A Wall Street View on Social Media

Is all new technology progress? Interesting question. I guess you will different answers, depending on who you ask. But if you ask hedge fund billionaire, Paul Singer, at Elliot Management on Wall Street, you’ll get the following answer:

“Ask yourself the following set of questions: Do people seem better informed today in the developed world? Smarter? Is the discourse more sophisticated? The answer is a resounding “no” to all those questions.”

Elliot Management


Well, if the new communications technology is not progress, what is it then? I do not dare to answer that question. Still, Elliot Management makes some valid points in their latest letter to investors.

The following extract is published by Wall Street blogger Zero Hedge. To read the full letter you’ll have to subscribe to it personally.

“Some technology represents unquestioned progress, despite causing real challenges to the employment prospects of citizens who are made redundant. For example, recent advances in science and medicine have merely scratched the surface in terms of enhancing our ability to find cures for diseases in an increasingly focused way at sharply diminished cost. Also, the technology of moving people and goods in vehicles and organizing their movement on roads contains tremendous opportunities for cost and energy efficiencies, as do the areas of resource extraction, the development of alternative energy and the efficiency of food production. These are just a few obvious and impactful areas in which technological progress has lots of headroom for human betterment.”

“On the other hand, some technological progress is not really progress at all. Innovations in the technology of communications, including social media, provide increasingly powerful and robust platforms to disseminate information. Unfortunately, these same increasingly powerful and robust platforms are also used to spread information that is untrue, and to package information in tiny bits of faux-knowledge that (because of their sheer volume) leave little room for neither more comprehensive reading nor discussion and contemplation. This fact reinforces our view that young people need to be taught the basics as early as possible – of history, political science, philosophy and civilization. In the absence of that grounding, all of these Twitter and Facebook bits alight on a population that lacks the tools to sort or analyze what they are reading while scrunched over their Androids. (Interesting word, Android; maybe in a thinly-veiled joke, it is meant to describe the hooked users and not the device…)”

“The technology of communications also democratizes news and opinion. Although this development may seem positive at first blush, it also has some powerful negative aspects. Whatever one thinks about the “mainstream” media’s biases, there is at least a set of standards and professional codes of conduct that are more or less followed by established media outlets. Writers are edited, and editors seek to protect franchises against irresponsible communications. Bloggers, by contrast, do not really have to adhere to any such constraints, and making them hew to any standards of professional responsibility is difficult at best. The “blogosphere” effectively makes the dissemination of news and opinion a kind of dense windy fog.”

(h/t: zerohedge.com)

Socially related:

New Research: Social Media Amplifies Irrational Behavior

The Social Media Personality Disorder

The Power of Social Media Is Nothing To Joke About

The Invisible Footnotes of EU’s Media Control Directive

Welcome to Watergate Hotel, Mr. President

The (Very) Small Difference Between Influence and Manipulation



Zuckerberg: US Government Is A Threat To Internet

Facebook-boss, Mark Zuckerberg, seems to be pretty upset by the latest news reports on the US government agency, NSA, trying to build something like a malware empire by setting up a bogus Facebook server to intercept traffic and fool users. On his personal Faceboook page, Zuckerberg lashes out against the NSA, the USA government and its president.

“I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future.”

Mark Zuckerberg


Earlier this week we wrote about Google’s Eric Schmidt directly claiming that the company was attacked by the NSA, and now Zuckerberg is publicly stating that the government has become a threat to the internet.

It’s about time both Google and Facebook and all the other major tech companies show their true colours, take a stand in this matter and act on it.

Facebook-Zuck writes in a status update – dated March 13 – that he personally called the US president, Barack Obama, to give him a piece of his mind.

“I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future.”

Zuckerberg also writes – more or less directly – that the US government is a threat to the whole internet.

This is why I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.

The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.

Google recently announced that all of its searches are encrypted, but that’s probably just a start.

As the guys over at Techdirt.com points out: “The tech industry has to move to a world where encryption is the norm, and not the exception any more. It may suck in the way that it sucked when homes and cars finally “required” locks, but at this point it’s a necessity.”

Decrypted & Related:

 All Human Rights Reserved (h) 2014

Symantec Warns Against Small Business Vulnerabilities

“Our devices are getting smarter and so must we. With millions of devices connected to the Internet—and in many cases running an embedded operating system—expect more hackers to be hacking in 2014. Security researchers have already demonstrated attacks against smart televisions, medical equipment, baby monitors and security cameras. Many of the companies building gadgets that connect to the Internet don’t even realize they have an oncoming security problem and therefore don’t have a friendly end-user method to patch these new vulnerabilities or notify customers when there is a vulnerability. This poses serious and potentially debilitating problem for small businesses.”


Small businesses can benefit greatly by using the latest technologies to improve operational efficiency and innovation, but they can also open the door to a host of headaches. In the Symantec 2014 Small Business Trends Report, the leading IT-security company predicts continued consumer focus on privacy, and a growing “Internet of Things” (IOT) connected to more and more mobile devices which will have a direct impact on small businesses and they way they do business.

“Security researchers have already demonstrated attacks against smart televisionsmedical equipment, baby monitors and security cameras. Many of the companies building gadgets that connect to the Internet don’t even realize they have an oncoming security problem and therefore don’t have a friendly end-user method to patch these new vulnerabilities or notify customers when there is a vulnerability.”


last ned

“From scary headline news to a much-needed wake-up call,” Symantec writes, not referring to…

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