Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Facebook Moderation and Censorship AKA ‘Community Standards’ Going Haywire

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It may be automated systems going wrong or it may be another misguided crackdown on legitimate

posts but as usual with Facebook it’s impossible to get any answers, explanation or guidance.

The CLEAR team has run a Facebook page now for 10 years.  According to Facebook data it’s the second most ‘liked’ page on cannabis and drugs policy and its ‘engagement’ is usually in the top three of all similar pages worldwide.

We’ve experienced everything crazy that Facebook has thrown us over those 10 years.  But in the past few weeks the inexplicable and quite ridiculous censorship has reached new levels.

Over the years, our page has been hijacked three or four times by breaches in Facebook’s (not CLEAR’s) security. On each occasion it has taken up to a month to regain control which has involved endless unanswered messages and emails.  Most recently Facebook has required notarised statements and evidence to restore control to our admins even though they have 10 years history on record.  On one occasion, whilst the page was out of our control, Facebook took no notice at all of a stream of hardcore porn videos that were posted day after day.

Facebook’s attitude to cannabis and drugs policy is wildly inconsistent. It goes through periods of not taking any notice at all to what’s happening at present, which is where even the most innocuous mentions get sanctioned.  Even links to academic, scientific and medical papers or research get removed on the basis that they are ‘promoting drug use’ or even more absurd, ‘selling drugs’.

Today, it has removed one post in which Lisa Quarrell has been told that the NHS will not pay for her son’s medicinal cannabis because she had previously ‘gone private’ to obtain it and it would be an ‘improper use of NHS funds’.  It has also removed a post about a designer who has been ordered to pay Starbucks $500,000 because he designed a bong that looks like a Starbucks coffee cup.

Peter Reynolds was recently blocked from posting, first for three days and then for seven days for posting a meme inviting subscriptions to our email newsletter, the CLEAR Daily News.  This, apparently, is ‘selling drugs’.  We’ve been posting exactly the same meme regularly for over two years with no problem at all.

What’s really worrying is that two long online ‘chats’ with Facebook concierge support (available to advertisers) achieved nothing except for mindless repetition that the post ‘goes against community standards’.  These are real people constrained to the role and inteligence of a bot, unable to think or exercise any discretion.

Meanwhile the endless, lunatic, conspiracy theories on vaccines, Bill Gates, 5G, coronavirus, etc. fill up the newsfeed.  Reports indicate that child porn,  fraudulent scams, misuse of celebrities’ images, terrorist ideology and violence are still not under control.

Facebook is an essential tool for any business, NGO or campaign.  You simply have to be on it. It’s a monopoly that is out of control.  In reality it seems to have more power over governments and regulators than they have over it. It needs to be broken up. The fact that it is also Instagram and WhatsApp is a ridiculous state of affairs.  How have Zuckerberg and his bots been able to get away with this?  Their ‘community standards’ or at least the enforcement are clearly an abuse of US constitutional rights and that is the only jurisdiction of which they take any notice.

CLEAR has put many tens of thousands of pounds into Facebook advertising.  Pages now have to pay if they want to reach their followers.  Before the algorithms changed all our posts would reach thousands of people, sometimes hundreds of thousands. In the last couple of years in many instances that has gone down to single figures. All the time, money and expertise we have invested in Facebook is being wasted.  We have been cheated out of it by this out-of-control, arrogant monolith.  As of this week our executive committee has stopped all Facebook advertising for good. It’ll make no difference to Facebook of course, until thousands of others do the same thing but we are not going to give them any more of our members’ money.

We will continue to do our best to bring our followers the news in the face of this draconian censorship.  All our posts are also on Twitter which is in many ways (not always!) a better and more adult forum but, of course, it’s very unfocused and inflexible.  The minute that there is a viable alternative to Facebook, CLEAR will be off.  It’s a phenomenon that has run its course. We need more intelligently managed and properly regulated online media to communicate through.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 9, 2020 at 2:11 pm

This Is The Best Vapouriser I Have Used.

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puri-vape

This is how a vapouriser should work.  The Puri5 Magnum 2 is a magnificent product, simply the very best vape available on the market today.

Unlike every other vapouriser I have ever used, this one works perfectly, first time, every time.  It doesn’t require a ‘knack’ or practice to understand it, it just delivers thick, smooth, taste-filled vapour as soon as you fill it up and switch it on.

