Sunday, August 25, 2019

New York Times under attack!

A campaign is targeting the staffers of the New York Times:

https://www.nytco.com/press/a-campaign-targeting-our-staff/

This campaign will....unearth old tweets and try to embarrass the staffers?  Or something?  The memo is a little light on specifics.  I'm assuming such a "campaign" would look similar to what happened to Sarah Jeong last year. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

DailyAmericanBuzz.com

Here's another plagiarism website:  DailyAmericanBuzz.com

A few days ago it published an article titled "There's Only One Surviving Blockbuster Left on Planet Earth"
http://archive.is/zuPJO
The text was copied from a Gizmodo article from March 5, 2019, titled "There's Only One Surviving Blockbuster Left on Planet Earth"
https://gizmodo.com/theres-only-one-surviving-blockbuster-left-on-planet-ea-1833075071
I didn't see any ads on the DailyAmericanBuzz article, but there was this annoying "Mailchimp" pop-up:


When I tried clicking the "x", a new tab opened up.  The tab went to this URL...
https://deloplen.com/1/1407888/?var=2224709
Then it redirected here...
http://homepros.zone/service/flooring/index.html?traffic_source=pro&campaign=floor305&keyword=186960768124597127&group=2224709
After I'd closed the new tab, I was able to click the "x" and close the Mailchimp pop-up.

I wonder if that's a genuine Mailchimp pop-up?  It seems kind of strange that Mailchimp would have a feature that makes a new tab open in your browser when you trying clicking the "x."

There are a handful of Reddit accounts posting links to DailyAmericanBuzz.com:
https://www.reddit.com/user/ingeniousmind 
https://www.reddit.com/user/debate2
https://www.reddit.com/user/stuffymind
You can tell something is "off" with these accounts.  They'll post a bunch of links to legitimate news sites like Reuters.com and TheGuardian.com and Today.com, but then they'll sneak in a submission to a URL such as DailyAmericanBuzz.com and it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Maddux Mystery

I went to YouTube to look for footage of Greg Maddux's 76-pitch game against the Cubs from July 22, 1997.  Here's what I found, courtesy of the official MLB YouTube account:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTSZ9xbD4JM
First of all....What is this garbage?  The clip shows just nine pitches. NINE!  I want to see all 76 pitches.  Also, the description for the YouTube video says:
7/22/97: Greg Maddux throws a complete game with just 76 pitches against the Cubs, leading the Braves to a 3-2 victory
The final score of the game was 4-1.  You can see the box score at the end of the clip.  Clearly, whoever wrote the description is dumb.

Curiously, the TV announcer says Maddux threw 78 pitches.  I would guess the TV announcer lost track of the number of pitches, but I can't be sure without watching the full game.  (And why does the announcer say "one hit, no runs."  That's not correct.)

ESPN.com has a clip of the game, but the description says Maddux threw 77 pitches:
https://www.espn.com/video/clip/_/id/24114199
Baseball-Reference.com also says Maddux threw 77 pitches during the game:
https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN199707221.shtml
And an AP write-up of the game says Maddux threw 78 pitches:
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1997-jul-23-sp-15312-story.html
Will we every TRULY know how many pitches Greg Maddux threw during that game?  No, not until someone posts footage of the full game.

Friday, August 16, 2019

RapidRationale.com

RapidRationale.com is another site that steals content. 

Here is an article from a few days ago titled "Disney CEO Confirms X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool Are Now All Part of Marvel Studios"

https://web.archive.org/web/20190817011447/https://www.rapidrationale.com/2019/08/disney-ceo-confirms-x-men-fantastic.html

The text is copied from an MCUCosmic.com article:

https://mcucosmic.com/2019/08/06/disney-ceo-confirms-x-men-fantastic-four-and-deadpool-are-now-all-part-of-marvel-studios/

Oddly enough, I didn't see any ads on RapidRationale.com when I opened the article in an incognito window.  Although I did get a MailChimp pop-up saying "Subscribe to our mailing list."  That's unusual.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

WIRED on fake Macedonian news websites

This was a good read:

https://www.wired.com/2017/02/veles-macedonia-fake-news/

I was kinda surprised to find one of the websites mentioned in the article, HealthyFoodHouse.com, is still up and running.  I just...assumed it would have disappeared along with the political websites.

