Comments on Rep. Gosar’s “Stop the Censorship Act,” Another “Conservative” Attack on Section 230
> Now that the text is public, we can finally do a well-informed evaluation.
> This bill is terrible in many ways. Among other problems, it grossly misunderstands Section 230’s mechanics, its desired policy consequences would be horrible, and it is misdrafted to advance those objectives.
> It doesn’t bring me any joy to dunk on a bill like this. Like Sen. Hawley’s bill, it almost certainly was meant as a piece of performative art to “play to the base” rather than as a serious policy proposal. But even as performative art, it highlights how Section 230 is grossly misunderstood by politicians inside DC, and it’s a reminder that modifying Section 230 requires extreme care because even minor changes could have dramatic and very-much-unwanted consequences.
The Lonely Work of Moderating Hacker News
> The site’s now characteristic tone of performative erudition—hyperrational, dispassionate, contrarian, authoritative—often masks a deeper recklessness. Ill-advised citations proliferate; thought experiments abound; humane arguments are dismissed as emotional or irrational. Logic, applied narrowly, is used to justify broad moral positions. The most admired arguments are made with data, but the origins, veracity, and malleability of those data tend to be ancillary concerns. The message-board intellectualism that might once have impressed V.C. observers like Graham has developed into an intellectual style all its own. Hacker News readers who visit the site to learn how engineers and entrepreneurs talk, and what they talk about, can find themselves immersed in conversations that resemble the output of duelling Markov bots trained on libertarian economics blogs, “The Tim Ferriss Show,” and the work of Yuval Noah Harari.
This is a pretty fun read I think, even for people who don’t like HN. Or perhaps especially so. Some great, and dismal, quotes. Even ngate makes an appearance.
Better Encrypted Group Chat
> End-to-end encrypted group messaging is also a hard problem to solve. Existing solutions such as Signal, WhatsApp, and iMessage have inherent problems with scaling, which I’ll discuss in detail, that make it infeasible to conduct group chats of more than a few hundred people. The Message Layer Security (MLS) protocol aims to make end-to-end encrypted group chat more efficient while still providing security guarantees like forward secrecy and post-compromise security.
> The primary contribution of molasses has been in detecting errors in the specification and other implementations through unit and interoperability testing. Molasses implements most of MLS draft 6. Why not all of draft 6? There was an error in the spec that made it impossible for members to be added to any group. This broke all the unit tests that create non-trivial groups. Errors like this are hard to catch just by reading the spec; they require some amount of automated digging. Once they are found, the necessary revisions tend to be pretty obvious, and they are swiftly incorporated into the subsequent draft.
Nice work and a very nice explanation of the protocol.
The Only Way to Win Is Not to Play the Game
> When I became a math and science writer, I had no idea that one of the most common requests I would get would be to weigh in on order of operations problems that somehow go viral in some segment of the internet.
> The real answer, the one I believe any mathematician, physicist, engineer, other number-cruncher would tell you is to make sure your expressions aren’t ambiguous.
Another take: https://danso.ca/blog/order-of-operations/
What Internet Memes Get Wrong About Breezewood, Pennsylvania
> However, the idea that the photo is placeless is, to be blunt, nonsense. As others have pointed out before me, the setting is instantly recognizable as Breezewood and only Breezewood. Far from being “Every Town, U.S.A.,” Breezewood is a weird, improbable blip of a place. It’s what an architect might call a unique urban condition—a churning mini-city where the population nearly turns over every hour. (For this reason, and for the place’s sheer, unembarrassed honky-tonk, I’m a Breezewood fan.)
Investigating sources of PII used in Facebook’s targeted advertising
> We develop a novel technique that uses Facebook’s advertiser interface to check whether a given piece of PII can be used to target some Facebook user, and use this technique to study how Facebook’s advertising service obtains users’ PII. We investigate a range of potential sources of PII, finding that phone numbers and email addresses added as profile attributes, those provided for security purposes such as two-factor authentication, those provided to the Facebook Messenger app for the purpose of messaging, and those included in friends’ uploaded contact databases are all used by Facebook to allow advertisers to target users. These findings hold despite all the relevant privacy controls on our test accounts being set to their most private settings.
fern: a curses-based mastodon client
> modeled off usenet news readers & pine, with an emphasis on getting to ‘timeline zero’
Why Google+ Failed
> Google Plus didn’t fail because Facebook is invulnerable. It failed because of deep flaws that were embedded in it from the start. And learning from those flaws is the first step to building something better.
Confessions of a Reddit 'Karma Whore'
> Since learning how to master the process of matching content with its best-fitting subreddit, I have gained more than 8 million karma. Of the 250 million or so users on the site, my account is ranked 13th, and I plan to crack the top 10 very soon. According to one statistical model shared in a data subreddit earlier in 2018, my posts that year reached the front page more times than any other user on the site. “The top poster, /u/dickfromaccounting, represents about 1% of all posts that reached the front page,” that analysis said.
