Tag Archives: the Sun

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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Why do we bother?

This article is not for the faint of heart, or for those who ‘believe’ in equal rights. This piece is as misogynistic as it gets, for the simple reason that being nice, being considerate sounds like an idea, but in the end, it seems to me that

  1. No one cares
  2. The prosecuting side of the law at large seems to be ill equipped.

What brought this on?

It’s been going on for a little while. Usually in the form of these ‘innocuous’ advertisements through Facebook linked pages and other sourced forms of mass marketing.

You might have seen them, pictures of photo shopped women, ready and posing to be ‘coitussed’, with added statement like ‘Male Gamers Only‘ (EDGE, by UDM), an advertisement for a game called Wartune, with the ‘warning’ Adult content! It is all promoted by a site called ‘utterlypettable.com’ (one of several places), in this case regarding the 21 most deadly animals. So can anyone explain how a transgression on sexual discrimination is not being prosecuted? Because they are just ‘facilitators’?

It seems to me that those facilitating mass advertising have a lot to explain for. To just get through and to just get the revenue in, they will overlook many issues. Of course these pages are usually linked to advertisements like ‘Hurry before this video is banned‘ and ‘Rich people Do Everything To Ban This‘. I normally ignore them all, but in this light, I decided to take a gander on the idiotic side, which now links to ‘Free money’ sites with additional spamming scripts. The fact that pressing the button to close that window steals the act and forces you to submenus only give way to the dangers that these places present. You see, if they were all on the up and up, they would not resort to these tactics and closing the window would not be hijacked. A world limited to Hijacking and Misogyny. It all goes even further when we consider the damage Facebook is handing out (from https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/26915213/stop-being-selfish-outrage-over-anti-c-section-facebook-page/). This shows us A Facebook page criticising women who have given birth by caesarean section. How is this ‘freedom’ of speech? So as we see the reasoning for this need, which is “A Caesarean section is often performed when a vaginal delivery would put the baby’s or mother’s life or health at risk“, we should ask how we can condone ‘freedom’ of speech, attacking people for diminishing a person’s health, in this case both mother and baby. Yes, there is a growing concern that more women ask for it and not always is there a health danger, but that is between the upcoming mother and her physician as I see it.  My question becomes, the ‘offender’ known as the Disciples of the New Dawn, how many of them are man and what percentage of this group is female?

At this point I must also illustrate that this is not a new issue. The guardian had an opinion piece in May 2013 (at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/23/facebook-violently-sexist-pages-twitter-fbrape) called ‘Facebook’s violently sexist pages are an opportunity for feminists’, directly stated, not only do I disagree, these pages are a lot more dangerous than both genders realise. When we see eBay pages, selling T-Shirts stating ‘I’m feeling rapey we can honestly state that there are massive issues. The 2013 offensive T-shirt “Keep Calm and Rape A Lot” being the clearest of these transgressions. The article explained on how the automated phrase was in the hands of ‘Solid Gold Bomb’ and as they stated ‘these shirts were computer-generated and we didn’t even know we had a shirt that says that‘. The article does not touch on the part on how the phrases were collected, if we take the logic on the event that the act required someone to type it in, it would take thousands of people to type the phrase to get detected by these algorithms, which means that there is a larger problem hidden behind the issue which was not addressed by the press at large either.

This is partially seen in the UK where domestic Violence is at a massive high. At this point I want to mention an article I mentioned in the past (at http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/13/domestic-abuse-violence-victims-crime-survey-figures). Here we see ‘Domestic violence experienced by 30% of female population, survey shows‘, if this is anywhere near the truth, then tomorrow, when you get into the Underground and look at the women on route to their destination, then consider that over time it is likely that out of every 4 women you see, there is a small chance that one of them has not yet experienced abuse. Now ask yourself if you can live with that number, one out of four!

So when we see Jeri Ryan as the Female Borg, we can consider that being 7 of nine, that she could be one of 7 currently receiving domestic abuse. These are not nice statistics and the failing of the law is getting ever clearer and ever more unacceptable.

All this is propelled from the statement ‘Male Gamers Only‘, one of the most unacceptable calls for a game. I have played online many times, several friends on the multi-player Mass Effect 3 are women and they are quite good too! Games are a great channel, there we need to be part of the pack, part of the group and there the gender, age and religion has no bearing, only that you are part of the team, propelling victory for the entire group. The most unbiased of acts, to be together and just have a fun time. So when we see a T-Shirt stating “You provoked me” and “I was drunk“, we should worry on how this was regarded as ‘freedom of speech’. When we see the dreadful statistics of domestic violence, those ‘slogans’ have no place in this society and merely removing the page from eBay just does not cut it in my train of thought.

