reading • President Trump wants social media to catch shooters before they strike. It’s going to be hard Aug 6 • Trump says he’s watching Google ‘very closely,’ slams CEO Sundar Pichai President Donald Trump delivered remarks on the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio Monday. Getty Images Some of the most horrific mass shootings have followed a chillingly similar script: Angry white men, driven to extremism in online forums like 8chan and Gab, post manifestos railing against minorities. When they begin to shoot, members of the message boards post responses that encourage them to kill more.President Donald Trump says it needs to stop.In a speech after two shootings left at least 31 people dead, Trump called on social media companies to identify mass shooters before they open fire.”I am directing the Department of Justice to work in partnership with local state and federal agencies, as well as social media companies, to develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike,” he said.In theory, predictive policing online should be possible. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have increasingly harnessed artificial intelligence and other technology to identify and act on bad behavior as they sift through billions of posts. They’ve been able to pull down terrorist propaganda from ISIS, for example, and they have programs that can often identify child pornorgraphy automatically.People gather near white handmade crosses memorializing the victims of a mass shooting which left at least 22 people dead in El Paso, Texas. Getty Images The challenge, experts say, is that correctly identifying these lone wolves is tougher than finding overt terrorist propaganda. One reason, for example, is it’s hard to determine when a post may be preparation for a terrorist act, or merely someone spouting off.Another problem is that message boards have changed the way extremists recruit to their causes. Many of these attackers know each other only online. Some may not interact directly.”In the past, there would be a more terrestrial component to how hate groups would organize and recruit,” said Brian Levin, who runs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. That means they’d meet somewhere in the real world to chat or exchange propaganda.Manifestos online have taken the place of those real world connections. Manifestos reference other manifestos, effectively writing a new chapter in an expanding meta-book of hate. The writers almost always post anonymously. They rarely post overt threats because those would break the rules of most social media sites, which could get them kicked off and deprive them of a platform.”The issue is can we get to these folks who while stealth, are delivering clues, oftentimes the last of which is right before their attack,” Levin added.Not always rightOf course, Facebook and Twitter have taken action, primarily against propaganda supporting ISIS and Al-Qaeda. The social media companies have occasionally identified takedowns of white supremacist material, but haven’t provided macro data on the topic.Twitter says it suspended 166,513 unique accounts for promoting terrorism during the second half of 2018. The company credited its internal tools for flagging 91% of the accounts.”In the majority of cases, we take action at the account setup stage — before the account even Tweets,” Twitter said earlier this year.Meanwhile, Facebook said it found more than 99% of ISIS and Al-Qaeda content before it was reported by the community in the six months between April and September 2018.But experts say propaganda that lionizes terrorists is easier to identify as dangerous than an angry person spouting off about politics. And reading motive into hyperbolic tweets raises knotty questions about free speech. We can’t get to actual solutions if we keep blaming the virtual world. Brittan Heller, a fellow at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Politics Tech Industry Digital Media 33 Share your voice Tags Aug 7 • Trump’s emissions and fuel economy rollbacks will cost Americans money, study says US Tech Policy See All • Comments Jul 28 • Apple’s Q3 earnings are all about the iPhone 11 hints “When we look at what predictive policing looks like, it always results in over-policing, arrests and prosecution of communities of color,” said Brittan Heller, a fellow at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights, who previously worked for the Anti-Defamation League, the US Department of Justice, and International Criminal Court. “Whenever I hear people trying to predict criminality, as a former prosecutor, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up,” she said.Aside from the potentially thorny civil rights issues, the technology at Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is far from perfect. Their automated computer programs have screwed up plenty of times.When Facebook put a computer in charge of selecting trending topics, it began sharing hoaxes and conspiracy theories instead of actual news stories. After a shooter killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the top trending video on YouTube accused David Hogg, a survivor, of being a “crisis actor.”AI may eventually get better at understanding hate-riddled posts. But Heller says Trump and other politicians need to look beyond technology for an answer to this growing domestic threat.”It’s less a question about the internet, and it’s more a question about gun-based violence,” Heller said. “We can’t get to actual solutions if we keep blaming the virtual world.”CNET’s Queenie Wong contributed to this report. US Tech Policy
Volkswagen, German automaker and its labour unions have agreed to layoff 30,000 people over the next five years at its VW brand. The aim of cutting the jobs is part of a plan to boost profitability and to provide funding for electric and self-driven cars post the disastrous carbon-emission scandal. Europe’s largest auto manufacturing company is trying to increase savings in its home-country, where costs are high. Volkswagen also has to shell out billions of euros in payments for the cleanup related to its carbon emission scandal, Reuters reported.The company is expected to make the announcement later during the day during a press conference, which would take place at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg. The unanimous decision of going ahead with job cuts follows eight months of intense negotiations and the works council and the trade union.Sources quoted by the news agency said the labour union leaders have agreed to the job cuts on a prior managment’s pledge to create new jobs and the VW’s investment in electronic cars (mainly at factories in Germany). The firm also plans to create additional 9,000 jobs by investing in electric car technology. According to a previous report in German newspaper Handelsblatt, about 30,000 jobs would be axed by 2020 in a bid to save about 4 billion euros. It also said that Volkswagen would cut 10,000 jobs outside Germany (focusing in North and South America).
