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Election Strife, Protest And Noise: In 2017, Russia Cranked Up The Volume
The Russian Facebook scandal damages liberals as much as the right
The Republicans might have been tarnished by the St Petersburg troll factory, but Democratic fantasies about social media were rubbished in the process
The ads in question were memes, manufactured and posted to a number of bluntly named, pseudo-American Facebook
accounts in 2016 by workers at a troll farm in St Petersburg, Russia. There were thousands of these ads, it seems, plus parallel efforts on Instagram and Twitter. Between them, they reached over 100 million people.
The memes were big news
for a while because they showed what Russian interference in the 2016 election actually looked like, in vivid color. Eventually the story faded, though, in part because it was superseded by other stories, but also, I think, because the Russian ad story was deeply distasteful to both sides of our atrophied political debate.
The ads were clumsily written. They were rife with spelling errors and poor grammar. Their grasp of American history was awful. And over them all
hovered a paranoid fear that the powerful were scheming to flip the world upside-down in the most outlandish ways: to turn our country over to the undocumented … to punish the hardworking … to crack down on patriots and Christians … to enact Sharia law right here at home.
The social media platforms aren’t neutral arbiters, selflessly serving the needs of society. As is all too obvious now, they are monopolies that manipulate us in a hundred different ways, selecting our news, steering us towards what we need to buy. The corporate entities behind them wield enormous power in Washington, too, filling
Democratic campaign coffers and keeping the revolving door turning
for trusted servants. Those who don’t comply get disciplined.
Internet watchdog demands explanation after Ramzan Kadyrov claimed Facebook also suspended him without explanation
Kadyrov has accused the US government of pressuring the social networks to disable his accounts, which he said were blocked on Saturday without explanation. The US imposed travel and financial sanctions on Kadyrov last week over numerous allegations of human rights abuses.
The former rebel fighter, who is now loyal to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is a fan of social media, particularly Instagram, which he has used in recent years to make barely veiled death threats against Kremlin critics.
Leonid Levin, the head of the Russian parliament’s information technologies and communications committee, suggested the move by Facebook and Instagram was an attack on freedom of speech.
Dzhambulat Umarov, the Chechen press and information minister, described the blocking of Kadyrov’s accounts as a “vile” cyber-attack by the US.
Neither Instagram nor Facebook had commented at the time of publication.
In 2015, Kadyrov urged Chechen men not to let their wives use the WhatsApp messaging service after an online outcry over the forced marriage of a 17-year-old Chechen to a 47-year-old police chief. “Do not write such things. Men, take your women out of WhatsApp,” he said.
more on fake news in this IMS blog
Nice outline of the presidential candidates views on K12
The major party hopefuls still in the race as of last week boasted widely varied records and stances on K-12. (Download as a PDF.)
Related: How Meaty Are the Presidential Candidates’ Online K-12 Positions?
Excellent interactive chart available from Global Network Discovery
Here is a wonderful interactive chart from Global Network Discovery that you can use to compare the affordances of different laptops. The chart compares a wide variety of laptops on criteria that include things such as : memory, storage capacity, screen size, and weight. You can also use the search functionality accompanied with the chart to refine your search by CPU, brand or model. Hovering your cursor over any laptop icon will display a small box with details pertaining to that product. These details include, besides the specs and features of that laptop, an updated version of its price.
Keep this interactive chart handy to use next time you want to buy a laptop. If you are looking for the best laptops for teachers, you can check this list instead. You can also use the “more” option in the chart to search for other comparison charts on smartphones, flash drives and SSD drives.
How The Tiny Nation Of Georgia Became A Bitcoin Behemoth.
April 23, 20188:15 AM ET ANDREW NORTH https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/04/23/597780405/how-the-tiny-nation-of-georgia-became-a-bitcoin-behemoth
Georgia is now ranked second in the world for cryptocurrency mining — behind only China.
A single U.S.-based technology company called Bitfury has been accounting for much of this mining activity, from a vast data center filled with computer servers which it opened on the outskirts of the capital Tbilisi. It has generated plenty of controversy too over claims that it received overly generous terms for its electricity bills. But scores of smaller data centers have now sprouted up, with many more people mining from home with processors bought online from China.
making an average of $800 a month mining a currency called Zcash, with the extra electricity load costing about $80.
Bitfury has also been talking to the authorities in nearby Ukraine about using blockchain technology to run future elections there.
When supporters log on to its website, they are given the choice of allowing their computer processors to be used to mine Monero, a newer virtual coin being marketed for its extreme anonymity.
Facebook groups now regularly advertise conferences and gatherings to share ideas, addressed by people who call themselves “blockchain evangelists.”
Like the original Klondike, Georgia’s digital gold rush has attracted some colorful characters hoping to make their fortune.
Take Andrew Thornhill, an energetic financial entrepreneur from Chicago and founder of a cryptocurrency startup called Spotcoin. He first came to Georgia a decade ago to provide Internet-banking advice. In 2011, he was briefly imprisoned for fraud, but he says his conviction does not restrict him from running a financial business either there or in Georgia.
Concerns that cryptocurrencies are being used as a money-laundering vehicle have been overdone, Thornhill says when we meet at Spotcoin’s Tbilisi headquarters. “Criminals are using dollars and euros every day, but we don’t blame the currencies,” he says. And blockchain technology has the potential to make financial transactions far more secure, he maintains.
more on bitcoin in this IMS blog
To identify bots, the Center used a tool known as “Botometer,” developed by researchers at the University of Southern California and Indiana University.
Previous studies have documented the nature and sources of tweets regarding immigration news, the ways in which news is shared via social media in a polarized Congress, the degree to which science information on social media is shared and trusted, the role of social media in the broader context of online harassment, how key social issues like race relations play out on these platforms, and the patterns of how different groups arrange themselves on Twitter.
It is important to note that bot accounts do not always clearly identify themselves as such in their profiles, and any bot classification system inevitably carries some risk of error. The Botometer system has been documented and validated in an array of academic publications, and researchers from the Center conducted a number of independent validation measures of its results.
more on fake news in this IMS blog
Move to impose 10-year sentence seen as attempt to silence talk of corruption before election
More on fake news in this IMS blog:
The anti-fake news bill, which must be approved by parliament, calls for penalising those who create, offer, circulate, print or publish fake news – or publications containing fake news – with a 10-year jail term, a fine of up to 500,000 ringgit (£90,000) or both.
The bill defines fake news as “any news, information, data and reports which is, or are, wholly or partly false whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas”.
It covers all media and extends to foreigners outside Malaysia if Malaysia or its citizens are affected.
Social Media Use in 2018
A majority of Americans use Facebook and YouTube, but young adults are especially heavy users of Snapchat and Instagram
early 2018 is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives
Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users
The video-sharing site YouTube – which contains many social elements, even if it is not a traditional social media platform – is now used by nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults and 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds.
a majority of users (59%) say it would not be hard to stop using these sites, including 29% who say it would not be hard at all to give up social media.
- Pinterest remains substantially more popular with women (41% of whom say they use the site) than with men (16%).
- LinkedIn remains especially popular among college graduates and those in high-income households. Some 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just 9% of those with a high school diploma or less.
- The messaging service WhatsApp is popular in Latin America, and this popularity also extends to Latinos in the United States – 49% of Hispanics report that they are WhatsApp users, compared with 14% of whites and 21% of blacks.
more on social media use in this IMS blog
A Guide to Picking a Learning Management System: The Right Questions to Ask
Over the past 10 years, new learning management systems (LMSs) have sprung on the scene to rival the Blackboards and Moodles of old. On the EdSurge Product Index alone, 56 products self-identify and fall into the LMS category. And with certain established companies like Pearson pulling out of the LMS ranks, where do you start?
As University of Central Florida’s Associate Vice President of Distributed Learning, Tom Cavanagh, wrote in an article for EDUCAUSE, “every institute has a unique set of instructional and infrastructure circumstances to consider when deciding on an LMS,” but at the same time, “all institutions face certain common requirements”—whether a small charter school, a private university or a large public school district.
The LMS Checklist
#1: Is the platform straightforward and user-friendly?
#2: Who do we want to have access to this platform, and can we adjust what they can see?
#3: Can the instructor and student(s) talk to and communicate with each other easily?
“Students and faculty live a significant portion of their daily lives online in social media spaces,” writes University of Central Florida’s Tom Cavanagh in his article on the LMS selection process. “Are your students and faculty interested in these sorts of interplatform connections?”
#5: Does this platform plug in with all of the other platforms we have?
“Given the pace of change and the plethora of options with educational technology, it’s very difficult for any LMS vendor to keep up with stand-alone tools that will always outperform built-in tools,” explains Michael Truong, executive director of innovative teaching and technology at Azusa Pacific University. According to Truong, “no LMS will be able to compete directly with tools like Piazza (discussion forum), Socrative (quizzing), EdPuzzle (video annotation), etc.”
As a result, Truong says, “The best way to ‘prepare’ for future technological changes is to go with an LMS that plays well with external tools.”
#6: Is the price worth the product?
A reality check: There is no perfect LMS.
more on LMS in this IMS blog
What Putin Really Wants
Russia’s strongman president has many Americans convinced of his manipulative genius. He’s really just a gambler who won big.
JULIA IOFFE JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 ISSUE
(translated in Bulgarian http://librev.com/index.php/2013-03-30-08-56-39/prospects/europe/3371-igrata-na-putin-1
“They do plan,” said a senior Obama-administration official. “They’re not stupid at all. But the idea that they have this all perfectly planned and that Putin is an amazing chess player—that’s not quite it. He knows where he wants to end up, he plans the first few moves, and then he figures out the rest later. People ask if he plays chess or checkers. It’s neither: He plays blackjack. He has a higher acceptance of risk. Think about it. The election interference—that was pretty risky, what he did. If Hillary Clinton had won, there would’ve been hell to pay.”
Even the manner of the Russian attack was risky. The fact that the Russians didn’t really bother hiding their fingerprints is a testament to the change in Russia’s intent toward the U.S., Robert Hannigan, a former head of the Government Communications Headquarters, the British analogue to the National Security Agency, said at the Aspen Forum. “The brazen recklessness of it … the fact that they don’t seem to care that it’s attributed to them very publicly, is the biggest change.”
in German: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/medien/phishing-attacken-der-feind-liest-mit-1.3378411
more on cybersecurity in this IMS blog