Hamas Sends S.O.S. To Hezbollah As Netanyahu Unleashes The Beast On Gaza

Hamas calls on Hezbollah to help fight Israel

daily star LEB

Hezbollah members parade during a ceremony in south Lebanon, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT: Hamas has urged Hezbollah to join the fight against Israel after the conflict between the Islamic Resistance Movement and the Jewish state entered its third week.

“We hope the Lebanese front will open and together we will fight against this formation [Israel],” deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau Mousa Abu Marzouk told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

“There’s no arguing that Lebanese resistance could mean a lot,” Abu Marzouk stressed.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has vowed that his party will stand by the resistance in Gaza.

Hezbollah and the Lebanese resistance will stand by the Palestinian people’s uprising and resistance in our heart, willpower, hope and destiny,” Nasrallah said in a speech last week.

South Lebanon has generally been calm since the end of the monthlong war between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2006.

However, since the start of Israel’s attack on Gaza, there have been several rocket attacks from Lebanon in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Both the Army and U.N. peacekeeping troops have stepped up patrols along the Lebanese-Israeli border in order to prevent a reoccurrence of the attacks.

Is the internet now just one big human experiment?

[SEE: More Proof That Social Media Is A Govt Behavioral Control Experiment]

Is the internet now just one big human experiment?

guardian

It’s not only Facebook treating us like lab rats. Dating sites can manipulate our emotions, too – and blame it on user testing. The possibilities are endlessly scary

Dan Gillmor

frankenstein in love
‘I understand … why the anger is there,’ OKCupid’s co-founder said. ‘But people also need to understand that … nobody launches a redesign without testing on different users.’ Photograph: Pelle Sten / Flickr via Creative Commons (Art: Frankenstein in Love, by Mogul)

If you thought the internet industry was chastened by the public firestorm after Facebook revealed it had manipulated the news feeds of its own users to affect their emotions, think again: OKCupid.com, the dating site, is now bragging that it deliberately arranged matches between people whom its algorithms determined were not compatible – just to get data on how well the site was working.

In a Monday blog post entitled – I’m not making this up – “We Experiment On Human Beings!” the site’s co-founder, Christian Rudder, essentially told us to face the facts of our modern world … at least as he sees them:

[G]uess what, everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.

Human experimentation is definitely part of how websites work, in a way, because all online services of considerable size do something called A/B testing – seeing how users respond to tweaks, then adjusting accordingly. But that doesn’t mean sites can, do or should routinely and deliberately deceive their users or customers.

Yet Rudder – whose observations about data on his site’s “OKTrends” blog were almost always fascinating when he was posting regularly – acknowledges that OKCupid wasn’t merely A/B testing when it recently tried to figure out whether its human recommendation algorithm was actually correct:

To test this, we took pairs of bad matches (actual 30% match) and told them they were exceptionally good for each other (displaying a 90% match.)

Where I come from, we call this deception, and the Washington Post’s Brian Fung asks, reasonably, “If you’re lying to your users in an attempt to improve your service, what’s the line between A/B testing and fraud?”

But when BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel queried Rudder, the OKCupid chief was unrepentant – and he largely took Facebook’s side on the emotion-manipulation issue. Perhaps online date-seekers are more forgiving of such experimentation than the rest of us seem to have been – even though Facebook is probably harder to give up – but I have to wonder if they will continue to trust a service that misleads them, even in the name of getting better data.

If this kind of experimentation is becoming the norm, we can only imagine what other companies will feel free to do as they, too, “experiment on human beings” as part of their business models.

Because they will experiment, and because they’re so hungry for more page views and “engagement”, news organizations could conceivably deliver two versions of stories: one version of an article or video could faithfully report what the outlet’s reporters have learned; the other could tailor that story according to the algorithmically assumed biases of the reader, with wording, photo and video selections designed to raise or lower blood pressure depending on what editors wanted their audiences to feel. You can imagine how this could play out in coverage of, say, the crisis in Gaza. Tomorrow’s power-hungry media barons, like William Randolph Hearst a century ago, must be overjoyed that human manipulation is simply the way things work.

Or try online shopping: I hate to give anyone ideas, but stores might figure out how to generate the best profits by manipulating the placement and visibility of friendly and unfriendly product reviews from other customers.

Ooh, and imagine what fun your healthcare providers could have testing unproven new medicines on you. Hooray, we can all be part of the world’s biggest drug trial!

These are merely hypotheticals, and testing and experimentation are not bad – they serve a valuable purpose. But let’s not get too comfortable as we unwittingly become lab rats. Let’s not get comfortable at all. And let’s especially not let experimenters conduct their tests in the dark. When disclosure and consent aren’t part of the process, it’s deeply wrong – and in some cases, like pharmaceutical trials, illegal.

In the way they operate, the internet companies hold almost all the cards, and their users hold almost none. We – members of the public and academics alike – should not just let it happen, argues the University of North Carolina’s Zeynep Tufekci:

To me, this resignation to online corporate power is a troubling attitude because these large corporations (and governments and political campaigns) now have new tools and stealth methods to quietly model our personality, our vulnerabilities, identify our networks, and effectively nudge and shape our ideas, desires and dreams. These tools are new, this power is new and evolving.

