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Internet | The Guardian

Latest news and features from, the world's leading liberal voice

Published: Fri, 23 Feb 2018 05:36:38 GMT2018-02-23T05:36:38Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2018

After endless political handwringing over journalism, glimmers of hope emerge | Margaret Simons

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 17:00:41 GMT2018-02-22T17:00:41Z

Rapid technological changes are at last being reflected in a shift in attitudes to funding public interest journalism
Support our independent journalism by giving a one-off or monthly contribution

If there was an award for the most parliamentary inquiries leading precisely nowhere, the plethora of handwringing investigations into the future of journalism over the last decade would have to take the gong.

There was the fuss in the dying months of the Gillard government in which then communications minister Stephen Conroy tried to push forward more ethical regulation of journalism, to howls of outrage from everyone in the media.

Related: Can ABC be trusted to hold the government to account? | Andrew Fowler

About 3,000 journalists have lost their jobs over the last five years in Australia

Related: The Barnaby Joyce case exposes our murky principles about public interest | Gay Alcorn

Related: Australia's trust in media at record low as 'fake news' fears grow, survey finds

Neither side of politics has given any apparent thought to what a modern, fit-for-purpose system of media regulation might look like

Related: How the Coalition's 'blind ideology' over media reform stiffed Guardian Australia | Lenore Taylor

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Manchester United end 13-year wait for official YouTube channel

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:00:37 GMT2018-02-22T14:00:37Z

Lure of video-sharing site’s 1.3bn users finally has club ready to play catchup with football rivals

Manchester United is to launch an official YouTube channel after a 13-year absence as it looks to build its brand and commercial income in a deal with the world’s biggest video-sharing site.

Manchester United is the only Premier League team and the only one of the top clubs globally not to create an official channel since YouTube launched in 2005.

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MPs launch inquiry into digital currencies amid cybercrime fears

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 06:01:27 GMT2018-02-22T06:01:27Z

Scrutiny is needed to examine risks for investors, says Treasury committee chair Nicky Morgan

A powerful committee of MPs is launching an inquiry into bitcoin and other digital currencies over fears that cryptocurrencies could lead to increased “market volatility, money laundering and cybercrime”.

The Treasury select committee said the inquiry would “examine the potential impact of distributed ledger technology – such as blockchain – on financial institutions, including the central bank, and financial infrastructure”.

Related: Bitcoin: is it a bubble waiting to burst or a good investment?

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Ebooks are not 'stupid' – they're a revolution

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 15:53:22 GMT2018-02-21T15:53:22Z

The head of publisher Hachette has claimed ebooks are a failure – but as an author and a reader, they’ve completely changed my life

I was a relatively late convert to the e-reader, getting my Kindle five years ago when it became clear that reading 600-pages of A Suitable Boy while breastfeeding wasn’t going to work. After a frenzied few months of almost exclusive e-reading, I returned largely to the traditional printed book for a number of reasons: screen fatigue, a tendency to scrawl in margins, because I want my kids to see me reading, and because I’m a passionate supporter of bookshops and booksellers. Hachette Livre CEO Arnaud Nourry recently called ebooks “stupid” – but last summer, they changed my life.

Related: 'Ebooks are stupid', says head of one of world's biggest publishers

Ebooks are not an enhancement on printed books? The built-in, one-tap dictionary is a boon for Will Self fans

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Citymapper launches bus-taxi hybrid Smart Ride in London

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 11:43:51 GMT2018-02-21T11:43:51Z

Exclusive: transit app firm says new service has stops like a bus, is bookable like a cab and runs on a network like a tube train

London-based transit app Citymapper is today launching Smart Ride, a hybrid bus and taxi service that will take riders around a fixed network in the capital.

The company is operating the service under a private hire licence from Transport for London, following a pair of trial “smart bus” routes in the capital. The new licence limits the firm to operating vehicles that can carry eight or fewer people, but frees it to run future routes that can change dynamically as demand shifts, rather than being legally mandated to stick to specific timetables and stopping patterns.

