perceptions of fake news accuracy (particularly among Hillary Clinton supporters), and a positive correlation between CRT and perceptions of real news accuracy (particularly among Donald Trump supporters). This suggests that factors that undermine the legitimacy of traditional news media may exacerbate the problem of inaccurate political beliefs among Trump supporters, who engaged in less analytic thinking and were overall less able to discern fake from real news (regardless of the news’ political valence). We also found consistent evidence that pseudo-profound bullshit receptivity negatively correlates with perceptions of fake news accuracy; a correlation that is mediated by analytic thinking. Finally, analytic thinking was associated with an unwillingness to share both fake and real news on social media. Our results indicate that the propensity to think analytically plays an important role in the recognition of misinformation, regardless of political valence – a finding that opens up potential avenues for fighting fake news.
fake_news  PDKL-Ninety-five 
23 days ago
Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information by Sam Wineburg, Sarah McGrew :: SSRN
The Internet has democratized access to information but in so doing has opened the floodgates to misinformation, fake news, and rank propaganda masquerading as dispassionate analysis. To investigate how people determine the credibility of digital information, we sampled 45 individuals: 10 Ph.D. historians, 10 professional fact checkers, and 25 Stanford University undergraduates. We observed them as they evaluated live websites and searched for information on social and political issues. Historians and students often fell victim to easily manipulated features of websites, such as official-looking logos and domain names. They read vertically, staying within a website to evaluate its reliability. In contrast, fact checkers read laterally, leaving a site after a quick scan and opening up new browser tabs in order to judge the credibility of the original site. Compared to the other groups, fact checkers arrived at more warranted conclusions in a fraction of the time. We contrast insights gleaned from the fact checkers’ practices with common approaches to teaching web credibility.
23 days ago
Many Comments Critical of ‘Fiduciary’ Rule Are Fake - WSJ
Many Comments Critical of ‘Fiduciary’ Rule Are Fake
Wall Street Journal analysis shows 40% of respondents didn’t write the posts that were attributed to them
The U.S. Department of Labor building
By James V. Grimaldi and Paul Overberg
Dec. 27, 2017 5:30 a.m. ET
A significant number of fake comments appear among thousands criticizing a proposed federal rule meant to prevent conflicts of interest in retirement advice, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

At issue is the Labor Department’s “fiduciary rule,” which would require investment advisers handling retirement accounts to act in the best interest of clients. Written during the Obama administration, the proposed rule won’t be fully implemented until July 2019, and the Labor Department is still gathering feedback about it on its website.

Many of the comments weren’t written by the people they were attributed to, the Journal analysis found.

Consider the experience of Robert Schubert, a Devon, Pa., salesperson. A comment posted in his name on the Labor Department website opposed the rule, saying: “I do not need, do not want and object to any federal interference in my retirement planning.”

In an interview, Mr. Schubert said the comment was a fraud. He didn’t post it and doesn’t agree with it. “I am disgusted that people can post comments using my name,” Mr. Schubert said.

Mr. Schubert is among 50 people who responded to a survey last week conducted by research firm Mercury Analytics for The Journal—40%, or 20 of whom said they didn’t post the comment listed under their name, address, phone number and email.

Asked about the Journal findings, a Labor Department spokesman said the agency removes fraudulent comments brought to the agency’s attention. Submitting fraudulent statements or representations to the federal government is a felony.

The Labor Department is the fifth agency identified by The Journal to have posted unauthorized comments on its website. Most federal agencies make it difficult to independently check the authenticity of public comments; only a few publish email addresses along with the comments.

The Journal previously found fraudulent postings under names and email addresses at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. The Journal’s findings were cited by calls from Congress to delay the repeal of the FCC’s net-neutrality rule.

Thousands of Fake Comments on Net Neutrality: A WSJ Investigation
On federal government web sites, public comments can influence the outcome of regulations affecting millions of people. A WSJ investigation has identified and analyzed thousands of fraudulent posts on issues such as FCC net neutrality rules and payday lending. Video/illustration: Heather Seidel/WSJ.
The fiduciary rule has been fiercely opposed by brokerage firms, insurance companies and mutual fund providers that worry it will make it difficult to sell lucrative financial products that come with high fees. They also are concerned it will add costs through new disclosure requirements and procedures, which in turn will discourage some companies and financial advisers from serving investors with small nest eggs.

The Trump administration’s Labor Department is delaying implementation of most of the rule from Jan. 1 to July 1, 2019 while it reviews the economic impact.

It is unclear who is posting the fraudulent comments. The rule so far has been a boon to the brokerage industry because firms have been pushing customers toward accounts that charge an annual fee on their assets—rather than commissions that can violate the rule. These fee-based accounts typically are more lucrative for the industry.

The Journal survey was sent to 345 people among more than 3,100 comments. The surveys were sent to those identified by The Journal as those who appeared to be unaffiliated with industry or consumer groups or firms. Most of the 345 comments were critical of the fiduciary rule.

Under the Administrative Procedure Act, agencies must take comments under consideration but needn’t pay heed to them. The impact often comes afterward, when the regulated parties appeal to the next administration, the courts or Congress, which can alter a rule or slow its implementation. Failure to consider comments has become a factor in litigation, with judges sometimes forcing an agency to address comments it ignored.

Mercury said the results of the survey indicate “that the practice of submitting comments without the approval of the individuals identified occurs with frequency.”

Some of those surveyed said they liked the comments attributed to them, even though they hadn’t filed them.

A comment attributed to Gina Nakagawa of Winterville, Ga., said: “My husband and I have worked very diligently since an early age.”

In an interview Mrs. Nakagawa, a retired schoolteacher and insurance sales agent, said: “It is not factual…I wish I had said it. But I can’t claim that I wrote it.”

Ralph Litten of Liberty, Mo., is no fan of government regulations. But he says in an interview the comment attributed to him was false and he was unhappy it included his personal information.

“The Federal Government under the Constitution has no authority to define or regulate in any manner how or when I make use of my retirement accounts,” states the comment attributed to Mr. Litten.

In the interview, Mr. Litten said: “The older I get the less and less I trust our federal government, particularly today. It is a quagmire.”
25 days ago
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