Tuesday, January 29, 2019

BNL News has "sources"

The Twitter account @BreakingNLive made a couple tweets earlier today about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Specifically, they said she was deathly ill:
BREAKING: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has not been heard of for over a month, is deathly ill, but is currently being kept alive at an unknown hospital for an unknown reason - sources 
(We are in contact with a few people who have knowledge about the situation)

Within half an hour, @BNLNews deleted the tweets, claiming they needed to "verify" the information further.  The tweets were sitting on my timeline, so I took a screenshot:


Is there anything more annoying than when an anonymous news source makes a reference to anonymous sources?  Call it a pet peeve of mine. 

The @BreakingNLive Twitter account has 77,000 followers.  The bio section says "Breaking news alerts & news updates from around the world."  The geographic marker says "USA."

The two earliest tweets from @BreakingNLive, from September 18, 2016, both reference RT.  That might be significant, but I'm not sure.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Nada Bakos and the mystery of @ColumbiaBugle

Several months ago I bookmarked a tweet by Nada Bakos:
https://twitter.com/nadabakos/status/1018759990230671360
The tweet has since been deleted.  According to my notes, it said:
This account is exactly what was described in the @NPR article on Russian trolls posing as local news.
Nada Bakos was referring to the Twitter account @ColumbiaBugle.  She thought @ColumbiaBugle was a Russian troll.

The @ColumbiaBugle Twitter account
To support her hunch, Bakos linked to an NPR article that discussed how Russian trolls were posing as local news agencies on Twitter.  The fake accounts bore names that sounded like local news outlets--e.g. @ElPasoTopNews, @MilwaukeeVoice, @CamdenCityNews, etc...  Furthermore, they all shared legitimate news stories on Twitter.

@ColumbiaBugle doesn't bear any resemblance to those troll accounts.  He doesn't pretend to be a local news outlet.  Rather, he's a pro-Trump political commentator.  He wants to Build The Wall.  He's a fan of Tucker Carlson.  He's a Young Republican.  He also explained that the "Columbia" in his handle doesn't refer to a geographical region, but rather to Lady Columbia:


If Nada Bakos (or any other ex-CIA agent) wants to know the guy's identity, I'll tell you.  Just send me a DM on Twitter.  For everyone else, here's a hint:  Imagine how an old Japanese woman would describe the fat Buddha.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The DFRLab and Reddit

In November, the Digital Forensic Research Lab published a report titled "RT and R/The_Donald."  It's an examination of how stories from RT.com perform in the subreddit /r/The_Donald.  As I read the report, some of the author's statements struck me as amiss, and I want to take a few minutes to articulate what bothered me. 

Nitpick #1:

Early in the article, the authors says:
Over the past year, more than 500 articles from USA Really and the brutalist.press were submitted on Reddit. Only two, however, were upvoted more than 1,000 times, indicating a low uptake of the content shared from the two domains.
That's wrong.  I went to RedditSearch.io and found seven articles from Brutalist.press that received more than 1,000 upvotes:  One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.  This is an example of how data can be different depending on where you look.

Nitpick #2:

Later in the report, the author embeds an image from BuzzSumo, showing the six most-popular RT.com articles from the past six months, ranked in terms of total social media engagement.  The gist is that none of the top RT articles had any engagement on Reddit:


What I've been trying to figure out is why the same RT.com article is listed five times in a row?  It's the one titled: "Going to the gym is a sign of being gay, says Malaysian newspaper."

For what it's worth, that RT story was posted in multiple subreddits, and it spurred user engagements in /r/Malaysia (40 upvotes. 57 comments), /r/Forsen (27 upvotes, 4 comments), and /r/LGBT (25 upvotes, 1 comment).  I'm assuming the author didn't count those engagements because they occurred back in February, 2017, and she was only searching for results from the past six months.....but that still leaves a puzzling question:  Why does the BuzzSumo image indicate that all of the RT articles about the Malaysian newspaper were printed in October, when a simple Google search shows the article was printed in February?

I created an account on BuzzSumo and tried to replicate the DFRLab's results, to no avail.  I searched for the most-popular English-language RT.com articles for the six-month period up to November 6, 2018 (the publication date of the DFRLab's report).  My results showed that five of the top six stories had some engagement on Reddit.  The Malaysian newspaper story didn't appear in my results:



Nitpick #3:

Near the end of the report, the author explains how "if it was not for The_Donald, RT’s articles would fall on deaf ears on Reddit."

