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TECHNOLOGY HEADLINES
›  Why You Need To Read These Hateful Internet Comments About Trans Kids

On Wednesday, the Trump administration rescinded a guidance protecting the right of transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity in public schools. The next morning, people across the world showed their support for transgender students on social media.


The focal point of this specific battle, and in many ways the debate over mainstream transgender rights in general, has become the right for a trans person to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. On Thursday, I shared an illustration on my Facebook page that gets to the heart of the danger that trans youth face on a daily basis by simply performing a basic bodily function.






While it’s unclear where this image initially came from or who the artist is behind it is, it’s a striking visual representation of why basic protections for trans people are so important ? especially in public schools.


A few hours after I shared the image, the bigots and trolls arrived. Thousands of comments poured in, the majority of which contained the Trash Dove that has become a tool for internet trolls to flood posts with hateful comments.


But there were also a number of more pointed comments that shed a light on why trans youth need not only our personal support, but the legislative help and protection for the government.









These comments, while easy to dismiss as internet drivel, are representative of real people hiding behind computer screens who harbor hatred for the transgender community.


This is not an issue that progressives can afford to remain silent about. Hateful internet commentary like the above is a reminder that there is real and present danger for transgender minors, and it is our responsibility to do what we can.


On March 28, the Supreme Court will hear a case surrounding 17-year-old Gavin Grimm’s fight to use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity at his Virginia high school. The results of this case will have profound, longstanding implications for the transgender community on a federal level. Depending on how the Supreme Court decides, this case could either enshrine protections for transgender students nationwide or send these fights back to the states.


Right now there is little we can do about the level of hatred and bigoted language online. But what we can do is make an impact in our individual communities.


Talk to the people in your lives and in your networks about the upcoming SCOTUS case ? and about the hate that trans and gender non-conforming youth deal with on a daily basis. Look into supporting organizations and resources crucial for the transgender community, like Trans Lifeline, the ACLU or the National Center for Transgender Equality. Reach out to trans organizations in your local community and ask what they need.


Compassion beings with education, and it is all of our jobs right now to step up to the plate.


James Michael Nichols is a queer writer and cultural critic whose work focuses heavily on the intersections of identity, art and politics. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Waymo Says Uber Stole Critical Self-Driving Technology, Files Suit





Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self-driving car unit sued Uber Technologies and its autonomous trucking subsidiary Otto on Thursday over allegations of theft of its confidential and proprietary sensor technology.


Waymo accused Uber and Otto, acquired by the ride services company in August, with stealing confidential information on Waymo’s Lidar sensor technology to help speed its own efforts in autonomous technology.


“Uber’s LiDAR technology is actually Waymo’s LiDAR technology,” said Waymo’s complaint in the Northern District of California.


Uber said it took “the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully.”


Lidar, which uses light pulses reflected off objects to gauge their position on or near the road, is a crucial component of autonomous driving systems. Previous systems have been prohibitively expensive and Waymo sought to design one over 90 percent cheaper, making its Lidar technology among the company’s “most valuable assets,” Waymo said.



Waymo is seeking an unspecified amount of damages and a court order preventing Uber from using its proprietary information.


Otto launched with much fanfare in May, due in part to the high profile of one of its co-founders, Anthony Levandowski, who had been an executive on Google’s self-driving project. Uber acquired the company in August for what Waymo said in the lawsuit was $680 million.


Waymo said that before Levandowski’s resignation in January 2016 from Google, whose self-driving unit was renamed Waymo in December, he downloaded over 14,000 confidential files, including Lidar circuit board designs, thereby allowing Uber and Otto to fast-track its self-driving technology.


Waymo accused Levandowski of attempting to “erase any forensic fingerprints” via a reformat of his laptop.


“While Waymo developed its custom LiDAR systems with sustained effort over many years, defendants leveraged stolen information to shortcut the process and purportedly build a comparable LiDAR system in only nine months,” the complaint said.



Last month, Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) electric car company sued the former head of its Autopilot system. It said he tried to recruit Tesla engineers for his new venture with the former head of Google’s self-driving program while still working there, and said he stole proprietary data belonging to Tesla.


