The Effect of Facebook’s Social Media Silo on Itself and You

You reinforce the walls of your personal information bubble. At least, that’s what SUNY Buffalo communication professor Ivan Dyelko and his research team found. In “The dark side of technology: An experimental investigation of the influence of customizability technology on online political selective exposure,” Dyelko and his coauthors report that people are much more likely to click and spend time on articles that reflect their pre-existing biases. In the tests they did, the only group that was likely to spend significant time reading articles that challenged their beliefs was the one in which the news feed was randomized, not weighted by user preference or an algorithm based on prior user behavior. Ask yourself: Do any of your social media services or search engines work on randomization? Or do they all show you what they think you want to see?

So what? Unlike a certain search engine that weights results instead of providing organic returns to user inquiry, social media companies are now shrugging sheepishly and saying, “Yeah, we totally contributed to the siloing of social discourse. Um. Sorry?” (It helps that there’s a study that points out their role in the media failures of 2016.)

.. Who cares? Social media investors should. Facebook is considered a great long-term stock buy right now because it’s virtually monopolizing a market—MySpace is an also-ran, Google+ is a niche product, and LinkedIn was bought so it could become a data collection mechanism for Microsoft’s suite of machine learning-enhanced workplace tools. But Facebook’s monopoly depends on it maintaining its user base of 1.9 billion active users, all of whom generate monetizable content for Facebook. If those users perceive a reason to flee Facebook—if they feel it’s biased, untrustworthy, routinely violating their safety or creating social friction—then the data sets Facebook sells to advertisers and publishers become less valuable, meaning the company eventually loses value.

We’ve already seen this happen with Twitter. Google, Disney and Salesforce all backed away from buying the microblogging company in 2016 for two reasons: Twitter hasn’t been able to successfully monetize its users (unlike Facebook), and Twitter has a growing reputation among current and former users as being unconcerned with the quality of user experience. That experience doesn’t just include the bullying endemic to Twitter; it also includes the content of the tweets themselves. On Twitter, nobody knows if you’re a robot someone paid to promote a specific ideology.

.. And you, dear reader, should care about your filter bubble potential, too. As a recent New York Times op-ed on the virtues of hate-reading reasoned, “Reading what you hate helps you refine what it is you value, whether it’s a style, a story line or an argument… Defensiveness makes you a better reader, a closer, more skeptical reader: a critic. Arguing with the author in your head forces you to gather opposing evidence. You may find yourself turning to other texts with determination, stowing away facts, fighting against the book at hand. You may find yourself developing a point of view.”

If you are the type of person who has actually woken up out of a fitful sleep saying, “And you’re wrong!”—and I’m going to guess, based on the self-selecting nature of people who read So What, Who Cares, every one of you has lost sleep at least once because someone was wrong on the Internet—then you are going to want to be right when you argue on the Internet or in your daily life. Being right requires identifying our own bubble, admitting why you’ve chosen to live in it, and then looking for the points of view that poke at it to see what breaks and what holds true.

Donald Trump broke the conservative media

“If in 96 days Trump loses this election, I am pointing the finger directly at people like [House Speaker] Paul Ryan and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and John McCain and John Kasich and Ted Cruz — if he won’t endorse — and Jeb Bush and everybody else that made promises they’re not keeping,” Hannity exclaimed, later threatening to endorse Ryan’s far-right primary challenger.

.. In fact, throughout the election season, it has appeared that Republicans have fielded more attacks from their supposed friends on the right than their political opponents on the left.

.. “The analogy that I think of is somebody who has a baby alligator in their bathtub and they keep feeding it and taking care of it,” said Charlie Sykes, a popular conservative talk show host in Wisconsin. “And it’s really cute when it’s a baby alligator — until it becomes a grown-up alligator and comes out and starts biting you.”

.. three key forces: Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Matt Drudge.

.. Simultaneously, the conservative news media sought to lock in its audience by characterizing the mainstream press as an industry comprising dishonest liberals — something with which the GOP was more than happy to go along.

.. “What it became, essentially, was they were preaching this is the only place you can get news. This is the only place you can trust. All other media outlets are lying to you. So you need to come to us,”

.. To avoid being called a RINO (Republican in name only), a Republican would have to take a hardline conservative position on nearly every issue. If, say, they were to hold conservative positions on 90% of the issues, the conservative press would focus on the 10% where there was disagreement.

.. only one candidate could be conservative enough to support for president: Cruz.

.. But something went awry. The most aggressive right-wing members of the conservative press — the members who constantly lambasted certain Republicans for not toeing the hard-right line on every issue — got behind perhaps the most unlikely candidate of all: Donald Trump.

.. “We have reached the bizarro-world point where, for all intents and purposes, conservatives are RINOs,” said John Ziegler, a nationally syndicated conservative talk show host who called Andrew Breitbart a friend. “There is no place now for real conservatives. We’ve also reached the point, I say, we’ve left the gravitational pull of the rational Earth, where we are now in a situation where facts don’t matter, truth doesn’t matter, logic doesn’t matter.”