This statement ignores the fact that RT articles have been highly upvoted on /r/WorldNews, which is an active subreddit with 20 million subscribers.  If you look at the most upvoted RT articles on Reddit from the past year, the top four submissions were all in /r/WorldNews.  In their report, the DFRLab says the top 20 RT links in The_Donald received a combined 132,000 upvotes.  By comparison, the top 20 RT links on /r/WorldNews from the past year received over 143,000 upvotes.

Like I said earlier, this type of data depends on where you look.  (And I know my time frame isn't the same as the DFRLab's time frame.)  My point is:  It's wrong to suggest that /r/The_Donald is the only place on Reddit where RT articles gain a foothold.


Nitpick #4:

At the end of the report, the author says, "by upvoting RT’s articles thousands of times, The_Donald Redditors made it possible for RT’s content to reach Reddit’s home page, which is the first page users see when they enter the site."

I don't think the DFRLab understands how the "front page" of Reddit works.  For years, the front page consisted of 25 default subreddits.  Later, this was expanded to 50 default subreddits, and /r/The_Donald was never part of the default group.  In February, 2017, the Reddit admins redesigned the front page to display links from a large swathe of "popular" subreddits, and /r/The_Donald was not included as part of the original list, either.  It's possible that /r/The_Donald was included on the "popular" list at some point, but my impression is it never happened.  Thus, I doubt /r/The_Donald has ever pushed an RT article to the front page of Reddit.

Incidentally, I did find an example of RT making the front page on Reddit in 2018, courtesy of /r/WorldNews:
https://web.archive.org/web/20180103031815/https://www.reddit.com/


Conclusion:

I do agree with the DFRLab's overall thesis: There are lots of RT links being submitted to the /r/The_Donald, and this is concerning in light of the user base's potential susceptibility to Russian propaganda.  That said, I felt the DFRLab's efforts to contextualize their data mostly fell flat.  The report's conclusion mentions how RT is "seeding" it's content in /r/The_Donald, and I would've preferred if that part received more of an explanation.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Russian troll on Coub?

I was reviewing all the Russian troll accounts from Reddit, and noticed a couple of them shared videos from Coub.com. 

Coub is a video mash-up site.  It's like a cross between Instagram and Vine, mixed with the humor of YTMND.  The Reddit trolls only shared videos from one Coub account:  "PoliGraph."  You can see PoliGraph's videos at this URL: https://coub.com/poligraphme.


There are a few reasons why I think PoliGraph was controlled by a Russian troll.  First, PoliGraphs's videos align with themes pushed by the Russian trolls on other social media platforms:  They're anti-Hillary; they highlight police brutality in the U.S.; they mock the U.S. for its obsession with guns, etc....  Second, one of the Internet Research Agency's accounts on Twitter was named @poligraphme, which matches the URL of PoliGraph's Coub page.

PoliGraph posted 1,002 videos on Coub.  The earliest was dated September 7, 2015, and the last was dated July 14, 2016.  The videos have received 3,339,508 combined views (so far).

Coub began as a Russian start-up.  There was an article in The Verge in 2014 which said the company had just opened an office in New York, but I don't know how popular the site is in the U.S.  It wouldn't surprise me if there were numerous accounts on Coub being run by Russian trolls, but so far I've only "discovered" PoliGraph.

Here was PoliGraph's most popular video.  It received 361,904 views:




Here are the four videos that were cross-posted to Reddit:













Here's a typical anti-police video:




And here's a video that defies commentary.  It combines politics, Star Wars, and Gangnam Style:


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Streamja URL confusion

Oftentimes, when you click on a Reddit thread, there will a tab for "Other discussions."  This shows where else on Reddit people have submitted the same URL.

I saw this yesterday after clicking on a thread for a Streamja video:


Two of the threads link to a Streamja clip that shows a scene from yesterday's SmackDown.  The other thread links to a Streamja clip that shows a play from a soccer match from ~10 days ago.  Yet both Streamja clips apparently have the same URL.  So I took a closer look:

The SmackDown Streamja clip has the URL: https://streamja.com/g3BW

The soccer Streamja clip has the URL: https://streamja.com/g3bW.

