Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryCensorship

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blue bird on brown tree branch

Elon Musk Throws a Bomb at Media No One Should Trust

Musk’s release of the “Twitter files” on the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story has provoked media outrage and attempts to deflect the issues

By now, you’ve probably heard that Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, gave journalist Matt Taibbi inside information about Twitter’s suppression of an explosive story about Hunter Biden weeks before the 2020 election. But here’s some background that may shed some light — especially on how legacy media have changed and how social media really work. First, a summary of the basic story from legal scholar Jonathan Turley: Weeks before the 2020 presidential election, the New York Post ran an explosive story about a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden that contained emails and records detailing a multimillion dollar influence peddling operation by the Biden family. Not only was Joe Biden’s son Hunter and brother James involved in deals with an array Read More ›

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Twitter, man, business.

Quick Update on the Musk n’ Twitter Show

Although Twitter has not “gone dark,” as many tech media types fondly hoped, the White House may be thinking of getting involved

Tech media types have done their best to chase major advertisers off Twitter since Elon Musk bought it earlier this year. But it has grown nonetheless, at least in the United States, in terms of downloads: “Data from two independent research firms, Apptopia and Sensor Tower, indicate that downloads and activity on Twitter are on the upswing in the weeks since Musk bought it and in comparison to last year, appearing to confirm Musk’s recent boasting that he has reinvigorated the social media app. ” (NBC News, November 30, 2022) The big issue, of course, is Musk’s commitment to free speech for people other than the Twitterati. The US government has hinted a few times that it might get involved, Read More ›

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Mouse Cursor Clicking CAPTCHA

CAPTCHA: How Fooling Machines Is Different From Fooling Humans

Automated censorship is intended to protect against a tidal wave of spam but it could certainly have other uses…

Readers of Mind Matters News have likely heard of the iconic Turing test. Computer pioneer Alan Turing famously invented a test to determine whether a program could pass as a human. The gist is, if a program can fool human testers into believing it is a human, then the program is intelligent. Not everyone is convinced. Thing is, it doesn’t take much to fool us humans! Take Eliza , a program of only a few hundred lines, written in the 60s, which fooled many people into believing it was a real human therapist. But what if we flip the Turing test on its head? Instead of a test where a program tries to pass as human, we use a test Read More ›

Apple iPhone 8 with Twitter Logotype on a Screen

Why Do Twitter Jobs Matter More Than Data Privacy?

The Musk ‘n Twitter show won’t leave town any time soon and it obscures a much bigger, deeper issue

Elon Musk sure knows how to create a drama. First, a brief update because you probably had better things to do this weekend: Doom I! “1,200 Twitter Employees Resign, Company Closes All Offices” (Rolling Stone, November 18, 2022) Get this: “Twitter offices have been closed down and employees are resigning in droves, leading to growing fears that the service could shut down at any time.” (ScreenRant, November 18, 2022) “While it’s unlikely that Twitter will shut down entirely, departing employees are warning of service outages, glitches and safety risks. (NPR November 18, 2022) Worth noting: Musk has reinstated satire site Babylon Bee and Project Veritas, and, after conducting a poll, has also reinstated former U.S. president Donald Trump (who currently Read More ›

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Big ideas. Illuminated light bulb among the rest of the unlit bulbs.

Stanford Academic Freedom Event Angers Who You Might Expect

Whether any further such events will be encouraged is another question…

Remember that academic freedom conference at Stanford (November 4–5) where we were asked to consider that the purpose the conference was that “racism is given shelter and immunity”? So what really happened? The account at Inside Higher Education oozes hostility. But from one of its less hostile moments, we learn: During a panel on academic freedom in STEM, Mimi St Johns, a Stanford undergraduate student of computer science, said that students face pressure from peers not to study such fields as petroleum engineering or to pursue jobs in government, even though both of these paths could lead to work on some of the world’s most urgent problems. John Ioannidis, professor of medicine at Stanford, said that this elderly mother was Read More ›

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intellectual property. light bulb with chain

How’s the University of Austin Coming? It’s Actually Happening

The “intellectual freedom” university continues to take shape in a world of “death to free speech”

A very cautious article at Chronicle of Higher Education about the University of Austin fills in the rest of us. U Austin has come a long way since it was mocked at The New Republic as allegedly seeking to be “higher education’s premier institution of monetizing moral panics.” A couple of observations from senior Chronicle writer Tom Bartlett: The pioneer faculty have the money to get started: Chatter aside, the University of Austin is starting to take shape in the year since its raucous rollout. Curriculum is being developed. The accreditation process is underway. A deal for land in the greater Austin area is being hammered out. The university has lured several professors away from other universities and plans to Read More ›

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The electric chair apparatus in a Death row reenactment.