Waymo’s lawsuit said it learned of this use of trade secrets and patent infringement after it was inadvertently copied on an email from a component vendor that included a design of Uber’s Lidar circuit board, which bore a “striking resemblance” to Waymo’s design.


Waymo noted that Google devoted over seven years to self-driving cars and said Uber’s forays into the technology through a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University had stalled by early 2016.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Finally, A Web Series That Navigates The Horrors Of Being A 'Woman Online?



In 2017, calling a web series about women’s experiences on the internet “Woman Online” is controversial, apparently.


“I’ve already been criticized by men online for this web series,” said comedian Sara Schaefer in a recent phone conversation with The Huffington Post, explaining that some online users took issue with the name. “I’m not saying that other people don’t get harassed online, but this web series is about what it’s like to be a woman online. I’m sorry, that’s who I am and that’s what I’m talking about.”


It’s a sentiment that likely many ladies on the internet could empathize with, given the frequent reports of gender-driven trolling women receive online. For example, a 2016 Australian study found that 76 percent of women under 30 experience online harassment. In the same year, writer Lindy West left Twitter after years of being the subject of harassment due to her work, calling the platform “unusable for anyone but trolls, robots and dictators.”


That “Woman Online,” a project Schaefer created with Seriously.TV, reflects this current climate is no accident. The comedian, known for her 2013 MTV show “Nikki & Sara Live,” is fascinated by why people do what they do. As someone whose career is dependent on maintaining an online presence, Sara looked to the internet — and the specific experience of women in that space — as inspiration.


“Social media is, for me personally, an overall positive,” she said, citing the ability of online platforms to spread messages of the marginalized and share different individuals’ experiences. After witnessing the dissemination of information surrounding the Ferguson, Missouri, protests after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer, Schaefer saw the power of interacting online. “For me personally, it turned my brain on [to realize,] oh, my god, I can’t unsee this. And I can’t not be upset about it anymore.” 


“Because of that, in some ways, we’re more sensitive ... Everything feels so close, and so big, because of social media,” she said.


Of course, with great tweeting power comes great responsibility, and the democratization of information means, unfortunately, name-calling and threats are elevated to the same level as constructive discourse. Being a woman colors the whole experience in a different hue.





”Every man I know online could post the same thing I post and get completely different responses. There are a lot of gendered insults — cunt, bitch are big ones — that people don’t really say to men. There’s a reason for that,” said Schaefer.


“You know, women have been somewhat marginalized for all of history and again, social media has allowed us a platform to be louder and more unified. That’s scary to some people,” she continued. “I think there are a lot of women who are targeted because they are just speaking.”


The number of stories Schaefer’s found from women led her to want to talk about these issues, well, online. Recent episodes include “What really happens in secret lady Facebook groups?” and “Inside a woman’s dating app.” While occasionally she’s brought on guests, like fellow comedian Jen Kirkman, the series’ most recent episode showcased Schaefer’s own journey to chase down a particularly persistent troll. She begins by reciting some things she’s had said to her on the internet: “Don’t listen to this dumb bitch, she’s barely a comedian.” “This chick’s husband needs to put her back in her place.”


She goes on to tell the story of “Jeff,” a man who created numerous accounts to harass her in various ways, escalating to comments about Schaefer’s mother, who had passed away. 


It’s clear that the directive women sometimes receive to “not feed the trolls” wouldn’t cut it in this situation. “Imagine if someone at your work was leaving anonymous notes taunting you about the worst thing that’s ever happened to you,” she says in the video. “Nobody would be like, ‘Oh, just ignore it! They just want attention!” 


“On one hand, there’s nothing you can do to prevent [it],” Schaefer explained to me in our conversation. “It’s like telling someone to not go outside if they don’t wanna get mugged, you know? It’s like, well that’s just ridiculous. I have to be able to live my life,” she said.


Each video strikes a blend of education and comedy. “Humor is so powerful,” Schaefer said, noting that it’s an effective way to “communicate the craziness of our world,” especially in a time when fake news, the normalization of hateful speech and strong divisions in politics have taken center stage.