Somehow, the capital "B" and the lowercase "b" were treated the same.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Royal Rumble saves

WWE just uploaded this video of Kofi Kingston's Royal Rumble "saves":


After watching the video, I have a few hot takes to share...

Hot take #1:

Kofi Kingston's all-time greatest "save" did not take place at the Royal Rumble.  It took place at WrestleMania 30 during the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal:


The dude got launched out of the ring, over the ring post, and managed to keep his feet on the ring steps.  God damn.

Hot take #2:

The greatest Royal Rumble save of all time was not performed by Kofi Kingston.  It was performed by John Morrison at the 2011 Royal Rumble.


Morrison's save is great because it starts off like a normal elimination, but then he simply decides to break away from the standard physics of professional wrestling.  I don't remember ever seeing a wrestler hang off the barricade until Morrison did it. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A quick dive into Chuck Johnson's comments on the Holocaust

On January 16, 2019, the Daily Beast published an article titled: "GOP Congressmen Meet With Holocaust-Denying Troll Chuck Johnson."  The article says:
Johnson, a former Breitbart reporter, has denied the magnitude of the Holocaust, expressing doubt that gas chambers were real and questioning whether six million Jews were really killed—a figure that has been well-documented by scholars and historians.
This was the first time that I'd ever heard Chuck Johnson was a Holocaust denier, so I wanted to follow the sourcing and see his original comments.  The Daily Beast article links to a Mother Jones article from September 13, 2018, titled: "Two Republican Congressmen Hobnob With an Alleged Holocaust Denier. Again."  The article says:
During an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit’s alt-right section, Johnson had been queried, “what are your thoughts on the Holocaust, WW2, and the JQ in general?” (“JQ” is neo-Nazi shorthand for the Jewish Question.) Johnson replied, “I do not and never have believed the six million figure. I think the Red Cross numbers of 250,000 dead in the camps from typhus are more realistic. I think the Allied bombing of Germany was a ware [sic] crime. I agree…about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real.”
At this point, I was still looking for the original source of the comments.

The Mother Jones article links to a post on Little Green Footballs from January 27, 2017, titled: "Chuck C. Johnson Says He’s Advising the Trump Administration on Nominees - and He’s a Holocaust Denier."  The post says:
The reason why I’m writing about this loathsome character again: yesterday he did an “Ask Me Anything” in Reddit’s “altright” (read: neo-Nazi) section — and came all the way out as a Holocaust denier. Here’s the exchange. (The term “JQ” is a neo-Nazi abbreviation for “Jewish Question.”)
justacolyte:
what are your thoughts on the Holocaust, WW2, and the JQ in general?
ChuckCJohnson:
I do not and never have believed the six million figure. I think the Red Cross numbers of 250,000 dead in the camps from typhus are more realistic. I think the Allied bombing of Germany was a ware crime. I agree with David Cole about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real. I read the German War (highly recommend), Bloodlands, Mein Kampf, and all of David Irving. I’m more or less of the view that the war was an outgrowth of the efforts of communism to spread itself throughout the world. I also believe that the fears of German extermination were not misplaced, especially in light of the Ukrainian famine. But I support Israel as a Jewish state and Zionism as a concept. I’m pro-ethno state, generally. I understand why and how Hitler rose to power but think too much of our focus on World War II is spent trying to understand Hitler and not enough is spent trying to understand Weimar. Mecius Moldbug, aka Curtis Yarvin, is right. America is a communist country.
The words "Here's the exchange" link to an AMA that Johnson held on the /r/AltRight subreddit on January 27, 2017.  However, Reddit has banned the /r/AltRight subreddit, and so when you click the link you see this message:



Fortunately, somebody saved the AMA using Archive.is.  Here's the specific Archive.is link for Chuck Johnson's "250,000" comment:  http://archive.is/Rrawk.  And here's the Archive.is link for the whole AMA:  http://archive.is/y9zKy.

