Category Archives: Internet

Twitter’s algorithms promote right-wingers over the left – especially in the UK

If you’re a Twitter user who has ever wondered why the fascists seem to get more space on that platform, now you know the answer: Twitter’s computerised rules demand it.

Here‘s the story:

Twitter has admitted it amplifies more tweets from rightwing politicians and news outlets than content from leftwing sources.

The social media platform examined tweets from elected officials in seven countries – the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and Japan. It also studied whether political content from news organisations was amplified on Twitter.

The research found that in six out of seven countries, apart from Germany, tweets from rightwing politicians received more amplification from the algorithm than those from the left; right-leaning news organisations were more amplified than those on the left; and generally politicians’ tweets were more amplified by an algorithmic timeline than by the chronological timeline.

Under the research, a value of 0% meant tweets reached the same number of users on the algorithm-tailored timeline as on its chronological counterpart, whereas a value of 100% meant tweets achieved double the reach.

On this basis, the UK suffered the second-strongest discrepancy between right and left (behind Canada) – although some might think that Labour (112%) is currently even more right-wing than the Conservatives (176%) meaning the results are skewed by the lack of information about left-wing organisations here.

The findings indicate problems for Twitter because they suggest that right-wing tweets get preferential treatment as a function of the way the algorithm is constructed.

The good news is that Twitter has indicated it may need to change its algorithm to give left-wing tweets a wider – and more equal – audience.

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Government rules out searching Matt Hancock’s private emails. What does Johnson NOT want to find?

Matt Hancock: I thought I might not get another chance to use this image of him looking gormless. How wrong I was!

Despite admitting that Matt Hancock used his private email address to carry out government business, Boris Johnson’s gang won’t check his private emails to find out what he did in them.

Why not?

It seems the government has no record of much of Hancock’s decision-making during the pandemic, and this is because he carried out his business by private email.

Government guidelines expressly demand that ministers who use their personal emails for Parliamentary business should “take steps to ensure the relevant information is accessible” but it seems clear that Hancock hasn’t bothered.

Otherwise, why would The Sunday Times state that no record exists to show how Hancock negotiated PPE contracts, created the test-and-trace programme and oversaw the care homes strategy?

The nation needs to know about these matters because we need to know how much money he wasted on the first two, and how many lives he wasted on the third.

It seems clear that the only reason the government won’t go through Hancock’s emails is fear of embarrassment; he was incompetent at best, and a search could reveal the kind of mistakes that are actionable in court.

The claim to have been through 1.4 million documents already, so checking Hancock’s mail won’t be necessary, is clearly a smokescreen. Why do all that work when you can get all the information you need just by looking at one person’s emails?

The Good Law Project is already calling for Hancock’s inbox and outbox to be examined.

If the information won’t be provided willingly, perhaps this organisation should seek a court order?

Source: Government rules out searching Matt Hancock’s private emails – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Education Secretary denies refusing cheap internet for children, to ensure they couldn’t learn at home

Gavin Williamson: so stupid, he thinks his daft excuse about quality control will hold water. His Tory government doesn’t have any?

It seems Gavin Williamson is making a fuss about this.

According to the Mirror,

Gavin Williamson turned down an offer to get free or cheap broadband for thousands of disadvantaged families, the Mirror has learned.

Broadband giant BT offered to supply families basic connections to allow children to access online learning with schools closed for months during the Covid-19 pandemic.

And the firm’s Chief Executive revealed they had given free wifi vouchers to the Government in June but the Department for Education ‘struggled to distribute them effectively’ and returned them.

Williamson tells a different story:

A spokesman for the education department said a pilot of the scheme had not provided “reliable and consistent” internet connection.

Who do you believe?

Well, BT is an Internet Service Provider of very long standing, with experience in providing a reliable service to many thousands – if not millions – of homes.

And the Conservative Government of which Williamson is a member has also displayed consistency – in wasting public money on services offered by cowboy companies cobbled together by Tory donors or spoilt friends of Cabinet members.

It looks like another ideologically-motivated attack on the poor; pretend the offer doesn’t meet what passes for Conservative government quality control and reject it – to ensure that poor kids miss out on the education that might otherwise give them an advantage over rich kids who tend not to have two brain cells to rub together.

How does it look to you?

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Would Rachel Riley have been charged under incoming internet anti-bullying law?

Westminster: Parliament is to consider a new anti-bullying law under which Rachel Riley and her followers may well have been prosecuted. Instead, she has accused me of libel.

This information arrives too late to be included in my bid to beat Rachel Riley’s attempt to strike out my libel defence – but we can hope that the judge has seen it and knows it is coming.

According to the Telegraph, the Tory government’s new “Online Harms” law will include measures to imprison online bullies for a maximum of two years.

It states: “Online bullies and those who join internet ‘pile-ons’ could face up to two years in jail under a raft of seven new criminal ‘duty of care’ offences.

“Ministers are working with the Law Commission to create criminal offences that would allow police to prosecute people responsible for online communications that caused a victim ‘serious emotional distress’.