So when we see the quote “T-shirts that make a joke of rape are still available, of course, even on the biggest retailer of all, Amazon, but Laura Bates at Everyday Sexism has vowed to keep fighting to stop rape being regarded as a joke, rather than the violent crime it is“, we have to ask more than serious questions, we should ask whether a retailer like Amazon would be allowed to continue to cater to any Commonwealth nation. In my view, removing fields of revenue tends to be a great motivator to start being actually correct (in comparison to being ‘feigned politically correct’).

As stated, these events are not opportunities for feminists, they are just dangerous grounds for additional victims, which brings us to the second part of all this, the act of trivialisation. There are two kinds, there are at times trivialised moments when we have a vocal ‘spas’ with friends, we all say some things that are way outside the realm of politically correct. Men will giggle when we hear (as I did) the words of one woman saying to the other ‘No knickers? Laundry day or lunch with Mr Big?‘ (At Paddy’s market, Sydney). The mention is essential because it is a simple dialogue between two women I passed whilst looking for a polo shirt. Is objectification wrong when female friends do it among themselves? Was there objectification, or was ‘Mr Big’ about to get himself objectified over ‘lunch plus’. I feel unable to answer as there are too many unknown variables. Yet, linked to something I do know is the article ‘If you want to write about feminism online, be ready to take on the haters‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2015/apr/01/if-you-want-write-abaout-feminism-online-be-ready-to-eal-with-the-haters). You see, in my view, the photo is part of the issue. Three women wearing ‘no more page three‘ texts. I for one was never against page three (being a guy and all), but moreover, I always felt that those women used the Murdoch system to hopefully get ahead. Was that wrong? I do not know, but it was their choice to make, just like it is the right of these women to oppose page three. I mentioned the issue before. You see, when we see Keeley Hazell, who became known for working with charities, which include those working for animal rights and breast cancer awareness, we should wonder how bad the act was. There are not too many examples like these, so over 4 decades we can wonder on the numbers of good versus evil, but in my view, it is not about feminism, it is about the causes that matter. I am not convinced that page three led to domestic violence, but all this effort on a page in a paper that has been faltering versus the national issue that plays in more than one Commonwealth nation makes me wonder whether energy and effort are pushed into the right direction. There I have my questions and I am not convinced. The article does mention my feelings in a way when it raises the paragraph ‘There are more important issues to worry about’, which is exactly the issue I have. It is also for that reason that I am such a fan of the effort Emma Watson who is bringing us ‘HeForShe‘. I disagree with The Age (at http://www.theage.com.au/comment/emma-watson-speech-hardly-a-gamechanger-20140925-10lhz9.html), where Clementine Ford (a woman) is stating that it is hardly a game-changer. I disagree, As Hermione Granger she spoke to the imagination and reverence of an entire generation, a generation that now entered the real of young adult. A generation that consists of both man and women. She had an opportunity and she is forging a change from within this generation. That is not ‘hardly a game-changer’, this is huge and as far as I can tell, almost unique in our history, which makes it even bigger. There is a part I feel uneasy about. The quote “Gender inequality comes as a direct result of the enforcement of patriarchal structures. Although men are impacted negatively by it, they are not impacted in the same ways or to the same drastically violent extent as women“, is not wrong, but as I see it, it is incorrect. You see, a lot has changed, many changes that started in the last two decades are now coming to fruition. So as I see some women ‘whine’ about inequality (not judging right or wrong), I see that it is not wrongly seen, but wrongly shown in dimension. At University, now as I complete my Masters in Law, I see that the gender gap is no longer equal, I see that the man are now a minority, moreover, the people becoming partners and the higher echelons of law are slowly being replaced by women, who have completed the journey from legal aid to where they are now. This was not a simple task, these women excelled in law for a long time and now, those women get the positions. This is not a patriarch side, this is an evolving side. Now as the changes come over the next decade, women are more likely to be in charge in many fields, not because they are women, but because over time they had proven themselves to be equals. The second part of the article I disagree with is “Men have always been welcome to ‘participate in the conversation’, most notably when that participation involves action, change and acknowledgement of their own privilege and power“. That was (as I see it) never the case. I remember at VNU (Dutch publication house) that there was a guy who offered several pieces on promoting IT and IT skills for women. He literally got laughed out by those working at the Cosmopolitan editorial. So do not come to me with ‘welcome to participate’, because that was not the case. I am not making a judgment whether the act then was valid or not. Change took a long time and we are not there yet, but the wheel has turned and the acts of Emma Watson and women like her will be essential in propelling it all forward. So as we allow the issues of some advertisements, some T-shirts and on trivialised domestic violence, I wonder what fights still need to be fought.