Commit to be Fit!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Varghese discusses YouTube moderation

Sanjana Varghese wrote an article for FFWD titled "YouTube’s Drive to Clean Up its Platform is Erasing Vital Evidence of Potential War Crimes"

https://ffwd.medium.com/youtubes-drive-to-clean-up-its-platform-is-erasing-vital-evidence-for-open-source-investigators-48ec9aa460d2

I had trouble getting through this article.  I think that was because it contained quotes like this:
“As responses to various policy documents develop, we’re hopeful that we can at least get some pragmatic harm reduction measures in place, such as having clear pathways for civil society to audit and input into training data for algorithms.”
That's an academic quote, alright.  That's an academic quote. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Commenting before reading

Annie Reneau at Upworthy is dismayed.  

The Upworthy Facebook page shared a broken link for one of her stories, and the Facebook post got a ton of engagement:

https://www.upworthy.com/comments-didnt-read-the-article
Later in the weekend, however, another share of the article went up, this time with the correct headline, image, and share text. Still no link to the article, though. Anyone who clicked was taken straight to that same 404 error page. 
Guess how many shares and comments that post got before Upworthy got wind of the dead link and took it down.  
More than 2,000 comments. And thousands of shares to other people's Facebook feeds.
The incident does raise an interesting question:  What percentage of the people who comment on an article actually read it?  Is there a way to measure that percentage?

Monday, August 12, 2019

SrGrafo villain

Here's a comic by SrGrafo:



(I feel bad about copying-and-pasting it, so make sure to give his Patreon a quick visit.)

The first thing the comic made me think of was a scene near the end of Justice League.  The Flash is standing around like a nimrod, and Steppenwolf sneaks up, grabs Flash by the neck, and hurls him into the wall.  At the 2:22 mark:



[EDIT: The guy's YouTube channel disappeared a few days after I wrote this post!  Lame!!!  Now I've got to find another clip!]

Steppenwolf has a giant axe.  He was wrecking people earlier in the film with it.  But he doesn't use that axe when it could do some good.  He just grabs the guy by the neck and tosses him.  Then he monologues a bit.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Brad Shepard is a nimrod

Dolph Ziggler is facing Goldberg at SummerSlam.  Cool.



Dave Meltzer had actually reported on August 1st that Ziggler would be facing Goldberg:


What's notable is that Dave Meltzer found out about those plans by accident.  You see, a week earlier, some other bloggers on the internet had wrongly reported that Dave Meltzer had said Dolph Ziggler would be facing Goldberg.  Those reports appeared around July 25th.  Later, somebody from WWE called up Dave Meltzer and asked:  'How did you know Ziggler would be facing Goldberg?'

Not exactly Woodward and Bernstein stuff....but similar! 

What's even stranger is that WWE had been throwing out red herrings about Ziggler's potential SummerSlam opponent.  If you were watching TV, you would've seen teases that Ziggler might be facing either Shawn Michaels or The Miz.  On July 30th, WWE actually announced on Instagram that Ziggler would be facing The Miz:


So the timeline looks like this:
July 25:  People wrongly claimed that Dave Meltzer had reported that Dolph Ziggler would be facing Goldberg at SummerSlam
July 30:  WWE announced Dolph Ziggler would be facing The Miz at SummerSlam.  (This was a red herring.)
August 1:  Dave Meltzer confirmed that Dolph Ziggler really would be facing Goldberg at SummerSlam
August 5:  WWE aired a TV segment to officially set up Dolph Ziggler vs. Goldberg at SummerSlam
The guy who was the most embarrassed by this news (assuming he's capable of embarrassment) was a reporter named Brad Shepard.  Meltzer had previously dissed Shepard's reporting skills, so there was a brewing, one-sided grudge there.         