What's interesting is that you can see Chuck Johnson went back and edited his comment.  Based on the timestamps, it would appear Chuck Johnson edited his comment several hours after the Little Green Footballs post was published.  Here is what the edited comment says:
ChuckCJohnson[S] 29 points 19 hours ago*  
I do not and never have believed the six million figure which I think is still up for some historical debate. There were a number of sources that disputed the six million figure and I find myself in that camp reluctantly. Of course you can't really discuss any of this stuff without being called a Holocaust denier which I am not. I think Jews were killed in the war, particularly in the Eastern occupied provinces. I think the Red Cross numbers of 250,000 dead in the camps from typhus are more realistic but I confess to having complicated views on the subject. I think the Allied bombings of Germany were a war crime. I agree with David Cole about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real. Why were their swimming pools there if it was a death camp? I support decriminalizing Holocaust inquiry. I read the German War (highly recommend), Bloodlands, Mein Kampf, and all of David Irving. I'm more or less of the view that the war was an outgrowth of the efforts of communism to spread itself throughout the world. I also believe that the fears of German extermination were not misplaced, especially in light of the Ukrainian famine. But I support Israel as a Jewish state and Zionism as a concept. I'm pro-ethno state, generally. I understand why and how Hitler rose to power but think too much of our focus on World War II is spent trying to understand Hitler and not enough is spent trying to understand Weimar. Mecius Moldbug, aka Curtis Yarvin, is right. America is a communist country.
So Chuck Johnson went back and made sure to emphasize that he was not, in fact, a Holocaust denier. 

This wasn't the last time Chuck Johnson would deny being a Holcaust denier.  In a post on GotNews, dated February 4, 2018, Johnson addressed the comments he'd made during the AMA:
Some of my friends are rightly asking me what I was doing when I posted on Reddit last year some comments that could fairly be characterized as Holocaust denial. A now archived and deleted post does reflect statements I made, but it does not reflect my views on the Holocaust. I am not now nor have I ever been a Holocaust denier.
I unambiguously believe the Holocaust happened, that 6 million Jews died, that some of those Jews who died in labor camps, gas chambers, ovens, and in all manner of dehumanizing ways.
Johnson also explained that his comments about the Holocaust were done for the sake of trolling:
So why did I post these remarks? What could I possibly have been after? 
Over the last few years, I have financed a project studying the various tech companies and their commitments to free speech against fake hate speech. I began this process several years ago when I joined a group of like-minded individuals committed to getting Ellen Pao fired from Reddit over her reluctance to embrace free speech. In that instance as in this one anti-Semitic language trended to the top of Reddit and led ultimately to her firing. This is how trolling works. 
That paragraph is awfully confusing.  The first time I read it, I thought Chuck Johnson was saying he made his Holocaust comments in order to get Ellen Pao fired.  Of course, that wouldn't make sense, because Ellen Pao resigned from Reddit back in 2015, long before the AMA took place.  All I can deduce is that Johnson was (supposedly) testing Reddit's commitment to free speech.    

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Users on /r/Politics hate CounterPunch

Lately I've been posting CounterPunch articles on /r/Politics.  I do it mainly to see people's responses.


Last year, the Washington Post published an article revealing that a freelance journalist named "Alice Donovan" was, in fact, a Russian troll.  "Alice" had submitted politically divisive articles to publications like CounterPunch.org, VeteransToday.com, and WeAreChange.org.  As a result, whenever I share a CounterPunch article on /r/Politics, there are people in the comments section deriding the website as Russian propaganda.  Here are some typical responses:
"Russian propogandist site. Don't click."
"MoscowPunch.  Downvote." 
"Garbage propaganda." 
"This is a Kremlin crony source. Don't trust it." 
"Just like /r/politics to upvote literal Kremlin disinfo rags."
"Russian Troll Factory.  Downvote" 
"KremlinPunch, that's a downvote." 
"I would not trust this article, whatsoever. Propaganda and misinformation."  
Some commenters would copy-and-paste the section about "Alice Donovan" from CounterPunch's Wikipedia page.  Other commenters would copy-and-paste the opening section from the aforementioned Washington Post article, which mentions "Alice Donovan" and CounterPunch.