No, I haven’t been paid a fee and sadly the sample I’ve tested is not a freebie.  I shall be saving up my own pennies to buy one of these.

Nothing else to say really. My only remaining wish is that one day Americans will learn how to spell properly. Here’s the website and here’s a rather weird but informative video.

Written by Peter Reynolds

February 2, 2017 at 5:19 pm

Posted in Consumerism, technology

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Facebook Says Calling A Black Man A Baboon “Doesn’t Violate Our Community Standards”.

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On the other hand Facebook says that recommending a responsible, reputable supplier of verified, lab-tested, legal CBD food supplements does violate its standards.

lovehemp-40-cbd

LoveHemp 40% CBD Oil

At a guess (because you can’t get a straight answer from Facebook about anything), the issue is “We prohibit any attempts by unauthorised dealers to purchase, sell or trade prescription drugs, marijuana, firearms or ammunition.”

Now CBD food supplements are fully legal products.  They are not prescription drugs.  True, CBD is present in cannabis but it is also found in many other plants.  So it’s difficult to understand what the problem is – but not as difficult as getting a coherent answer from Mr Zuckerberg and his disciples.

For the ‘offence’ of recommending a CBD supplier your page gets a seriously heavy warning to all page admins, a threat of permanent deletion and I, as the author of the post sharing a link to CBD Oils UK, was banned from Facebook for 30 days.  Such is the reality of living under the diktat of the unaccountable, overbearing, bureaucratic monolith that Facebook has become.

However, when some vile American Trumpoid leaves a comment on the CLEAR page calling a black man a baboon, that’s just fine and dandy.

baboon-comment

It is time that Facebook was placed under serious regulation for its unfair and oppressive trading practices.  It has become so ubiquitous that it now has a responsibility that goes beyond any independent business.  It is virtually impossible for individuals and small businesses to operate without a Facebook account.  It should be subject to strict standards and forced to comply with fair practices.

I’m all for free enterprise but it’s time to slam Facebook hard for its tax dodging, its failure to take responsibility for publishing abuse and its unfair treatment of users and advertisers.

Do Not Buy An ASUS Transformer Book.

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asus-transformer-book

I apologise for the technical jargon but there is only one way accurately to describe this product.

It’s crap.

In 36 years of buying and using personal computer technology, I have never suffered such frustration, inconvenience and real consequential losses because of an unreliable product.

When and if the power works properly it’s fine but it is so unpredictable that it is a nightmare.  I can never rely on it to power up when I need it, irrespective of its state of charge and it has caused me a real problem on several occasions.

On paper and the display shelf of PC World Currys in Weymouth it looked good.  I paid just over £150 for a small, neat laptop with Windows 10. The screen can be detached to form a tablet but that’s not what I bought it for and I have never used it that way.  Obviously, at its price and size, it has a lot of compromises which I was happy to accept.  It has just 2GB RAM, 30GB of disk space, one conventional USB port and no possibility of expansion.  That’s OK, I knew what I was buying.

asus-transformer-book-boxWhat I didn’t know was that it has a mind of its own when it comes to pressing the on button.  It doesn’t matter how long it’s been charging, you never know whether it will start or not.

The first one went back to PC World within a week.  They were great about it and didn’t quibble at all – but the replacement machine was exactly the same.

Of course, there is nothing in the pathetic paper manual provided, nor online at the ASUS website.  Only when you call the support line does it become obvious this is a well known problem.  The solution I am given is ridiculous and nearly six months on it doesn’t work consistently either.  The ‘fix’ is to take the power cable out, hold the power key down for 30 seconds, replace the power cable and press the power key once.  Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes it sorts of half boots up but then hangs.  Sometimes you can’t even shut it down.  To use another technical expression, it is a pain in the arse.

On several occasions I have needed to fire it up urgently to post something or deal with a problem while I’m travelling and it just hasn’t happened, whether it’s just been charged or not.  I’ve had to find a power socket and then mess around for up to a half and hour before it will finally work.