On July 26th, Brad Shepard tweeted that Dolph Ziggler would NOT be facing Goldberg at SummerSlam:
According to a source in #WWE, Dolph Ziggler is not currently scheduled to face Goldberg at SummerSlam.  I’m told Goldberg and upper management haven’t been on speaking terms since his match at #WWESSD in Saudi Arabia.
It seemed like Shepard wanted to counter the reports that were being attributed to Meltzer.  Then, on July 30th, when WWE put out the red herring that Ziggler was facing The Miz, Shepard tweeted:
Hey @davemeltzerWON, it’s “Mr. No Sources” here.  Enjoy your humble pie, dumbass.
Dave Meltzer replied:
Given I never reported that to begin with, maybe you need to take your desperation trolling elsewhere. 
Shepard would later delete that July 30th tweet.  Fortunately, another Twitter user, @RobSolo, saved a screenshot of the tweet:


There were three images embedded in the tweet.  One of those images was an excerpt from a Sportskeeda article from 25th which wrongly said that Dave Meltzer had said that Dolph Ziggler would be facing Goldberg.  Another image showed Brad Shepard's tweet from July 26th about how Ziggler would NOT be facing Goldberg at SummerSlam.  The third image was an excerpt from a Mandatory article from July 30th about how Dolph Ziggler was slated to face The Miz at SummerSlam.

The takeaway from all this is that Brad Shepard is a nimrod.  He attacked Dave Meltzer over something that Meltzer didn't actually report, while at the same time puffing up his own insider knowledge.  Except that insider knowledge turned out to be bunk.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

/u/AwkwardTheTurtle suspended permanently

[UPDATE 8/19:  AwkwardTheTurtle's account was later un-suspended.]

Reddit powermod /u/AwkwardTheTurtle has been permanently suspended from Reddit:

Here's a larger version of the exchange that led to the suspension:



As you can see, a Reddit user named /u/42turds was acting like a sea lion and complaining about the incivility found in one of Turtle's subreddits.  Turtle got pissed and called 42turds a "deranged fascist nazi piece of shit."  And that led to the suspension. 

AwkwardTheTurtle is a moderator for 2,000+ subreddits, including /r/Art, /r/LifeProTips, and /r/TwoXChromosomes.  He also moderates /r/AgainstHateSubreddits and /r/StopAdvertisingboth of which were created with the goal of eliminating "hate speech" on Reddit.  And of course, the AHS crew have had their sights set on /r/The_Donald for a long time.

I once wrote in the DefaultMods Slack that, if the far-right wants to win the 2020 election, they need to drive AwkwardTheTurtle off of Reddit.  It was a joke, obviously, but it was one of those jokes with an element of truth.  We've all read that Politico article about "The Great Meme War."  If Trump's followers want him to win reelection, they need to control the tone of the internet.  And how do you control the tone of the internet?  With memes, of course!  You can find Trump supporters on most social media platforms, but /r/The_Donald is where many of the popular Trump memes are incubated.

THE_DONALD'S MASTER PLAN:
Step 1:  Drive /u/AwkwardTheTurtle off of Reddit. 
Step 2:  Secure the safety of The_Donald.
Step 3:  Post spicy memes.
Step 4:  Win reelection.

Is this truly the end of AwkwardTheTurtle?  There was already one false alarm a few weeks ago, when Reddit administrators accidentally banned AwkwardTheTurtle's account.  (Apparently an admin pressed a wrong button.)  And the term "suspension" seems to leave open the possibility that the decision could be overturned down the line.

In the meantime, Reddit user /u/Awkward_The_Turtle has already been added as a moderator for /r/AgainstHateSubreddits.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Reports of a shooting

At 12:27 PM on Wednesday, Mike Valerio of WUSA9 tweeted out that there had been reports of a shooting at the USA Today building.


At 12:45, Valerio tweeted out that he'd heard from the FBI and there was not a shooting.


Which is good.  But, how does that happen?  I mean...I know how it happens.  There were reports of a shooting, and those reports turned out to be a mistake.  It's not like Valerio did anything wrong by tweeting about the reports.  You kind of have to do that, if you're a reporter.

