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The dangers of a re-centralized internet   The Online You: Internet Life

Started Jul-29 by $1,661.87 in cats (ROCKETMAN_S); 288 views.

The growth of near monopoly internet "nodes" is a huge Achille's Heel for modern civilization.

The entire article is rather long, and focuses initially on a Twitter hack that brought down a lot of "verified user" accounts, but it exposes the huge vulnerability of what is called in aviation and spacecraft design, "single point failure" of nearly all online communication because it is concentrated into just a small handful of entities.

https://www.nextgov.com/ideas/2020/07/so-much-decentralized-internet/167281/

... Twitter got its wish of becoming the place people go for real-time updates on news. But that also means that when it fails, as it did during this screen-name hack, part of our communications infrastructure also fails. Twitter isn’t just a place for memes or news, or even presidential press releases meted out in little chunks. It’s where the weather service and the bank and your kid’s school go to share moment-to-moment updates. Though seemingly inessential, it has braided itself into contemporary life in a way that also makes it vital. ... That leaves us with a worst-of-all-worlds situation. The physical and logical infrastructure that helped communications networks avoid catastrophic failure has devolved back into a command-and-control model. At the same time, public reliance on those networks has deepened and intensified. Together, Facebook ..., Google ..., Twitter, and Snap are worth a combined $1.7 trillion. ... The drive to “scale” technology businesses has consolidated their wealth and power, but it has also increased their exposure. Bad actors target Facebook and Twitter for disinformation precisely because those services can facilitate its widespread dissemination. In retrospect, Licklider’s Intergalactic Computer Network should have sounded like an alien threat from the start. ... The risks to online services are more numerous and varied than ever, especially now that they cater to billions of people all over the world. Somehow, the imagined consequences still seem minor ... even as the actual stakes are as fraught as, or worse than, they were half a century ago. The internet was invented to anticipate the aftermath of nuclear war, which thankfully never happened. But the information war that its technological progeny ignited happens every day, even if you can’t log in to Twitter to see it. ...

Showtalk
Staff

From: Showtalk

Jul-29

The politicians are worried too.

Yeah, Those of us who have avoided these "choke points" on line all these years can say "see, I told you so". Maybe we are seeing the beginning of the end of the monopolies, especially now that internet connectivity is particularly critical for a lot of the economy to function.

Like - schools trying to conduct instruction on Facebook - that's just a dangerous single point failure mode that could shut down thousands of separate school districts' ability to function with a single errant mouse click somewhere.

At least if each school had their own server and domain, a catastrophic failure only would shut down one school until it could be fixed, rather than shut down thousands.

Imagine if Apollo 13 had only had a single oxygen tank for the Command / Service module and also the LEM. It was having multiple redundant systems is the only reason they missed out on the "honor" that went to the crew of the Challenger almost 16 years later.

But for any kind of robust and resilient system, one must not "put all the eggs in one basket".

Showtalk
Staff

From: Showtalk

Jul-29

Schools aren’t teaching on Facebook. It’s kind of similar to using Wikipedia as a reference.  They use professional teaching or chat programs.

well that's at least better than what I feared. Thing is, any school or professional setting should absolutely never depend on one of the major social media platforms or any of its server farms for functionality.

One thing I'm poking around is how to get a serious web presence for a "reborn" product line that the old company really never quite did properly.

Part of moving stuff into the 21st century is to be sure customers can find your product.

Showtalk
Staff

From: Showtalk

Jul-29

Articles and positive reviews help develop a presence. 

Showtalk said:

Articles and positive reviews help develop a presence

and don't have someone mail a lot of unknown seeds from China to "brush" a lot of positive reviews from phantom verified buyers.

Showtalk
Staff

From: Showtalk

Jul-30

There are sites people can use to verify reviews.

Well, the technique of "brushing" is one of the ways unscrupulous folks evidently game the system, by creating actual tracking numbers, so the only real expense is the postage and paperwork to make the packets of strange seeds look like it's an actual product sale, which lets the sock accounts that impersonate real people post reviews tied to that shipment.

https://theprepared.com/blog/mysterious-seeds-in-the-mail/

...  he most likely explanation for the mystery seeds (other than world domination by invasive flora) is a good, old-fashioned scam.  Jane Rupp, president of the Better Business Bureau’s Utah chapter, told FOX 13 in Salt Lake City that it’s a common scheme known as “brushing.” An unscrupulous vendor selling on a website like Amazon or AliExpress somehow gets your address, creates a fake account with your name and address, sends you a cheap product, and then posts a fake, but glowing review of the product under your name.

Forbes explains the rationale for this bizarre scam:

To the platform and other users, these faux reviews appear to be from legitimate and verified sales. Beyond the benefit of favorable reviews, simply having additional sales is often enough to raise a product in the rankings of some e-commerce sites, such as Amazon.

As far as scams go, it’s pretty innocuous, albeit unsettling. The “victims” are almost never billed for the items, and some even wish they’d be the victims of a brushing scam.

So that's essentially one of the ways fake reviews can be "laundered" to fool the algorithms

Showtalk
Staff

From: Showtalk

Jul-30

Amazon doesn’t support that and will remove a seller if they can document they use brushing.

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