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How Much of the Internet Is Fake?
How much of the internet is fake? Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot. For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people,” a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event “the Inversion.”...

The metrics are fake.

Take something as seemingly simple as how we measure web traffic. Metrics should be the most real thing on the internet: They are countable, trackable, and verifiable, and their existence undergirds the advertising business that drives our biggest social and search platforms. Yet not even Facebook, the world’s greatest data–gathering organization, seems able to produce genuine figures. In October, small advertisers filed suit against the social-media giant, accusing it of covering up, for a year, its significant overstatements of the time users spent watching videos on the platform (by 60 to 80 percent, Facebook says; by 150 to 900 percent, the plaintiffs say)....

The people are fake.

And maybe we shouldn’t even assume that the people are real. Over at YouTube, the business of buying and selling video views is “flourishing,” as the Times reminded readers with a lengthy investigation in August. The company says only “a tiny fraction” of its traffic is fake, but fake subscribers are enough of a problem that the site undertook a purge of “spam accounts” in mid-December. These days, the Times found, you can buy 5,000 YouTube views — 30 seconds of a video counts as a view — for as low as $15; oftentimes, customers are led to believe that the views they purchase come from real people. More likely, they come from bots. On some platforms, video views and app downloads can be forged in lucrative industrial counterfeiting operations. If you want a picture of what the Inversion looks like, find a video of a “click farm”: hundreds of individual smartphones, arranged in rows on shelves or racks in professional-looking offices, each watching the same video or downloading the same app....

The businesses are fake.

The money is usually real. Not always — ask someone who enthusiastically got into cryptocurrency this time last year — but often enough to be an engine of the Inversion. If the money is real, why does anything else need to be? Earlier this year, the writer and artist Jenny Odell began to look into an Amazon reseller that had bought goods from other Amazon resellers and resold them, again on Amazon, at higher prices....

The content is fake.

The only site that gives me that dizzying sensation of unreality as often as Amazon does is YouTube, which plays host to weeks’ worth of inverted, inhuman content. TV episodes that have been mirror-flipped to avoid copyright takedowns air next to huckster vloggers flogging merch who air next to anonymously produced videos that are ostensibly for children. ...

Our politics are fake.

Such a loss of any anchoring “reality” only makes us pine for it more. Our politics have been inverted along with everything else, suffused with a Gnostic sense that we’re being scammed and defrauded and lied to but that a “real truth” still lurks somewhere. Adolescents are deeply engaged by YouTube videos that promise to show the hard reality beneath the “scams” of feminism and diversity — a process they call “red-pilling” after the scene in The Matrix when the computer simulation falls away and reality appears. ...

We ourselves are fake.

Which, well. Everywhere I went online this year, I was asked to prove I’m a human. Can you retype this distorted word? Can you transcribe this house number? Can you select the images that contain a motorcycle? I found myself prostrate daily at the feet of robot bouncers, frantically showing off my highly developed pattern-matching skills...
Internet  bots  truth  epistemology  deception 
26 days ago by shannon_mattern
He tried to fake his way to fame and got caught red-handed. Or did he? • BBC News
Jessica Lussenhop on Threatin, the band (really one person) who <a href="http://www.metalsucks.net/2018/11/09/l-a-band-threatin-faked-a-fanbase-to-land-a-european-tour-no-one-attended/">faked a fanbase to get a European tour</a>:
<p>As he explained his tactics, Jered [Threatin] was relaxed, confident - not the slightest bit embarrassed. But that’s because he had something he was eager to show me - a series of emails that he said he sent out under yet another alias, a Gmail account belonging to “E. Evieknowsit”.

“URGENT: News tip,” the subject line read.

“The musician going by the name Threatin is a total fake. He faked a record label, booking agent, facebook likes, and an online fanbase to book a European tour. ZERO people are coming to the shows and it is clear that his entire operation is fake,” he wrote, including links to all his phoney websites.