.. “You look at someone who a few cycles might have been derided as a right-wing lunatic, now they aren’t conservative enough,”

.. he believed some conservative pundits were “just drawn to Trump’s style more than policies.”

.. “I think that some of them just like Trump and were willing to cut him some slack on his shifting of positions because he’s a fighter and they like that,”

.. Ratings may have also played a role, according to conservative talkers who refused to jump aboard the Trump train.

.. Hannity in particular has faced criticism from some colleagues in the conservative-media sphere who allege he has been too cozy with Trump. Ziegler, the conservative radio host, said there’s “there’s no question” a “monetary element” drove coverage overall.

.. “Hannity is desperate for every ratings crumb on the Fox News Channel. … It’s all about ratings,” he said. “Hannity is not particularly talented, he’s not a smart guy — he used to just be a Republican talking points talk show host who happened to be in the right place at the right time. So he’s very vulnerable at any time.

.. while there are other outlets that belong to the conservative media apparatus, they lack the influence of the hard right. The National Review or Weekly Standard might earn the eyeballs of elites in Washington, but those in the heartland seem to prefer the style of the more aggressive pro-Trump outlets.

.. That has left conservatives who oppose Trump in a tricky position when trying to get their message to supporters. No longer can Ryan or Cruz turn to Hannity for a softball interview. They can’t work with Breitbart or rely on Drudge to help with their legislative agenda.

These Republicans have effectively been exiled from the conservative news media

.. “We have taught conservatives for many years to trust nothing other than what they hear in conservative media. Yet the conservative media has now proven to be untrustworthy.”

 

Sheryl Sandberg and the emptiness of leaning in

Sandberg argues in her 2013 mega-selling book, “Lean In,” should take a seat at the table. That’s all well and good. But what should they do once they’re sitting there? Sandberg herself, consummate table-sitter, has offered an answer over her company’s year of horrors: Keep everything exactly the same.

Let your Republican strategist tell you that being honest will make GOP members of Congress mad — and stay silent. Yell at your security officer for doing his job because it might put yours at risk. Allow your subordinates to play on the same political polarization your platform is under fire for facilitating by using public-relations firms to fan partisan flames. These tactics, all reported by the Times, whose portrayal Facebook has rebutted and the company’s board of directors has called “grossly unfair,” are how people in power have always held on to it. Sandberg intended to hold on to it, too.

In fact, this approach is perfectly consistent with the message of Sandberg’s opus. “Lean In” is not fundamentally a feminist manifesto. It is a road map for operating within the existing system, perhaps changing it at the margins to make it easier for other women to, well, operate within the system. Sandberg does not spend much time asking whether the system is so screwed up that pushing against it might be the better route toward meaningful change.

.. But the answer isn’t to lower the standard for women to match the too-low expectations set for men. Better to raise the bar for everyone so that aggressiveness and selfishness and untrustworthiness no longer shortened the track to success.

.. Sandberg didn’t do these things because she was a woman. She did them because she was not so different from all those men.

Sandberg posits in her book that installing women in positions of power is a worthy end in itself. And it is. But it means a lot less if, once women are in power, they do nothing to alter the society-wide structures that separate the haves from the have-nots along lots of lines besides gender.

.. she suggests that women in particular may be able to clear an atmosphere of pent-up male emotion. Real leadership, she argues, “stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed.”

F.B.I. Raids Office of Trump’s Longtime Lawyer Michael Cohen; Trump Calls It ‘Disgraceful’

The F.B.I. raided the office and hotel room of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, on Monday, seizing business records, emails and documents related to several topics, including payments to a pornographic film actress.

.. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating Mr. Cohen for possible bank fraud, and the documents identified in the warrant date back years

.. Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, who called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.”

.. The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but most likely resulted from information that he had uncovered and gave to prosecutors in New York.

.. “Today the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients,” said Stephen Ryan

.. Mr. Trump reacted angrily to the raid. “It’s a disgraceful situation,” he told reporters at the White House before a meeting with military leaders. He added, “I have this witch hunt constantly going on.”

.. Agents raided space Mr. Cohen uses in the Rockefeller Center office of the law firm Squire Patton Boggs, as well as a room Mr. Cohen is staying at the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue 

.. In order to obtain a search warrant, prosecutors must convince a federal judge that agents are likely to discover evidence of criminal activity.

.. The searches open a new front for the Justice Department in its scrutiny of Mr. Trump and his associates: His longtime lawyer is being investigated in Manhattan; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is facing scrutiny by prosecutors in Brooklyn; his campaign chairman is under indictment; his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying; and a pair of former campaign aides are cooperating with Mr. Mueller. Mr. Mueller, meanwhile, wants to interview Mr. Trump about possible obstruction of justice.

.. The search is an aggressive move for the Justice Department, which normally relies on grand jury subpoenas to obtain records from people who are represented by lawyers and are cooperating with authorities. Search warrants are more often used in cases in which prosecutors do not trust people to preserve or turn over the records themselves.