This other tweet is kind of confusing, though.  The guy isn't a reporter, but he does have a verified checkmark.  He says he got a text message from a family member regarding an active shooter at the USA Today building.  I guess that family member was mistaken:

 An article on USAToday.com later in the day had more on the incident:
Heavily armed police officers evacuated USA TODAY's headquarters in the Washington suburbs Wednesday after authorities said they received a report of a person with a weapon that ultimately proved to be unsubstantiated.  
... 
Police received a call at 11:56 a.m., reporting that a man with gun was seen at the building, which holds the headquarters for USA TODAY, its parent company, Gannett Co., and offices for a variety of other businesses. The incident involved a company other than Gannett located in the building, Roessler said. 
After reading the article, I'm still not 100% sure happened.  (It sounds like an ex-employee of one of the other companies in the building may have sent a threatening text message?)  It doesn't seem like the type of situation where the authorities are going to explain in great detail precisely what happened.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

/r/Politics not a big fan of Israel

I like to post things in /r/Politics and see what sort of reactions the different stories generate.  There's definitely a sort of "hivemind" there, and you can usually anticipate the tone of the comments.

A few weeks ago, I shared a New York Post article titled:
"AOC one of few to vote ‘no’ as House passes bill opposing Israel boycott."  
Users in /r/Politics love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  But they dislike the New York Post.  How would they react?

The very first comment said: "Good. Fuck Israel."  I assumed the comment would be downvoted.  But I checked back recently and it had 54 upvotes!



Huh...

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

WrestlingNews.co banned site-wide on Reddit

I often browse /r/SquaredCircle for wrestling news.  For the past couple years, a small group of Reddit accounts have been pushing a website called WrestlingNews.co.


WrestlingNews.co doesn't have a lot or original content.  It's mainly an aggregator--so I found it strange how the site was pushed so heavily on /r/SquaredCircle.

The three Reddit accounts I noticed were:


These accounts didn't ONLY submit links to WrestlingNews.co, but there was definitely a pattern.  Which is to say, most of their submissions were links to WrestlingNews.co.  But I realized yesterday that I hadn't seen any WrestlingNews.co stories for a while.

Well, both /u/ThomasGlasco and /u/PhillyChillyDave were shadowbanned, and /u/will_upvote_beer has shown no activity for two weeks.  Furthermore, the domain WrestlingNews.co is now banned site-wide on Reddit.  I tried submitting a link to WrestlingNews.co in my private subreddit and it was automatically removed:


Somebody once accused /u/will_upvote_beer of being a bot and spamming links WrestlingNews.co, but /u/will_upvote_beer pulled the old "I have autism" card:
I have autism and I am home all day. I am obsessed with wrestling and it makes me feel good to share things I read. Sorry if that bothers you.
The last visible post from WrestlingNews.co was dated June 28th.  I'm assuming that's around the time Reddit banned it.  Alexa shows a steady decline in WrestlingNews.co's global traffic ranking since then:

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Milk and brain hemorrhages

In the wake of Saturday's mass shootings, Luke O'Neil took the opportunity to DUNK on Andy Ngo:


Savage.

But, wait, didn't Andy Ngo also get a brain hemorrhage?  That's what he claimed.  Joseph Bernstein of BuzzFeed News wrote an article about Andy Ngo and addressed the claim:
Skepticism about his motivations has led some on the left, in a perfect inversion of Ngo’s own hate crimes activism, to question whether he is exaggerating or fabricating the extent of his injuries. Recently, in the interest of addressing these doubts, I asked Ngo to show me proof of the brain hemorrhage he has said he suffered in the attack. 
“I don’t feel obliged to share my personal medical records publicly to satisfy internet trolls,” he wrote. Nevertheless, Ngo sent me a copy of his discharge paperwork from the hospital. The document confirmed his claim that he had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage — a brain bleed.
So if you believe Bernstein's reporting--and I see no reason to doubt it--then Ngo actually suffered a lot worse than "milk in his hair."  Shouldn't Luke O'Neil acknowledge that?