“My feeling now is that comedy is an important way to speak truth to power and hold up a mirror to things,” she said. “Not just against Trump, but against hypocrisy, and forcing people on both sides and in the middle to question how things are going.”

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Donald Trump Claims He Saved $1 Billion On Air Force One. That's News To The Military.





President Donald Trump bragged at his recent Florida rally that after a negotiating session of merely an hour he managed to shave a billion dollars off the price of a new Air Force One. The only problem is that the Air Force reportedly has no idea what he’s talking about.


“They were close to signing a $4.2 billion deal to have a new Air Force One,” Trump said Saturday. “Can you believe this? I said, ‘No way.’ I said, ‘I refuse to fly in a $4.2 billion airplane. I refuse.’”


“We got that price down by over $1 billion, and I probably haven’t spoken, to be honest with you, for more than an hour on the project,” he continued. “I got the generals in, who are fantastic. I got Boeing in. But I told Boeing, it’s not good enough. We’re not going to do it. The price is still too high.”


But Air Force spokesman Col. Pat Ryder told Bloomberg, “To my knowledge I have not been told that we have that information.” He suggested a call to the White House, which had not responded to requests as of Friday.


Trump threatened in December to cancel any contract with aircraft maker Boeing after again mentioning a $4 billion Air force One. “We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money,” he said.


The Air Force plans to replace both of its two Air Force One jets — each about 26 years old — by 2024. Boeing would replace the current 747s with modified 747-8s, which are longer, have a wider wingspan, and are capable of flying 1,000 miles farther without refueling, according to Stars and Stripes. Air Force One is essentially a flying Oval Office from which the president could run the country.


But Ryder said the price had not been determined and the new jets have yet to be designed.  So it’s unclear what Trump might have been negotiating. 


Boeing is now operating under an initial $172 million contract to determine basic capabilities and compatibilities of the new aircraft, according to a Boeing statement. Contracts will be awarded as early as June for design. The two unmodified aircraft that will be transformed into Air Force One will be purchased from Boeing in a separate contract, the Air Force Times has reported.


“That will give us a better idea of how much we’ll be looking at for the cost,” Ryder told Stars and Stripes.


The White House Military Office, not the Air Force, determines the Air Force One’s security and communications requirements and accommodation requirements, said Ryder. So Trump could radically reduce his own demands if he’s looking for a cheaper way to fly.


He has talked about having only one, not two, Air Force Ones.


“I don’t want to speak for the White House. But ... having two aircraft gives you the flexibility you need to ensure you are able to meet the mission requirements,” Ryder told Stars and Stripes. “Having another aircraft gives you the ability to put one into phased maintenance, for example, or if there are issues with that aircraft you have other options.”


Trump’s Defense Secretary James Mattis in January ordered a review of how to reduce the costs of Air Force One. The budget for the Air Force One program is $1.9 billion through 2019.


Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher told Bloomberg in an email, “We are committed to working [with] the Trump administration and Defense Department on innovative approaches to affordably provide the capabilities America’s military needs.”


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-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Teen Engineers Build Robot Arm To Rescue Puppy Trapped In Well



A puppy in Istanbul escaped death this month thanks to the innovative work of a crew of teen robotics enthusiasts.


The 4-month-old canine, identified by Reuters as a type of livestock guard dog called a Kangal, was stuck down a 230-foot well in a forested area for about 10 days. Local firefighters and miners worked to free the pup, but they couldn’t have pulled off the rescue without the help of the robotics team at Istanbul’s Bahcesehir High School For Science & Technology.



When the students learned about the little dog’s plight, they constructed a robotic arm to assist in lifting the puppy out of the well.


“The workers would not have been able to rescue the dog without the help of the robotic arm,” members of the team told HuffPost through a publicist working for the international group FIRST, which promotes science and technology education. “Their efforts were inhibited by the depth of the well. And the fact that they couldn’t dig a new hole because of concern it could cause the well to collapse entirely.”