Students: Free Speech Should Sometimes Result in Death Penalty

An open mind is apparently no longer valued at universities, the way it used to be

People who are used to thinking of college campuses as places where students go to learn about new ideas and the advantages of keeping an open mind might be interested in this recent survey conducted by McLaughlin and Associates: Calls for diversity on campuses and in Main Street businesses and banning hate speech, even that protected by the 1st Amendment, are no longer issues to fight over for American college kids. Now it’s a reason for the electric chair. And when it comes to speech, nearly half believe the death penalty is OK to shoot down hate speech. While the results might please left-leaning college professors, it is stirring concerns on the right who already feel that the left is Read More ›

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Fearful young woman with aluminum hat browsing social media. Conspiracy theory about 5g network destroying brain. High quality photo

How Fact-Checking Can Hide Needed Information From the Public

What role did fact-checking play in the suppression of inconvenient but essential facts about the origin of COVID-19?

Earlier this week, we looked at the recent news that Facebook has a special portal for government to look in and report “disinformation,” — as if government, in a highly charged political atmosphere, were some kind of neutral third party. The assignment of some sort of neutrality to power sources or experts who may not be neutral or have any reason to be is one of the characteristics of fact-checking, as it has developed over the last decade in mainstream and social media. Why was the Wuhan lab leak theory supposed to be a conspiracy? In that context, let’s look at the claim that COVID-19 originated in an accident at a high-level virus lab in the upcountry Chinese city of Read More ›

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A businessman appoints a leader to the head of the team. Creation of an effective teams of specialists for the implementation of a new project. HR recruiting. Management appointment. nepotism

Musk’s Twitter Takeover Sparks Crazy Talk From Mainstream Media

Has entrepreneur Musk sensed a transition in the offing? Ramped-up social media may soon replace the former mainstream media altogether

Now that Elon Musk has taken over Twitter, he isn’t short of verbal assailants, concern trolls, and volunteer freelance advisors. Brendan O’Neill offers an interesting collection at Spiked Online, including: From EuroNews Next, “Will Elon Musk’s Twitter become a beacon of free speech or a soap box for hate speech?” A Washington Post columnist: “I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter” and, inimitably, from back in April: Today on Twitter feels like the last evening in a Berlin nightclub at the twilight of Weimar Germany. — Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) April 14, 2022 Wow. O’Neill comments: The most striking thing about Musk and Twitter is the demented reaction to it. Musk himself is Read More ›

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Action of safety officer is writing on safety checklist document during safety audit and inspection, with factory workshop as blurred background. Industrial expertise occupation photo. Selective focus

Fact Checking as the New Censorship — Surer Than the Old Type

Apparently, Facebook has created a special portal for government to report “disinformation”

Did you know that the Disinformation Governance Board, supposedly shut down, never really died? It continues in more covert forms. From an article published today at The Intercept: Years of internal DHS memos, emails, and documents — obtained via leaks and an ongoing lawsuit, as well as public documents — illustrate an expansive effort by the agency to influence tech platforms… “Platforms have got to get comfortable with gov’t. It’s really interesting how hesitant they remain,” Microsoft executive Matt Masterson, a former DHS official, texted Jen Easterly, a DHS director, in February. Ken Klippenstein, Lee Fang, “Truth Cops” at The Intercept (October 31, 2022) We also learn that “Facebook created a special portal for DHS and government partners to report Read More ›

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réseaux sociaux

With Elon Musk as “Chief Twit,” a flurry of changes is expected

Musk hopes for a “common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence”

Well, Musk, carrying a kitchen sink, has assumed control of Twitter (it became official Thursday night): Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in! pic.twitter.com/D68z4K2wq7 — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2022 According to some, the world is tumbling over a cliff… Paul du Quenoy, president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute was in a position to be at Twitter HQ at the time: Sullen employees entering the building during our visit had nothing to share. None made eye contact as they plodded by. Those who presented as female performed determined “take back the night” walks, delicately balancing cold avoidance with an unconvincing pretense of fearlessness. Musk seems to be following a methodical course as he reshapes social media, but Read More ›

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Portrait of happy black woman working in bookstore and looking at camera.

