Tag Archives: Tabloids

Automated Fraud Dangers

What a world we live in, not only is there the crime of fraud, there is now the option to automate it. Yes, the Guardian is giving us (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/08/fake-news-full-fact-software-immune-system-journalism-soros-omidyar), the automation against ‘fake news’. It is the subtitle that gets the blackberry pie in this. With ‘Full Fact software backed by George Soros and Pierre Omidyar fact-checks statements in parliament and news media in real time‘ we see the start of a series of events, and I am honestly not sure where they are trying to take it at present. The bias is intentional, because we all have this feeling, when a billionaire (or plural) support something, it will put them in a better position. It could be seen as unfair bias, yet bias is in the human core, which in light of what the media does more and more not the worst position to place yourself in.

To get there, we need to take a few steps. With fraud we need to see where that is at. We get “wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain“, so let’s take a gander into The Fraud Act 2006. This gives us three options.

The first being that with fraud by false representation we can go hilariously with ‘I really have an 11 inch dick‘, or better stated, in section 2 paragraph 2 it is all about:

A representation is false if: (a)it is untrue or misleading, and (b)the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.

This issue as seen in the first part as it could be measured and acted on by the rulering (pun, innuendo and Full Fact challenge intended), yet the statement ‘I am the greatest lover in the world‘ is that fraud, being delusional of conviction of a personal ability through (or enabled by) the deceit of your own ego, so how to prove such subjectivity, against fraud? Now the important part here, which is not covered in lust (or perhaps it is) is seen in paragraph 3 with

(3) “Representation” means any representation as to fact or law, including a representation as to the state of mind of (a) the person making the representation, or (b) any other person.

and the important part that matters in his case is paragraph 5 which gives us (5) For the purposes of this section a representation may be regarded as made if it (or anything implying it) is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention)“, this puts tweets, social media and optionally this software solution in a similar weird new position.

Now this is part one and you can see where this is going, and there is no twist to this part of the tale, yet the other two are still important.

The second is fraud by failing to disclose information. Now in this case journalists get a free pass, because it is about the legal duty and that person is in breach of this section if he (or she)

(a)dishonestly fails to disclose to another person information which he is under a legal duty to disclose, and (b)intends, by failing to disclose the information

  • (i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
  • (ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

so this tends to be professionally set to the makers of laws, accountants, those people with red or purple robes and wigs, you know the types, in this case doctors, and not to forget certain contractors working for governments, in this the military and intelligence community cannot be convicted or prosecuted as they have other sets of rules, like national security, military law and in some cases maritime law could leave a person not in breach of this, yet they would have their own set of rules that still sets clearly their responsibilities.

And last we get fraud by abuse of position. I am merely mentioning this almost for the completeness of the fraud as it is in common law. Yet with

(1) A person is in breach of this section if he (or she), (a) occupies a position in which he is expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of another person,(b) dishonestly abuses that position, and (c)intends, by means of the abuse of that position

  • (i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
  • (ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

(2) A person may be regarded as having abused his position even though his conduct consisted of an omission rather than an act.

Actually, now that I think of it, the makers of the software program once called the “bullshit detector” in an early version of the system by its creators, is now set to be a virtual truth vaccine. I am in two set mind here, on one side I love the idea and on the other side there are a few hitches that would make it fall over for possibly a lot longer than anyone could consider. You see, when I think of fake news, I do not think merely of the actual fact misusers. The joke that Channel Nine became in the evening as they got the first lead on a shooting (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjkQSREjxH0), the lady now nationally known as the ‘chick chick boom girl’, gave an eye witness report and the journo just ate it all up. A sexy looking girl giving the news all the ‘facts‘ as she was allowed to report this in the limelight offered. The reporter felt so good and six days later the Age gives us “Within 24 hours of the footage first airing on Channel Nine, T-shirts emblazoned with “chk chk boom“, the phrase which Ms Werbeloff used to describe the gunshot, were being sold on a US website. There were also drink bottles with the slogan and a rap-music remix of her video, and in addition, the fact that the news was bogus, fake, not real and pretty well made up“, we now have two issues, she is not merely guilty of fraud, she possibly impeded an investigation into a shooting.