The oddest response I received was from a commenter named /u/LumpyUnderpass, who said:
What is this source, why is it being inorganically upvoted, and why is it whitelisted?
When /u/LumpyUnderpass wrote that comment, the thread was sitting at zero upvotes.  So, if anything, it was being inorganically downvoted.  Also, when a commenter on /r/Politics says: 'Why is this site whitelisted?' it's usually in response to some right-wing publication like Breitbart or  DailyCaller.  It's the type of question you ask after you've already formed an opinion about a website.  So it doesn't make sense that /u/LumpyUnderpass would ask "Why is it whitelisted" and, in the same breath, ask "What is this source?"  It's like he took three possible default responses and combined them into one Frankenstein comment.   

None of the commenters directly accused the editors of CounterPunchJeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frankof being Russian propagandists.  Nor did the commenters call out any of the authors whose bylines appeared on the articles.  (Heck, one of the articles that I submitted was written by Jesse Jackson, so it would've been a bold strategy to accuse him of being a Russian stooge!)  Instead, most of the rhetoric focused on the publication itself.

In total, I submitted ten CounterPunch articles over the course of ten days.  I'll have to cut back on that frequency, because by the end of the streak some commenters were suggesting I was a Russian troll.  User /u/TwilitSky wrote this comment, which got 17 upvotes:
For anyone wondering, the time in St. Petersburg Russia is 9:04 AM which just happens to be 4 minutes after this compromised shitsource was posted.
There's a thin line between doing something to see the reaction, and doing something to get a reaction.  I don't participate much in the comments on /r/Politics, and so people might wonder why I was making these threads.  If I share another CounterPunch link in /r/Politics, I'll have to choose an article that I'm willing to defend in the comments section.  Maybe that will affect the dynamic.   

Monday, January 14, 2019

Michael Avenatti BTFO?

I was just thinking about this tweet Michael Avenatti made back in October:


Avenatti said Donald Trump Jr. would be indicted before the end of the year.  Well...It's January 14th, and I don't think Donald Trump Jr. has been indicted yet.  I Googled "Has Donald Trump Jr. been indicted?" but I didn't see anything conclusive in the results.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The hardest Idiotest question ever

Idiotest was a show that aired on the Game Show Network from 2014 to 2017.  Two teams would compete to answer a series of brain puzzles presented on a touch screen, and the winning team played a final round for a chance at $10,000.

Most of the challenges on Idiotest were based on wordplay or visual cues.  For example, here's a puzzle that asks you to spot what doesn't belong in a bowl of Alphabet Soup.  The answer is the "4."


During the first few episodes of Idiotest, the final round had a difficult format.  The winning pair were given a total of 60 seconds to answer five questions.  If, at any point, they touched the wrong answer on their touch screen, they received a 5-second penalty.

Here's a question from the final round of episode 2:


That is, without a doubt, the toughest puzzles I ever saw on Idiotest.  The contestants were asked to "touch the total number of hearts" but what you probably wouldn't notice is there are two hearts camouflaged as spades in the top-left corner.  Who the fuck would ever notice those two hearts?  And this was just the second question!  Thomas and Kente wound up amassing too many 5-second penalties, and they ran out of time.  When the host, Ben Glieb, explained why the correct answer was 17, it took me a while to figure what the heck he referring to with regards to the two extra hearts.

I haven't seen black men given a question this tricky since those Literacy Tests in the 1960s!


Actually, that would be a pretty good idea for a game show:  LiteracyTest!  And the questions are always rigged against the black contestants.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

/u/PKCockSuck has been suspended

Earlier this week, Vice debunked a fake photo of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that was floating around the internet.  The image had gained attention on the /r/Drama subreddit, where it received over 200 upvotes.  As I read the Vice article, I couldn't help but notice that they didn't identify the Redditor who shared the image.  They simply said:
On Sunday, someone posted a photo of a woman’s legs and feet in a bathtub on one of Reddit’s most popular forums, r/Drama.
I wanted to know who that "someone" was.  Were they a right-wing provocateur?  A conspiracy theorist?  A troll?  Or were they just an idiot?  I went to the /r/Drama thread in question and saw the OP's name was:  /u/PKCockSuck.  When I clicked his profile, I learned /u/PKCockSuck had been suspended by the Reddit admins!

