Monday, 30 July 2018

my latest thriller reading is a government report


That Facebook. Up it pops again in that MP Damian Collins Commons Select Committee report. It could be a best-seller.

Yet, after all the news a few days ago about Facebook's share valuation dropping by around $120 billion, I can't help but notice their overall share price is still only back to May 2018 levels. A case of the eyeballs have it.

Facebook is certainly the 'Eff' in FAAANG, so that so-called US President should be aware of the difference just those few companies make to the US outlook.

That's in more ways than one.

I do still have a Facebook account, but very much as a placeholder. I won't be seduced by the recent electronic adverts on bus shelters saying how cuddly Facebook has become.

Damian Collins committee's "Disinformation and ‘fake news’: Interim Report" [click to download a PDF of the report], shows how interwoven the likes of Facebook and other social media are in the spreading of disinformation.

The interim report's conclusions include that:
  • 9 Electoral law in this country is not fit for purpose for the digital age, and needs to be amended to reflect new technologies.
  • 41. In November 2017, the Prime Minister accused Russia of meddling in elections and planting 'fake news' in an attempt to 'weaponise information' and sow discord in the West. It is clear from comments made by the then Secretary of State in evidence to us that he shares her concerns. However, there is a disconnect between the Government’s expressed concerns about foreign interference in elections, and tech companies intractability in recognising the issue.
Those two items alone illustrate how a perverse agency could tip scales in a democratic process. Throw in some blah-blah Black Cube/Crimson Hexagon hacking, citizen-by-investement schemes and a bunch of botnets and you've got the makings of a good thriller novel - or - somewhat improbably, a fascinating UK Government Report.

Weaponising information isn't exactly a new idea, but the scale and reach of its effects over the last few years create a significant inconvenience for the UK to ponder.

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