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We need to talk about … the future of journalism

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 11:36:28 GMT2018-02-21T11:36:28Z

Guardian supporters pose the questions as The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, discusses the challenges facing journalism and her vision for the Guardian. Hosted by The Guardian’s joint political editor, Heather Stewart

Since The Guardian’s editor-in-chief Katharine Viner published her essay on the mission of journalism in a time of crisis, she has had a huge number of responses – from readers, media commentators and others passionate about the future of independent, public-interest journalism. So we invited her to the studio to discuss why she was moved to write the essay, the feedback she has received, and to answer questions on the future of journalism from the Guardian’s supporters.

What will constitute a sustainable business model for quality journalism in the digital age? How can we cover the world, when Britain is retreating from Europe? Should the government create national standards on how children are taught to interpret news vs opinion? How can the media be held properly to account?

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Florida students have turned social media into a weapon for good

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 10:00:14 GMT2018-02-21T10:00:14Z

Teenagers’ use of Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram is social media at its best – a cudgel against political discourse that desperately needs to change

High schools have dances, they have cafeterias, they have midterm exams and, in the United States, they have shootings.

“Our school is having a shooting,” tweeted Heather, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, on the afternoon of Wednesday 14 February. “I’m not even kidding I’m about to die.”

Related: Florida shooting survivors are fighting back. Here's what they need to know about gun control

Related: Aide to Florida lawmaker fired after suggesting shooting survivors are actors

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Growth of AI could boost cybercrime and security threats, report warns

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 06:01:13 GMT2018-02-21T06:01:13Z

Experts say action must be taken to control artificial intelligence tech

Wanton proliferation of artificial intelligence technologies could enable new forms of cybercrime, political disruption and even physical attacks within five years, a group of 26 experts from around the world have warned.

In a new report, the academic, industry and the charitable sector experts, describe AI as a “dual use technology” with potential military and civilian uses, akin to nuclear power, explosives and hacking tools.

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Can chickpeas prolong orgasm? Yes – but only in LiarTown

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 06:00:13 GMT2018-02-21T06:00:13Z

It’s the satirical powerhouse for the fake news era. LiarTown’s creator Sean Tejaratchi tells us how he dreamt up cooking with tears, angry cow stamps – and that old Smiths classic Lovely Gary

Rodward Manshawl’s crosswords are not easy. Here’s 47 down: “Cockney rhyming slang for excessive banking fees” (six letters). Now try 46 across: “Carbonated urine” (four letters). What can the answers be? We will never know. Why? Because the clues were made up by graphic designer and ex-photo-retoucher Sean Tejaratchi, a satirist who was included in Rolling Stone’s 25 funniest people on Twitter in 2012.

Tejaratchi spoofed the New York Times crossword and, as a final touch, came up with a daft compiler name. Like everything else in Tejaratchi’s world, Rodward Manshawl is fake, but not so fake that he lacks verisimilitude. “What I try to do,” Tejaratchi says, “is create a zone of plausibility.”

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Aide to Florida lawmaker fired after suggesting shooting survivors are actors

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 01:25:12 GMT2018-02-21T01:25:12Z

Benjamin Kelly, an aide to state representative Shawn Harrison, repeated a conspiracy theory often used after mass shootings

An aide to a Florida lawmaker was fired after falsely suggesting that student survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland were “actors”, repeating a conspiracy theory that has been used to harass victims.

Benjamin Kelly, an aide to Republican state representative Shawn Harrison, was terminated after a reporter published his email attacking the students who have become vocal advocates for stricter gun laws after surviving the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school massacre that killed 17 people last week.

Related: US gun violence spawns a new epidemic: conspiracy theorists harassing victims

Here's the email. I asked for more information to back up the claim and was sent another email that linked to a YouTube conspiracy video.

Related: How rightwing media is already attacking Florida teens speaking out

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The need for an internet sales tax | Letters

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 18:30:10 GMT2018-02-20T18:30:10Z

Letter from Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation

Replacement of physical stores with internet sales is bad for people’s rights (Maplin seeks buyer, 20 February), because internet sales track people; they don’t allow privacy-respecting cash.It’s bad for the Treasury because the internet giants such as Amazon avoid taxes, and because jobs disappear. It is bad for society because it means fewer jobs. This suggests solving both problems with a substantial tax on internet sales.
Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

• Join the debate – email

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Letter: John Perry Barlow obituary

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:17:40 GMT2018-02-20T16:17:40Z

“I’d rather pump septic tanks,” John Perry Barlow told me in a Chinese restaurant in 1995 to explain how much he hated writing. “You can never tell whether you did any good or not.”