“It would cover emails, social media posts and WhatsApp messages and also pile-on harassment when a number of different individuals send threatening communications to a victim.

“Other offences being considered include incitement or encouragement of pile-on harassment, knowing participation in pile-on harassment and glorification of violence or of violent crime.”

Rachel Riley’s accusation of libel against me is based on her claim that she did not incite or encourage people who follow her Twitter account to dogpile (that’s the correct term for what the Telegraph describes as a “pile-on”) a vulnerable teenager.

The girl who received this unwanted attention suffers from anxiety issues and endured extreme distress as a result.

I wonder whether Riley would be able to escape prison if this law had been in effect in December 2018, when she started picking on that young lady?

As it is, I am still awaiting a judgment on her wafer-thin argument that my defence against her libel claim should be thrown out.

It is nearly a month since the hearing but my solicitor tells me that such delays are not unusual. It is possible that we will have our result on or after January 11, when the High Court’s Christmas vacation ends.

Whatever happens, I will need to fund my defence – and I desperately need help:

Consider making a donation yourself, if you can afford it, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

It seems clear that Riley could have been tried for a criminal offence if this planned law had been enacted a few years ago.

The fact that she is prosecuting me for pointing out her outrageous behaviour therefore seems even more of an atrocity.

But she is the darling of the media and she is extremely rich – and I am not. And money talks.

Please help me make sure she cannot buy justice – and make a mockery of a new law to protect the vulnerable before it has even had a chance to take effect.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Williamson’s failures on home learning expose Tory policy stupidity on ‘Broadband Communism’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson may be acting “to the utmost of his ability”, but so was Frank Spencer – the calamitous comedy character with whom Williamson has been compared.

If this inspires confidence in you, then you’re not thinking hard enough:

Saying the prime minister thinks Gavin Williamson is being Education Secretary “to the utmost of his ability” is not the same as saying he has “full confidence” in him.

Williamson has far too many mistakes in his recent history for any member of the public to have full confidence in him, let alone any school pupil.

Only yesterday he admitted that his Covid-19-related failures – in both policy and practice – have made it impossible to hold GCSE, AS and A level exams this year:

Perhaps you don’t grasp the enormity of the admission from what he said. Labour’s shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green, made it clear that she holds him to blame for the chaos in the education system.

The reason Williamson has cancelled the exams is that the Covid-19 crisis – and its effect on schools – has made it impossible to ensure that pupils across the UK have been educated to an equivalent standard.

The reasons for the uneven standards include the fact that teachers have been unable to plan their lessons properly due to Williamson’s unfortunate habit of announcing that schools will stay open no matter what – and then closing them.

Also, he was supposed to provide laptops to pupils, in order to ensure that they could carry on learning to an acceptable standard even if they were confined to their homes. He didn’t (or at least, he didn’t provide enough).

This has now necessitated children without laptops being added to the “vulnerable” list of youngsters who have to go to school during lockdown, alongside the kids of key workers. This amounts to another example of class warfare – kids without laptops are likely to be poor, and sending them to school exposes them to the most common vector for transmission of the killer virus:

Finally, there’s the fact that some families don’t have access to the broadband internet connections necessary to experience this kind of home learning.

The Tories now agree with Labour that this is a good idea – but it is too late to implement it in time to help this year’s crop of exam-takers.

Let us remind ourselves of the reaction – from the Tories and the mass media – when the Labour Party proposed free broadband across the UK in the run-up to the 2019 general election:

Who was right?

John McDonnell and Labour, of course (Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, that is. Kate Green, while being right about Gavin Williamson, also said that schools should stay open. That’s the lunacy of the party under Keir Starmer for you)).

If that party had been elected, free broadband would have been brought to the UK, school pupils would have been able not only to do their homework but to carry out distance learning, preparing them for their exams which would not have had to be cancelled – and it would have helped adults to work from home as well, which would have been a great help to a great many people during lockdown, as well.

That’s the problem with silly Tory ideological incompetence.

Their failure to accept the wisdom of free broadband, and their failure to equip school pupils for home learning, means Williamson has been forced to cancel exams because pupils are not well-enough educated.

As a result, the UK’s workforce will be less competitive in the world marketplace in the future, when compared with other countries that were better-prepared and more willing to help everybody in their populations, rather than just the very rich.

So when we look at the malady afflicting the UK’s education system under the Conservatives, during the Covid-19 crisis, we can see one thing clearly:

Williamson is a symptom of the illness. Conservative government is the cause.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Sunak’s online sales tax really is just another way to attack people with disabilities

Rishi Sunak: he keeps interfering with the market, despite his party’s claim that it’s better to leave it alone. Is it because Tories love to torture people with disabilities?

Rishi Sunak isn’t making any sense at all.

He says his plan for an online sales tax is intended to push people back onto the High Street, to physically go out and buy products in order to save businesses that are in danger after the lockdown forced us to stay indoors.

We’ve been buying products online while Covid-19 remains a threat.

And we’ll go back to the High Street, but only once we are convinced the danger is over.

So if High Street shops are in danger, it’ll be because we can’t trust Sunak and his fellow Tories on when that’s likely to be.