Alas, poor PKCockSuck
I then visited RedditSearch.io and looked up PKCockSuck's posting history.  In total, PKCockSuck made four posts on Reddit:

1.  A post in /r/Drama, titled: "A mayo gives his unpopular opinion on da joos."

2.  A post in /r/Drama, titled:  "'chapo users are pedophiles' It's over for Chapocells."

3.  A post in /r/Drama, titled: "MOMMY'S TITTIES ON THE FAUCET."

4.  A post in /r/Drama, titled: "It’s OVER for centristcells."

Three of PKCockSuck's posts consisted of links to other discussions on Reddit.  The fourth post, of course, was the hoax image.  PKCockSuck also wrote 19 comments on Reddit.  I'm just going to copy-and-paste them below in chronological order: 

1.  "You're confusing me with Oingo Boingo"

2.  "It's horrible spyware"

3.  "Holy fuck, am I famous yet?"

4.  "One of my favorite parts about this is they said "someone posted" instead of my username because they don't want to run the username /u/PKCockSuck"

5.  "The issue is when the mandatory curriculum requires things that are impractical in anything but very specialized fields. "

6.  "Can't believe the news cycle is covering someone debunking a shitpost I made"

7.  "Based"

8. "  'posted to /r/gamerghazi'  Hmmmm"

9.  "I have never had to use anything I learned in precalc. All practical trig I learned in geometry"

10.  ""I posted the fake nude as a shitpost. I like OAC and her dancing. Mommy material"

11. "You're welcome"

12. "Fuck off chapocell"

13. "Imagine wanting to live a peaceful life in your island nation when a bunch of fruit merchants start getting saucy"

14. "You mean Max Stirner"

15. "Kingdom come deliverance actually got into hot water over this, but there's no proof of people of African descent living in Bohemia during the reign of Charles IV"

16. "Wasn't an attack. I love her"

17. "Hype for people to paint me as an incel who wants to smear AOC when I was just admiring our mommy"

18. "Why is incest porn so popular now"

19. "You implying conspiracy?"

Overall, I don't think the posting history is too revealing.  PKCockSuck mainly just sounded proud of having his "shitpost" go viral.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Jacob Wohl gets BTFO

Yesterday, Jacob Wohl tweeted:
Sources saying Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will resign tomorrow
It's 11:25 PM right now, and there's been no news to indicate Ruth Bader Ginsburg has resigned.  So I'm gonna call it:  Wohl's sources were WRONG!  Which begs the question:  Who were Jacob Wohl's sources?  I think that if you quote "sources," and those sources turn out to be wrong, then you have a moral obligation to burn those sources.  If you were just referring to someone else's sources, then you should make that clear as well!  Jacob Wohl later deleted his tweet (like a coward).  During the day, he wrote a couple other tweets about RBG, saying stuff like:
How can we have any confidence in Ruth Bader Ginsburg's rulings when she's absent for oral arguments? Can we have any confidence that she's even the one rendering the decisions?  
She should retire with grace and dignity.

Which...you know...hey.  The guy is allowed to share his opinion.

Sebastian GorkaAKA The Gork Manalso tweeted yesterday about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's imminent(?) retirement:
The Gork Man was vague with his timing, so I can't really fault him yet.  Maybe RBG is preparing to step down.  Maybe she isn't.  Maybe plans will change.  At least The Gork Man didn't claim it would happen today.  That being said, I am curious who his sources are.  Are Sebastian Gorka's sources the same as Jacob Wohl's sources?  Do they have different sources?  I don't have sources to tell me who their sources are, so I can only wonder!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

LADailyPress.com and other Mr. Robot domains

I was watching Mr. Robot, and in one scene Angela is refreshing news websites to find any coverage about Terry Colby.  Her screen shows four URLs:

7QPartners.com
LADailyPress.com
Al-Jawahir-News.com
DEA-USJD.net


I tried visiting each website, but none worked.  (I was hoping to find an Easter Egg.)

I then looked up the WHOIS details for each site.  7QPartners.com and LADailyPress.com are both registered to the organization "NBCUniversal Media, LLC."  Al-Jawahir-News.com and DEA-USJD.net are both registered to the organization "Universal City Studios."

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Netflix library in 2019

Is there a website that keeps track of how the Netflix library grows or shrinks?  (Something like Graphtreon?)

For now, the best option appears to be UNOGS.com.

