December 8, 2016 Last Updated 10:42 am

Concert ticket buyers 1 bots 0; more thoughts by the media on ‘fake news’

Afternoon tidbits: New petition asks major Silicon Valley tech companies to pledge non-compliance in any effort by the new Trump administration to create a Muslim registry

I‘m off to try and get my iPhone fixed or replaced this late afternoon, so here is a round-up of news items that might be of interest to digital publishers and others. Wish me luck, the thing died suddenly and it was nearly impossible to get an appointment to have it looked at because when using Apple’s system when you have 2-step verification their system sends a code to your phone – but the thing is dead, remember? So, I called Apple support and they said they couldn’t help because, you know, you need to have that code that is sent to your dead phone. Who the hell thought up that system, Apple?



The Congress has actually passed a couple bills that might do some good, something that many fear will be increasingly rare in the New Year. The 21st Century Cures Act passed the Senate 94-5 in a very rare show of bi-partisanship, and on Wednesday the Congress sent to President Barack Obama’s desk a bill that would try and stop bots from being used to buy-up concert and other event tickets rapidly, so as to scalp them at higher prices later.

Associated Press:

Congress Cracks Down On ‘Bots’ That Buy Up Concert Tickets

concert-300The bill would make using the software an “unfair and deceptive practice” under the Federal Trade Commission Act and allow the FTC to pursue those cases. The Senate passed the bill last month.

Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller testified at a Senate hearing in September. He said the bots invade the Ticketmaster system the moment tickets go on sale and electronically purchase almost all the available inventory – one of the reasons tickets to the hit musical about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton have sold for $1,000 or more.

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, the Republican sponsor of the bill, said the legislation will “level the playing field” for people buying tickets.



We are going to see a lot more stories on so-called ‘fake news’ from media outlets – after all, it is an issue that is hitting home. This one hits on a key point, though, that the real issue is that ‘fake news’ can be defined in many ways, and now is being used by the very people who propagate fake news as a way to push back at legitimate journalism.

The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance:

The Cynical Gambit to Make ‘Fake News’ Meaningless

It’s no coincidence that the public’s faith in the media is abysmal at a moment when the institutions that were once our primary informational gatekeepers are no longer the only ones distributing the news. The fact that news outlets have simultaneously lost cultural power and the public’s trust represent both a cause and an effect of the fake-news problem: The idea that media can’t be trusted is bolstered by the ubiquity of alternative information sources, many of which aren’t credible themselves, which further diminishes trust of news sources overall.

What we’re witnessing, then, is not just a breakdown of institutional trust but a cultural (and economic) reconfiguring of media institutions themselves.

The distrust is so deep, the ideological lines so stark, that even reporting about fake news as a problem is being called into question by many of those who distrust the traditional media institutions reporting about it. This pushback from media skeptics aims to delegitimize traditional outlets as being “fake” themselves.



It seems a little early to be demanding action from tech companies regarding what might be ordered from a Trump administration, but maybe not. In any case, there is already a petition calling on Facebook, Google, Apple and other major techs to not cooperate in any effort by the new administration to create a Muslim registry.

Next week, the president-elect will be meeting with top technology execs including leaders from Cisco, Oracle and others – and let me go on record right now in saying that after the meeting the new administration will brag about how they “convinced” some of the techs to bring back jobs or cash stored overseas to US shores. It will be a claim that later will be found to be a bit exaggerated.

CALIFORNIA — December 8, 2016 — A new petition from SumOfUs, an international corporate watchdog with more than 6 million members worldwide, is demanding that silicon valley tech companies – specifically Google, Facebook and Apple – pledge noncompliance with the Trump Administration. According to SumOfUs, that noncompliance includes not helping with, and actively opposing President-elect Trump’s plan to create a Muslim registry in the United States, and deport nearly 3 million undocumented people.

The petition, which has been signed by more than 2000 people, comes after a report from The Intercept found that of nine major tech companies, only Twitter is on the record saying that they would refuse to help build a Muslim registry for Donald Trump.

VIEW THE PETITION HEREhttps://actions.sumofus.org/a/google-and-facebook-don-t-collaborate-with-hate/

“Trump is not a normal president-elect and this this is not a business as usual moment,” said Nicole Carty, campaign manager for SumOfUs, “Trump’s agenda is a threat to our communities and our democracy, which is why Silicon Valley needs to pick a side. In just a few weeks, President-elect Trump will have near-total control over the White House and Congress and begin to enact his community-destroying, public-healthcare-slashing, hyper-surveillance, corporation-deregulating agenda.  Big data demands bigger responsibility and Silicon Valley has an ethical duty to protect vulnerable users from surveillance and discrimination. Tech leaders must speak out against Trump’s plan and pledge to not help execute this dangerous agenda in any way.”

Photo: Concert by Nona Wank used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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