Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

The problem is that we've equated some platforms with a certain kind of media. Youtube is video, Twitter is news, Facebook is.. reality tv, I dunno. It's pretty debatable whether those platforms are the right place for the coverage of war crimes.

I'm not going to start an argument about the media not doing their job right. However, this discussion would be moot if there was a news platform on par with the above, and I don't mean Twitter. I'd love to see someone build or modernize a news outlet that isn't driven by attention or clicks as a currency.




These platforms aren’t being used to cover war crimes by an entity consciously trying to deliver news.

These posts are first hand accounts of individuals currently living an event. It is as raw as it gets. I don’t think you can very easily direct where content like that gets created. People will use the platform they’re already using for the other parts of their life.

I understand the desire to not traumatize people by causing them to accidentally view horrible events. But at the same time I think deleting the content is a disservice to humanity in the long run for a lot of reasons this article highlights.


We would all love to see that but it is - within the context of the current economy - impossible for the majority of people.

This is a scenario where the regular incentives of the market result in perverse outcomes.

Firstly - it’s not tech which did this. Tech mutated and accelerated a pre existing trend for the worse.

The news cycle effect was well known, driving more and more sensational news reporting till at the cost of reason.

At the same time newspapers were constantly going under or being bought up.

With information distribution at scale, describing reality increasingly became the playground of nations (BBC, and lately various government owned news channels) or major firms (the Murdoch emptier.)

There’s a deep problem at the nexus of human behavior, factual reporting and income.

Attention and fear are easier and more reliable levers to pull in the human consumer.

Humans are easily distracted by sex, violence, gossip and easy to consume content - our brains are wired that way for some of those things, and it’s always pleasing to consume mental sugar than mental vegetables.

The only model which survives this is paying lots of money for specific information - usually linked to your profession.

However general news reporting It is unlikely to recover because of the news cycle effect which creates a tendency to compete on attention, a race to the bottom.


> I'd love to see someone build or modernize a news outlet that isn't driven by attention or clicks as a currency.

There are two motivations for running a news outlet, both with extensive historical precedent:

- You want money.

- You want to spread your view of the world, inflicting your culture on other people.

There isn't a lot of immediate financial gain associated with the second approach, but the gains are real enough, long-term, that there tend to be plenty of such outlets receiving subsidies from people who believe in the message.

But in the modern US, while we still have outlets of that type, there is a very strong belief that they shouldn't count as "news", and that they are less legitimate than "neutral" journalism. That reserves moral legitimacy to the money-oriented approach, and that approach is necessarily driven by attention. News that nobody reads can't sell.


> But in the modern US, while we still have outlets of that type, there is a very strong belief that they shouldn't count as "news", and that they are less legitimate than "neutral" journalism.

At least one of those outlets, in a court of law, by it's creator/owner/founder at the time, admitted that it was "entertainment" and not "news", but rather a channel that called itself "news" in name only, that its main purpose was orthogonal to its stated purpose.

This small tidbit of information is often forgotten about, because it is inconvenient to the narrative.

That doesn't mean that other outlets aren't doing the same, or have elements of it - but only one that we know of has admitted it under oath. That counts for something.

It also doesn't help that this "news" organization also has (or had, until its sale) a side actual entertainment arm that allowed it to hide behind. It was a curious "sleight of hand", all the more shadowy considering that the owner of the channel was not a citizen of the United States, and so not only could push his own views, but views that may be in direct contradiction to the values of our country.

Unfortunately, there are no laws against this - and I am honestly not sure there should be, for that matter.


The money-oriented and "public service" outlets are also entertainment, and are also happy to admit it in public. For example, the BBC has explicitly made the statement that it is a form of entertainment.



Back in the 90s, I recall much talk about "citizen-based news". But the reality is far more complicated. I could build a Tor onion site with throwaway clearnet proxies. But how would anyone know that it existed? And even if they did, how would they use it from phones? You'd need apps for that, and so that requires approval from Google and/or Apple.


Android apps don't require approval from Google to be installed.


From Google Play they do, right? And how many people use alternate sources for Android?


It is my understanding that Fortnite precipitated a large swathe of apk installs without the Play Store [0], though I'd agree it's mostly atypical:

[0] - https://9to5google.com/2018/09/07/fortnite-android-fragmenta...


You're right. The arrival of 'a news outlet that isn't driven by attention or clicks as a currency' is exactly what should happen and surely it will. Or will we have Facebook around in 2119?


If it were possible, an untied peer to peer platform. The problem then is shifted to trust and veracity.

Once you include ratings you're back to square one with just a tiny bit less external control and harder discovery.

Yes, this is Freenet again.


This is the core problem.

And it's just natural. These platforms have a tendency to be natural monopolies. That means it requires government interference.


This.

If your evidence for war crimes is Twitter, there's a problem. And the problem is not Twitter.

Twitter and Facebook posts should not be evidence of anything. That stuff is so easily faked that courts would be entirely right to laugh such "evidence" out of the courtroom.

Evidence should be gathered by appropriate authorities and kept in accordance with international standards on evidence storage.

Hint: That's not "look at this tweet I got!"


This makes no sense.