The puppy, now named Kuyu, which means “well,” was finally hoisted up to freedom on Feb. 15. After receiving veterinary care, Kuyu was taken to a new home at a local fire station, where he’s being trained as a rescue dog to assist firefighters in saving lives.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  The Internet Loves This 7-Year-Old Talking About The Robot She Made

This mini engineer is putting a smile on a lot of people’s faces.


On Feb. 18, Facebook page Because of Them We Can posted a video that shows 7-year-old Noelle demonstrating how a robot that she made works. In the video, Noelle explains how her robot receives the energy to spin and then draws things thanks to the markers attached to it.





Roosevelt Scales, Noelle’s father, told The Huffington Post that his daughter made the robot for school. She attends California’s Da Vinci Innovation Academy, a school that includes instruction both on-site and at home.


“On site two days a week, she participates in project-based learning that ranges in topics from physics to fashion while her homeschool curriculum is culturally relevant and uses the Black365 calendar to introduce historical figures and events,” he said. “She also takes a weekly class at an art studio where they integrate science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).”


Scales told HuffPost his daughter is always creating and drawing and that she makes something new every day.


“She’ll make books, games, clothes ? she is very intrigued by new things and finding out the hows and whys,” he said.


Robotics engineering is merely one of Noelle’s interests. Her dad said every day she aspires to be something different when she grows up. She is also into fashion, improv theater and painting. 


In less than a week, Noelle has racked up more than 76,000 views on the Because of Them We Can Facebook page. 


“#FACT: Black talent is real,” the page wrote in the caption.


The 7-year-old also got another 51,000 views after HuffPost’s Philip Lewis posted it. Scales said it “was exciting” for his daughter to see the reach of her video. 


“We are just a regular family trying to enjoy life and give our kids the best opportunity to figure out life for themselves,” he said. “So we think it is great that something that she did and didn’t think much about can be shared and viewed because this is where the real life is found ? in kids experimenting to discover.”


The HuffPost Parents newsletter offers a daily dose of personal stories, helpful advice and comedic takes on what it’s like to raise kids today. Sign up here.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Video Of Giraffe About To Give Birth Removed For ?Nudity And Sexual Content?



A popular YouTube live stream is back on air after it was accused of broadcasting “nudity and sexual content” because it showed a giraffe about to give birth.


The owner of Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, blamed the debacle on “animal rights activists” he said falsely reported the video because they were unhappy with the animal’s captivity.


“The criticism is ironic because our animal collection is made up of rescues, surrenders, and some planned acquisitions,” owner Jordan Patch told The Huffington Post by email Thursday. 


The zoo addressed the video’s removal in a Facebook Live video where Patch bit back at its critics, calling the giraffe’s filmed labor an educational tool. Silencing it discourages animal conservation, he said.


“This is a perfect example of why we can’t have nice things,” Patch said in the video as April’s head poked around above his. 



“To be a wildlife warrior, it’s not to fight the organizations that are working to help these animals, it’s actually to conserve their natural environments,” he said.


“I encourage the animal rights activists to get behind conservation. We’re all on the same team, we all want the best for these animals and we would love to have them in their natural environment again some day. But until we can control the destruction of natural habitat and curb poaching, that is not going to happen,” he continued.


Patch told HuffPost that shortly after the video started going viral he and his staff started to see posts by people suggesting that they try sabotaging the feed.


“Though we did not receive direct emails or messages, it was seen by us and many others in live feed comments from some of the many outlets sharing our Giraffe Cam,” he said.



One such comment he said he saw read: “I live for the day your facility is shut down.”


Patch said this it the first time they’ve received any kind of criticism of this scale. “We have a clean federal inspection report and our park has an excellent rating on Facebook and other travel platforms.”


The zoo’s website notes that it’s licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation andNew York State Agriculture & Markets. However, the zoo is not accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, according to the AZA site.


As for the animals, he said, “they are a part of our family, and my team is dedicated to making their stay with us the best and most comfortable as possible.”


The video continued to stream on other sites, including Facebook, after its removal.


A spokesperson for YouTube acknowledged the video’s brief removal, as well as its return, but declined further comment when reached by HuffPost.


Just hours after the video went back on air Thursday morning, more than 36,000 people were tuned in waiting for April to give birth.