This is more than a funny story, even as we can admit that one comment in the YouTube states that it is still funny and to some extent I agree, merely because the gullible reporter basically got played. We can set in equal measure giggle to the smallest extent as KVTU reported that the names of the MH370 crew members were Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow. The fact that the newsreader and the editor did not ‘seemingly realise‘ that this was fake is a failure on an entirely different level and no software on the planet will protect us from stupid people (or gullible politicians for that matter). So that in the back of my mind within a minute of the article in the Guardian had me pondering this ‘software solution‘. Now, I do believe that the software could be used to flag thousands of messages almost instantly, yet the claim we get from “The early version of the software scans the subtitles of live news programmes, broadcasts of parliament, the Hansard parliamentary record, and articles published by newspapers. It tracks millions of words sentence by sentence until it identifies a claim that appears to match a fact-check already in its database” is dangerous on a few levels, yet as the makers interestingly and validly point out: “Babakar is keen to stress the limitations of the system so far and believes the tool should only be used by journalists in the first instance rather than the general public“, I like that part, they admit that the software is nowhere near ready even when it initially launches.

So where is my issue?

There are a few sides, with ‘claim that appears to match a fact-check already in its databasewe have to realise that the vetting process is a critical part in this, so how soon will we see clearances and cleared checks of miscommunications, the previous news cast from KVTU being a first example. This process would require internal political hands from whoever uses it and there is where the bias sets in. We might go biased and auto accept the facts from sources like the Washington Post, the Times, the Dutch NRC Handelsblad and the Swedish Dagens Nyheter, yet now we get the second part, we have all seen and under the best of conditions there is the danger of getting ‘lost in translation‘ (not the movie which was brilliant). So when we apply the lost in translation, we have the local versions (UK version of English) with the Sun giving us today: ‘1,200 killed by mental patients‘, so is this fake news? I would state so, but knowing the people behind the Sun, they will have some numbers that add up to 1200. Yet ‘today’ was October 2013, when it actually was ‘today’. So here we see the first application of lost in translation, the second side in that headline was seen when we go to the ‘actual’ news, were we see “It discovered 1,216 people were killed by patients with mental illness from 2001-2010 — an average of 122 deaths a year” (at https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/news/1052064/1200-killed-by-mental-patients/), so is this still fake news? That same article gives us “The study — the first of its kind in the UK — found 45 per cent of those with severe psychiatric problems were victims of crime in the previous year“, now giving weight to anything the Sun states is one thing, accepting the good looks of the lady on page three is another, yet in the end, were these stated ‘facts’ lies? I have had loads of issues with tabloids for the longest of times. Still, when we now look at fraud, where ‘A representation is false ifit is untrue or misleading, and the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.‘ The additional ‘a representation may be regarded as made if it is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention)‘. Here is the initial ballgame, you see, it is not merely about fake news, it now becomes about the interpretation of language. In its most basic terms, a grammar system designed to comprehend innuendo. When we know that loads of Journalists are incapable of comprehending sarcasm under even the most optimal conditions and in addition, when I state that sarcasm that backfires is merely irony, they are likely to become even more confused. So the heavens might love the simple minded, but here it becomes an issue on a much larger scale.

The article gives us “The fledgling system is not without its problems; sometimes it flags up a fact-check that isn’t relevant, for example. The challenge for the programmers is to get the software to understand the fuzzy logic and idiom used so often in speech” This actually barely scratches the surface. You see, there are a few other parts, how would the Metro front page ‘Brexit begins‘ be seen? Officially, the letter was delivered, yet the overwhelming ‘news’ is that Brexit has not started yet, could flag this news article. The truth is the interpretation of what constitutes the start of Brexit is also the issue. It’s not like having sex (yes the example matters, so do read on), that is the act and point in time, it is what happens after. So when is the baby seen as alive? When the conception has happened? When the child is capable of being born alive? In Australia it is seen after 28 weeks of pregnancy. Yet in separate Australian states, in this case Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, the terminal points for abortions are 16, 24 and 20 weeks, so there is an issue on a few levels. In cases there is the Crimes Act 1900 (sections 82-84), whilst the ACT had abortions repealed as a criminal offense from the Crimes (Abolition of Offence of Abortion) Act 2002. So, one moment in time that on a national level already has 4 different assessment dates on one national calendar. In that mess on one ‘simple’ issue, we see a mess that becomes even messier when theology gets in the way of the subject of conversation and that is more than just a reference to separation of church and state. This shows part of the problem, also for the us where federal law can be a real mess for the non-legal people and that also has implications for the ‘fake news’ vetting system. So how could any article on illegal abortion be weighed correctly, especially when a politically or religiously tainted tabloid becomes the provider of that news?