I’m told by my friends who have been suckered into buying Apple iPhones that they don’t work without an initial charge. Apparently, if the battery’s flat you have give it 15 minutes before it will switch on.  That’s what you get for buying technology for fashion rather than function.  I’ve never had a phone that won’t run straight off the power supply.  My Sony Xperia Z3 does so perfectly.

We all know that the real cost of buying technology is not the initial capital purchase cost but the time you have to invest to get it working.  On that basis I have put thousands into this machine and it keeps letting me down.  One day, some technology company is going to get sued for the consequential losses its faulty or badly designed product has caused.  Perhaps then these companies will get serious about serving customers instead of using us, at our expense, for their new product development and testing.

I’ve invested too much in this now and I just have to adapt to its shortcomings.  If it worked as it should it would be a great product – but it doesn’t, so don’t buy one!

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 25, 2016 at 11:48 am

Online Trolls Are Psychopaths And Sadists, Psychologists Claim.

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A Gang Of British Trolls

A Gang Of British Trolls

Source: The Independent, 18th February 2014

Canadian researchers have confirmed what most people suspected all along: that internet trolls are archetypal Machiavellian sadists.

In a survey conducted by the group of psychologists, people who partake in so-called trolling online showed signs of sadism, psychopathy, and were Machiavellian in their manipulation of others and their disregard for morality.

The researchers defined online trolling as “the practice of behaving in a deceptive, destructive, or disruptive manner in a social setting on the Internet” for no purpose other than their pleasure.

To achieve the results, the team asked internet users about subjects including how much time they spend online, and whether they comment on websites such as YouTube.

They were also given tests that measured their responses against psychology’s “Dark Tetrad”: narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy and a sadistic personality.

Questions also surrounded sadistic statements including: ”I enjoy physically hurting people,” “I enjoy making jokes at the expense of others” and “I enjoy playing the villain in games and torturing other characters.”

“It was sadism, however, that had the most robust associations with trolling of any of the personality measures,” said psychologists from the University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg and University of British Columbia in an article published in the ‘Personality and Individual Differences’ journal.

It went on to claim that trolls are “agents of chaos” that exploit “hot-button issues” to inflame and exploit users’ emotions,

“If an unfortunate person falls into their trap, trolling intensifies for further, merciless amusement. This is why novice Internet users are routinely admonished, ‘Do not feed the trolls!’,” the study warned.

The team concluded that those who enjoyed trolling more than other activities, such debating and making friends, had tendencies in line with the psychological “Dark Tetrad”.

Perhaps most worryingly, the psychologists based their conclusion on cyber-trolling being an “Internet manifestation of everyday sadism,” rather than merely on online phenomenon.

It is thought the findings may contribute towards a trend of sites such as YouTube and the Huffington Post requiring users to comment using registered accounts rather than allowing anonymous posts.

Written by Peter Reynolds

February 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Assange Freed!

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“Well it’s great to smell the fresh air of London again!”

 

British justice is not dead!

Written by Peter Reynolds

December 16, 2010 at 7:03 pm

The Severn Scandal Of Huhne

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Artist's Impression

If there is idiocy in the coalition this is it.

Chris Huhne, the so-called progressive LibDem Energy Minister has called off the Severn barrage, the biggest tidal energy project ever in Britain.  See here.

What more sustainable, reliable, self-evidently ideal source of energy is there than the tide?  Until the earth spins off its axis or the moon melts into green cheese, the tides will continue to work.  The Severn estuary has the second highest tidal reach in the world.  The power inherent in its cycle is unimaginable.  When we find a way to harness it efficiently we will have achieved something every bit as revolutionary as cold fusion.

Blind

Yet our short sighted Energy Minister has cancelled the project and says that investment in such new energy sources should come from the private sector. Then he says that private sector investment is unrealistic.  There is something seriously wrong with this man’s thinking.  This is not the sort of project that you judge on the basis of some nit picking consultant’s report.  This is akin to the invention of flight or the microprocessor.  This requires vision.  This is a project that stretches across centuries and dwarfs Chris Huhne and his shameful decision.

This is exactly, precisely and properly the sort of project that government should be investing in heavily.  Only government can promote this sort of essential, long term development.  As for the pathetic whinging of the RSPB et al, this reveals how many small minded fools there are in the green movement.  The birds will find somewhere else soon enough.

A disastrous and terrible decision that will define and should destroy Chris Huhne’s career.