Some girl named Ali chimed in and outright stated that Andy Ngo LIED about having a brain hemorrhage:


What should I believe?  Should I believe Joe Bernstein's article?  Or should I believe Ali?

Monday, August 5, 2019

Bad info out of El Paso

There was a shooting in El Paso on Saturday.  Reporter Mike Ikahihifo, who has a verified checkmark on Twitter, at one point tweeted out:
UPDATE: El Paso police says this was gang related terroism. KFOX14 reports.
He later deleted the tweet, but you can see the archive here:

http://archive.is/Ytn7p

It doesn't seem like the shooting was gang-related at all.  The suspect was identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, and he posted a damn manifesto online.  I don't know how many times Ikahihifo's tweet was shared.  I saw it in my timeline after Tim Pool retweeted it.  (And I believe Tim Pool later un-retweeted it.)

Doesn't it seem like a problem when reporters are accidentally sharing misinformation about a shooting?  I don't mean that the misinformation itself is a problem.  (There will ALWAYS be misinformation during a chaotic situation.)  Rather, the problem is that people can latch onto the words of a checkmarked reporter and spread that misinformation around.  It gives people a free pass to spread faulty information.

Does that make sense?  What I'm trying to say is there's a loophole.  You could share misinformation from a trusted source without being accused yourself of spreading misinformation.  It would give you an out.     

Here's another tweet from Drunken Peasant Memsᵀᴹ, claiming the shooter was somebody named Scotty Mendez:

http://archive.is/Xuf2U

I think this was deliberate misinformation--a troll, as they say.  But Drunken Peasant Memsᵀᴹ isn't a recognized reporter with a verified Twitter checkmark, so it's not the same style of misinformation.  Nobody is gonna take Drunken Peasant Memsᵀᴹ's tweet at face value and then amplify it in the same way they might amplify Ikahihifo's tweet.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

TheReporterToday.com

TheReporterToday.com is another site that plagiarizes content while displaying ads.

Here is a post from August 2 titled "Hiker scares off prowling cougar by blasting Metallica"

Here is the original article from August 1 from NBCRightNow.com, titled "Hiker scares off prowling cougar by blasting Metallica"

TheReporterToday copied the entire article and then included a hyperlink at the end saying "Click here to read entire article."  Except, like I said, TheReporterToday already pasted the entire article.  It's not like they only copied a blurb.

The ads are those "Ads by Amazon" boxes.

I saw a Reddit user named /u/PaulaRodriguesBarros sharing links to TheReporterToday:
https://www.reddit.com/user/PaulaRodriguesBarros/

Not very sophisticated overall.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Importing Ilhan

I got around to watching the "Importing Ilhan" documentary.  It's a thing, alright:


I was surprised the YouTube version only has about 3,500 views.  It was uploaded on June 27th.  But I also noticed the documentary was posted earlier on Vimeo:

https://vimeo.com/323349755

That version was removed from Vimeo back on April 25, 2019.  The removal message says:
Vimeo has removed or disabled access to the video Importing Ilhan - A Documentary Exploring Rep. Omar's Marriage Scandal as a result of a third-party notification by News2Share, Inc. that claims this material is infringing on their copyright.
So it appears the current version is slightly different from an older version.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Kamala and Russian bots?

Is Kamala Harris being targeted by Russian bots on Twitter?

Ugh, that sounds like the beginning of a Snopes/Politifact article.  Regardless, I was surprised by the tone of this CNN article by Dough-knee O'Sullivan:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/politics/kamala-harris-twitter-bots/index.html

The point of the article is skepticism.  Skepticism about taking claims at face value.  The article also says Harris spoke on a radio show called The Breakfast Club, which is a show I've never heard--but apparently it's a place for politicians to gripe about foreign influence campaigns.


I also stumbled onto this Daily Beast article titled "The Kremlin’s Strategy for the 2020 U.S. Election: Secure the Base, Split the Opposition."

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-kremlins-strategy-for-the-2020-us-election-secure-the-base-split-the-opposition

I'm hesitant to read it, because it seems like the type of article that might make me go crazy.  I skimmed it.  Maybe I'll return to it later, after the election.