“Please don’t let this man fake his way to fame... Please Expose him.”

The first such message he showed me was dated 2 November, a day into the Breaking the World Tour, and a week before the first news reports were published. He says he sent the messages out to a database of reporters’ emails he keeps in a massive Excel spreadsheet on his laptop - to outlets like the Huffington Post, Spin, Consequence of Sound, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Pitchfork, New York Times, MetalSucks and, yes, the BBC. Although it was unclear if the tips directly resulted in coverage, some of the emails appear to have predated articles.

During the tour, when the bandmates weren’t looking or in another room, Eames claimed he was on his phone on Facebook under his various aliases, stoking the controversy.</p>


Long read. You start wondering, is this one of those things where they say portentously "It's ART, you see."
music  internet  deception 
4 weeks ago by charlesarthur
As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants - The New York Times
Internal documents show that the social network gave Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify and others far greater access to people’s data than it has disclosed.
deception  privacy  surveillance  socialnetwork 
5 weeks ago by basemaly
'They don't care': Facebook factchecking in disarray as journalists push to cut ties | Technology | The Guardian
Journalists hired to help fix Facebook’s fake news problem say they have lost trust in the platform
deception  socialnetwork  vrandtruth18 
5 weeks ago by basemaly
Mass proliferation of information evolving beyond our control, says new psychology research
The huge proliferation of information and communication is creating “attentional bottlenecks” which are acting to limit our choices to those based on fear, peer pressure, and global groupthink. This problem is being made much worse by the fact that that information and the way it is communicated is itself evolving in ways that accentuate these dangers.
thinking  deception  information  truth 
6 weeks ago by basemaly
New report reveals growing threat of organised social media manipulation world-wide — Oxford Internet Institute
The manipulation of public opinion over social media platforms has emerged as a critical threat to public life. Around the world, government agencies and political parties are exploiting social media platforms to spread junk news and disinformation, exercise censorship and control, and undermine trust in media, public institutions and science. Now, a new report from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) has found that despite efforts to combat computational propaganda, the problem is growing at a large scale.
socialnetwork  propoganda  deception  vrandtruth18  research 
7 weeks ago by basemaly
Cow shoes used by Moonshiners in the Prohibition days to disguise their footprints, 1924
To avoid capture, some moonshiners changed their shoes because a set of human foot prints would be suspicious, so they used cow shoes as a disguise.
camouflage  deception  funny  prohibition  history 
7 weeks ago by po
The Comforting Fictions of Dementia Care | The New Yorker
Many facilities are using nostalgic environments as a means of soothing the misery, panic, and rage their residents experience.
aging  dementia  fiction  alzheimer  service  trust  deception 
8 weeks ago by soobrosa
Blame Fox News for Fake News, Not Facebook
The highly asymmetric pattern of media ecosystems we observe on the right and the left, despite the fact that Facebook and Twitter usage is roughly similar on both sides, requires that we look elsewhere for what is causing the difference.Surveys make it clear that Fox News is by far the most influential outlet on the American right — more than five times as many Trump supporters reported using Fox News as their primary news outlet than those who named Facebook. And Trump support was highest among demographics whose social media use was lowest.
propoganda  vrandtruth18  deception  tv  news  media  socialnetwork 
9 weeks ago by basemaly
Throwing Science At Anti-Vaxxers Just Makes Them More Hardline | IFLScience
Since the uptick in outbreaks of measles in the US, those arguing for the right not to vaccinate their children have come under increasing scrutiny. There
vrandtruth18  science  deception  medicine 
9 weeks ago by basemaly
‘Nothing on this page is real’: How lies become truth in online America - The Washington Post
“Nothing on this page is real,” read one of the 14 disclaimers on Blair’s site, and yet in the America of 2018 his stories had become real, reinforcing people’s biases, spreading onto Macedonian and Russian fake news sites, amassing an audience of as many 6 million visitors each month who thought his posts were factual. What Blair had first conceived of as an elaborate joke was beginning to reveal something darker. “No matter how racist, how bigoted, how offensive, how obviously fake we get, people keep coming back,” Blair once wrote, on his own personal Facebook page. “Where is the edge? Is there ever a point where people realize they’re being fed garbage and decide to return to reality?”
vrandtruth18  deception  socialnetwork  news  media 
9 weeks ago by basemaly
How Fascism Works
So we have a long history of genocide against native peoples and anti-black racism and anti-immigration hysteria, and at the same time there’s a strain of American exceptionalism, which manifests as a kind of mythological history and encourages Americans to think of their own country as a unique force for good.
books  politics  deception  violence 
10 weeks ago by basemaly
U.S. Cancer Centers Deceptive Testimonials Database | Truth In Advertising
TINA.org conducted a review of patient testimonials used to promote the 50 cancer treatment centers in the U.S. that spent the most money on advertising in 2017. Our results revealed that, of the cancer centers still in business in 2018, 43 out of 48 – or 90% – deceptively used patient testimonials in their marketing materials by promoting anecdotal, atypical patient results without clearly and conspicuously disclosing what the generally expected results for a patient in a similar situation would be.
healthcare  tina.org  deception  Advertising 
10 weeks ago by PieroRivizzigno
In the age of A.I., is seeing still believing? • The New Yorker
Joshua Rothman on the rise of "deep fakes":
<p>As alarming as synthetic media may be, it may be more alarming that we arrived at our current crises of misinformation—Russian election hacking; genocidal propaganda in Myanmar; instant-message-driven mob violence in India—without it. Social media was enough to do the job, by turning ordinary people into media manipulators who will say (or share) anything to win an argument. The main effect of synthetic media may be to close off an escape route from the social-media bubble. In 2014, video of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner helped start the Black Lives Matter movement; footage of the football player Ray Rice assaulting his fiancée catalyzed a reckoning with domestic violence in the National Football League. It seemed as though video evidence, by turning us all into eyewitnesses, might provide a path out of polarization and toward reality. With the advent of synthetic media, all that changes. Body cameras may still capture what really happened, but the aesthetic of the body camera—its claim to authenticity—is also a vector for misinformation. “Eyewitness video” becomes an oxymoron. The path toward reality begins to wash away.

