Even as Microsoft seems to be quiet and in denial of what is uploaded without consent, we have a second issue that is floating to the surface of our life. Now, first of all, this link is not what we should consider a news site. What came from Forward.com is also known as The Jewish Daily Forward, published by Samuel Norich and has Jane Eisner as the editor. Its origins goes back to 1897, so it has been around for a while. They are not some new wannabe-on-the-block. It is an American newspaper published in New York City for a Jewish-American audience, and there are plenty of those around, so this is a valid niche publication. Yet no more than a day ago, it did something dangerous, perhaps unintentional and perhaps it is a sign of the times, but it remains a dangerous path to take.
This path all started when Mark Zuckerberg had an idea. He created this place called Facebook, you might have heard of it. Within there we get to ‘like’ things. Now, we can do this to complement the poster, we can do this because the subject interests us, or when we use the machine correctly, Facebook would send us more stuff from topics that we like. This already shows three different approaches to ‘like’ and when Forward starts the article with: “Canadian Mosque Shooter Suspect ‘Liked’ Israel Defense Forces, Marine LePen“, it basically shot itself in the foot.
This is part of the problems we are all facing, because the world is changing and it has shifted the values that we have given words over time and shifted them into concepts of what it might be. We see the same shift in the Business Intelligence industry as tools like SPSS (read: IBM Statistics) are no longer used to get the significant statistics needed and the ‘sellers’ of the story that the client wants told rely on tools like Q Software to tell the story that matches the need. The problem is that this story reflects what is offered and from that there is more than one identifier (weight being one) that the reflection is less accurate and often warped to fit the need of the receiver of these data files. Meaning that the actual meaning unlikely to be there, making a correct assessment not possible and any action based upon it, without scrutiny will come at a hefty price for the decision makers down the track.
So when we see “Canadian Mosque Shooter Suspect ‘Liked’ Israel Defense Forces, Marine LePen” we need to be cautious at best, at worst we are being told a fair bit of rubbish! Now we also get “Authorities claim that Alexander Bissonnette, a student at the city’s Laval University, perpetrated the attack, calling in from a bridge near the mosque to report himself“, which could be very true, but it also averts the first signs we see of ‘Lone Wolf‘, because a real lone wolf will go into the night if he or she is lucky without a trace and plans his/her next attack. This one attack person seems to be seeking the limelight as I personally see it. For what reason is at present unknown. Perhaps it is about fame, perhaps the evidence will find evidence of mental health issues. Time and the proper people will need to assess this. We see this in the picture of a tweet by @Rita_Katz when she states ‘making Jihadi ties unlikely‘, which could be true, however I got there via another route. What is interesting is that when we look at the Toronto Star we see “Rosalie Bussieres, 23, lives across the street. She told the Star her older brother was in school with Bissonnette. He was “very solitary” and “very antisocial,” said Bussieres. Bissonnette studied at the Université Laval, according to a statement released by the university late Monday. He was a student in the department of political science and anthropology, according to Jean-Claude Dufour, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences”
This is interesting as those in political science tend to be decently social minded, so there is a lot more under the water than we think there is and the fact that Forward only gave us the likes, means that there is a part that they either ignored or overlooked. You see, what else did his Facebook account have to say?
The Toronto Star gives us a lot more “He was on both the Sainte-Foy and Université Laval chess club“, with Forward we got more on Rita Katz. “Rita Katz is the Executive Director and founder of the SITE Intelligence Group” is one, and the next part is the one we should consider: “the world’s leading non-governmental counterterrorism organization“, as well as “Ms. Katz has tracked and analyzed global terrorism and jihadi networks for nearly two decades, and is well-recognized as one of the most knowledgeable and reliable experts in the field“. Which makes me wonder why it is the Toronto Star who gives us the part I did not initially showed “with his twin brother, said Université Laval professor Jean Sévigny, who said he knew Bissonnette and his brother through the club“. So how come The Forward didn’t have the goods on that?