Publishing: The Cancel Mob Targets Amy Coney Barrett’s New Book

Does the future of publishing — as an intellectual enterprise — now belong to smaller, less well-known publishers?

Last year, Mind Matters News covered the new phenomenon of publishing house staff going to war against the publisher’s own books. It’s a far cry from the days when publishers might have to defend their books in a courtroom. Last year the target was, among other authors, best-selling psychologist Jordan Peterson. We were informed by Maclean’s Magazine that “Employees at Penguin Random House Canada speak out on how they’re rethinking their workplaces and why publishing, writ large, should weigh its moral responsibilities” in connection with Peterson’s latest, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life (Penguin 2021). The book did get published, despite them, to five star reviews. But Cancel Culture staff continue to lead the charge for “depublishing” and have Read More ›

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Excalibur in graduation hat on stone at sunset day. Congratulate the graduates or education congratulation or academic freedom concept. 3D illustration

Stanford’s Academic Freedom Conference Slammed by Academics

Opponents are angered by the fact that, although the conference will be live-streamed, it is by invitation only and no media are allowed

Stanford Business School’s academic freedom conference, starting next week and headlined by tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, is coming under fire. The organizers argue, Faculty organizers of the conference, from Stanford and several other institutions, promote it as follows: “Academic freedom, open inquiry, and freedom of speech are under threat as they have not been for decades. Visibly, academics are ‘canceled,’ fired, or subject to lengthy disciplinary proceedings in response to academic writing or public engagement. Less visibly, funding agencies, university bureaucracies, hiring procedures, promotion committees, professional organizations, and journals censor some kinds of research or demand adherence to political causes. Many parts of universities have become politicized or have turned into ideological monocultures, excluding people, ideas, or kinds of work Read More ›

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Giant surveillance camera spies a man. No secrets, no privacy concept. 3D rendering

Protest in China: “Don’t Want” and “Old Hen” Take On New Meaning

When former President Hu Jintao was escorted out of the Party Congress a couple of days ago, all reference to the matter disappeared from the official web

Recently, we have been following the creative protest methods used in China, in the wake of the Chinese Communist party’s five-year meeting that confirmed Xi Jinping for an unusual third term, while the former president Hu Jintao was escorted out by security. A much harder line on many things, including foreign affairs, is expected to follow. Because China is a very high-tech surveillance state, it is difficult for citizens to use usual online communication methods to discuss, register dissatisfaction with, or express worry over government decisions. The unconventional methods adopted are worth noting. Free Asia Radio reports that two young women were walking down a street in Shanghai, holding a white banner that read “Don’t want, want — Don’t want, Read More ›

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Control of Social Media: Changes in the Lineup

Not just Elon Musk but Ye West, Peter Thiel, and J.D. Vance have their hats in the ring

The social media field is seeing a wave of insurgents — not because it is profitable (it largely isn’t, just now) but perhaps because control is important for other purposes. Of course, whether we want to or not, we must begin with Musk and Twitter. Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk must now acquire Twitter by October 28 or the whole thing goes back to trial in a Delaware court, where the judiciary will likely be peeved with him over antics that waste court time. The only people who are really unhappy now are Twitter employees. Musk announced an intention to lay off 75% of them and they have responded with an open letter: The letter demands that Musk commits to preserving Read More ›

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pacifist Asian woman angry and outraged protesting on street demonstration against China abuse standing for freedom and human rights holding Stop Killing Us billboard

“Bridge Man” Crackdown in China Inspires New Types of Protest

Some use Apple Airdrop, some use flash graffiti in public washrooms, with the basic message that Xi JinPing should retire