In the early days of photography, its practitioners had to argue for its objectivity. In courtrooms, experts debated whether photos were reflections of reality or artistic products; legal scholars wondered whether photographs needed to be corroborated by witnesses. It took decades for a consensus to emerge about what made a photograph trustworthy. Some technologists wonder if that consensus could be reëstablished on different terms. Perhaps, using modern tools, photography might be rebooted…

…Citron and Chesney indulge in a bit of sci-fi speculation. They imagine the “worst-case scenario,” in which deepfakes prove ineradicable and are used for electioneering, blackmail, and other nefarious purposes. In such a world, we might record ourselves constantly, so as to debunk synthetic media when it emerges. “The vendor supplying such a service and maintaining the resulting data would be in an extraordinary position of power,” they write; its database would be a tempting resource for law-enforcement agencies. Still, if it’s a choice between surveillance and synthesis, many people may prefer to be surveilled. Truepic, McGregor told me, had already had discussions with a few political campaigns. “They say, ‘We would use this to just document everything for ourselves, as an insurance policy.’ ”</p>
ai  images  deception 
11 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Where ‘Yes! To Affordable Groceries’ Really Means No to a Soda Tax - The New York Times
“We should not be taxed on what we eat,” she says in a commercial that is being broadcast across Washington State. “We need to eat to survive, and if we have to cut back on what we eat, that’s not going to be good — especially for the elderly.”

But what most voters don’t know is that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and other American beverage companies are largely financing the initiatives — not to block taxes on staples like milk and vegetables but to choke off a growing movement to tax sugary drinks.
ethics  culture  lies  health  deception  interesting  via:ramitsethi 
11 weeks ago by eaconley

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