So in the end, why do we bother?

Because within ourselves we acknowledge that moving forward requires equilibrium and equality, they are one and the same in our mental position and championing this position will end to be good for all. This is exactly why I am all for women in gaming. Not because they are women, but because I want a better game and it has been proven again and again that originality is found when new views are added to the table, in an age of mediocre sequels, originality is the essential ingredient. I look at it from the world of gaming, because I know this world the best, in IT it does not matter what gender the person is as long as there is skill and innovation. The result there is never seen in gender, if you doubt that, then list the names of all who worked on either Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel or Adobe Photoshop. There is the simplest shape of evidence. Here we do not care, who did it, as long as it works, the ultimate equaliser of gender.

 

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In all fairness

I feel that, at times, there is a duty to speak out for the other side. Not because I like it, or because it is essential, but because it is right to do so. Now, let me be clear, I have spoken out against Rupert Murdoch and his phone issues for some time, yet when I saw this article in regards to page 3 (at http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/nov/05/sun-page-3-advert-banned-sexist), I felt it was essential to stand up in favour of page 3. So what is the big deal? I remember seeing page 3 when I was young, innocent and thought that page 3 offered newsworthy information. You find me any boy between 15-18 who thinks that it was not news worthy, then there is a 1% chance he is gay, which is fair enough and 99% chance that this boy is lying (just to coin an option).

That is pretty much the gest of it, but what is in play? The issue is not with the page 3 girl immediately, but with the text behind it “Promotion offered subscribers who recruited 10 or more players to their fantasy football league the chance to win a date with a Page 3 girl“. Is that not great?

No, it is stated “More than 1,000 complaints were received by the advertising regulator about the email promotion“, how lame is that, which I admit is my view of it.

Consider “10 lucky readers can win the ultimate Valentine’s Date with Hawkins herself“, it was a chance to win a date with Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins. So how many letters were sent there? There was an equal complaint of zero to win a date with Brad Pitt through some gossip girls column, whilst he was already married to Angelina Jolie. Then there is the option to Win a date with FHM cover star Georgia Salpa! The list goes on, Ed Sheeran, Cody Simpson, Melanie Iglesias, none of these drew the complaints, but the Page 3 girl did. This is of course the additional weirdness, it was not Mellisa Clarke, Lucy Collett or Lacey Banghard (all former page 3 girls), but the term ‘page 3 girl‘, the label that grew the Sun, that is the part that seems to be under attack. Lucy Colette is now regarded by FHM magazine to be one of its 100 Sexiest Women in the World, so no sexism there? Some of these models have been active for PETA, some have backed a major breast cancer awareness campaign for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and this list goes on. There is no denying that most men watch page 3 to stare at ‘the twins’, yet these women, many of them used this platform to launch awareness and activities on social levels that have lasted for years.

So, can we all agree that these are either these 1000 complaints come from men who are either jealous or moms who consider their 18 year old on a date with a page 3 girl too offensive? I know that neither is likely the case, but in my view this complaint was hypocrite at best and if we want to have a go at Rupert Murdoch then that is just fine with me, but choose something that should be attacked (like phone hacking). Not some date with a woman, likely to be in a place where she will remain all dressed (many restaurants in London tend to frown on their topless clientele, even when those clients are male).

This is the crux, page 3 is a gimmick it is advertisement, one that has been there for decades. On one side from the newspaper to the topic of sex sells and on the side of the model, to get perhaps a chance to get into modelling, to make some money, whilst they know that a photo, is merely a photo, and these women might sunbath topless and that will not bring them money and still they are likely to get photographed. There is nothing apprehensible about this. The woman does not have to pose and this extra option for a woman, perhaps a model to go out on a nice date with a guy and all is paid for from the credit card of Rupert Murdoch, possibly in a location neither could afford is just an extra bonus. Now let’s look at the other side, were these women truly demeaned, or are they strong independent women setting themselves up for another round of them marketing themselves. You see, these women are basically doing the same thing Brad Pitt and Jennifer Hawkins were doing, just because these two are making millions, no one is complaining. How hypocrite can people get?