“Bridge Man,” the lone Chinese guy (Peng Lifa) who hung a protest sign on the Sitong Bridge some days ago — days before the CCP’s scheduled fifth-year meeting — triggered intense efforts to ban all words from China’s internet and other media that referred to the incident. But political censorship is a tricky business, especially where human beings are concerned. Even the Proper Authorities can’t think of everything… we are informed at VICE that posters denouncing China’s top leader Xi JinPing have been distributed via Apple’s Airdrop A Shanghai resident was riding the metro on Tuesday when an AirDrop notification popped up on his iPhone: “‘Xi Jinping’s iPhone’ would like to share a photo.” Curious, the man accepted the request Read More ›

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e-commerce

PayPal Can Still Fine Its Users $2500 for Wrongthink

It’s possible that PayPal is morphing into something like a church-based credit union, where certain beliefs and behavior are expected of customers

As word of PayPal’s leaked proposal to charge users $2500 for spreading “misinformation” spread last week, the e-commerce system quickly disavowed it. They were wise. Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr described the proposal as “Orwellian.” Thousands sought out search terms around the concept of cancelling PayPal. Such a nice story; if only it ended there. Lesson learned and we all go home. But some caution, not so fast. Other things the Terms of Service (TOS) still says should also set users thinking: As it turns out, PayPal has in place another dystopian financial censorship policy that enacts similar fines for those it deems bigots or hatemongers. Law professor Eugene Volokh exposed the PayPal policy, which again authorizes $2,500 fines (taken Read More ›

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CBD Building Complex in Beijing, China under Sunlight

Words Disappear From the Chinese Language — Online at Least

Beijing seeks to scrub all mention of any words that could be associated with a lone protester hanging a banner on a bridge

On October 13, days before the Chinese Communist Party Congress’s scheduled fifth-year meeting, Peng Lifa, (online, Peng Zaizhou) stood on an overpass in Beijing — dressed as a construction worker — and unfurled two banners demanding an end to zero-COVID policies and the removal of Xi Jinping as CCP leader. With security cameras everywhere, he was certain to be noticed. There was also an apparent tire fire on the bridge, which created a great deal of attention-riveting smoke. A banner against Xi Jinping is raised at Sitong Bridge, Haidian District, Beijing.Admire the courage of this man, but when the giant ship sank, the screams of the passengers were only the meaning of tragedy.#TheGreatTranslationMovement pic.twitter.com/tMt4spulZR — The Great Translation Movement (@TGTM_Official) Read More ›

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Lord of the Rings Pop Art Poster Concept Art

Rings of Power: Is a Fascist Fandom Dragging It Down?

Lots of Tolkien fans dislike the new Amazon show. Does that make them fascists?

Rings of Power has garnered harsh reviews since its release, and if you’ve been keeping up with my previous Rings of Power posts, you know where I stand: the show keeps me watching, but it’s a mixed bag. There are things to celebrate and aspects to critique. Many of the people I’ve talked to feel the same way. They enjoy the show but don’t think it compares to the grandeur of Peter Jackson’s interpretation of The Lord of the Rings, which at twenty years old, still stuns the ear and eye. Some media outlets, however, are accusing the disappointed fanbase of racism and misogyny. If you don’t like Rings of Power, it might mean you hate diversity and inclusion. Amazon Read More ›

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Scared woman on laptop in the dark feeling fear suffering online harassment and cyberbullying

Google and the Woke Morality Police Cancel Anti-Porn Apps

Covenant Eyes and Accountability2You have been removed from the Google Play Store

This article, by Michael Cook, editor of MercatorNet, originally appeared at MercatorNet October 14, 2022, and is reprinted here by permission. In the latest skirmish in the cancel culture wars, Google is booting apps for fighting porn addiction off its app store. In a little-noticed move last month, the internet behemoth removed Covenant Eyes and Accountability2You from the Google Play Store. Google dropped them after journalists from Wired, a technology magazine, alleged that they violated Google’s malware policy. Both Covenant Eyes and Accountable2You dispute this. According to an article in Wired, “The Ungodly Surveillance of Anti-Porn ‘Shameware’ Apps”, these two apps are “part of a multimillion-dollar ecosystem of so-called accountability apps that are marketed to both churches and parents as tools to police online activity.” And Read More ›