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Will social media make communications nearly impossible?


Consider some of the stories:

Terry Teachout

Terry Teachout, the drama critic who reviewed Tom Stoppard’s new play, The Hard Problem [of Consciousness], woke up one Sunday morning (December 2, 2018) to a home invasion, of a sort:

In case you hadn’t noticed, @terryteachout, my Twitter account, was hacked on Sunday morning as part of a cross-platform attack on my social-media presence. The objective, it seems, was ransom: I actually received a series of telephone calls from the culprits, who appear to reside in England. Needless to say, I hung up and immediately started changing passwords and building a higher security wall.
Terry Teachout, “Home invasion—with a happy ending” at Arts Journal

The extortionists had posted racist and sexist material to @terryteachout. The drama critic asked for a replacement account, @TerryTeachout1, which meant losing 15,000 followers and all previous tweets. Unfortunately, Twitter was slow to respond, with the result that the offensive material was visible under his name “well into Monday.” Meanwhile, he did receive this message from Twitter Support late Sunday night:

We’ve investigated the reported account and have determined that it is not in violation of Twitter’s impersonation policy. In order for an account to be in violation…it must portray another person…in a misleading or deceptive manner.

Teachout was, well, surprised: “Is it any wonder that more and more people are getting fed up with Twitter?”

The story buzzed virally through Monday. Who would have believed that Twitter was so indifferent to racism, sexism, and users’ reputations? As the volume grew, Twitter eventually assigned the previously bot-managed case to a human being, who deleted the hacked account by 6:00 pm and verified @TerryTeachout1 as the replacement. Sadly, Teachout was later to learn that the hackers had also planted a trojan-horse virus on his laptop which erased his mailbox and address book as well.

Twitter seems to be a town that doesn’t care what happens to you unless you have lots of friends to create a buzz. And at least one well-known USA Today commentator is refusing to live there any more.  More. No, Twitter is not the New Awful It’s the Old Awful back for more.” The Town Without Pity we all tried to get asway from at Mind Matters

See also: Consumers were not buying robots as friends this year. The market for drudgery busters remains strong. For dogs and pals, not so much Some consumer robotics will surely find a place under the Christmas tree. The robotic vacuum cleaner market is healthy and expected to grow, in a world where the demand for vacuum cleaners is growing anyway, doubtless due to more urban lifestyles.

Can Big Data help make your book a best seller? It’s more likely to help you picture your odds more clearly and clarify your goals. What does Barabási’s Big Data tell us that we couldn’t just guess? Well, for one thing, that there is a “universal sales curve” which means that a book’s only chance of making the list is shortly after publication.

Science confronts credibility issues? Not to worry, prestigious researchers blame them on social media trolls and bots And another thing: The researchers phoned the Seventies and asked them to please come back. Soon. Seriously, that’s the impression I get from reading a paper in PNAS, stemming from the National Academy of Sciences’ Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium November 2017

Stephen Hawking and the AI Apocalypse Can doomsday headlines, chasing fame, stand in for deep knowledge of a subject? One thing a celebrity pundit can usually count on is an audience of media professionals who haven’t considered the problems carefully either and don’t want to. It is much easier and more profitable to market Doomsday than Levin’s Law. As always, the fact that laws governing the universe will eventually triumph is true but not news.


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