This all takes another turn as the Advertising Standards Agency upholds the entire issue. The wordplay, which is what we are used seeing from the Murdoch machine is the same as ever, half-baked innuendo, but no added fire. The text of the ASA that “the offer of a date was sexist, demeaning, offensive and objectified women“, means that they must now ban ANY date option from so many magazines. I wonder how Rupert Murdoch will strike back, because he will in some way. So why is this, a big deal? Well, it isn’t a big deal, but it does show an amount of double standards, which I personally find offensive.

You see, there is another side to all this, as we see some actions which I consider to be lame and counterproductive, because they also defuse the actual need for action as we see the aggravated harassment of Caroline Criado-Perez, as she was able to get Jane Austen on a 10 pound note, that was important, to fight for the safety of Anita Sarkeesian as she is threatened for her right to freedom of speech, this is a massive issue. Yet the issue of some people winning a date with a woman who posed topless by her own free will is just a little too stretched. What makes a date with one of these models more objectifying then a date with former Miss Universe? It does not and I think that the women are not objectified, which makes me wonder who the 1000 complaints were from.

Let’s take one final look at the one part the ASA had upheld: ““In the context of the ad, we considered that to offer a date with a woman as a reward for success in the game was demeaning to women and objectified those offered as prizes.”“, is that so? I am not debating whether it is or it is not, but how come we see no persecution (or is it prosecution) for FHM and other magazines offering the main prize to be a date, simply because no complaints were filed?

It seems to me that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has its work cut out for them, if we consider the 2010 ‘Cosmopolitan Win A Date with Bryann F and Fabio Ide‘, and if we consider the ASA advertising codes on consistency, then quoting the ASA “Consistency is a principle of good regulation; it helps to create clarity which leads to good practice amongst businesses. Something that is good both for industry and consumers. It also helps us to do our job better and concentrate our focus on where it is most needed. That’s why we strive to ensure that the advertising standards set by CAP and the rulings reached by the ASA have proper regard to consistency“, under that guise it will be up to them to ‘outlaw‘ any magazine to offer a date as a prize, I just wonder how the Justin Bieber fans will react when their possible dream date is off the table, not to mention all the other people who allow themselves to be the date for fattening the wallets of good causes and charities, I think that this entire page 3 issue was overexposed and many others might not like the consequence of the result.

 

 

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The Toothless tiger

It is roughly 1,544,400 minutes since we saw this message “The newspaper and magazine industry today takes the first steps towards setting up the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the new regulator for the press called for by Lord Justice Leveson” (at http://www.newspapersoc.org.uk/08/jul/13/independent-press-standards-organisation, in July 2013).

So when I saw the words ‘press’, ‘regulator’ and ‘sham’ together in one sentence (at http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/sep/07/victims-press-regulator-ipso-leveson ) I was not that overly surprised. Let’s not forget that the implied innuendo in regards to the press cleaning up its act was never a reality.

You see, after all that visibility, on March 25th we see the report from the Daily Telegraph with the headline “Flight MHG370 ‘suicide mission’“, was anyone even surprised that the press regards themselves ‘beyond the law’?

Yet, if we are to properly assess the situation, we must therefore also allow matters of defence. So what is the issue that bites us so much? The letters from the 30 victims of press intrusion stated to Sir Alan Moses the following (as stated in the article of the Guardian):

By rejecting the majority of Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations, the paymasters and controllers of Ipso are rejecting due process

In its current form, Ipso retains no credibility with us or with the wider British public.

It furthermore states: “it was not truly independent, breaches of the industry code of practice would go unreported and unpunished, and there would be no effective and transparent investigation of serious or systematic wrongdoing“.

Now, after what happened in the hacking scandal, I am all for bashing the press, but let us all be honest, if we are to convict a group, let us do it for valid and preferably legal reasons.

About these pictures!

This all links to several issues that I wrote about in the past few days, Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton might be the most famous ones, but they are by no means to most important ones (I feel for these victims, but reality shows us bigger problems). Yes, there is an issue that links to Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian. If we go by the words of Reddit, we should use the quote “The site, which had an online forum named ‘The Fappening’, was one of the main places the hacked nudes were being posted and the website has now banned the page, six days after the photographs of the Hunger Games star first surfaced. It is thought the main reason bosses have finally pulled down the forum is NOT because of the J-Law snaps, but because photographs of Olympian McKayla Maroney which were also posted on the site are believed to show her underage.” which came from the Mirror. These places have been hiding behind the ‘innocent disseminator‘ flag for far too long. Their income is real and based upon bandwidth. If we want change, then perhaps forcing a tax bracket on bandwidth, especially with a bankrupt America, might be a novel way for debtors to get their coin back. Yet this is not about that. The fact that Jennifer Lawrence is now partially safe is only because another victim was a minor when the pictures were taken. This makes for a massively inhumane disaster and one that also affects the press. It is interesting that when we look at the name McKayla Maroney we see two events, both the hacked ‘under-dressed’ images as well as the Gamergate reference to Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian.

Vox Media stood alone

It is Vox (at http://www.vox.com) who seems to be on top of it, so we see one place, which might be regarded as ‘trivial’ by some covers the real issues that many ‘major’ papers have been ignoring all over the US and in places far beyond the US. You can read their words in depth at http://www.vox.com/2014/9/6/6111065/gamergate-explained-everybody-fighting. It is well worth reading; however, there are a few parts I do not agree with. Let’s go over those, for they are all linked.

Here is the first part: “If it was just to bring attention to Quinn’s personal life, that’s, as stated, already happened. And if it was to create better ethical disclosures in online journalism, that’s happening, too. The Escapist is drafting new guidelines, while Kotaku is now forbidding its writers from financially supporting independent designers on Patreon, a popular method for backing independent artists, unless the site’s writers need to donate to Patreon for coverage purposes (since many developers release material first to their Patreon backers). And Vox sister site Polygon requires disclosures of this sort of support“.

I do not agree for the following reasons:

  1. If we look at the press at large, Quinn’s plight is less than a hot drop on a plate. “Jennifer Lawrence”, “Nude” and “shoot” gives us 41 MILLION hits when we use all the keywords. “Zoe Quinn” gives us 70,000 hits with less than a dozen reputable sources (including Vox Media). So, I think we can safely say that visibility is not even close to being a factor there.
  2. Better ethical disclosures in online journalism? Sorry, but are they for real? Most of these writers have never seen a class in ethics, it is also likely that some of them cannot ever write ‘ethics’ correctly. That being said, many of them write for mere passion on games, their transgression of alleged ‘corruption’ usually goes no further then receiving the free game. How corrupt is that? In all this, my issue with Gamespot has almost forever been with the open sponsor Ubi-Soft. They are not hiding it, so that is good, but I seem to colour my faith to any Ubi-soft review. Overall the writers and makers like Carolyn Petit, Jess McDonell, Danny O’Dwyer, Justin Haywald, Chris Watters, Cam Robinson and Kevin VanOrd do an interesting job. Depending on their ‘preference’ of gaming we tend to favour a certain person, whilst not ‘liking’ another one. The sad news that some of these writers are leaving as Gamespot is changing should be sad news to all gamers.

Scoops

This all goes towards “forbidding its writers from financially supporting independent designers on Patreon“, why? Is the likely fact that reviewers would have the inside track on a game and by personally backing a developer they will have a scoop? Is that not what pretty much every newspaper does? If not, how about cancelling ALL advertisements from Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and Adobe? How long until they are missing out on scoops? I think support should not hidden, but if I was still in the business I would be funding No Man’s Sky or Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar (I have been a lifelong Ultima fan), if it gives me a scoop days in advance of others, than so much the better. The question becomes is this truly about implied corruption or about mainstreaming a 100 billion dollar plus business? You see, the gaming groups was for a long time ignored (especially in the time I was involved)

True Scenario: “I went to the ‘Efficiency Beurs’ (a Dutch IT/Technology trade show) in the RAI in Amsterdam in the early 90’s (1991/1994), I forgot the exact time. Anyway, I was already deep into the gaming world and sound would be the next big issue. PS speakers were no good, Adlib was an option, SoundBlaster was the new kid and those with real money (read wealthy parents) there was the Roland card, which costed a fortune. This is the age when the PC was a wild market, CBM-64 and Atari were on a high and the PC was relying on blips and bleeps. So, I walk to the IBM representative and asked him on the new PS/2 PC’s and whether the soundcards in the growing gaming market was a field that IBM was looking at, as well as, whether IBM had considered adding a sound card to the PC-Private projects (which was a tax deductable PC scheme in the Netherlands). I was ‘walked off’ the stand with the response that IBM was for ‘professional’ use only. This same IBM is now advertising ‘Smarter Serious Games’ (at http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/gaming/)“.

