Two Kinds of Fallibility
Over the weekend I read cryptographer Peter Todd’s fascinating account of helping get Zcash off the ground. (Zcash is an altcoin which describes itself thus: “If Bitcoin is like http for money, Zcash is https. Zcash offers total payment confidentiality, while still maintaining a decentralized network using a public blockchain.”)
Todd’s story is a great overview of practical opsec, from the point of view of someone who’s skeptical about the whole endeavor he’s undertaking. Plus all the evasion tactics and burner tech are just… cool.
I also want to talk about a totally unrelated item: the whole Facebook fake news thing. So far I’ve read three absolutely essential articles on the topic:
- Macedonian teenagers creating pro-Trump propaganda sites for ad revenue with a dash of lulz
- A self-deluded provocateur publishing fake news that fools people, who wants to be regarded as a savvy satirist
- An incredibly cynical pair of “yellow journalists” who cash out by exploiting Trump supporters’ credulity
Fundamentally, the rise of ultra-engaging partisan nonsense is a response to the incentives created by Facebook’s utter domination of media distribution. Also human nature. Human nature is easily gamed.
I dunno, man, I don’t see an easy solution to this. On the one hand, Facebook would have no problem squashing fake news from a technical perspective. (See this, and this, and mentally compare fake news on social media platforms to spam on Gmail.) But I’m not thrilled by the idea of Facebook being the arbiter of reality more than they already are.
So… yay, another intractable social problem!