Social media is it Toxic Bubble...

Was there ever a photo that captured the spirit of a moment?

 
Now before we get all "holier than thou" in the UK, there are some interesting little things going on in Cybersapce.

HMG has got a bit of a problem with an American academic; Aaron Zelin. Aaron speaks fluent Arabic, and is a career academic who has turned down various other offers in order to concetrate on the analysis and valuable policy work that he does.

HMG has a problem with the simple curation of primary source material into one place; on the logic that it makes it simple for bad guys to access it.

Now, there is a valuable deabte to be had on this issue - how does one conduct research on certain topics. Now I now longer have my "get of jail free card", I am rather careful as to where and what I read. However, i said I was careful - not that I don't do it anymore.

The urge to wave the ban-hammer is a bit of a goverment thing - when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

The top article is fascinating,

Yet what of researchers who are ethical, transparent and professional and nonetheless face the accusation of being spies?
A problem frequently faced by language students - why are you learning this language?

I tend to smile and quote The Holy Koran -

Screenshot 2018-12-07 at 08.19.41.png


O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.
Holy Koran 49:13
Of Scholars and Spies - Al-Fanar Media

Subscribe to read | Financial Times

Full Text:

How extremist videos are hitting UK relations with US tech groups Britain accuses research website of refusing to remove violent Islamist content

Jihadology.net has been accused of refusing to remove violent content © FT Montage/Dreamstime Automattic, the US tech group that owns web design company WordPress, and a little known academic research platform are at the centre of a long-running battle with the UK government over what officials say is a refusal to remove violent Islamist videos.

Jihadology.net and its founder, Washington-based analyst Aaron Zelin, claim the site is a vital research portal that provides a valuable service for academics, policymakers and journalists researching Islamist extremism.

However, UK security officials say it could be used as a convenient platform for extremists to access videos and messages from outlawed terror groups such as Isis and al-Qaeda. They want Mr Zelin and Automattic, which hosts the site through WordPress, to remove or password protect some of the more violent and disturbing videos it publishes.

The stand-off between the Silicon Valley group, Mr Zelin and the UK authorities highlights the struggle between western governments and big US technology companies to reduce the impact and spread of extremist content online.

Freedom of expression v national security

But it also underscores the dilemma governments face in drawing the line between freedom of expression and matters of national security.

Last month the UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee, which scrutinises the work of the country’s intelligence services, published a report urging government to increase the pressure on businesses to pull advertising from platforms that fail to take down illegal and inappropriate content.

Contained within the ISC report on 2017 terror attacks in London and Manchester was a reference to an unnamed website that “hosts multiple videos . . . featuring violent and disturbing images”, which had refused “multiple requests from the UK and European partners to remove the videos”.

Although the ISC and Home Office declined to comment on the names of the entities redacted from the ISC report, government officials confirmed the example cited by the ISC involved Automattic and Jihadology.

It is reckless to publish terrorist propaganda online without safeguards to stop those vulnerable to radicalisation from seeing it UK government “It is incredibly difficult,” said Peter Neumann, professor of security studies at King’s College London. “The online nature of this makes it ubiquitous. What Aaron does is totally legitimate but it’s being used by other people for a different purpose.”

Mr Zelin told the Financial Times that his website was for “academic knowledge” and rejected claims it was being used by terrorists. “So many people use it to understand what’s going on,” he said. “It’s used in so many positive ways.”

He acknowledged that he had received multiple requests to shut down the site from the UK government during the past two years.

The website, which Mr Zelin said is a personal project and not associated with his work at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think-tank, describes itself as a “clearing house for jihadi primary source material”.

Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute, said: “Through his work with the institute, Dr Zelin contributes enormously to scholarly inquiry as a path to defeating radical extremism. His website, Jihadology, was a private project that he began before joining the institute and it remains his sole and exclusive responsibility as clearly stated on the website: ‘Jihadology is a personal project of Aaron Y Zelin and is not associated with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy’.”

Videos appear to show prisoners being killed

A recent search of the site reveals several posts and videos from militant groups such as al-Qaeda, Isis and Al-Shabaab, which are freely accessible. Some of the more graphic videos viewed by the FT show militants apparently killing prisoners or rival fighters.

Although UK security officials and the Home Office say many of the big technology groups have been more responsive to requests to take down material since last year’s terror attacks, there remains frustration at some sites and platforms that refuse to co-operate.

“It is reckless to publish terrorist propaganda online without safeguards to stop those vulnerable to radicalisation from seeing it,” the UK government said in a statement.

“We accept there will be limited journalistic and academic justifications for viewing terrorist content, but we expect technology companies to remove such content where it exists on their platforms for all to see.”

Legislation set to tighten rules

A new counter terror bill being considered by parliament will make it an offence to stream or view online information likely to be useful to a terrorist. Under current legislation an offence is only committed if the material is downloaded.

Civil liberties groups say the new law risks criminalising academics and journalists.

Criticism of Automattic and WordPress is not new. In March 2017, just after the Westminster Bridge attack, which led to the deaths of five people, former home secretary Amber Rudd identified WordPress.com as one of the smaller tech platforms that terrorists were using to spread propaganda.

In a statement WordPress’s parent company Automattic refused to be drawn on whether it had received multiple requests to take down videos on the Jihadology site.

Automattic said: “We look closely at the context to determine whether certain content is being published for the purposes of informing or educating the public.”

Company data for the first half of this year showed it received 16 requests from the UK government to take down sites or content it hosted, which resulted in six being acted upon.

“We do not tolerate terrorist activity or incitement of violence on our platform,” Automattic added.

Mr Zelin said he was considering password protecting some of the more graphic and disturbing content on his site but not all of it.

“The UK is being short sighted,” he said. “I’m just a person who does research on these issues. There were jihadis before I set up my website and there will be jihadis afterwards.”
 
Ho Ho Ho....

Google Earth is an incredible resource for Open Source intelligence work.

Google’s Earth: how the tech giant is helping the state spy on us

Bellingcat has already demonstrated the huge investigative potential of Google Earth, with warrants for war crimes being granted off the back of imagery and mapping work done via Google Earth.

Huge bonus marks for a shout to Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash in the article.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Have to admit though, my favourite Stephenson book is the anarchic romp Zodiac

Zodiac by Neal Stephenson
 
Did anyone listen to Thought for the Day this morning on Radio4?
If not then I would urge Arrsers to find it an hear Professor Roger Scruton's thoughts on PC., thought crime, phobias, witch hunts and how to deal with them. It was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise cold, dank climate.
Yes (said in a belated reply, though it's still current). "Cultural vigilantes who sift through our words in search of heresy." His argument is that with political correctness, there is no presumption of innocence. BBC Radio 4 Point of View - The Witch Hunt Culture - 2 December 19 - Sir Roger Scruton . The segment is still up on the BBC website, for listening after registration ;) : A Point of View - The witch-hunt culture - BBC Sounds.

"Most importantly, we should venerate truth, and ignore political correctness, which is not the cure to our conflicts but the ultimate source of them." Rejecting malign thought control, and he doesn't think much of "puritanical progressivism"; "the rejection of values and principles that have been passed down" .
 
I need that shirt.


Absolute Olympic level trolling there!
 
On 'Unit 8200', wikipaedia says:
"The unit is composed primarily of 18–21 year olds. As a result of the youth of the soldiers in the unit, and the shortness of their service period, the unit relies on selecting recruits with the ability for rapid adaptation and speedy learning.[2] Afterschool programs for 16–18 year olds, teaching computer coding and hacking skills, also serve as a feeder programs for the unit.[3] Former Unit 8200 soldiers have, after completing their military service, gone on to founding and occupying top positions in many international IT companies and in Silicon Valley.[4][5]

According to the Director of Military Sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, "Unit 8200 is probably the foremost technical intelligence agency in the world and stands on a par with the NSA in everything except scale."[6]" [For note [6] read: Unit 8200: Israel’s cyber spy agency | Financial Times

We really need National Service. Even Macron agrees on that.
 
This sounds like a rather slanted scare tactic.
Brexit SHOCK: British drivers may have to pay £1,800 to be able to legally drive in March

If a Brit wants to drive abroad they can simply get an International Driving Licence.

If they want to emigrate then they have to comply with the laws of the country of choice, and if that means doing what the people of that country have to do or pay.

And this sounds like complete twaddle.
Brexit passport news: Will your passport be valid after Brexit? New rules EXPLAINED

If a passport is issued it has a validity date. This is the date it expires. That is the end of the matter. I notice the paper qualified its very ambiguous message with “it’s not quite clear."
On the contrary, it is very clear. The expiry date of a Government/State issued document is just that. It is not up to EU or any other country to start making their own interpretations of when that date is.

However, if we aren’t excited/terrified enough by that, it seems there are other cataclysmic events just waiting to happen.
Yellowstone volcano eruption OVERDUE: What will happen if Yellowstone BLOWS?

This of course not neglecting to remind us of the next global conflict about to start imminently.
WW3 WARNING: Putin's 'top secret stealth drone' which can carry TWO TONNE BOMBS pictured

The usual aliens and a big hole in the ocean.
Pacific Ocean 'BLACK HOLE': Expert claims missing ships 'entered another dimension'
 
Last edited:
On 'Unit 8200', wikipaedia says:
"The unit is composed primarily of 18–21 year olds. As a result of the youth of the soldiers in the unit, and the shortness of their service period, the unit relies on selecting recruits with the ability for rapid adaptation and speedy learning.[2] Afterschool programs for 16–18 year olds, teaching computer coding and hacking skills, also serve as a feeder programs for the unit.[3] Former Unit 8200 soldiers have, after completing their military service, gone on to founding and occupying top positions in many international IT companies and in Silicon Valley.[4][5]

According to the Director of Military Sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, "Unit 8200 is probably the foremost technical intelligence agency in the world and stands on a par with the NSA in everything except scale."[6]" [For note [6] read: Unit 8200: Israel’s cyber spy agency | Financial Times

We really need National Service. Even Macron agrees on that.
You may enjoy these, I advise listening to them in order.*

Unit 8200, Stuxnet and Shamoon (the exploit that took out Saudi Aramco).

Unit 8200 - Darknet Diaries Podcast
Stuxnet - Darknet Diaries Podcast
Shamoon - Darknet Diaries Podcast

As to National Service, I Don't know. But there is a reason I am happy young people join coding clubs and play with Raspberry Pi. There is a natioanl cyber skills assessment paper floating around at the moment. Better late than never.

*And possibly using a proxy IP address. ;)
 
I hope you're right, the BBC Model B kicked off a generation of coders in this country, along with the other machines of the home computer revolution, the Acorn Electron, the Aquarius, ZX80, ZX80, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST etc

The Raspberry PI hopefully will do the same drawing kids initially as chip kit to have fun with robots, and making your own streaming box, and then moving onto to coding

I did myself, conned my parents into getting a ZX Spectrum supposedly for it's "educational value" when really I just wanted it to play games.

Then some kindly chap from Plessey gave me an Assembler for it, and well kids being kids you have to tinker and play with stuff, so I didn't intend to learn programming I just got nudged into it and before you know it had written my own space invaders and was hacking things for fun
 
Text states Nasty shock to current expats - so they can continue to drive

As you are supposed to update your driving licence when you move house and so should already have a French driving licence
It really is a Brexit scare story - because it shouldn't affect any current expats or If honest theheadline should be reading
"Thousands of remain supporting expats whipped up into frenzied outrage because they may now be forced at significant cost to respect the law they've been flouting for years".
 
The Raspberry PI hopefully will do the same drawing kids initially as chip kit to have fun with robots, and making your own streaming box, and then moving onto to coding
I think the whole thing is a brilliant experiment*.

It also hooks into the soft power we have as GB, I love the fact that the National Museum of computing is at Bletchley Park. It can hook into history, science and all sorts of good things. A friend of mine went there and referred to seeing the bust of Turing as "visiting the Boss".

We should encourage so much more, @Whiskybreath mentioned the IDF unit 8200. If you consider it, defensive orientated nations (No Corbyn rubbish here about Israel please) have to have excellence in intelligence. The force multiplier of good intelligence during a war for national survival (which was us in 1939-45, and is the foundation of IDF doctrine "we cannot afford to looee a war") means you employ your scarce resources well.

Likewise now, we are going to have to pick our wars carefully. Both in terms of our national security on our own streets, but if we are going to have a more international focus our interests will be more wide spread, which will need defending physically and virtually.

The facts you can go from scratch coding for 10 year olds, to stick Kali Linux on it and wreck someones network, to any sort of project on it is wonderful (I think).

This Motion-Detecting Wildlife Camera Was Made with Raspberry Pi

It is a true national success story I think.

*plus the Pi factory is in Pencoed, South Wales. Tidy darts!

Raspberry Pi: 14 million sold, 10 million made in the UK | ZDNet
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Interesting thread on today's announcement by YouTube that they are going to be changing the algorithms to cut back the craziness. Gives an excellent overview of how the problem occured in the first place: small number of hyper-engaged users tipping the balance

 
I now hate social media and wish I could get off it completely at least for a good few months. I have been one of the first Facebook users - waay back in 2004 when it started. I was in freshman year in college and it was this new thing at the time where you needed a college .edu email id to be able to register, and was only for a few select colleges at the time - mine was one of them. Christ I feel old now.

If I had the choice right now, in my current state, I would rather not be able to even log on to the site looking at everyone's happy clappy photos. But I kinda have to as it's also a good place for finding flats/sublets/ temporary jobs etc. I have found my current sublet and my last one that way through Aussie and Kiwi groups there. They also advertise temporary work gigs there of which I managed to pick up a couple. And I communicate with a couple of my exes through there who owe me a bunch of money. So yeah, defines necessary evil.

I have been completely ignoring Instagram, Snapchat and the like for the last few months as they are all about posing and seem to now give me a complex.
 
@redshift

Dude, this is a generational mistake. Many of us have made the error.

 
I mentioned it on the Trump thread, but if you have not read the below; I really do urge you to do so.

War in 140 Characters: How Social Media Is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century by David Patrikarakos

This from the conclusion struck with me;
Our information enviroment is sick. We live in a world where facts are less important than narratives, where people emote rather than debate and where algorithms shape our point of view.
In this new wilderness of "information", I do worry that it is something like the US frontier. It is a place of opportunity, some will come to grief, the tribes that lived there to start with will be destroyed or changed, and ultimately government may destroy what we actually went there to enjoy.
 
I mentioned it on the Trump thread, but if you have not read the below; I really do urge you to do so.

War in 140 Characters: How Social Media Is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century by David Patrikarakos

This from the conclusion struck with me;

Our information enviroment is sick. We live in a world where facts are less important than narratives, where people emote rather than debate and where algorithms shape our point of view.
That sounds just like the news as delivered by the BBC and ITV.
 

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