Donald TrumpUS president Donald Trump on Monday promised a “historic” increase in the US defense budget as he met with state governors at the White House.“This budget follows through on my promise on keeping Americans safe,” he said.“It will include a historic increase in defense spending.”His comments come a day before he addresses a joint session of Congress, an important agenda setting event for new presidents.The New York Times reported that Trump will instruct the government agencies Monday to put together the outlines of a budget that will include deep cuts in domestic spending.Trump will need to make those cuts to pay for a military buildup and to preserve pensions and health insurance for the elderly as he promised during the campaign.
Road accident LogoTwo people were killed and seven others injured when a truck rammed a human-hauler on Lalmonirhat-Burimari highway in Aditmari upazila on Monday morning, reports UNB.The deceased Alamgir Hossain, 19, was a garment worker from Duhuli village in Kaliganj upazila, and Abdul Khaleque, was human-hauler driver and son of Rahmat Ali of the same upazila.Quoting witnesses, police said the Burimari land port-bound truck hit the human-hauler coming from the opposite direction near Palli Bidyut substation, leaving two people killed on the spot and seven others injured, said Masud Rana, officer-in-charge of Aditmari police station.The injured were taken to Sadar hospital.Police seized the truck and arrested its driver.
Del. Jill P. Carter (D) and Sen. Christopher Shank (R) . (Courtesy Photos)The Maryland General Assembly is on the precipice of passing stronger shielding protections for persons with misdemeanor criminal records. Sen. Christopher Shank (R) and Del. Jill P. Carter (D) shared this news with an audience during a recent forum on shielding and expungement protections.At the forum, “How Long Is Too Long,” held at the University of Baltimore School of Law on Jan. 12, a panel of experts, including Shank and Carter, discussed the pros and cons of shielding and expungement protections for persons with criminal convictions. Shielding laws hide past criminal convictions from persons conducting background checks, while expungement wipes the convictions from their record.The Maryland Second Chance Act, which would shield certain misdemeanor criminal convictions from background checks after a specified period, comes before the legislature this session. Shank and Carter expressed optimism about its passage in the 2015 General Assembly.Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, spoke at the forum about the consequences of a criminal conviction that go beyond any court ordered sentence. “When the judge says, ‘I’m sentencing you to do five years in prison,’ he or she doesn’t say that I’m going to limit your right to receive public benefits, or live in public housing, or your right to vote for periods of time, or anything like that. Nobody in the courtroom talks about that, but that in fact is what’s happening,” Mauer said.Mauer called these consequences a “life-long sentence,” and noted that communities of color and the poor are disproportionately affected.Shank said, explaining his support for the Second Chance Act, we have to rethink our approaches to criminal justice, citing high costs to the state with limited results. “We spend over a billion dollars a year [on corrections in Maryland]. That is a lot of money. That is more money than we spend on higher education in this state, it’s crowding out a lot of other spending, and our recidivism rate is still hovering around 40 to 45 percent in this state. So if I am true to my [fiscal conservative] principles . . . I would say that continuing to spend a billion dollars and then seeing this rate of recidivism means that we should be doing some things a little bit differently,” Shank said.Shank said a study showed that the risk a convicted person will commit certain crimes again matches the risk of the general population after a certain amount of time. He said this information drives his support for shielding protections for those crimes after an allotted period.Carter said while the General Assembly prides itself for being a progressive institution, it has not been progressive on criminal justice matters. This is why she believes it is important to support an incremental change – like the one the Second Chance Act represents – when one might prefer a bill, for example, that did not require a waiting period before records eligible for shielding or expungement.“We’re talking about a legislature that still has not allowed persons to expunge non-convictions [arrests not resulting in convictions]. Given that, I think we have to push forward very forcefully, but I think we have to consider some kind of a wait-period. I know how far we have been from expanding expungement and how difficult it’s been to even get [the Second Chance Act] passed, which [shields] minor, misdemeanor convictions, of little to no consequence that really probably shouldn’t be convictions that bar people from opportunities anyway,” said Carter.