As of January 8, 2019, UNOGS shows that Netflix in the U.S. has:
5907 total videos 
4099 movies
1808 series

Sunday, January 6, 2019

BuzzFeedNews is banned on /r/News

Last month I tried sharing an article from BuzzFeedNews.com in /r/News.  The post didn't appear in the new queue, which if often an indication a domain has been banned.  I checked to see how many times an article from BuzzFeedNews.com has ever appeared in /r/News, and the answer is.....zero.



I went to Redditsearch.io and looked for times when someone tried to submit an article from BuzzFeedNews.com in /r/News.  There were dozens of examples from the past month alone.  All of the posts were still sitting at 1 or 2 upvotes.  There were no flairs or comments on any of the posts, either.  That's a pretty clear sign the threads are being removed by an automoderator bot:

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Cap ain't answering

Early in Avengers: Infinity War, the camera shows a closeup of Tony's flip-phone, and you can see that Captain America's phone number is: 678-136-7092.


I tried calling that phone number, but got a message saying:  "Your call cannot be completed as dialed.  Please check the number and dial again."  Lame. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Top of the world of Reddit

I had the #1 post on /r/all today.  It was a Politico story about how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to increase the income tax rate.


Sometimes I wonder if there are digital marketers or political strategists who spend a good chunk of their day studying Reddit?  Like, I'm picturing somebody at American Engagement Technologies who wants to know what will trend.  And they're jotting in their notebook:  "AOC = popular".

Anyway, now that I've submitted a #1 post, it means I can view /r/EliteClub, which is a private subreddit for people who have reached the top of Reddit.  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Styxhexenhammer666 and the mystery of David Hogg's age

Recently, Styxhexenhammer666 made a video about David Hogg getting accepted to Harvard.  And there was something odd about the start of his video. 

Here's my transcript:   
Alright everyone, unfortunately time to make another video about David Hogg.  See now he's like 20 now so you can actually use his name.  Before for some reason you'd actually get, like, de-platformed if you criticized him before, it's rather funny.  I think he took a year off, right, before going to college, and so he's older.  I think for some reason he turned 19 when he was still in high school or something, which is--I don't know what's going on.



The line about David Hogg being 20 years old caught my attention, so I took three seconds to Google "David Hogg" + "age" and this was the first thing I saw:



So David Hogg is 18 years old, and he was the normal age for a senior in high school.  He won't be 19 for another three months.  Which begs the question:  Why did Styxhexenhammer666 think the guy was 20?

Beneath his YouTube video, Styxhexenhammer666 linked an article from The Hill about David Hogg getting accepted to Harvard, and that article contains this paragraph:
After the shooting, the 18-year-old and his fellow classmates reignited the debate around gun control, launching a youth movement surrounding the issue. The group helped to organize the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C., that attracted thousands of anti-gun violence protests earlier this year.
The article is kind of vague about when Hogg turned 18 years old; I could see how somebody might read it and assume Hogg was 18 at the time of the shooting.  But even so, that still wouldn't make him 20 years old today.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Netflix is tripping

I've seen a lot of people complain about Netflix's recommendation system--specifically the "percentage match" that Netflix shows next to titles.  I didn't give it much thought until I saw this:


A 55% match?  There's no way Avengers: Infinity War should be anything less than 99%!

Making things worse, I then saw the percentage match Netflix gave to Bird Box:  


How does Bird Box get a 99% match, while Avengers: Infinity War only gets a 55% match?  Either Netflix messed with the results on purpose, or the guy who designed the algorithm was tripping.

I went to Netflix's "Help" section to make sure that I understood the meaning of the percentage match score.  On the page titled "Netflix Ratings & Recommendations" it says:
We offer thousands of titles to stream -- that’s a lot! When you rate TV shows and movies, you're helping us filter through the thousands of selections to get a better idea of what you'd like to watch. 
To do this, we use a recommendation algorithm that takes certain factors into consideration, such as: 
  • The genres of TV shows and movies available.  
  • Your streaming history, and previous ratings you’ve made.  
  • The combined ratings of all Netflix members who have similar tastes to you. 
We use these factors when we calculate the percent match score shown next to a title. This score is unique to you, and indicates how likely we think you are to like that title.
So...Netflix thought there was only a 55% chance I would like Avengers: Infinity War, even though I've already watched the movie three or four times.  What a weird assumption to make.