We were all attending a nearby Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference. Barlow was then hashing out the beginnings of A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, which he conceived as a modern-day equivalent to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. Many at the time thought the piece overwrought; faced with the criticism, Barlow would laugh and say his friend Mitch Kapor thought he needed a “hyperbolectomy”.

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Study reveals North Korean cyber-espionage has reached new heights

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:31:41 GMT2018-02-20T12:31:41Z

Spying unit is widening its operations into aerospace and defence industries, according to US security firm

An increasingly sophisticated North Korean cyber-espionage unit is using its skills to widen spying operations to aerospace and defence industries, a new study has revealed.

FireEye, a US private security company that tracks cyber-attackers around the world, has identified a North Korean group, which it names APT37 (Reaper) and which it says is using malware to infiltrate computer networks.

Related: The Guardian view on cyberwar: an urgent problem | Editorial

Related: Has North Korea’s week at the Winter Olympics diminished the nuclear threat?

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Is Spotify getting ready to challenge Apple with its own speaker?

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 10:48:35 GMT2018-02-20T10:48:35Z

Music streaming service is gearing up to make its first physical products as it faces blockade from rivals

Spotify is working on a line of “category defining” hardware products and is ready to start setting up the manufacturing process.

The streaming music company intends to create a hardware category “akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles”, according to job adverts posted over the past year.

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Profile review – Skyping-with-Isis thriller dials up the suspense

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 10:44:40 GMT2018-02-20T10:44:40Z

Timur Bekmambetov’s film about a journalist investigating women online being lured to Syria is silly but effective

Cinema is currently deciding how it meets the challenge of representing the way modern life and modern experience is increasingly happening online. The recent supernatural horror-thriller Unfriended had the ingenious idea of playing out its entire drama on one computer screen in real time, a kind of found-footage 2.0, switching between Facebook, Skype and instant messaging, the various prompts all bleeping and pinging away disturbingly as a sinister presence looms up. Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (who went to Hollywood in the last decade for brash and crass movies such as Wanted) has applied this approach to a thriller that asks the eternal question: what happens when cops or reporters with unsatisfactory home lives go undercover among people who actually treat them rather well?

Profile is based on the 2015 non-fiction bestseller In the Skin of a Jihadist by a French journalist who now has round-the-clock police protection and has changed her name to Anna Erelle. She was investigating the phenomenon of young European women being radicalised online and lured to Syria; Erelle created a fake profile on Facebook and began chatting to a senior Islamic State commander who then tried to lure her over, repeatedly promising her that she would be his “bride”. A very dangerous game.

Related: Skyping with the enemy: I went undercover as a jihadi girlfriend

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Bad News: the game researchers hope will 'vaccinate' public against fake news

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 00:00:26 GMT2018-02-20T00:00:26Z

Aim is for players to build a fake news empire, which researchers hope will expose propaganda tactics

Fake news is already an entire industry, an anti-democratic weapon, a movie, a play, an insult and a cliche.

Now it is being turned into a game – to help people understand its wiles and deceptions.

Related: Fake news and botnets: how Russia weaponised the web

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The fallout from Mary Beard's Oxfam tweet shines a light on genteel racism | Chitra Ramaswamy

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:13:39 GMT2018-02-19T17:13:39Z

Another ‘mouthy woman’ has called out the classicist’s comments on the Haiti scandal. But the respectful exchange that followed has been heartening

Mary Beard, the Cambridge professor who has to fend off a never-ending torrent of abuse because she is a) an intelligent woman b) an intelligent woman over 50 and c) an intelligent woman over 50 who relishes debate, is under attack again. This time, it goes beyond the usual disgusting misogynistic stuff. Beard is being accused of colonialism and racism.

