Apr. 5th, 2017

jducoeur: (Default)

Thanks to [personal profile] drwex for pointing out this fascinating and remarkably disturbing little article from a couple of months ago, titled Weaponized Narrative is the New Battlespace. It examines the current situation from essentially a military POV, and carries forward the previously-discussed logic: not only are we in a literal propaganda war, but the weapon being used is Narrative itself.

The article isn't very long, and it's a must-read -- it lays out the situation quite bluntly. It is, mind, not optimistic: the contention of the article is that there are assumptions about individual mental capacity built into the ideals of the Enlightenment and the democratic institutions that grew from it, and that Weaponized Narrative is all about overwhelming that capacity.

Note that there are some considerable differences from the traditional fears of propaganda-for-oppression that we're used to from 1984 and its ilk. First of all, in this discussion it's not just being used for internal oppression, it's being applied as a tool of conquest -- propaganda not just in support of a military advance, but as the military advance itself. Second, it's not about restricting the subject's available information to a single approved viewpoint; quite to the contrary, it's about overwhelming the subjects with so much contradictory information that they flee to a created narrative that is simpler and more comfortable than the complex reality. In the modern world, where information overload is a constant problem, that's a damned good tactic.

Seriously, read it. Thoughts welcomed...

jducoeur: (Default)


Having heard the rumblings of the latest controversy, I just wandered over to LJ, and was presented by the Gigantic Wall of Text in the Little Tiny Box that is the new Terms of Service. Some offhand thoughts:

First and most importantly -- the TOS refers a couple of times to "Article 10.2 of the Federal Act of the Russian Federation No. 149", which is a bit mysterious, so I did a little digging and found this translation of the Act in question. Note that Article 10.2 is not the same thing as subsection 2 of Article 10 -- keep scrolling further down. The following is my personal read of this stuff, but please bear in mind that IAverymuchNAL.

In general, this stuff is only officially relevant if you have 3000 user views in a 24 hour span, at which point you are officially a "Blogger". I suspect most of us have never crossed that line, but it's unpleasantly arbitrary.

If you do cross that line, it basically says that you are going to get put on A List in the official Russian government. More importantly, you are legally liable for your words under Russian law, and while I don't know the extent of that, I would bet that the freedom of speech protections are a heck of a lot less useful than those in the US.

Granted, I don't know how relevant it is to the average American citizen if they get indicted in Russia. But under the circumstances, I'm less than comfortable rolling those dice.

Based on sections 8.3 of the TOS, I believe the same is true for any community that passes 3000 views in a single day, which I suspect is rather more common, and that the Community Moderators are liable for what gets posted in the community. ("Community Owner shall be responsible for the Community, including the Community rules, the Content posted within the Community, the actions of Community Supervisor and Moderator.") IMO, the upshot there is that communities should get the hell out of dodge.

It is bloody damned weird that the English TOS you are signing is officially unofficial -- you're actually agreeing to the Russian text, and the document says quite plainly that the English translation is not legally binding.

Section 9.2.6 ("User may not ... without the Administration’s special permit, use automatic scripts (bots, crawlers etc.) to collect information from the Service and/or to interact with the Service") seems to likely outlaw DW's backup-your-LJ feature, so I'd recommend doing it sooner rather than later if you haven't already.

It's worth noting that nothing in the TOS itself is obviously malign or ill-intentioned: far as I can tell, it's a fairly ordinary TOS that is somewhat twisted by the implications of the Russian legal code. But it does drive home that LJ is now a Russian service, governed by Russian rules, which are pretty hostile to anything that might be considered a threat to public order by the Kremlin.

Personally, I think I'm going to agree to the new rules, but I may stop cross-posting there after this, and limit myself to reading the few folks I care about who haven't jumped over to here. (Now I just need to figure out how to cross-post this stuff to Facebook without having LJ in the middle -- time to look into the current relationship of FB and RSS feeds...)


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