This story has been updated with comments from Patch.


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›  What's New On Netflix For March 2017?




Welcome (back) to “Jurassic Park.”


New additions to Netflix next month include the movie, “The Discovery,” a film where the world freaks out after learning there is life after death. Also, the “Jurassic Park” trilogy is back from extinction. All three movies were taken off of Netflix last year. But life finds a way ...


Hold onto your butts: Here’s the rest of the list.








March 1



  • “Angry Birds” (Season 2, 2013)

  • “Blazing Saddles” (1974)

  • “Chicago” (2002)

  • “Deep Run” (2015)

  • “Dirt Every Day” (Season 1, 2013)

  • “Epic Drives” (Season 2, 2015)

  • “Friday After Next” (2002)

  • “Head 2 Head” (Season 2, 2013)

  • “Hot Rod Unlimited” (Season 1, 2013)

  • “Ignition” (Season 1, 2013)

  • “Impossible Dreamers” (2017)

  • “Jurassic Park” (1993)

  • “Jurassic Park III” (2001)

  • “Kate and Mim-Mim” (Season 2, 2015)

  • “Know Your Enemy – Japan” (1945)

  • “Kung Fu Panda” (2008)

  • “Let There Be Light” (1946)

  • “Memento” (2000)

  • “Midnight in Paris” (2011)

  • “Nacho Libre” (2006)

  • “Nazi Concentration Camps” (1945)

  • “Roadkill” (Season 2, 2013)

  • “Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane” (2012)

  • “San Pietro” (1945)

  • “Singing with Angels” (2016)

  • “Sustainable” (2016)

  • “Slums of Beverly Hills” (1998)

  • “The Craft” (1996)

  • “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984)

  • “Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny” (2006)

  • “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1997)

  • “The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress” (1944)

  • “The Negro Soldier” (1944)

  • “Thunderbolt” (1947)

  • “Tunisian Victory” (1944)








March 3



  • “Greenleaf” (Season 1, 2016)


March 4



  • “Safe Haven” (2013)


March 5



  • “Sen?ora Acero” (Season 3, 2016)








March 7



  • “Amy Schumer: The Leather Special” (Netflix Original) 


March 8



  • “Hands of Stone” (2016)

  • “The Waterboy” (1998)


March 9



  • “Thithi” (2015)


March 10



  • “Buddy Thunderstruck” (Season 1, Netflix Original)

  • “Burning Sands” (Netflix Original)

  • “Love” (Season 2, Netflix Original)

  • “One More Time” (Season 1, Netflix Original)

  • “The Boss’ Daughter” (2016)


March 13



  • “Must Love Dogs” (2005)

  • “Million Dollar Baby” (2004)


March 14



  • “Disney’s Pete’s Dragon” (2016)

  • “Jim Norton: Mouthful of Shame” (Netflix Original)


March 15



  • “Disney’s The BFG” (2016)

  • “Notes on Blindness” (2016)


March 16



  • “Beau Sejour” (Season 1, Netflix Original)

  • “Coraline” (2009)


March 17


  • “Deidra & Laney Rob a Train” (Netflix Original)

  • “Julie’s Greenroom” (Season 1, Netflix Original)

  • “Marvel’s Iron Fist” (Season 1, Netflix Original)

  • “Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale” (2016)

  • “Pandora” (Netflix Original)

  • “Samurai Gourmet” (Season 1, Netflix Original) 








March 18



  • “Come and Find Me” (2016)

  • “The Vampire Diaries” (Season 8, 2016)


March 20



  • “El Reemplazante” (Season 1-2, 2012)


March 21



  • “Ali & Nino” (2016)

  • “Another Forever” (2016)

  • “Evolution” (2015)

  • “Fire at the Sea (Fuocoammare)” (2016)


March 23



  • “How to Get Away with Murder” (Season 3, 2016)

  • “Welcome to New York” (2015)


March 24



  • “Bottersnikes & Gumbles” (Season 2, Netflix Original)

  • “De?ja? Vu” (2006)

  • “Felipe Neto: My Life Makes No Sense” (Netflix Original)