On Twitter, she addressed the Oxfam Haiti scandal. “I do wonder how hard it must be to sustain ‘civilised’ values in a disaster zone,” she pondered, which some interpreted as Beard excusing the alleged sexual abuse of women and girls, and many took as an opportunity to abuse Beard. There was also that word, “civilised”, heavy with colonial connotations that Beard, being a classicist, ought to have harnessed with more care and self-awareness. (Encasing it in inverted commas didn’t quite cut it.) Anyway, the response has been horrific. Beard has since written a follow-up blog explaining her position and clarifying her use of “civilised”. She also tweeted an image of herself in tears, adding “I am really not the nasty colonialist you say I am”.

Related: The cult of Mary Beard

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The Guardian view on Russian trolls: democracy is much too easy to hack | Editorial

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 17:13:43 GMT2018-02-18T17:13:43Z

Of course the Russians tried to influence the US presidential election. The shocking thing is that they found it so simple

Most of the coverage of the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has concentrated on who did it, and for whose benefit. But there is a sense in which this was not news. Anyone who has paid attention to the story, which has been hard to avoid, already believes that the Russians did what they could to get Donald Trump elected.

The detail of what was done has been less examined. The 37 pages of Robert Mueller’s indictment contain a meticulous account of the workings of a really professional propaganda or lobbying organisation. The “Internet Research Agency” in St Petersburg is more generally known as the Russian “troll factory”, but it spent its multimillion-dollar budget on much more than simple trolling. Women operatives were sent around the US to gather intelligence and to make contact with social and political activists. It was from American political activists that they received the advice to target “purple” swing states, something that was essential to the ultimate success of the campaign.

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Is there any hope for truth? I went to a conference to find out | Rhik Samadder

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 16:00:48 GMT2018-02-18T16:00:48Z

From bot factories weaponising misinformation to Twitter trolls polluting online debate, we are all living in a fake news world – unless, it turns out, you are a teen

Have we destroyed truth? How can we live in a fake news world? When will The Experts Strike Back? To find out, I blagged my way into an academic event, looking for answers. The Future of Knowledge was hosted by Knowledge Quarter, an assembly of organisations in the King’s Cross area that includes Soas, the British Library, the British Museum and the Institute of Physics – a bit like The Avengers.

On one of the panels was historian and film-maker David Olusoga, the smartest, most miserable man I have ever heard speak. “The historian Oswald Spengler said that optimism is cowardice,” he began. He went on to draw parallels between now and the 1920s, both being characterised by a flight from reason and the rise of propaganda. Our age is different, he said, because it is worse. He is right. Social media – anonymous, empowering and narcissistic – has polluted our debates. Bot factories in Russia have weaponised misinformation, Trump edges us closer to nuclear extinction with a tweet, yet after a hard weekend hitting the Häagen-Dazs I can’t post a picture of my nipples on Instagram? I have lost track of what I was saying. That is another thing: we all have shorter attention spans.

I do not want to convince a troll of my humanity: I am not trying to cross a bridge in a fable

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How can we regulate our savage market for instant news?

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 15:27:45 GMT2018-02-18T15:27:45Z

Without consensus on how to cover events such as the Florida massacre, publishers are stuck

Bullet holes in a computer screen, filmed by a cowering high school student sheltering in a classroom where a gunman was on the loose: just one of the images in the visual market created for those watching the news of the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida. A map on the social messaging app Snapchat displayed pictures and videos located at the school as the shooting took place. Grabbed and recycled from mobile phone screens, they circulated through television channels, radio and websites almost instantaneously.

Much of what we know about the shooting, both in terms of how the events unfolded and what led up to them, was learned through social media channels. The perpetrator, Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old recent graduate of the school, had seemingly been flagging his disturbing interest in mass killing for some time through Instagram posts and even a comment on a YouTube video about becoming “a professional high school shooter”. Last week the FBI admitted it had failed to investigate a tipoff in January. With each iteration of gun crime in the US, there is an accompanying debate about the role played by social and traditional media in amplifying or controlling the narratives which seem to feed an escalating cycle of violence.

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