So, these ‘losers’ (just to coin a phrase), who would not consider this industry for a long time are now trying to leech of a 100 billion dollar industry by ‘Simming’ (Sims joke) it on, so nice of IBM to join the party almost two decades late (they did however join the party decently before 2013). So now we get this escalation on several fields and interestingly enough all at the same time. Several approaches of wild growth is seen, personally I reckon this all truly took off in high gear in September 2013 when one game made one billion in only three days and passed the 2 billion mark this June making a videogame more successful then the most successful Hollywood production in history. Now nearly everyone wants to jump on board and it also seems to allow for a ‘wild growth’ of certain ‘elements’. IBM is not a party to this (they move in different circles), yet, those growing wildly on our shores hoping for their billion are learning hard and fast that gamers can easily spot the quality from the chaff and as such we see escalations. Whether we take Forbes article (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/03/21/gaming-the-system-how-a-gaming-journalist-lost-his-job-over-a-negative-review/) for granted or not, it seems that the name Sony and the possibility of pulling away advertisements apply in several corners (like the PS4 release and Terms of Service issues). So, to avoid ‘ethical’ issues, it seems to me that newspapers at large just ignored the plight of over 60 million customers and any link to ‘changes to the terms of service’. So how does this all link to ‘corruption’?

That is the part that seems to elude many, it is not ‘just’ about corruption, it is about alleged corruption with the writers (emphasis on alleged), implied corruption with their bosses in what they publish but more importantly what they DO NOT publish. The last part is on streamlining it all. If anything, GTA-V shows us that a billion plus revenue takes more than just a good game, it is about marketing and advertising, which shows now exactly the issue on visibility.

I am not alone with these views; some of them were discussed by Ashton Liu in her blog at http://rpgfanashton.tumblr.com/. She has an interesting view I had not considered. She writers “It has been no secret to the gaming community that many video game news sites have been employing increasingly extremist and reprehensible tactics to gain site hits and forward their ideology“. In that regard she seems on top of it all, I saw the harassment of Quinn and Sarkeesian as idiots who should go the way of the Dodo yesterday, if at all possible. Yet in her view, we are dealing with more than just blatant ‘ranters’, it is entirely possible that there is a corporate push behind it all. If we consider the actions by Sony and the market they need to ‘rule’ is that such a far-fetched statement? If people are willing to sell their souls for a niche market, what is Sony willing to do to remain the number one on the market, especially if you can motivate non-journalists (read non-accountable people) to speak out loudly?

What makes a Journalist?

It is a side, that until the article of Ashton Liu I had ignored. Ashton is like me, an ideologist, we seem to share a passion for RPG games and we are willing to put some time into sending the message of the Role Playing Game, hoping to introduce it to others. Yet, part of the view she offers seems incorrect, is this all about true gaming journalists? Many of them are not journalists at all, they do not have a degree in journalism, so let’s all agree that unless the person has a degree in Journalism that this person is just a games reviewer (I myself am a games reviewer), I have degrees in Law and IT, but not in Journalism, which makes me a non-journalist!

This is where the issues become (slightly) clear. Many are not journalists at all, so journalists are compared to ranters and outspoken ideologists, whilst not getting painted on grounds of evidence, which is almost slander (I said almost). We are all in need of more clarity, clarity I am asking for, whilst trying to remain clear, clarity Ashton is trying to give the readers and there are the additional thousands online, ranting all over the place. So what is a reader to believe?

Corporations

Perhaps that is the part we all forgot about? We seem to ignore the corporate site. Is that the background of those who remained with Gamespot? Is CBS changing the gaming area by starting to cut away the ‘non-professional’ staff? I do not know, I am asking this. I have no issue with any writer at Gamespot (even if they cater to games I never play), their passion has for a long time been without question, yet, if this streamlining requires the presence of education, not just knowledge, then those without Journalistic skills to be ‘relocated’ and not all end up within the CBS structure.

So as Ashton made the statement I disagreed with “These journalists behave terribly and browbeat anyone whose opinions don’t fall lock step with their own“, the question “which are the real journalists” come to mind. This is where we return to Leveson, the issues that IPSO is accused of and how this relates to Journalism.

IPSO is regarded as a toothless tiger (perhaps correctly so), yet as papers are more and more online and as we see more and more ‘contributions’ from critics and reviewers, we will see that their painting of a group ‘as ignored’ as stated by the phone hacking scandal victims, we see a corporate move by many newspapers that employ reviewers and critics who are likely non-members of the official Journalistic core, but in the online mash no one can really tell anymore. This is at the heart of several issues, next to the editors relying on people whose family name tends to be “well-placed sources within”; I wish I had a relative like that.

This all gets me to the only part of the Vox article that I have an issue with. It is not really an issue, it is more a disagreement. They stated “Because what #GamerGate is all about isn’t who is or isn’t a gamer, or what role the press should play. It’s about what games should be and who they should be for. And that’s worth a real discussion, not just a hash tag“. I think that anyone enjoying a game is in the smallest extent a gamer, and as his or her passion grows, so will the Gamer part of that person. I think it is MASSIVELY important the part the press plays and to some extent they need to be judged on what they publish and to some extent even more on what they ignore, not unlikely for favours from the advertisers. You see, what happens when it is no longer them, but also the stakeholders? Consider the stakeholders for projects of Ubi-Soft and Electronic Arts. The moment they start ruffling feathers on ‘their’ dividend and the press ‘obliges’ that is the true moment when we will no longer see whatever ails a gaming community. When it goes through a journalist we do end up with the smallest protection, but ‘small’ beats ‘none’ every time.

It is ‘what games are and who they are for‘ is as I agree an important discussion, yet the implied evidence at present gives little support that that true vision will come from #Gamergate, because anyone willing to develop a game, no matter what gender, what topic and what ethnicity of graphics we are presented with should be a reason for bias and/or discrimination. These are parts #Gamersgate seems to be ignoring.

Streamlining is also all about who owns the IP, that is the one part they all seem to ignore, if the future is about IP (Intellectual Property), then it is the novel idea that has the future of gaming fortune, which is all about streamlining in the eyes of EA, Ubi-soft and Sony (to name a few big companies in this field), you see, who owns the IP will continue and not unlike the flaccid economists of Wall Street, larger companies have been all about continuing a brand and less about the new idea, which makes indie developers the future (consider the massive success of Mojang with Minecraft), that is the streamline part all ignored. This is why I think it is important to protect them! This is seen in the slightly dangerous statement by Vox Media in the article as they state “Some argue that the focus on harassment distracts from the real issue, which is that indie game developers and the online gaming press have gotten too cozy“, is that true, or are the larger players realising that they passed the buck for too long and driving a wedge between the press and the Indie developer is essential to their survival as they try to ‘rekindle’ the press and push indie developers towards the ‘cheap’ deals where they can take over the IP. That part is at large ignored by most. If we look at 2014 we see a massive host of new versions of the same brand, whilst none of the truly new games are coming out in 2014. Splatoon, ignored by many is the new kid and so far it seems that it might largely drive sales for Nintendo. You see these larger houses have forgotten to cater to THEIR audience (not just bring a cool presentation about something not due for 15 months) and as such are under scrutiny facing an endangered future. When we see a headline like this ‘Battlefield 4 – It’s so bad, its actually funny!‘, they know that they are in trouble, no matter how much you pay marketing to focus on the small stuff and micro transactions, which some call ‘Blood Money‘. In my view this is partially the result of letting ‘Excel users’ anywhere near the gaming market and when these investments do not pan out panic will be the natural consequence.

Back to IPSO

Yet, this also reflects on IPSO, because is the story ignored not as irresponsible as calling a tragedy a suicide mission? I wonder if the two elements would have been anywhere near as extreme if IPSO had not been toothless. I cannot state this for America, but I am certain that many gaming issues would have been a lot more visible, which might have reduced the risk and abuse of both Quinn and Sarkeesian. If you do not believe the press to have any influence, then consider the Art ‘expose’ called “Fear Google“, which is exactly the method of News the Sun used to rely on for at least one page (a page 3 joke only the British understand), or as we could call it, how Rupert Murdoch got through his early years. So here we see the beginning of the future, as Jennifer will end up getting shown to the world in states of non-dressing, her stolen pictures are less likely to be stopped as they are not getting sold, even if sold, the chance of enough people getting convicted becomes a serious question.

We can safely say that there is a group of toothless tigers, law partially became toothless as it catered to business enterprise and as we see more and more ‘free’ services we see an abundance of innocent dissemination that no one seems to be able to stop, ‘oh yes’, for some reason many were ‘suddenly’, within hours, able to stop the film where a Journalist ‘suddenly’ lost his head. It seems that ‘sudden’ acts are at times possible, so why this entire system is not better regulated is to be perfectly honest beyond me, but you better realise that someone is making loads of money, not just the hacker (read: thief) that got a hold of the pictures.

 

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The press has another go

It is always fun to see a repeat of what has been there already. So I was not that surprised watching Sky News and getting another press approach for their regulations. They found another person to step in front of the camera. They made sure that this time there is an utter lack of arrogance. It turned into a casually moment of pointing blame on the politicians. In this case it was John Witherow from the Times. Well, the message is actually simple Mr Spokesperson we the people do not trust you at present!

