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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side comes in response to our post about law enforcement’s use of “parallel construction”. That One Guy suggested a tweak to the language:

Wrong terminology

It’s not ‘parallel construction’, it’s ‘evidence laundering’.

Taking ‘dirty’ evidence and coming up with a ‘legal’ method it could have been obtained, little different than taking ‘dirty’ money and running it through several transactions so that it has a ‘legal’ source, and for the same underlying reason in both cases: legal cover for what would otherwise be illegal.

Parallel construction might be the ‘normal’ term for the act, but it severely underplays exactly what is being done and makes it sound almost harmless. Call it evidence laundering on the other hand, and it’s obvious right away just what’s being done.

In second place, we’ve got a thoughtful response from Rich Kulawiec to Mike’s post about rethinking the “marketplace of ideas”:

Great piece; here are a few observations

1. Something I’ve said for years is that spam (and other related forms of abuse) are not speech, just as a brick with an attached note thrown through a window is not publication.

2. We figured out over thirty years ago that moderation was probably going to be necessary — whether or we liked it, and a lot of us didn’t. But as soon as any forum reaches sufficient size and reach, it will likely include bad actors. The lessons we learned on Usenet in the early to mid 1980’s are still directly applicable today.

3. I’ve read Tufekci’s piece. It’s very good. I recommend it to everyone.

4. The people who built “social media” operations built them to monetize private information, not to provide discussion forums. It’s thus unsurprising that they’re much better at the former than at the latter.

5. Those same people made a catastrophic strategic blunder well before they ever plugged in the first server. They didn’t plan for abuse at scale. They SHOULD have: it was a well-known problem long before any of these operations began. They SHOULD have known it was coming. They SHOULD have designed in mechanisms to deal with from the time that their operations were ideas on a whiteboard. They SHOULD have budgeted and staffed for it. They SHOULD have had robust, scalable procedures in place.

But they didn’t do any of that. Instead they ignored the problem. Then they denied it. Only now, belatedly, are they started to address it, and their efforts are — as we can all see — haphazard and ineffective. And they’re still making mistakes that we all figured out were mistakes decades ago when we made them. (For example, they’re still focused on algorithms. Wrong.)

6. As a direct result of (5), these operations are largely not under the control of their ostensible owners. Not any more. They’re available for weaponization by anyone with the requisite resources. This is a stunning level of negligence, incompetence, and irresponsibility — and a reckoning for it is long overdue.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with another comment on that post, this time from Bruce C. in response to the understandably common but ultimately flawed suggestion that education is the only answer:

The attention scarcity and the DDoS effects are not products of a failed education system, they are the products of the way the brain searches for patterns in the information it receives. In a stadium full of people booing, you can’t hear the guy cheering unless he’s right next to you. Similarly, the ability of a useful point of view to get the attention it deserves decreases dramatically if only one person reads it because it’s buried under 16 pages of comments designed to encourage mindless acceptance of whatever agenda is being pushed by the propagandists. No human has time to find a needle in an internet haystack.

Next, we’ve got a simple comment from DannyB that cuts through all the nonsense surrounding the encryption debate:

There are TWO choices

Pick one choice:

1. Securely encrypted devices. Hackers can’t get into them. But neither can the government.

2. Insecure devices. The government can get into them. But so can hackers.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter responding to Marriott’s contrition for angering China by listing Tibet and Hong Kong as “countries”:

Christ. I don’t get pissed off every time I see Massachusetts listed under a “State” dropdown when CLEARLY we’re a Commonwealth.

In second place, we’ve got a comment from Coyne Tibbets regarding Rupert Murdoch’s call for payouts from Facebook:

I’m confused. You say that Rupert Murdoch was asking for Facebook to give him money, but then I see that he’s talking about Facebook giving money to trusted publishers. Wouldn’t that be money to anybody but Rupert Murdoch?

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ve got one more response to a flawed assertion regarding free speech and platform moderation, this time from Thad regarding the idea that any platform that moderates any content loses all credibility:

Yeah, sure. If a moderator deletes a post because it doxxed somebody, or bans a user who keeps dropping in to rant about how the government did 9/11 while faking the moon landing and taking away his paint chips, it’s the platform that lacks credibility.

Finally, we’ve got another post about encryption, with Toom1275 managing to find another fresh variation of the classic “countdown” joke:

“So, we’ve just rolled out our ‘secure encryption backdoor.’ How long do you think we can keep this to ourselves?”


“Ten Ten what?”


“Wait, if this is a countdown, aren’t you counting the wrong way?”


“… And now it’s accelerating?!”

“…Fifty. This isn’t a countdown, it’s just a count – of how many malicious hacker groups already have possession of our ‘secret secure master key’. One hundred…”

That’s all for this week, folks!

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Author: Leigh Beadon

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