  • “Grace and Frankie” (Season 3, Netflix Original)

  • “Ingobernable” (Season 1, Netflix Original)

  • “Spider” (2007)

  • “The Square” (2008)

  • “The Most Hated Woman in America” (Netflix Original)

  • “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988)


March 25








  • “The Student Body” (2017)

  • “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” (2016)


March 26



  • “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004)


March 27



  • “Better Call Saul” (Season 2)


March 28



  • “Archer” (Season 7, 2016)

  • “Jo Koy: Live from Seattle” (Netflix Original)


March 30



  • “Life in Pieces” (Season 1, 2015)


March 31



  • “13 Reasons Why” (Season 1, Netflix Original)

  • “Bordertown” (Season 1, Netflix Original)

  • “Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life” (Season 1, 2016)

  • “Dinotrux” (Season 4, Netflix Original)

  • “FirstBorn” (2016)

  • “Five Came Back” (Netflix Original)

  • “GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” (2012)

  • “Rosewood” (Season 1)

  • “The Carmichael Show” (Season 1-2)

  • “The Discovery” (Netflix Original)

  • “Trailer Park Boys” (Season 11, Netflix Original)


See what’s leaving Netflix in March.






-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Google Doodle Celebrates Planetary Discovery In The Most Adorable Way


Google is celebrating this week’s planetary discovery with a home page doodle that’s out of this world.


In an adorable cartoon, Earth is seen peering out into space with a telescope as the moon ? a.k.a. “Earth’s little buddy,” as Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield described it ? watches from behind.


That’s when Earth comes across one lone exoplanet smiling back at it, leading to an ambush of six other cosmic characters. One even waves back. 



The colorful doodle, which was crafted by Nate Swinehart, graced the home page one day after NASA announced the discovery of seven exoplanets some 40 light-years away, part of what scientists have named the TRAPPIST-1 system ? after the TRAPPIST telescope that found them. Exoplanets are planets orbiting a star that is not our sun. 


All seven are described as Earth-sized, and at least three of them are in the habitable zone of the star, where a planet is most likely to contain liquid water. However, scientists said that under the right conditions, all seven could potentially have water.


NASA said the discovery is the largest of its kind.


“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”


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›  Trump, Twitter And The So-Called Truth In An Age Of Lies

Let?s give it up for truth. C?mon, a nice hand. It gave us a lot of good years. Back in the day, Truth began with a capital T, and it came straight from God. Then science had a long run with it. The Enlightenment. Good times. But modernity was no piece of cake for truth. All that everything-is-relative business was shattering. As for post-modernity, let?s just say that everything-is-politics hasn?t been pretty, either. In a few thousand years we?ve gone from Truth, to truth, to your truth and my truth, and now to the so-called truth, when everything is entertainment and the capital T goes on Twitter. No wonder truth is taking the buyout. Let?s wish it all the best.

Last week, old school truth had its last hurrah ? three hurrahs, actually: one in the East Room, one at Fox and one on Facebook. Each was prompted by an existential threat to truth, and all were ultimately about attention.

At the White House, the event was President Trump?s 77-minute news conference. It was irresistible theater with the press providing the conflict, the technology feeding the spectacle to our screens and the infotainment industry monetizing our eyeballs.

At 20th Century Fox, the event was the viral marketing campaign for ?A Cure for Wellness,? a movie about a fake cure that the studio promoted by faking a fake news controversy, which became a real controversy when real news hammered the campaign as an assault on journalism.

On Facebook, the event was the release of ?Building Global Community,? a 5,800-word open letter from Mark Zuckerberg about the responsibility of one of the planet?s largest publishers for distributing and profiting from sensational, delicious, dangerously polarizing and totally fabricated stories.

At his news conference, Trump stated yet again that his 304 Electoral College tally was the biggest win since Ronald Reagan. The reporters, many of whom had had it up to here with Trump?s factual negligence, were determined to answer his attack on the media by challenging his credibility. That?s what NBC?s Peter Alexander did when he respectfully ripped the president a new one. He reeled off the 365 electoral votes that Obama got in 2008, and the 332 in 2012, and he mentioned the 426 that George H.W. Bush got in 1988. ?Why should Americans trust you when you have accused the information they receive of being fake,? Alexander asked, ?when you?re providing information that?s fake??