Told U.S. security at risk, Chinese firm seeks to sell Grindr dating app
> Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd is seeking to sell Grindr LLC, the popular gay dating app it has owned since 2016, after a U.S. government national security panel raised concerns about its ownership, according to people familiar with the matter.
How Spotify & Discover Weekly Earns Me $400 / Month
> Of course that’s not enough to support a full-time artist but that’s not what I’m trying to be. I don’t tour, I don’t sell merch and I’m not on a label. I just want to make music and Spotify is making that possible.
Why Every Influencer Has a Discord
> Over the past few months, seemingly all the pet- and animal-themed Instagram accounts I follow have begun interspersing their videos with pleas. “Join our bird-themed Discord community!” one posted. Another urged me to connect with a group of like-minded reptile lovers on Discord. A commenter touted a dog-lover Discord server.
Post-Charlottesville Doxxing and Misidentification Creates Legal Risks–Vangheluwe v. GotNews
> Am I reading that right? Did someone actually argue that they were reasonable in presenting something they found on 4Chan as fact? Indeed, the court is not persuaded by reliance on 4Chan. In the context of dealing with the “wire service” privilege, the court says it is “not convinced that 4Chan is a reputable news-gathering agency.” Not surprisingly, plaintiffs are able to present a plethora of evidence on the freewheeling nature of 4Chan.
Who Can Say What California Means?
> Imagine, as I do every day, being the Tesla Inc. “Designated Securities Counsel” whose job is to review Elon Musk’s draft tweets before he sends them out. (Bloomberg News calls this unnamed but undoubtedly accomplished lawyer “Musk’s Mystery Twitter Sitter.”)
Wherein Matt Levine then proceeds to imagine the discussion that must have taken place.
> I think these tweets are fine. If you don’t, you have to explain to me, specifically, how they violate the settlement.
> I am not giving you a formal legal opinion that it is illegal for you to tweet “California.” I am just telling you that it’s dumb.
> Apparently the compromise was that Musk tweeted the tweets, but first he changed his Twitter name to “Elon Tusk,” with an elephant emoji, to make them … less official? Less contemptuous? More annoying?
When Twitter Threads Fly Away
Mostly about threads and plagiarism, but also in conclusion:
> Twitter is not a blog. It’s not meant to be a blog. This is a blog. Compare the thread that I wrote with what I transcribed to this blog post. Is there more information in the thread? Mm, maybe. There’s different information. But is the important information available here, edited for clarity, removing the random wandering thoughts and audience participation? Yes. Is this format better suited to a blog post? Yes. Is the twitter thread better suited to twitter? Absolutely.
I don’t like twitter threads, but like the multiple levels of bottom feeders even less.
If Goat Emojis Are Flooding Your Twitter Feed, Blame Tom Brady
> On any given day, there are roughly 40,000 tweets with the goat emoji, according to Twitter data reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. There were 333,665 tweets with the goat emoji the day after Mr. Brady’s last Super Bowl win. The uptick of goat emojis amounted to a nearly 750% increase.
> The history of the goat emoji is shorter and stranger. The etymology dates back to 2010 when it was introduced to the lexicon with other livestock emojis. An update to Apple’s operating system in December 2016 included a goat makeover. What was a white Saanen goat is now a brown Toggenburg goat with a bushier tail.
> Another version of the goat emoji underwent its own round of cosmetic surgery last year with an update to Google’s Android operating system. “Our goat is no longer so angry,” said Jennifer Daniel, the company’s emoji designer, who drew the goat herself.
Let’s Save Blogging
> The independent blog has been in decline for years. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s why you should start a blog in 2019—and host it yourself.
I liked this a bit more than the average take on the subject.
you have been removed for inauthentic behavior
> is the last thing you hear when the robots come for you
Major iPhone FaceTime bug lets you hear the audio of the person you are calling … before they pick up
> The bug lets you call anyone with FaceTime, and immediately hear the audio coming from their phone — before the person on the other end has accepted or rejected the incoming call. Apple says the issue will be addressed in a software update “later this week”.
I never understand how bugs like this happen. How does the microphone get opened before the user presses ok? Why does that codepath even exist?
How LiveJournal pioneered (then lost) blogging
> Growing up on the Web at the dawn of the social media age (circa 2007), it felt like all the connectivity-obsessed sites forming the burgeoning core of the new Internet were haunted by a faded spectre called LiveJournal. As a teen, I never actually knew anyone who had one, but I heard whispers and rumors about drama on the service all the time. And based on candid conversations with some of the figures who made LiveJournal what it was, it turns out that impression isn’t far off.