Media Beat: February 08, 2021
Every Move You Make
Four years ago, in BadMen, I wrote "...we can never accept at face value anything anyone associated with web privacy tells us. Marketers tell us that the information they collect is anonymous...this is baloney."
This week, in an article about how the imbeciles who stormed the Capitol were betrayed by their cell phones, The New York Times wrote, "Our findings show the promise of anonymity is a farce." The Times is a little slow, but eventually they get it.
The article in question is about how the Capitol rioters were caught out by location tracking on their cell phones. In short, an "anonymous source" came to the Times with data including over 100,000 tracking pings on thousands of cell phones, including pings which showed who was in the Capitol building at the time of the riot.
While the data contained no names or phone numbers, The Times had no trouble connecting the data to individuals because there is "a unique ID for each user that is tied to a smartphone. This made it even easier to find people, since the supposedly anonymous ID could be matched with other databases containing the same ID, allowing us to add real names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and other information about smartphone owners in seconds..."
"The IDs, called mobile advertising identifiers, allow companies to track people across the internet and on apps. They are supposed to be anonymous...Our findings show the promise of anonymity is a farce. Several companies offer tools to allow anyone with data to match the IDs with other databases."
While in this case you may cheer the ability of the government to identify rioters, this is a very short-sighted view. As the Times says...
"There is no evidence....that the power this data collection offers will be used only to good ends...Americans deserve the freedom to choose a life without surveillance... we fear it may soon be obsolete or irrelevant. We deserve that freedom, but the window to achieve it narrows a little more each day. If we don’t act now, with great urgency, it may very well close for good."
Act now? Sorry, Times, we are way too late already. – Bob Hoffman, The Ad Contrarian
Toronto plan to build a public internet network priced lower than Bell or Rogers
If the city’s plan works, it would help residents in priority neighbourhoods get high-speed access without the high prices charged by Toronto’s two major internet providers, Bell and Rogers. The proposal calls for pilot projects in three low-income areas, Jane-Finch in North York and Malvern and the Golden Mile in Scarborough and Toronto’s chief technology officer Lawrence Eta said residents there could see service by the end of this year. – Christine Dobby, The Star
Learn how to be a PD…with Pat Holiday
Retired but still popular and active Montreal broadcast exec Rob Braide tipped us to the following in an email that reads, “Hi there. Pat Holiday is the best Pd I’ve ever watched work. This MasterClass is brilliant. You may already be on it but I wanted to make sure. You probably have loads of readers who could benefit.”
High praise, and absolutely true.
Canadian snowbirds are making enemies in Florida
Fake news is going to court
In just a few weeks, lawsuits and legal threats from a pair of obscure election technology companies have achieved what years of advertising boycotts, public pressure campaigns and liberal outrage could not: curbing the flow of misinformation in right-wing media.
Fox Business canceled its highest rated show, “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” on Friday after its host was sued as part of a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit. On Tuesday, the pro-Trump cable channel Newsmax cut off a guest’s rant about rigged voting machines. Fox News, which seldom bows to critics, has run fact-checking segments to debunk its own anchors’ false claims about electoral fraud.
This is not the typical playbook for right-wing media, which prides itself on pugilism and delights in ignoring the liberals who have long complained about its content. But conservative outlets have rarely faced this level of direct assault on their economic lifeblood. – Michael M. Grynbaum, The New York Times
AP fact checks the week past in news
A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:
Claim: Myanmar used the election technology firm Dominion Voting Systems for its recent elections.
THE FACTS: Dominion has never done business in Myanmar, according to a company spokesperson, and the country used paper ballots - not machines - to vote in its November 2020 election. Social media posts making the false claim about Dominion followed a coup on Monday by Myanmar's military.
Jennifer Campbell, Rogers’ Kitchener Radio Group show host at Country 106.7, has died from cancer this past weekend. In a public post, Rogers Sports & Media SVP Julie Adam described Campbell as “a rebellious, optimistic, crazy talented firecracker with a heart of gold. I was lucky enough to be on her team.” Those wishing to honour Jennifer may donate via GoFundMe set up for her husband, Scott and her three boys, Ayson, Declan, and Gryffin.