All this is happening right when another editor of the Sun is being charged (Duncan Lacombe).

So we have the journalists in a corner for a change, oh goody! THEIR view of ‘the people have a right to know‘ has so far seemed to be nothing less than the option to overrule the people’s privacy at a moment’s notice.

It is of course an issue listening to Sky News for the simple reason that they are journalists themselves. Things seem to be pressed on one side and trivialised on the other. I still hang to the original idea that the Leveson report should completely be implemented with a (non-)political option of legislation.

Before you judge me to be against freedom of speech then you are wrong. I am all for freedom of the press, yet the Murdoch crowd (sorry for generalising this) has proven that their freedom to do whatever they like should not be an option even again. You see, one side we have the freedom of speech and on the other side we have the right to privacy, which too often is crushed by the press stating ‘the people have a right to know‘, whilst in reality it is just about making the quick visible exclusive visibility and their need of ego at the expense of anything else.

Issues that also surfaced (the Milly Dowler case) is yet another example. In that case not only was there no investigation, there is even more issues with a police force that as stated by sky news on April 25thhas a case of collective amnesia‘.

Or as quoting a line by the Guardian of April 24th 2013 “while a former senior officer from Surrey police said the press was ‘untouchable and all powerful’“. So not only is the press doing whatever it likes, it is interfering with police investigations, like they are the flipping ‘Special Branch’ (since 2006 known as SO15). Perhaps Commander Richard Walton could confirm whether the press is currently on their pay roll, which would allow for some awesome cost cutting solutions. Mr David Cameron would be so pleased.

We might never know what happened in the case of Milly Dowler. It is not unlikely that the phone hacking resulted in a loss of messages. Lost voice mail messages that could have assisted the Surrey Police department in their investigation. It is interesting that I read in the Guardian “An NoW journalist (name redacted)” It is interesting how that Journalist was redacted. So, Mr Witherow, how about the option of name redaction to be removed as a right for Journalists? How about an open name and shame issue where those people who seemed to have harassing the Surrey Police to be openly known to all. By your own words: ‘the people have a right to know‘.

My bigger issue is with some of the points mentioned (I will be playing the devil’s advocate here).

 1. A majority of independent members on all the bodies of the new regulator, with open and transparent appointments.
– My worry is that those appointments might not be as independent as we would like.

2. Public involvement in how the new Code of Practice will be framed.
– My worry is that this is one certain way to get loopholes placed and more of an issue is the delay that this public involvement brings. Delays the press would love to see going on and on and on.

I do agree that regulation should remain outside of the reach of politicians. Yet, adding regulations, even if it was a clear regulation to the conduct of the members of the press is needed. This is the part all media seem to be fighting, as they seem to prefer to remain footloose, fancy free and non-accountable. This is where I am no longer on their side (as the evidence over the last few has proved).

Yet, there is another side to journalism which I do not want to ignore. For every 500 half-baked phone mail chasers that call themselves ‘investigative jounalists’ there will be a real journalist like Paul Lewis or David Bergman (that group is larger than these two, but a lot smaller than most might realise). Here is the crux as they say. I would not want to hinder a journalist like David Bergman, or those hoping to step in his footsteps. Yet, the kind of ‘writers’ that many have been confronted with in the past, especially celebrities and victims of high profile cases there is one journalist that is there to dig into the shady sides of people, collecting specific information in whatever way they can to uncover the truth and the reality.

This reminds me of a scene in the West wing Season 2 episode ‘War Crimes’:
Will: “I don’t like being a stenographer. And I don’t like writing gossip. I read a column last week where a lady bemoaned the decade of scandals she’s had to cover, as if the news was to blame for the quality of journalism. I don’t know if there’s ever been a more important time to be good at what I do. Can you imagine how much I don’t give a damn about what Toby said to a staffer?

It makes my point stronger then I could (it is Aaron Sorkin at his best). Too many Journalists are way too happy to cover gossip and get their stardom visibly shown in any way they can. The environment made them that way and it must change. I am still baffled by the issues, delays and opposition against the Leveson report. If anything, that report shows the weaknesses and also called for proper legislation and regulation to protect the privacy of people (without stopping the freedom of speech). Of course this is not what the press wants as they want to just do, post and publish whatever they like, especially when it is about ratings and circulation.

The only thing that is currently interesting is that at present politicians are trusted more than journalists are. Who would have ever thought that such a day would ever become a reality?

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