Now, if they pull it off would be quite a feat, yet when we go back to the initial fraud part, if the system flags an article as possible fake, what happens when the news agency in light of thousands of items a day scraps that one item? Would the non-reported article by the journalist be seen as a matter for an aggrieved status? That is part of the problem these makers face, because in some nations the torts law is pretty strong and if there is a case of ‘redress of damage‘ the roll of the dice would be well worth it. There would be a direct and instant case of insurance companies, especially in any editorial status to not warrant any level of insurance when such software is used. Not now, possibly even not ever, although the latter part would be highly speculative by me and I hope to some extent that I am wrong, because pulling it off, getting software to be this able would be quite the achievement and the essential requirement for any evolving AI. This is because intelligence artificial or not would be about the ability to weigh information and facts to the proper value of innuendo and ascertainment of paraphrased facts. Weighing information is a skill that is almost never done correctly on the present day internet. A nice example is to compare the search engines Bing and Google, when you seek ‘UK torts‘ the search engine Bing gave me as a 4th and several subsequent mentions ‘Tort law in Australia – Wikipedia‘ as well as a few other Australian references to Australian law. Was that what I had asked for? No, it was not (which is why Bing is my preferred source for not finding facts, yay Google).

All issues given that could be seen as fake news, or is that fake information, so when we see the flags, how long until the bias sets in? You see that is my largest issue with what could come, with bias I get what they want me to see, which I touched on in the very beginning, because automated or not, censoring is a dangerous principle under the most ideal situations. With software, no matter how good the intention we could see a dangerous curve towards what is automated assumed we wanted to see. You see, there are too many parts of the dimension of ‘fake news’. This has been the larger issue with media for a much longer time. In this, Mevan Babakar the project manager at Full Fact in London has his work cut out for him, I do not envy him, yet if this gets solved and if it works, the value of this software would be a lot larger than most people could realise, and it would be a technological software marvel to behold.

 

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Opposed to Fry

The Guardian placed an interesting piece regarding Stephen Fry. This is a good thing, it is always nice to see the point of view of a truly intelligent person, even if I do not entirely agree. This is what happens in an intelligent world, one gives a good point of view and the second person opposes it, or agrees with it. In a true interactive dialogue, the problems of the world could be solved in such manner, which is why it tends to be really sad when politicians avoid that approach slightly too often. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/28/stephen-fry-facebook-and-other-platforms-should-be-classed-as-publishers) gives a few nice gems to start with: “Stephen Fry has called for Facebook and other “aggregating news agencies” to be reclassified as publishers in order to stop fake news and online abuse spreading by making social media subject to the same legal responsibilities as traditional news websites“, this is a good start, but here is also the foundation of my disagreement.

You see ‘Facebook and other “aggregating news agencies”‘ gives us a point, in my view Facebook is not an aggregating news agency. It is a social media outlet and as such, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, Reuters, CNN and a whole host of other providers push their articles to Facebook, often just a small eye catcher with a link to their web page. People can use ‘like‘ and ‘follow‘ and as such the news appears on their time line. This is mere facilitation. Do not get me wrong, Stephen Fry makes good points. In my opposition I would state that it makes more sense to go after the tabloids. Until they clean up their act with the innuendo and their not ‘fake’ but ‘intentional misrepresented‘ news, news that is miscommunicated in such ways to create emotional waves. They need to lose their 0% VAT option, that should be reserved for ACTUAL NEWSPAPERS. You see, these tabloids also use the social media as a projecting outlet. In all this Facebook merely facilitates. The second quote is “Fry accused social media platforms of refusing to “take responsibility for those dangerous, defamatory, inflammatory and fake items whose effects will have legal consequences for traditional printed or broadcast media, but which they can escape”“, I find it a lot harder to disagree with, although, when was the last time tabloids were actually truly fined to a realistic amount, an amount where the fine is set to the revenue of a week of published papers? You see when you have 2 billion users, you will get waves of fake news, or false information. There are no numbers, but consider that with 2 billion users, you are looking at 250 million to 1 billion added events per day, how can this be policed? Now, algorithms to police the use of certain words and that could help to some degree, yet the abusers of the social media system are getting clued in too. So they are getting good at avoiding triggering the software by avoiding words that flags them. In addition, when it is done via fake accounts, how can anything be stopped?

Fry makes a good case, yet I think he is not seeing the scope and amount of data involved. In addition, we see “At the moment, they are evading responsibility for their content as they can claim to be platforms, rather than publishers. Given that they are now a major source of news for 80% of the population, that is clearly an absurd anomaly“, he is completely correct, yet the users of Facebook have the option to not watch it or to not accept it on their timeline. Doesn’t that make it a choice of freedom for the users of Facebook? I have in the past needed to block content from a ‘so called‘ friend, merely because of the amount of BS he was forwarding. It was fixed with a mere click of the button. This is not an opposition towards the point Stephen Fry is making, but an answer on how some people could deal with it. In this equation we have the number of people on Facebook, there is a variable that takes into account the amount of BS we get from tabloids, and you better believe that they are active, via ‘stories’ and via advertisement. The advanced options of granularity that Facebook advertisements offers is the reason why those tabloids want to be there and the tabloid group outside of the UK is massively larger than the disgusting size of the UK tabloids is and they are all offering their links on a global scale.

Can Facebook be held to account? Well, to a certain level they can, you see, the actual propagator of events needs a Facebook account. When information is limited to an audience, the impact is lessened. So as Facebook users can no longer send information to friends of friends, only to friends, we have lost an iteration, this could be the difference between 500 people getting the news (fake or real) or the impact that this news goes to 250,000 people, when the addition is that newsmakers can no longer forward it over timelines, but only to the one subscribed timeline, we will soon see a shift on the wave of messages. In addition, not only is the damage contained (to some degree), but as forwarding any post becomes an instance, there would be a much smaller list to police and the users forwarding the post would no longer be the facilitator, they would become the publisher. Facebook is kinda ‘off the hook’, but the user is not, they could to some degree be held to account for certain actions. It makes the events a lot more manageable. In addition, it could limit impact of events.

So here we see the optional solution to some degree. It must be clear that it is to some extent, because it merely drops the impact, it does not take it away. Stephen follows it all up by also making reference to the British Airways IT fiasco. We now see “Fry cautioned that the world’s reliance on digital systems would also inevitably prompt a cataclysmic cyber-attack and bring on a “digital winter for humankind”“, there is certainly a danger and an issue here. The question becomes which issue is in play? As we see Reuters giving us: ““Many of our IT systems are back up today,” BA Chairman and Chief Executive Alex Cruz said in a video posted on Twitter“, we need to realise that even as Terminal 5 was designed to deal with 35 million passengers, in 2015, the numbers give us ‘Terminal 5 handled 33.1 million passengers on 215,716 flights‘, this gets us the average of 91,000 passengers a day, for 590 flights. So there would be an issue for 3-4 days I reckon. That is just the one day impact. The issue that plays and the caution of Stephen Fry is that as we are unaware of why and how it happened, there is no guarantee that it will not happen again. One of the Guardian articles gives us: “The glitch is believed to have been caused by a power supply issue and there is no evidence of a cyber-attack, the airline said. It has denied a claim by the GMB union that BA’s decision to outsource hundreds of IT jobs to India last year was behind the problems“, which has two parts one is the power supply issue, which is a bit of an issue, the second one is outsourcing. The first one is weird, that is, until we know where that power issue was. If there is a server farm, the server farm would be an issue. At this point, the backup systems should have been working, which should if properly set up be in a secondary location. power issues there too? There are several points where the issue could impact, yet with proper setup and tested solutions, the impact should not have been to the degree it was. That is, unless this was done by the same team who ‘tried’ to give the NHS a new system about 5 years ago, if so then all bets are off. The outsourcing sounds nice when you are a union, but that would merely impact the customer service as I personally see it, so until I see specific evidence of that, I will call it a bogus claim by GMB.

The Stephen Fry issue was neither, he merely stated ‘digital winter for humankind‘, which is an actual danger we are facing more and more. You can judge that for yourself and test it. You merely have to switch off mobile data and Wi-Fi from your mobile for 24 hours. 99.992% will not be able to do that, we are that relying on getting fed digital information. We will offer a host of excuses; like ‘I need to be reachable‘ or ‘people need me non-stop‘. I see it as all bogus mentions of the fact that we are digitally too dependent. If you give these people the additional limitation of ONLY using the e-mail and office programs, the chaos is nearly complete. We are all 100% digitally dependent. That means that any damage to such an infrastructure will bring us distress. We then see “An extinction-level event … will obliterate our title deeds, eliminate our personal records, annul our bank accounts and life savings” which is only part of the quote, but this part has already been arranged for the people of the world, it is called Wall Street (remember 2004 and 2008).

The final part to address is the part we see combined in the article. “Fry also addressed the rise of big data, which has seen private companies competing for and using the personal data of millions for corporate gain, the gig economy of Uber and Deliveroo; the inability of governments worldwide to keep up with technological progress; and live-streaming services like Facebook Live allowing people to broadcast acts of violence and self-harm“, the three elements are:

  1. Rise of big data
  2. Keeping up with technological progress
  3. Live streaming towards violence and self-harm

There is no issue with the rise of big data, well, there is but the people are in denial. They are all about government and the optional alleged abuse of that data, whilst they give the green light to places like Facebook and other instances to do just that, and now they get to sell aggregated data. Yet, when we use a certain data property, where every person is 1, like a social security number or a insurance policy number, when every aggregated fact is founded on a population of 1, how aggregated are you then?