I would have loved it if Alexander had triggered a Perry Mason turn from Trump: ?I admit it! I killed the truth! It had it coming!? If Alexander wasn?t expecting that, perhaps he anticipated that the notoriously thin-skinned president would lash out, which he did but not until the next day, when he tweeted that the ?FAKE NEWS media? ? he identified them as the New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS and CNN ? ?is the enemy of the American People!?

What Alexander got from Trump in the East Room was this: ?Well, I don?t know. I was given that information. I was given ? actually, I?ve seen that information around.?

Throwing his staff under the bus, Trump brushed off his credibility problem by taking his own accountability off the table. You can?t call him a liar for trusting those ?best people? he?s surrounded himself with. Worse, with five words Trump put the journalistic norms of verification and attribution in play. ?I?ve seen that information around? amount to, ?It must be true ? I saw it on the Internet.? It also means, ?Believe me.? Forget the assessment of evidence; forget weighing the independence and the track record of sources. For Trump, extreme vetting of information consists of watching Hannity and O?Reilly, reading Breitbart and InfoWars and basking in the buzz in the Mar-a-Lago dining room.

In that world, the old sorting categories are toast. Instead of true and false, there?s true and alt-true; there?s facts and (in Kellyanne Conway?s creepy coinage) alternate facts. Fox News is good news; bad news is fake news. Trump knows that the currency of news isn?t accuracy ? it?s attention. The more he tweets, the more the echo chamber uncritically amplifies him, and the more unearned gravitas his falsehoods acquire. Virality is the new veracity.

Which takes us to the Fox lot. The studio that marketed ?A Cure for Wellness? by manufacturing fake fake news ? you read that right ? is part of the same corporation responsible for Fox News?s ?fair and balanced? fakery. (If this kinship is a coincidence, randomness has a droll sense of humor.) The movie?s social media strategy was to disguise ads for the film as editorial content and post them on fabricated websites with names like the New York Morning Post and the Houston Leader.

Their scam was inspired by other scammers like the Macedonian teenagers who created NewYorkTimesPolitics.com and USAPolitics.co to propagate fake stories like ?Clinton Indicted? as aggregation bait for alt-right sites, as link bait for the Facebook pages of Hillary haters and as a cash cow courtesy of Google?s AdSense. Talk about meta: The movie?s fake news sites carried fake stories like ?Trump Orders CDC to Remove all Vaccination Related Information from Website,? which included real Trump tweets drawing a fake connection between vaccinations and autism.

The New York Times ? ?enemy of the American People? ? ran two big negative stories within two days about the Fox campaign, which was yanked. But the idea that Facebook is a breeding ground for untruths was a motive for Zuckerberg, leapfrogging over Twitter?s dithering on the issue, to address a problem increasingly faced by its users: With universal access to unlimited content, how can you tell what?s true?

Most of us inhabit filter bubbles. Generally we consume news whose framing and viewpoints we believe to be fair. At the same time, we?re suckers for sensationalism; stories arousing emotions like fear and disgust are great at grabbing our attention. But democracy is strongest and community is most robust when we?re exposed to quality information from a variety of different perspectives. To protect its users, should Facebook more aggressively screen out fake news? If ?Pope Endorses Trump? gets banned, why shouldn?t ?Trump?s Margin Biggest Since Reagan?? Even when a story is accurate, showing someone an article whose perspective is opposite their own only makes them dig their heels in deeper. Should Facebook push back against polarization?

Zuckerberg answers these questions not by calling for new codes of conduct, but by promising new software code. In a world of inconceivable diversity, algorithms are more practical than ethics. Let the platform?s news feed show you a range of perspectives, not just the poles, so you can see where you fit on the spectrum. When stories spread, couple them with what fact-checking sites say about them, so text carries a context along with content. Let the analytics discover which stories are most shared without being read, most driven by attention-hijacking headlines; see if the data point to publishers who are gaming the system; and nail them.