If it doesn’t clean up its lab-rat act, the internet industry is just begging for regulatory intervention beyond the obvious need to require users’ specific permission ahead of time, with full disclosure of what’s being done. I hope these companies will decide to conduct their research the right way. I’m not keen on being anyone’s virtual Frankenstein.

More Proof That Social Media Is A Govt Behavioral Control Experiment

[I am certain that they do the same thing with GoogleNews.  90% of the news I manage to find comes from that source, since it used to be a good to great news aggregator.   Ever notice the ridiculous phenomenon of “NO NEWS,” even though we are smack in the middle of the opening moves of WWIII?  For long periods of no news, I often switch key search words to GoogNews, to find something that I have not read, to no avail.  I continue to scroll through the same lame stories, thinking that there is more to read.  This is obviously an attempt to use the news to control the “temperature” of The Internet, whether we post hot news, or cold bits of dribble.]

OKCupid admits deliberately mismatching, manipulating users for experiments

syracus com
keyboard_heart
(Thinkstock photo)

OKCupid admitted that it has been experimenting on its users by manipulating information on its site in a series of tests, The New York Times reported.

The dating site published the results of three experiments on Monday in a post on its OKTrends blog. In one test, the site hid profile photos, in another it hid profile text, and in the final test it deliberately altered compatibility ratings among users. The studies were designed to examine how users really evaluate potential matches, and determine which aspects of a profile have the greatest effect on how users view those matches.

“If you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site,” Christian Rudder, president of OKCupid, wrote on the blog. “That’s how websites work.”

The first test in January 2013 was masked as a “Love is Blind” day. OKCupid blocked all profile photos. They found that site traffic dropped dramatically, but users who did contact potential matches on that day had more meaningful conversations.

Unfortunately, when photos were restored, many of the conversations that began on “Love is Blind” day stopped cold.

“It was like we’d turned on the bright lights at the bar at midnight,” Rudder wrote.

The next test blocked the text on profiles to see how users equated “looks” with “personality.” A chart on the blog shows that when asked to rate personality and looks separately, higher personality rating correlated directly with better looks. The test also found that users’ actual profile text only contributed about 10 percent to their total profile rating.

“Your picture is worth that fabled thousand words, but your actual words are worth … almost nothing,” Rudder wrote in the blog.

In the final test, users were told they had high compatibility with other users, when in fact there was a low compatibility, based on a formula created by the company. It found that people were twice as likely to send a message when the compatibility was manipulated to be higher.

The study demonstrated the importance of the power of suggestion on the site, and showed how easy it is for a website to manipulate users without their knowledge, the Times reported.

OKCupid’s privacy policy explains that users’ personal data may be used for research and analysis. After the test ended, the site sent emails explaining the compatibility scores test to anyone who had been shown altered scores.

“I understand that that experimentation is part of the process,” Zaz Harris, a 37-year-old OKCupid user told the Times. “But I do think that experiment is a lot more invasive than the others because it could affect outcomes in a meaningful way. I would probably never see someone that the site said was a 30 percent match when we were actually 90 percent, so that is not cool, really.”

Rudder told the Times that the tests were designed to improve the site, and help users get the most from it.

“We told users something that wasn’t true. I’m definitely not hiding from that fact,” said Rudder. “People come to us because they want the website to work, and we want the website to work.”

The revelation about OKCupid’s testing came after Facebook users learned about similar experiments conducted on them.

In June, a study was published revealing that Facebook had altered the items that appeared on nearly 700,000 users’ News Feeds to observe how users would react. The study found that users who saw more positive content would post more positive updates, and users who saw more negative content would end up posting more negative updates.

The study was attempting to determine whether or not emotional states could be transmitted without face-to face interaction.

 

Another Attempted Slaughter In Xinjiang By Taliban-Influenced, Knife-Wielding “Fedayeen”

alforat news ALFORAT NEWS
Baghdad (Forat) -Muslim extremists from China’s far western region of Xinjiang have gone to the Middle East for training and some may have crossed into Iraq to participate in the upsurge of violence there, China’s special envoy for the Middle East said on Monday.

Wu Sike, who has recently returned from the region, told reporters that China was extremely worried about the role of extremist groups in the fighting in Syria and Iraq.

“Several hot spot issues in the Middle East have provided living space for terrorist groups, in particular the crisis in Syria has turned this country into a training ground for extremists from many countries,” he said.

“These extremists come from Islamic countries, Europe, North America and China. After being immersed in extremist ideas, when they return home they will pose a severe challenge and security risk to those countries,” added Wu, who has 40 years of diplomatic experience in the Middle East and speaks Arabic.
Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people who speak a Turkic language, has been beset by unrest for years, blamed by Beijing on Islamist extremists who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.

While many experts outside of China doubt these groups have anywhere near the abilities Beijing accuses them of, some Uighurs have made their way to Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years.
Wu would not put a number on how many Chinese citizens may be in the Middle East either fighting or being trained, saying that he understood from foreign media reports the figure to be about 100.
“Mostly they are East Turkestan elements,” Wu said, adding that this was one of the topics he talked about on his trip, especially when he was in Turkey, which is home to a large exiled Uighur population.

“They won’t necessarily all return [to China]. Some will remain to participate in the conflict, perhaps crossing into Iraq,” he said, without elaborating.

U.S. intelligence agencies estimate around 7,000 of the 23,000 violent extremists operating in Syria are foreign fighters, mostly from Europe. /End/