mfioretti: percloud*

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  1. Let’s Encrypt is a free and open certificate authority developed by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG). Certificates issued by Let’s Encrypt are trusted by almost all browsers today.

    In this tutorial, we’ll provide a step by step instructions about how to secure your Nginx with Let’s Encrypt using the certbot tool on CentOS 7.
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  2. In seguito alla pubblicazione del documento stilato di comune accordo tra INE e Facebook, resta fuor di dubbio che l'azienda fondatrice della nota piattaforma social non abbia nessun obbligo formale, e non mostrerebbe neanche l'intenzione di combattere le cosiddette “fake news”, argomento molto discusso negli ultimi giorni.

    Dobbiamo anche ricordare che non lontano dal Messico, in Honduras, il Congresso sta discutendo su una proposta di legge che tenta di frenare la diffusione di notizie false, inerenti anche all'ambito elettorale, con modalità poco trasparenti.
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  3. Who is doing the targeting?

    Albright: It really depends on the platform and the news event. Just the extensiveness of the far right around the election: I can’t talk about that right this second, but I can say that, very recently, what I’ve tended to see from a linking perspective and a network perspective is that the left, and even to some degree center-left news organizations and journalists, are really kind of isolated in their own bubble, whereas the right have very much populated most of the social media resources and use YouTube extensively. This study I did over the weekend shows the depth of the content and how much reach they have. I mean, they’re everywhere; it’s almost ubiquitous. They’re ambient in the media information ecosystem. It’s really interesting from a polarization standpoint as well, because self-identified liberals and self-identified conservatives have different patterns in unfriending people and in not friending people who have the opposite of their ideology.

    From those initial maps of the ad tech and hyperlink ecosystem of the election-related partisan news realm, I dove into every platform. For example, I did a huge study on YouTube last year. It led me to almost 80,000 fake videos that were being auto-scripted and batch-uploaded to YouTube. They were all keyword-stuffed. Very few of them had even a small number of views, so what these really were was about impact — these were a gaming system. My guess is that they were meant to skew autocomplete or search suggestions in YouTube. It couldn’t have been about monetization because the videos had very few views the sheer volume wouldn’t have made sense with YouTube’s business model.

    Someone had set up a script that detected social signals off of Twitter. It would go out and scrape related news articles, pull the text back in, and read it out in a computer voice, a Siri-type voice. It would pull images from Google Images, create a slideshow, package that up and wrap it, upload it to YouTube, hashtag it and load it with keywords. There were so many of these and they were going up so fast that as I was pulling data from the YouTube API dozens more would go up.

    I worked with The Washington Post on a project where I dug into Twitter and got, for the last week leading up to the election, a more or less complete set of Twitter data for a group of hashtags. I found what were arguably the top five most influential bots through that last week, and we found that the top one was not a completely automated account, it was a person.

    The Washington Post’s Craig Timberg » looked around and actually found this person and contacted him and he agreed to an interview at his house. It was just unbelievable. It turns out that this guy was almost 70, almost blind.

    From Timberg’s piece: “Sobieski’s two accounts…tweet more than 1,000 times a day using ‘schedulers’ that work through stacks of his own pre-written posts in repetitive loops. With retweets and other forms of sharing, these posts reach the feeds of millions of other accounts, including those of such conservative luminaries as Fox News’s Sean Hannity, GOP strategist Karl Rove and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), according to researcher Jonathan Albright…’Life isn’t fair,’ Sobieski said with a smile. ‘Twitter in a way is like a meritocracy. You rise to the level of your ability….People who succeed are just the people who work hard.'” »

    The most dangerous accounts, the most influential accounts, are often accounts that are supplemented with human input, and also a human identity that’s very strong and possibly already established before the elections come in.

    I mean, I do hold that it’s not okay to come in and try to influence someone’s election; when I look at these YouTube videos, I think: Someone has to be funding this. In the case of the YouTube research, though, I looked at this more from a systems/politics perspective.

    We have a problem that’s greater than the one-off abuse of technologies to manipulate elections. This thing is parasitic. It’s growing in size. The last week and a half are some of the worst things I’ve ever seen, just in terms of the trending. YouTube is having to manually go in and take these videos out. YouTube’s search suggestions, especially in the context of fact-checking, are completely counter-productive. I think Russia is a side effect of our larger problems.

    Why is it getting worse?

    Albright: There are more people online, they’re spending more time online, there’s more content, people are becoming more polarized, algorithms are getting better, the amount of data that platforms have is increasing over time.

    I think one of the biggest things that’s missing from political science research is that it usually doesn’t consider the amount of time that people spend online. Between the 2012 election and the 2016 election, smartphone use went up by more than 25 percent. Many people spend all of their waking time somehow connected.

    This is where psychology really needs to come in. There’s been very little psychology work done looking at this from an engagement perspective, looking at the effect of seeing things in the News Feed but not clicking out. Very few people actually click out of Facebook. We really need social psychology, we really need humanities work to come in and pick up the really important pieces. What are the effects of someone seeing vile or conspiracy news headlines in their News Feed from their friends all day?

    Owen: This is so depressing.
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  4. Four companies dominate our daily lives unlike any other in human history: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. We love our nifty phones and just-a-click-away services, but these behemoths enjoy unfettered economic domination and hoard riches on a scale not seen since the monopolies of the gilded age. The only logical conclusion? We must bust up big tech.
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  5. When we look at digital technology and platforms, it’s always instructive to remember that they exist to extract data. The longer you are on the platform, the more you produce and the more can be extracted from you. Polarization keys engagement, and engagement/attention are the what keep us on platforms. In the words of Tristan Harris, the former Google Design Ethicist, and one of the earliest SV folks to have the scales fall from his eyes, “What people don’t know about or see about Facebook is that polarization is built into the business model,” Harris told NBC News. “Polarization is profitable.”

    David Golumbia’s description of the scholarly concept of Cyberlibertarianism is useful here (emphasis mine) :

    In perhaps the most pointed form of cyberlibertarianism, computer expertise is seen as directly applicable to social questions. In The Cultural Logic of Computation, I argue that computational practices are intrinsically hierarchical and shaped by identification with power. To the extent that algorithmic forms of reason and social organization can be said to have an inherent politics, these have long been understood as compatible with political formations on the Right rather than the Left.

    So the cui bono of digital polarization are the wealthy, the powerful, the people with so much to gain promoting systems that maintain the status quo, despite the language of freedom, democratization, and community that are featured so prominently when people like Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg or Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey talk about technology. Digital technology in general, and platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter specifically, exist to promote polarization and maintain the existing concentration of power.

    To the extent that Silicon Valley is the seat of the technological power, it’s useful to note that the very ground of what we now call Silicon Valley is built on the foundation of segregating black and white workers. Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law talks about auto workers in 1950’s California:

    So in 1953 the company (Ford) announced it would close its Richmond plant and reestablish operations in a larger facility fifty miles south in Milpitas, a suburb of San Jose, rural at the time. (Milpitas is a part of what we now call Silicon Valley.)

    Because Milpitas had no apartments, and houses in the area were off limits to black workers—though their incomes and economic circumstances were like those of whites on the assembly line—African Americans at Ford had to choose between giving up their good industrial jobs , moving to apartments in a segregated neighborhood of San Jose, or enduring lengthy commutes between North Richmond and Milpitas.
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  6. Notes – the same applies to notes, you will also be able to automagically access them in Evolution or GNOME Bijiben.

    News – the only thing I had to set up separately is a news reader. I use FeedReader which (among other services) supports Nextcloud/ownCloud, too. So I could replace Feedly with it and get a native client as a bonus.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2018-02-07)
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  7. “Facebook has never had on their report card, in my opinion, true social outcomes,” McGinn says. “From a business perspective, Facebook has done phenomenally well. Facebook is a cash cow. But from a social perspective, those metrics could be inversely related. The more Facebook builds profit, the more it’s at the expense of the American people.”
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2018-02-07)
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  8. Before my trip to Scotland, I tell him, I spent whole futile days signing up to some of the decentralised social networks that already exist – Steemit, Diaspora, Mastadon – and trying to approximate the kind of experience I can easily get on, say, Twitter or Facebook. They were largely so underpopulated that there’s been no incentive to go back. Won’t the same thing happen to MaidSafe?
    Tags: by M. Fioretti (2018-02-05)
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  9. The final question is who will pay for all of this. The good news is that we’ll have a choice there too. Bundled package deals such as Facebook and Twitter only offer the ad-based payment option with its infamous consequences. In a decentralized world, we can choose our data and app providers independently, and decide for each how we are willing to pay. The bad news is that this means not everything is going to be “free”, as it seemingly appears now. However, increased competition—on two separate markets—should lead to fair prices. And if we really want free options, we could even imagine paying with our personal data, giving selected parts away in exchange for ads. That’s of course how social media are implicitly supported now, but the main difference will be that we decide which data can be used for advertising purposes and which cannot. This proves once more that, at its core, decentralization starts with us taking back control of our data, as a source for a new generation of innovative Web applications.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2018-02-01)
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  10. I want to spend the bulk of my remaining time on another global problem: the rise and monopolistic behavior of the giant IT platform companies. These companies have often played an innovative and liberating role. But as Facebook and Google have grown into ever more powerful monopolies, they have become obstacles to innovation, and they have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware.

    Companies earn their profits by exploiting their environment. Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment. This is particularly nefarious because social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections.

    The distinguishing feature of internet platform companies is that they are networks and they enjoy rising marginal returns; that accounts for their phenomenal growth. The network effect is truly unprecedented and transformative, but it is also unsustainable. It took Facebook eight and a half years to reach a billion users and half that time to reach the second billion. At this rate, Facebook will run out of people to convert in less than 3 years.
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