Pretty much all evidence starts out in some nonprofessional hands.

By this logic you could also say that you shouldn't record evidence of war crimes on your Android smartphone, because Android footage "shouldn't be evidence of anything" and "Evidence should be gathered by appropriate authorities and kept in accordance with international standards on evidence storage."

Videos from Facebook or Twitter can and have often been used as evidence in court.

> Twitter and Facebook posts should not be evidence of anything. That stuff is so easily faked that courts would be entirely right to laugh such "evidence" out of the courtroom.

What courts usually do when such things may be disputed is they ask the platform to confirm that the content in question is real. Source: I have been asked to appear in front of a judge (usually in his office to sign a written statement) to confirm the accuracy/authenticity of data from one of my platforms in the past.

I don't think there often is a dispute though, because both parties are aware this will happen and are also aware of the consequences of falsifying evidence.

Obviously that screenshot/video together with electronic traces and your statement would then be stored wherever it is they store evidence, not just on FB/Twitter.


>Obviously that screenshot/video together with electronic traces and your statement would then be stored wherever it is they store evidence, not just on FB/Twitter...

Money quote.

Twitter is not the evidence store.

Twitter is the place the evidence is gathered from. Along with numerous other sources. And no, they don't simply take your word that the footage on your platform was recorded at place X at time Y and is verified to document persons of interest A, B, and C. They take your word that a twitter post was made at time W containing video N. That's all. I think you may have misunderstood what you were signing if you thought that your signature validated and verified the content of a twitter post. (Or any internet post for that matter.)

That's what the investigations are for, investigations that I can assure you entail far more than twitter posts when you're talking about war crimes.

Crimes require evidence. Real evidence, not twitter posts.


You're completely ignoring the public pressure needed to bring about enforcement of laws against connected figures.

If you give your evidence against government officials to other government officials, good luck getting them bring a case that could hurt their career prospects by pissing off the wrong people.

To get that rolling under those circumstances, you need public pressure. Which means you need to distribute the source material far and wide, so that nobody can claim they don't believe it because they don't have access to it, and the whole internet can try to pick it apart use clues in the information to dig up more information etc.

None of that has anything to do with digital signatures or anything like that. It's a matter of seeing a video with a particular location and timetamp and then finding other documentation from other people for the same place and time, and looking up public records to verify that what you see in the video matches etc. That's how investigations work. You don't verify by having the original and some kind of signature, you verify with corroboration and the additional evidence that the original evidence leads you to.


The problem is though that a video goes viral and then gets forgotten in a time shorter than anyone can verify its authenticity. Public pressure may end up getting applied incorrectly.


People get upset about dumb stuff continuously. It's the job of the public officials to verify the information for themselves. If it's false then they can publish the information disproving it and the public pressure subsides.

Better to have the occasional tempest in a teapot than that people do nothing even when something needs doing.


It seems like you're implying that twitter posts cannot contain evidence of crimes?


GP is arguing Twitter posts are of wrong colour[0]. No matter what a Tweet contains, by itself it's not evidence of anything other than its own existence.

Imagine you open Twitter and see a video of someone committing a crime. That could very well be a real photo of a real event. But the event might not have been a crime. Or it may not have been real at all. Or the footage might be from something else entirely. Remember that time few years ago around an air crash investigation when people believed they've seen footage from the plane breaking up, only it turned out someone just posted a scene from LOST? Or recall these one or two heart-breaking pictures of people suffering that surface on Facebook every time there's some fighting going on, always labeled "evil side $X did this in city $C"? Those are always the same pictures of some one event that happened long time ago, but people read them as "evidence" of new atrocities.

Now obviously courts don't view social media posts in a binary way. Enough investigators and expert witnesses can work on a social media post until it has the colour of evidence.

--

[0] - https://ansuz.sooke.bc.ca/entry/23


I think you are completely missing the point why they are ending up on these platforms...

Try to imagine a world where "appropriate authorities" do not exist, as a first step.

Places where these materials get captured are not first world countries with respectable, recognised law enforcement.

Most of the people these sharing atrocities are aware only about platforms we call social media.

For them these are the only ways they know how to make it public, for the world to see and hope we will act.


>Try to imagine a world where "appropriate authorities" do not exist, as a first step.

Places where these materials get captured are not first world countries with respectable, recognised law enforcement...

I've lived in these nations, and if you can send via internet to Twitter, you can send to the UN. In fact, you can send to both at the same time.


And you know the UN address for submitting war crimes evidence by heart?

adding to that, does UN have a convinietly preinstalled app on every phone just for that purpose?

Just because it's reachable, doesn't mean that random witness will know how...


I guess the reason people put these things on social media is to raise awareness of it. The problem is that they fail to also send a copy to the relevant authorities.


Do you know who Rodney King is?

Which appropriate authorities investigated his beating?


Excellent example. When we're blowing the whistle on our own authorities, we turn to out community.

Private firms have coopted our communities, but they are not beholden to our welfare.


How naive. We should be using any and all methods at our disposal to document first-hand experience of atrocity.

The library of Congress does not have an app for uploading biographical accounts of genocide.

We live under Capitalism; all niche value is exploited by cynical firms.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: