Ev Williams says Twitter’s role in Trump’s rise is ‘a very bad thing’

In an interview with the NY Times, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams says Twitter’s role in Trump’s rise is ‘a very bad thing’.

Commenting on the view of Silicon Valley as the “modern Prometheus”, Williams said:

What we tend to forget is that Zeus was so pissed at Prometheus that he chained him to a rock so eagles could peck out his guts for eternity,” he said. “Some would say that’s what we deserve for giving the power of tweets to Donald Trump.

FCC Ignores The Will Of The Public, Votes To Begin Dismantling Net Neutrality

You have to hand it to the Republicans, they don’t even pretend to care about anyone other than rich people and corporations. So the recent FCC votes to begin dismantling Net Neutrality doesn’t come as a surprise at all.

In the short term, you shouldn’t expect anything significant to change since there will be numerous lawsuits from various groups. In the longer term, as long as the GOP controls Washington the assaults on consumers will continue and Net Neutrality destruction is a priority. If this bothers you, check out the EFF and vote for those who think your rights as a consumer are worth protecting.

The implications of the massive DDOS on KrebsOnSecurity

Brian Krebs writes one of the best security blogs out there. He frequently names the bad guys behind attacks and data theft. Recently he published a series of articles on a company that does DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) attacks for profit. Two weeks after the first article appeared he reported a massive and sustained DDOS attack on his site. At its peak it reached over 620 gigabits per second, by far the largest such attack ever seen.

The attackers were able to mount such a large attack by harnessing the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Many of these have buggy software and few are ever patched by their manufacturers. Given their great numbers and easy compromise it’s possible to create an online army bigger than anyone could before. And it’s likely that army will be used to silence voices on the Internet more and more in the future. We jabber on and on about free speech on the net but unless we take steps to defend it we won’t have it much longer.

What “free speech” should really mean online

You hear a lot about “free speech” and the First Amendment in connection with online forums like Twitter and Facebook. But “free speech” is the wrong way to think about them.

The First Amendment applies strictly to government, not private companies. Even then it’s not absolute, there are still limits to what you can say. On the other hand, private entities like Twitter and Facebook are free to determine for themselves what you can and cannot say in their domains. That determination has proven to be difficult, especially for Twitter. To make it worse, they find themselves criticized equally for removing abusive posts and for not removing them.

In the end, as the article suggests, it’s up to the Twitters and Facebooks to establish guidelines that reflect their communities and do the least amount of harm to everyone. It won’t be “free speech” in absolute terms, but it will be “free enough speech”.


14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed arrested for bringing homemade clock to school

Police in Irving, TX arrested 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed for the heinous crime of bringing a homemade clock to school. That’s right, a kid built his own digital clock out of parts and was arrested for doing so.

Of course it must be said he’s Muslim and lives in Texas, so the over-the-top racism and Islamophobia are hardly surprising. Luckily, the tech world is responding to this incident with support for Ahmed and condemnation for Irving, TX and the teachers who called the police.

The shady business of parody Twitter

You may remember “Fake Steve Jobs“, a blog supposedly written by the Apple founder that ran from 2006-2011. Although some folks didn’t get the joke, it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t really Jobs. It was also pretty well written and more or less original. But with the rise of Twitter, a new kind of parody personality has emerged that isn’t quite so well done or original. It’s all part of a shadow industry of “influencers” that will take your money in exchange for building you a following via relentless flogging on Twitter. As usual, Twitter seems unable to make up its mind on whether or not to allow them.

Of course, there are still plenty of parody accounts that are just one person who’s doing it for the laughs, including that short-order cook in Peoria.

Nano Robots Are The New Health Plan

Like all comics, Dilbert has shown a marked decline in quality over its lifetime. Still, there are the occasional gems. Nano Robots Are The New Health Plan follows Adams’ usual method of exaggerating something to the point it becomes totally relatable but it’s perhaps not as far-fetched as you might think.

Nanotech might still be in its toddler phase but the ability of electronic devices to detect levels of chemicals in our bodies exists today. It’s not hard to imagine such sensors being scaled down to the point where we could have them inserted into us to monitor in realtime. When that happens, what will stop employers from mandating them?

Keep in mind many employers require you to have health insurance now. And those requirements often include mandatory yearly physicals. If these health monitors end up cheap enough they may be cost-effective compared to physicals. Why wouldn’t your company require you to have them? A violation of your personal liberty you say? The response to that is “you have the personal liberty to get a job somewhere else.”

Perhaps they’ll allow you to access some of the data on your phone (or watch). Then you’ll get messages like “Your stress level is elevated, stop drinking coffee” or “Blood pressure above maximum allowable level, 15 minute meditation required to continue”. Think of it as your company-sponsored personal trainer (who rats you out when you don’t follow orders).