Yet they did give us “François Deschamps, member of Quebec’s Refugee Welcome Committee, told the La Presse newspaper that he recognized Bissonette because the man had often left hateful comments on the group’s page. “I flipped when I saw him,” he said. “We observe much of what the extreme right says and does. He’s made statements of that sort on our Facebook page. He also attacked women’s rights,” Deschamps recalled“. The full story is at http://forward.com/news/361614/canadian-mosque-shooter-suspect-liked-israel-defense-forces-marine-lepen/
So as we are invited to judge on likes, I see a hole of intelligence. How many friends? How many clubs? Was he linked to Chess groups? Was he linked to his Twin Brother, and was his twin brother on Facebook? There is no one mentioning whether the twin brother was reached and what he had to say (if he had been willing to talk), which he might not be willing to do and that is perfectly understandable. It is just such a weird experience to see a total lack of effort in that regard (especially by the press).
Forward is telling its readers a story, yet the Toronto Star (at https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/01/30/six-dead-two-arrested-after-shooting-at-quebec-city-mosque.html) seems to offer a lot more. In that view ABC news in Australia blunders (as I personally see it) even more when we see (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-31/quebec-city-mosque-shooting-lone-wolf-attack-student-charged/8225294), ‘Police charge ‘lone wolf’ student suspected of terrorist attack‘, so what evidence is there? What is the definition of a Lone Wolf? Perhaps we need to agree on the shifting sands and make sure it is sand and not quicksand. They both might contain the same 4 letters, but the experience will be mind-bogglingly different.
So as we now see that the US is using this attack to justify its actions, we need to take heed on the dangers we invite. The first is like the attack in Sydney, Australia at Martin Place, on December 15-16 2014. We again see a link to extremism that is incorrect and misleading. Yes, the act was extreme, but we have seen for decades on how mental health patients are very able to act in extreme ways. You only need to see the footage from Paris attacks to see how actions in places like Nairobi and Paris to clearly see that they are different from events in places like Martin Place and perhaps the Quebec Mosque.
We can argue on how correct the FBI setting is, yet it is an important one! “Terrorism is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives“. So what were the social and political objectives of Alexander Bissonnette?
There is a lot we don’t know and won’t know. Yet at present Forward is presenting the dangers that social media rely on, they rely on quick and classifiable actions and label them in the most general way possible. The dangers that we see in the Zuckerberg classification is that it relies on the quick acceptance of the ‘audience’ yet in the same way the danger is that the ‘like’ itself becomes a problem. You see, too many elements are about specifics and as we see less and less, we see that people in general will start to rely on an aggregation of ‘reportable elements’, not even on an aggregation of facts.
Heavy.com, another place that is not really a news site gives us a whole range of additional ‘facts’. They refer to Reuters, who reported (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-mosque-shooting-idUSKBN15E04S), where we get “Initially, the mosque president said five people were killed and a witness said up to three gunmen had fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre. Police said only two people were involved in the attack“, in that part the Lone Wolf no longer applies and it is either ‘lone Wolves’ or something else. Forward however gave us “Police investigating the shooting at a Quebec mosque that killed six have narrowed down their list of suspects to one man” Yet 5 hours after the initial message Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-mosque-shooting-toll-idUSKBN15E0F6) gives us “Police declined to discuss possible motives for the shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. They consider this a lone wolf situation,” a Canadian source familiar with the situation said“, which is a statement that should be under some scrutiny to say the least.
All this links to an event one year ago, which was covered in the Tech Times, where we see ‘Sheryl Sandberg Sees Facebook Likes As Powerful Weapon Against ISIS, Other Extremists‘ with the quote “Rather than scream and protest, they got 100,000 people to Like the page, who did not Like the page and put messages of tolerance on the page, so when you got to the page, it changed the content and what was a page filled with hatred and intolerance was then tolerance and messages of hope“. This is now a linked issue. You see the part ‘they got 100,000 people to Like the page, who did not Like the page‘, this implies that data was intervened with, so if that is happening, how reliable was the ‘like’ part in Forward.com?
The fact that papers all over the place are trying to ‘cash’ in on this by adding a page with ‘the latest facts‘ or ‘what we know at present‘, like The Globe and Mail, whilst showing an avalanche of news on the matter. Actually, the page The Globe and Mail brought was pretty good. It is Heavy.com who does something similar, yet at that point they move into the ‘5 things you need to know‘ mode and give us a stream of links. Links to classmates and how they thought. Yet, are these facts correct and complete? Heavy links to the Globe and Mail, and in addition gives us the part we needed to hear: “He also likes U.S. Senator John McCain, a moderate Republican who has opposed Trump on some issues, President George W. Bush, the Canadian New Democratic Party and late Canadian politician Jack Layton, who was a leader of the left-wing NDP, so the likes do not shed much light on Bissonnette’s beliefs“, Forward.com, and as such linked SITE Intelligence Group had nothing on any of that in the article. So anyone relying on Forward is now missing out of essential facts. In equal measure, the fact that many of these items are not voiced by other papers make the statements of Heavy.com equally an issue until confirmed.