None of this affects Facebook?s raid on the struggling news business?s bottom line. But what appeals to me about this approach is its reliance on intelligence more than on morality. Ever since Truth became truths, people have been searching for common values that don?t depend on divine authority. ?The best life is not the moral life, but the life based on the use of reason?: that?s Israel Drazin?s gloss on Moses Maimonides. Give truth a gold watch for its long service to civilization, but don?t leave the adjudicator position vacant. Education, media literacy, critical thinking, breadth of sources, caliber of intelligence, quality of craft ? there?s no shortcut to information you can rely on.

Thinking is hard. Truth is complicated. Focus is fragile. No question: Tweets are superb at stealing our attention. But no accident that birdbrain is not a compliment.

This is a cross-post of my cover piece in the Jewish Journal, where you can reach me if you?d like at martyk@jewishjournal.com. Update: This number of minutes in the Trump press conferencre has been corrected.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  People Want To Move To The Newly Found Planets To Escape Donald Trump





NASA scientists caused a stir when they announced the discovery of seven previously unknown Earth-sized planets on Wednesday.


And with the TRAPPIST-1 solar system a mere 39 light years away, it didn’t take long for hundreds of Twitter users to declare they’d be moving there to escape Donald Trump’s presidency:






























Some tweeters took a different approach by suggesting that Trump could himself be sent there, alone, as a test:


















Others used the news to throw shade on Trump’s controversial immigration policies, including his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall and imminently rewritten travel ban:






















Some social media users just imagined Trump’s reaction to the discovery:














Plenty of others, meanwhile, just used it to mock the intelligence of Trump and the members of his administration:










type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage + articlesList=58ac0cede4b0a855d1d949a2,58ae8b37e4b05ca474a0b91b,58aea370e4b05ca474a0cde8,58abf1dbe4b0a855d1d92889

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Facebook Donates Some $100,000 To CPAC, Reminding Users Again That It's Not Liberal





Facebook and the Conservative Political Action Conference are in a relationship.


It’s complicated.


A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost Wednesday that it is helping to underwrite the prominent conservative gathering this week in Washington.


This isn’t the social network’s first year at CPAC. But the 2017 event follows an election year in which Facebook drew fire from the right and the left over the role its vast platform plays in politics.


This year CPAC offers panels like “If Heaven Has a Gate, A Wall, and Extreme Vetting, Why Can’t America?” and “Armed and Fabulous: The New Normal.” And it was all set to give a speaking slot to Milo Yiannopoulos and his racist, sexist and transphobic views before the far-right provocateur appeared to condone sex with 13-year-olds.


Facebook will contribute $62,500 in cash to CPAC 2017 and roughly the same amount through in-kind donations like tech trainings, lounge areas and the like. The tech behemoth said it will also sponsor some events with conservative groups next week that are not officially part of CPAC.


Despite CPAC’s politically charged nature, Facebook insists on its own political neutrality.


“Facebook participates in events hosted by organizations across the political spectrum,” a spokesperson told HuffPost in an emailed statement. “Our presence allows us to facilitate an open dialogue where people can share their views and create content to engage their audiences, just as we did during other political events such as the Republican and Democratic Party conventions.”


“Our involvement is not an endorsement of any particular position or platform,” the spokesperson said.


As evidence of that neutrality, Facebook pointed to its support for Netroots Nation, an annual gathering of progressive activists, and the Personal Democracy Forum, which investigates how politics and technology work together.


The past year saw the social network repeatedly defending that neutrality.


Facebook sought to appease conservative groups after accusations last spring that it was suppressing news favorable to the right in its “trending” topics. Though an internal investigation found no evidence of bias, the company fired all the trending editors.


Since then, Facebook has struggled to address the spread of deliberate falsehoods on its site, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissing as “pretty crazy” the idea that fake news circulated on the site could have influenced the November election in favor of Republicans.


Last month, critics slammed the company’s new plan to combat fake news, which includes steps like redesigning the trending module, as inadequate. MediaMatters President Angelo Carusone called Facebook’s actions “at best a marginal improvement.”

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

 

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