We know that governments are not technologically up to date. You see, the cost to get that done is just too high. In addition, governments and other large non-commercial organisations tend to not push or pursue policies too high, which is why the NHS had its Ransomware issues. We see Labour and socialistic parties on how it all needs to be about people programs, whilst they all know perfectly well that without proper infrastructure there would be nothing left to work with, they just don’t care! They need their image of creating jobs, whilst spending all the cash they have and pushing the government into the deepest debt to keep whatever lame promise they make and the next person gets to deal with the mess they leave behind. The lack of long term foresight is also the Achilles of IT, any IT structure needs a foresight of what is to be done next, by living in a fantasy ‘at the present’ setting, is why some politicians go into denial and in that case IT systems will falter over time and no one is set into the field of ‘let’s get this working properly’, the NHS is the clearest example, but not the only one, or the last one to buckle.

The live stream is the larger issue that has no real solution, that is until the numbers are dealt with. As larger facilitators get a handle of what is pushed online, resources open up to resolve certain issues. There will forever be a risk that certain live streams get through, yet the chances might be limited over time. In that, until the laws change, there remains a problem. Part of it is the law itself. The fact that a rape was streamed live, in it watchers saw Raymond Gates, who was accused in the attack and charged with kidnapping, rape, sexual battery and pandering sexual matter involving a minor. That person ended up with 9 years in jail, whilst he ‘enjoyed’ media limelight attention for many months. Marina Lonina, the person who filmed it all got ‘caught up in the likes’. The New York Times stated: “The defendants each face more than 40 years in prison if convicted“, yet in the end, yet the girl filming it got 9 months, the man doing the act got 9 years (source: CBC). So as we see, it seems that the act of live streaming is rewarded with an optional implied sentence reduction of 39 years and 3 months. So if the governments want to make change, I would suggest that they clean up their justice departments and get some proper convictions in place that will deter such live stream actions. In addition, if Marina Lonina would have been convicted with at least the 8 years in addition, so that she and the actual penetrator served the same amount, there might be a chance that live streaming of self harm will fall. There is no evidence that it will, but you get to solve the matter in small steps. Take away the ‘benefits’ of being merely the camera man or girl, the amount of events might drop too.

So here is my view and opposition of the parts Stephen Fry offered. He made good points and raising awareness of issues is always a good thing, especially if they are made by a person as renowned as Stephen Fry, but in all this dimensionality is still a factor. The response against issues (which I blogged earlier) on ‘tough new laws on extremist and explicit video‘, yet in all this, many transgressors will not get convicted and making it the problem of the facilitator, whilst the governments know that the law falls short is just blatantly stupid on the side of the governments. In the end, these people are not stupid, this track will continue for several years, whilst those politicians with: “the rules are not yet public and now enter what is known as “trialogue” – discussions between negotiators from the EC, the European parliament and the Council of the European Union“, gave rise to my ménage-a-trialogue label as this becomes a new EC gravy train which ends up coasting a boatload in lunches, meetings, hotels and flights whilst not resulting in any actual solution. Do you still think Brexit was a bad idea?

OK, my bad, this was not about Brexit, but the issue of laws and free speech have been on the agenda for the longest of times as ‘Strasbourg on March 24th, judges, journalists, lawyers and activists discussed the challenges facing the protection of free expression in Europe‘, there we saw that Helen Darbishire stressed on that event that “it is necessary that the judiciary in individual countries become more aware of European jurisprudence and standards“. If it is true that many countries are establishing regulations, transparency of public information is still far from being a reality. Yet when we consider that freedom of expression can be positive or negative and any hindrance of it goes via Strasbourg, the limitations faced cannot be pushed onto large corporations that facilitate. As the government leaves the field open to tabloids and even make them VAT exempt in the progress, a facilitator that comes with editors, writers and photographers, how can you push the blame onto a facilitation service that has been largely automated? And the worst of all, the governments pushing to place the blame in the other isle know this very well. As long as the debate goes on, they are ‘working on it‘ making the issue even worse.

So even as I oppose Stephen Fry to some extent, it was good and really interesting to read parts of his view (I was not at the event, so the Guardian might not have given me all he said), and as I read his view, I contemplated the views I had and tested them, that is what the views of an intelligent person does, they allow you to test these views against the views you have, which is awesome any given day of the week.

 

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