Category Archives: Journalism

Facebook vs Australia

I’m fascinated by the Facebook v Australia war playing out right now.

As I understand the war, it was incited by the Australian government threatening to pass a law that any post of Australian media onto social media meant that the media source had to be compensated by the hosting site. So if I posted a news story from ABC (Australia Broadcast Corporation) onto Facebook, Facebook – not me – would have to pay ABC for the link.

That’s just not how the internet works. Which brings up two possible streams of thought:

A) Shouldn’t ABC be monetising the clicks that such a posting leads to, rather than trying to monetise the post itself?

Or B) If this is how we want the internet to work (creating unsinkable silos of information), we have to redefine every aspect of HTML, usr behaviour and the history of the internet.

Facebook’s response has been to remove all Australian media from Facebook, and, going one step further, to remove all Australian government pages and information from Facebook.

The first part seems a good way to demonstrate the flaws in the Australian government’s logic, the second part shows what the internet would look like if such legislation were enforced, and it’s not pretty.

The ABC’s website is replete with notices like this.

I don’t often side with Facebook (ed note: have I ever?) but in this case, I think they’re right. The legislation is ill-advised and fundamentally rethinks a tool (the internet as a whole) that is too well-entrenched to be radically changed at this time.

Here’s an overview from the Australian media’s perspective. Interestingly, if I understand what they’re fighting about, I might have to remove this link or else pay for it.

I don’t allow commenting on this website, so if you want to explain to me where I’m wrong, the best way is to find me on twitter @StephenGParks. If I’m wrong or ill-informed, I’ll amend this article as I deem it needs it.

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy

It’s October, 2020, an election year. As is the Republican tradition, they try to launch an “October Surprise” against the Democrat running for president. Well, here it is, so let’s go through this (Note that while Joe Biden is from Delaware, Hunter Biden lives in California.):

According to Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, Hunter traveled to Delaware to get his computer fixed. We’re to believe that there’s no one in all of California (home to Apple) who can fix a MacBook.

According to Rudy, Hunter, the son of the Democratic candidate, chose a very explicitly pro-Trump shop to repair his laptop.

The store owner, who is legally blind, swears it’s Hunter who dropped the laptop off (could you identify Hunter Biden if you happened to unexpectedly meet him?). The store’s video surveillance for that day has been erased, so there’s no evidence to confirm or refute his claim.

Later, the store owner changed his statement to: “couldn’t positively identify the customer as Hunter Biden, but the laptop bore a sticker from the Beau Biden Foundation, named after Hunter’s late brother.” The Beau Biden Foundation is based in Delaware and is popular. It’s not unusual to see stickers for it on laptops.

The store’s owner either gave the laptop to the FBI, who immediately asked him to hack the hard drive because they couldn’t. OR he hacked the hard drive then gave it to the FBI. He keeps changing his story on this point. Why exactly he would give a customer’s computer to the FBI is a fair question, not answered.

He then gave the hard drive to Rudy (so what did he give to the FBI?) OR he gave a copy of the hard drive to Rudy. OR he gave printouts of some emails and some pictures to Rudy. Again, his story changes depending when you ask.

Side note: somehow, indicted felon Steve Bannon also has a copy of this stolen property.

Rudy, a lawyer, who, if he’s telling the truth here, knows he is in possession of stolen property, does not turn it over the police, but instead starts shopping it to news outlets. BUT he wants an outlet that won’t be critical or dig too deeply into the story.

Even Fox News wouldn’t take the story. They’ve been worried about Rudy’s credibility.

Rudy settles on the NY Post. Rudy says, “nobody else would take it, or if they took it, they would spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out.” So no one else would take it without fact-checking it. The NY Post (a Rupert Murdoch paper) would.

The NY Post’s own journalists won’t touch the story, so a former producer for Sean Hannity’s Fox News show is credited with the byline. A second name is added to the byline, a Post journalist who didn’t know her name was being assigned to the story. She isn’t happy about her name being attached to it.

President Trump is saying that any journalist who doesn’t report this story as 100% true is a criminal.

The FBI is now investigating whether the source material originated in a foreign power’s disinformation campaign.

Rudy says there’s only a 50/50 chance he was working with Russian spies on this story.

UPDATE March 2021:
50/50 becomes 100%. US intelligence report confirms Giuliani was working with Russian intelligence agents. Oops.