Not only that, but in considering such a tax, Sunak is saying the UK is hostile to the new commerce that the Internet represents – as net-based firms still pay business rates and all the other taxes associated with sales.

That’s not good for any country’s economy in this day and age.

It simply doesn’t make sense.

But, considering the Conservatives’ well-known passion for cruelty, there is one reason for bringing in an online sales tax that does make sense: they’ve found out it’s another way they can attack people with disabilities.

People whose health conditions mean they can’t get out of the house have to use the Net to get their stuff, and many shops don’t have access for people with disabilities anyway – despite disability access laws having been enacted many years ago.

People with disabilities don’t have much cash to enjoy, either. They’re either on benefits or in low-waged employment.

So the logical reason for imposing an online sales tax is to push disabled people further into poverty – or to deprive them of goods that they should have the same opportunity to enjoy as the rest of us.

Tories have form in this regard; “Eat out to help out” was another attack on people with disabilities, as you can’t benefit from a discount on restaurant meals if you can’t actually leave home.

Underlying it all is yet another big lie:

Tories have supported, on the face of it, neoliberal ideology since Margaret Thatcher became their leader in the mid-1970s – and that means they support a laissez-faire attitude to the market.

This means they believe the market will automatically adjust to prevailing conditions in order to keep going.

So the proper government policy is non-interference.

Yet here they are, interfering.

Source: Rishi Sunak’s planned online sales tax is a tax on disability | Disability | The Guardian

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Volunteer scheme that tackles loneliness amongst young disabled people thrives online during pandemic | Charity Today News

No clever message from This Writer here – I just think this is something worth celebrating:

A community volunteer scheme, which had to be stopped at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, is now thriving online, with the organiser encouraging more people to come forward to meet growing demand, as many disabled people continue to have to stay indoors.

‘Sense Buddying’, run by the national disability charity Sense, matches a young disabled person with a volunteer to spend time in the local community doing activities.

With one in two (53%) disabled people experiencing loneliness, rising to three quarters (77%) of young disabled people, the scheme has been praised for its role in tackling social isolation in society, by bringing disabled and non-disabled people together.

The scheme, which operates in the east London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney and Redbridge, moved to video-chat during the pandemic, with volunteers asked to meet their buddies online rather than in person.

Over 70 buddies currently meet regularly online and will continue to do so as the country comes out of the lockdown, with many of the young people experiencing underlying health conditions.

The charity now hopes that the move online will encourage more people to volunteer to become a buddy and help meet the growing need of families.

Pretty good! How about a national roll-out?

Source: Volunteer scheme that tackles loneliness amongst young disabled people thrives online during pandemic | Charity Today News

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BBC is trumpeting ‘free internet access’ from Tories – but it was ‘broadband communism’ when Labour proposed it

“Blatantly Backing Conservatives”: and don’t expect better when the new Director General – a former Tory election candidate whose name This Writer can’t even be bothered to remember – takes over.

How two-faced of the Tory Broadcasting Corporation.

Free access to broadband internet connections was an election policy of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn last year.

At that time, the BBC called it “broadband communism”.

But now, with the Conservatives offering it (albeit only for a brief time, through a voucher system), it’s “free internet to help poorer pupils”.

Oh yes, this is an emergency measure because of Covid-19 and the lockdown – but it represents hypocrisy by our state broadcaster nonetheless.

Many thousands of people have stopped paying their TV licence fee because of blatant partisanship by the Tory-run BBC News; this proves they have a point.

And with a newly-appointed Director General who used to be a Conservative election candidate, this situation is only likely to get worse.

We want facts; we get propaganda.

And the nation goes to the dogs.

Source: Free internet to help poorer pupils study online – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Tories are incompetent on coronavirus testing – but at least they’re not telling us to inject disinfectant

[Image from Dorset Eye.]

What a gang of incompetents the Tories are! They launched a website for employers to book key workers in for testing – but failed to make it strong enough to support the huge demand.

It has crashed.

According to the BBC:

The website opened on Friday but appeared to close by mid-morning with some users met by an “applications closed” message.

Up to 10 million key workers and their households are eligible to book a test.

That’s if they can get access to the government’s website, of course.

Matt Hancock – what an absolute imbecile.

Still, it could be worse. US president Donald Trump has been encouraging American citizens to inject disinfectant into their bodies because he says it will cure the coronavirus.

Sure it will… by killing the patient. Read:

During a White House press briefing on Thursday, April 23, Trump proceeded to claim sunlight and humidity could destroy the virus.

While still on camera, the president pondered the idea of ‘hitting’ the body with a ‘tremendous ultraviolet or just very powerful light’, turning to aides to express his thoughts. He also spoke about injecting disinfect inside a person’s body as a way of ‘cleaning’ their lungs.

Watch:

Do not, under any circumstances, try to follow his advice. Only ignorant, stupid Americans should be in danger after hearing this.

(Unfortunately, there seem to be many such people – otherwise how did Trump get into the White House in the first place?)

Source: Coronavirus: Test website closes after ‘significant demand’ – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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in either print or eBook format here:

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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook