View profile

Big Revolution - Trollspotting

Hello, and apologies that today's edition is a little late. I wrote out the 'Big Thought' section...
July 4 · Issue #129 · View online
Big Revolution
Hello, and apologies that today’s edition is a little late. I wrote out the ‘Big Thought’ section… and then accidentally deleted it. 'Never write straight into the CMS,’ is a rule I’ll never learn to obey.
– Martin

Big things you need to know today
- American academics have found no evidence that smartphone apps secretly record people’s conversations to target advertising to them. Their year-long study did uncover screen recording software being misused to record video of users using apps without their permission though.
- The Indian government wants WhatsApp to take action to prevent the spread of misinformation. Lies spread via the app have led to lynchings and beatings across India in recent months.
- Amazon is opening a second checkout-free store. Like the first, it’s in the company’s home city of Seattle. It’s a sign that Amazon doesn’t view the Go concept as a mere experiment.
- The Italian version of Wikipedia yesterday replaced all its articles with a protest against the controversial EU copyright proposals. In a recent edition of Big Revolution, I asked where the high profile protests against the proposals were. Here’s one answer.
The big thought
Reverse image search in Chrome, a handy tool for spotting fakers.
I have a problem with Twitter rabbit holes. I spot a controversial tweet, and then spend half an hour or more wading through the trolls in the replies, trying to find out which ones are real and which are fake. 
It’s a thankless task I do just to satisfy my own curiosity: is this person really that horrible, or are they just a sockpuppet designed to make it look like people can be that horrible?
That’s how this morning I found myself exploring a subculture I’ll call ‘pro-Brexit football hooligan Twitter.’ Someone had left a rather rude pro-Brext reply to a tweet, and I clicked through to see who he was. I discovered a network of accounts all very similar – they all talk almost exclusively about liking Brexit, beating up foreigners, and drinking Carling lager. And nearly all of them had appalling spelling.
Surely these were fake, I thought. Surely they were set up to show the 'metropolitan elite’ just how many down-to-earth. but also kind of scary, people wanted the UK to leave the EU at all costs?
Some of them certainly seemed to be fake – they used photos to illustrate their lives that showed up in Google image searches to be from somewhere else. But the more I read, the more I became convinced that many of these accounts are real, and I’d simply discovered part of Twitter I’d never seen before.
We’ve read a lot in recent years about 'bot farms’ set up to manipulate public opinion. One goal of these farms is increasing division in society – pitting tribe against tribe as we struggle to tell what’s real and fake.
But a side effect of knowing about these bots, is assuming that people who live in a totally different bubble to you must be fake, just because you don’t understand them or agree with them.
Those bot farms are the winners here, even if they weren’t involved. And I’m sure they’d love the fact they reduced UK productivity by a fraction of a percent today, too, through all the time I wasted. I really should get back to work…
One big read
Self-driving cars are headed toward an AI roadblock Self-driving cars are headed toward an AI roadblock
What if fully autonomous vehicles are much further away than the decade many car companies predict? “There’s growing concern among AI experts that it may be years, if not decades, before self-driving systems can reliably avoid accidents.”
One big tweet
In a few short years we’ll all be doing it…
Ari Levy
I don’t want jobs to go away

But after going to an Amazon Go store it does make waiting in long supermarket lines feel completely absurd
3:51 AM - 4 Jul 2018
That’s all for today...
Don’t forget, if you’d like to support Big Revolution, you can choose to become a member for $5 per month. It’s like buying me a coffee every month for sending you these packed emails each day.
Just hit the ‘become a member’ button below. Thank you!
Did you enjoy this issue?
Become a member for $5 per month
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Martin SFP Bryant
You can manage your subscription here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here
Powered by Revue