And finally there is the impact of how the like was obtained. Plenty of sources started with a few ‘like to win’ campaigns. How many people have clicked on a like and forgot about doing so? Yet in this light, the ‘like’ is implied to have a much larger impact, much larger than the user considers or even comprehends. The places using those likes for telling a story have left that concept behind, giving us unclean and incorrect data, which now implies that any conclusion based on it is pretty much useless.
Be aware, I am not stating, or accusing these posters of fake news, yet there is the option that some will see it as such. As I stated at the beginning regarding Forward.com, their origin goes back to 1897, which means that they have been around for some time. So why were so many facts missed and why did Forward link this suspect to both the Israel Defense Forces and Marine LePen, especially in light of what others reported?
What is not related to the Facebook side is the news that the initial news of two shooters (up to three) is now reduced to just the one. When a witness states up to three, there is a clarity to assume (to some degree) that there was more than one shooter (which is a speculation from my side). So what happened to the second one? Just be aware that there might just have been one shooter, yet the documentation we are seeing implies more than one.
So how is this a Zuckerberg thing?
Well, apart from him inventing Facebook and bringing about the evolution of Social media, his ‘like’ is almost like his ‘poke’, they are Social media tools, yet the value the users tend to give it is different, it is even debatable whether the users at large could ever agree on the usage of it, making it a transient value. A shifted number whilst the contemplators cannot agree how the value is to be used, so the usage of ‘like’ in the way it was used in by the press becomes a debate as well. Because what we like implies where we are. That is not a given, even better it is incomplete. You see, you can state your like, but as you cannot state a dislike, we end up having no real comparison. It is the old debate of Yes and No dichotomies, if you did not say ‘yes’, there is no validity that you stated ‘no’, because it might have been overlooked, or it was the fourth option in a list of three. There is a decent abundance of reasons to take that point of view.
Let me show this in another way. The Fox poll of the Refugee Ban (see image). We see the full story at http://insider.foxnews.com/2017/01/29/poll-nearly-half-america-voters-support-trumps-immigration-order, but what we do not see are the specifics on what would have given this value. You see, we do not know the number of responses, where it was done and when it was done. It is at https://poll.qu.edu/ that we learn parts of the facts, “From January 5 – 9, Quinnipiac University surveyed 899 voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points“, can anyone explain to me how Fox was so stupid to use a base of 899 to set a national value? Doesn’t the United States have around 320 million people? And as we realise that there 50 states, how can 18 people be significant on a view in state, and this is before we consider whether the use of gender was normalised, because men and women tend to feel different on emotional issues and is there is one element in abundance on issues concerning refugees it will be emotion.
So in all this, we see recurring waves of generalisation and trivialisation. Mark Zuckerberg is not to blame, but he is a factor. In addition there is an overwhelming lack in educating its customer base (by both Fox and Facebook), so we need to consider the dangers and well as the irrelevance of these ‘revelations‘. It is in this scope and in the application as seen used where classification becomes dangerous and a danger, because how will the people around a person react when they see that this person likes something people find offensive (and that is when we keep it to simple things like actors, actresses and politicians)? This will impact on the like as there will be peer pressure, so how can this Zuckerberg element be undermined? That is the actual question!
Is it as simple as condemning the press for using the fact? Is it as simple as giving out complete information? The Zuckerberg Classifications are here to stay, there is nothing against it and the fact that they are is in no way negative, but the usage of it leaves a lot to be desired and as such it is a misleading one, other than ‘this person clicked on the like button of this page, for reasons unknown’, giving it any more value is as meaningless as setting the national acceptance of a refugee ban based on 899 unquantifiable votes which represents at best 0.00028% of the United States population. If any vote was incorrectly vetted, the number will go down fast making the poll even more useless.