.. The seized records include communications between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen, which would likely require a special team of agents to review because conversations between lawyers and clients are protected from scrutiny in most instances.

.. He attracted attention in the Russia investigation after emails showed that a business associate of Mr. Trump, Felix Sater, pitched Mr. Cohen on a lucrative real estate deal in Russia.

.. The deal was supposed to be a Trump Tower in Moscow and Mr. Sater boasted to Mr. Cohen that the tower would get Mr. Trump elected president. “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Mr. Sater wrote. “I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.” But the emails obtained by The New York Times show no response from Mr. Cohen, who told congressional investigators that he regarded Mr. Sater’s talk as puffery.

Comments:

 .. As a lawyer of 35 years, this is one of the most significant developments in the Mueller investigation.

It is extraordinarily hard to convince a judge, who is a former lawyer himself or herself, to pierce the attorney/client privilege and work product doctrine to issue a subpoena and seize material subject to those sacred protections.

The judge must be convinced that Cohen’s records will demonstrate substantial criminal activity.

This may be “Black Monday” for Donald Trump.

.. Remember that phrase Joe Biden got caught saying on mike that time? This is one of those.

Getting a search warrant for a lawyer’s files is a BIG, BIG deal. It requires sign-off from either the US Attorney or an Assistant AG, consultation with main justice in DC, and consideration of other, less-intrusive methods of getting the information. And that’s before the warrant goes to the judge. Judges tend to be very protective of attorney-client confidentiality and are very skeptical of such requests even in routine cases, let alone when the request is for a warrant for the client files of the personal attorney to the President of the United States.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Cohen’s legal trouble just went all the way to 11.

.. The plot thickens. Trump keeps talking about collusion. It’s the money laundering and related financial activities he should be worried about. It’s the payoffs and bribes he should be worried about. It’s the threats he should be worried about.

.. Trump said many times, do not investigate the family business! Big red line. Gosh! Why would he say that? Looks like we are about to find out.

.. Remember this, Republicans; President Clinton’s impeachment over sex-related perjury began with an investigation into a real estate deal. YOU set this standard of expansive investigations. YOU laid the groundwork for this. Any cries that this exceeds Mueller’s authority and mission should be accompanied by your profound apologies to the country for what you have done. Otherwise, reap the whirlwind.

 

.. And now, the American people get to learn about the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege.

 

.. I’ll bet they included records regarding Cohen’s negotiation of a hotel deal in Moscow for Trump during the election when Trump said he had no business in Russia. It would seem such a Moscow deal would fit right into the areas of inquiry of Mr. Mueller.

 

.. The noose tightens… Expect the obligatory military strike on Syria as another in a long list of “Look – a puppy!” diversion is perpetrated on the all-too-gullible American public.

 

.. As Richard Nixon would put it, people have the right to know if their president is a crook.

 

.. The privileged communications between an attorney and his/her clients may be seized legally as part of an investigation by a special prosecutor. Completely legal. Very sorry the whiny lawyer of the lawyer doesn’t want to admit it. The truth of everything involved with this investigation will be made known. Be patient.

 

.. Just as in the cases of Manafort et al. (and that dossier) many will scream that this is way beyond Mueller’s powers.
But, best as I read, he IS entitled to follow up on almost EVERY crime he finds when doing his work on collusion and such.
Capone didn’t go down for murders, he was convicted on tax fraud.

 

.. For all those Trumpsters hanging out here disparaging Mueller, this action is totally within the scope of the Russia investigation. Remember Mr. Cohen was already reportedly involved in brokering a Trump business project in Moscow and had been also involved with a Ukrainian lawmaker passing a pro-Russian peace proposal from a Ukrainian lawmaker to Michael Flynn, so it is very likely that Cohen has been resisting handing over documents that the Special Counsel wanted to review, and this was the most appropriate way of going about getting the information they were after. The Daniels stuff isn’t even in the same league as the types of possible crimes that Mueller may be investigating. Uncovering an unlawful international money laundering racket alone would be fair game for Mueller and his team. Think about this for a second. What would a personal attorney for Donald Trump be doing in Russia in January 2016 in the midst of a presidential campaign when Trump had not even locked up the nomination yet. Come on people! There is something very rotten in Trumpland. The Stormy Daniels case is just a small sideshow that is eating up oxygen in the media. Follow the Cohen.

 

.. There must be a multi-million dollar overseas fund with Cohen’s name on it

 

.. It isn’t just the facts of the case that determine when they will act and how; they also are studying their foe.

.. As of the past week or a little longer, Trump has no personal support, no one person in place he can trust and confide in, no one who can temper his outbursts and his tendencies to blindly and stupidly lash out. They know it and are counting on it – the case doesn’t rely solely on this, but who the opposition is and how they act/react, who their support lines are, who their attorneys are…it all has its own bit of importance. Trump is now on his own, if and how much we as a country suffer for this before the insanity ends is a guess.