Bringing to account Social media and Internet companies is the latest headline grabber.
Seen as playing a pivotal role in each attack Internet Companies apparently now must shoulder some of blame for what is any attack . This filed of thought is now so predominant that its easy to get the impression that extremism and radicalization are the sole result of easy to access media and plentiful exchange online.
The ‘Internet Companies’ (whatever they are) are apparently providing a “safe space”.
For anything that can be considered extremist views or hate views that will eventually ferment and morph into indiscriminate attacks on a unwitting and unprotected public.Or as the UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s cites in her recent statement:
“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet — and the big companies that provide internet-based services — provide,”
As far as May is concerned – and other politicians of her ilk – are concerned the onus lies on the “Internet companies” to prevent and stop dead in its tracks any sign of extremism and hate. With the very happy-ending that by stopping the hate speech and any other divergent views the world will be a safer more protected. And we can go back to sleeping sound at night.
The standard “knee jerk” view is to control content posted on the internet.
As a way to stop extremism and the indiscriminate violence that comes with it. IT seems that by putting pressure on tech companies to take more responsibility for content. That means users post, user generated content and even go so far as asking industries to foot the bills of policing the internet. This is all part of the effort of creating a place where views that cannot be controlled must be driven underground
‘Hostile environment for terrorists’
The issue is so contentious that the big guns on the internet (think Facebook, Twitter and Google) all decided that the best way of keeping on the good side of the law would be to respond directly to May’s comments working to continually remove and prevent such content. And create what they would call a “hostile environment for terrorists,” so said Simon Milner, director of policy at Facebook.
This statement only goes to show is a lack of imagination on the side of the government
The point to which Internet companies have really stopped thinking and proposing new ideas, by simply cow-towing to the government line. Now that May has literally committed political suicide, how does this affect their towing the government company line? This type of typical knee jerk reactions is the assurance that there is no real policy or concrete mechanism in the works for protecting its citizens.
Getting in the back door.
One of the most recent light-bulb moments was the idea that if you insist on embedding a back door in messaging applications (think Whatsapp and so on) then its possible to observe from a quiet corner what the bad-guys are talking about. Its troubling how much emphasis and airtime this sort of approach has garnered. With so much coverage and emphasis on the building compulsory back doors, what realistically are the end results going to be?
The most obvious would be to simply stop using it. Worse again it will lead the same organization to come up with their own solutions to the communication problem. Blockchain , with its promise of completely anonymous communications is one possible approach.
Plus a little word of advice for anyone thinking about implementing backdoors in anything from software to Internet connected fridges – is it really the most intelligent thing to do go in front of international audience and tell everyone you are doing the same? Would it not make more sense to just do it and then shut up about it.
Then we get to the “Internet companies” (love that term).
“We are committed to working in partnership with the government and NGOs to tackle these challenging and complex problems, and share the government’s commitment to ensuring terrorists do not have a voice online,” the statement, attributed to a U.K.-based Google spokesperson, said.
Is this truly the best they can come up with?
From the tens of thousands of engineers and thinkers this is truly the most cutting edge solution or proposition they can come up with. Shows a complete lack of imagination, innovation and complete folding to the most cynical of government whims.
The absolute madness of trying to subvert and drive underground all the content not only frustrating put potentially aggravating the situation. Why not just take 5 minutes out tot think about solving a the problems with technical solutions .
Most of the solution are already there.
IoT – Backdoor access to a bare bones GPS solution would let users know where and when that a a vehicle (rented or not) is going and in what directions. At a pick up for a rental car one could potentially require the driver to specify a destination and usage that.
Visual intelligence – Machine learning can spot and identify known facial features. Why not use that in the tracking movements? The same technology can be used to to measure the height and line of a van if it is carrying a load or not.
Machine Learning and some intelligence – They rented a van on a Friday night on a credit card. A highly unusual anomaly and outlier. Does this not ring alarm bells?
Linking up data – Why are we not trying to link all these data sets that are freely available to give an even bigger insight. Why not take credit card information, credit reports, shopping history, travel logs, Twitter feeds and take it to the next level.
Example – If an individual, already on a watch-list, owner of his own transport, with no real reason to wander into a Homebase and purchases a lbs of nails and a bag of fertilizer. Then on his trip home decides to stop by and purchase a backpack and a gallon if diesel (for an already full-up ‘rental petrol engine car’; we know this form IoT devices in built into the tanks.). It is safe to assume he is not going to embark on a quaint gardening project.
If we take the same individuals and cross check his Twitter sentiment and it has suddenly gone silent, or worse again gone from angry commentary to happy. The we should be able to take this as some form of indicator. You see this is where we need to go. To come up with some divergent thinking on how to solve this conundrum with the tools available
Keep the content – and run sentiment on it
We can create sentiment and corpus for a range of emotions. The more content we keep the more we can run analysis on it. A simple approach to would be to run as much analysis on know feeds and websites as. The idea of simply closing an eye to what is possible. Use, study and analyse the hate content and the vitriol to understand in what phase of the cycle we are. This can be done on macro basis. Or on an individual basis. If W can see that there are unprovoked periods of happiness on a generally angry and vitriolic Twitter feed, then you can make an educated guess that something is going to happen that will. Or at the very lest will set off alarm bells.
While there is a responsibility to minimize hate content; there has to be a realization that you will never beat it. Google is cited as it employed “thousands of people” and spent “hundreds of millions of pounds to fight abuse on our platforms.” And that’s fine. But why not put the same effort into using and leveraging this same content to give insights in to where the hate is occurring, creating heat maps and lighting up where anomalous signals can raise a flag.
True, implementable solutions lie in combining complexities of technology to monitor the monitor the world of hate.
While Social media and internet services do have a responsibility to minimize any sort of hate on their platforms they relying on hiring people to actively monitor content or even relying heavily technological algorithms is only a symptom. What comes out of the internet and social media are simply manifestations of what’s going on. Move the internet or drive it underground (see Blockchain) and you simply deny there is an issue the resolve. They’re not the cause.
It’s a very easy target to blame but actually trying to understand the causes underlying this. Its so much easier to announce campaign pledges to crack down on internet providers it requires special thought and leadership to listen to the people who are at the coal face of technology and subcultures.