This Week in Google 263 (Transcript)
Leo Laporte: It’s time for TWIT, This Week in Google. We continue our conversation about parody accounts, trolls on Twitter, the future of social media and social news, Mike Elgan joins the conversation with Gina and Jeff. This Week in Google is next.
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Leo: This is TWIT, This Week in Google. Episode #263, recorded August 20, 2014
The Trouble with Trolls
This Week in Google is brought to you by Personal Capital. With Personal Capital you’ll finally all of our financial life in one place and get a clear view of everything you own. Best of all, it’s free. To sign up go to personalcapital.com/twig. It’s time for TWIG, This Week in Google. The show that covers Google, the cloud, the Google-verse, Gina Trapani is back. I hasten to say that so you won’t tune out because a bunch of guys.
Gina Trapani: Hello glad to be back. You’re good guys though.
Leo: Gina, we botched the change log so badly last week.
Gina: Well, I still have a job that’s good
Leo: You more than have a job. You have our job. Jeff Jarvis and I are just going to sit back and let you do the show. Jeff Jarvis, City University of New York. CUNY they call it. Times Square, he is in his office.
Jeff Jarvis: The students here are got to brainwash them today, it was fun.
Leo: Beginning of the school year. That’s exciting.
Jeff: Gina you have new art behind you.
Gina: Yeah I’m in the conference room that has wired internet because I want Skype to behave. What do you think?
Leo: I like that.
Gina: Local Artist. My white board is looking a little yellow though.
Leo: Wait a minute, look who else is here. Mike Elgan our news director from TNT.
Mike Elgan: I was just using the table.
Leo: I was sitting at the table and a show broke out. Mike is here because you’re writing a little bit about trolls.
Leo: Jeff wanted to talk about your article, so I said let’s get Mike on the show. He is just across the way.
Mike: I think Jeff and I both want to talk about the troll, right to be forgotten, terrorist video nexus and how all those things combine and work together. This is going to be a depressing show.
Leo: Before we do that, let’s get a little device catch up. Before the show, Gina was wondering Jeff how the experiment is going. Two experiments Jeff is engaged in. One Note computer, chrome book only and that’s still in effect right?
Jeff: We’re doing fine. I was fearing about 10 minutes ago that I was going to have to go out and get an Apple because we had no sound and then I realized I hadn’t plugged my mic in.
Leo: That does help
Jeff: That is my level of expertise folks so judge my experiments accordingly.
Leo: He is able to use the chrome book to do everything in the tablet and the smartphone. The smartphone is still a OnePlus One?
Jeff: It is indeed.
Leo: You didn’t return it?
Jeff: No it’s good all in all. Some people make fun of it.
Leo: He thinks it’s too big?
Jeff: It’s huge. Way too big. But I make fun of his little tiny Apple phone.
Mike: I think the whole company is a publicity stunt
Leo: I can’t figure it out. They still are not selling this, you still have to get an invite. I got one more, thanks to one of our fans who said do you still need an invite? I said I’d love one because I stole Jason’s OnePlus One. Jason Howell, considering he’s the host of All About Android, he should probably have one. We did get today or OnePlus One for Jason.
Jeff: There was an automatic update, which I got.
Leo: 4.4 Kitkat
Jeff: The one thing I have to do now, Gina. I was so proud of it, I had my separate box screen from my wallpaper screen.
Leo: You lose that.
Jeff: Now I lost it.
Leo: You can add 3rd party lock screens apps but the way Cyanogenmod works the lock screen is the same as the wallpaper.
Jeff: Why could I do it just fine before the update?
Leo: Could you? Are you sure?
Jeff: I’m sure, I showed you last week.
Leo: That’s right
Jeff: Now if I say, box screen, custom lock screen, and now it gives me an ugly box.
Leo: Yeah I don’t like that ugly box. You can get 3rd party lock screen apps. I’m sure if you watch All About Android the gang over there will tell you.
Mike: We can just blame it on communism. Spoils everything.
Gina: I don’t have an answer for that.
Leo: Just be glad you don’t have a Trotsky screen
Gina: You know about the double tap to wake and the double tap to sleep right? I love that.
Leo: Love that.
Gina: It’s like my favorite feature of the phone. I don’t have to search for the power button to unlock it.
Leo: Remember when Jason reviewed it, and I think you even mentioned this, both of you had problems that it would turn itself on in your pocket. That’s one of the things they fixed in the update. Now it detects proximity and it knows it’s in your pocket and it won’t turn on.
Gina: That applies to the Torch as well?
Gina: That’s good because the Torch was the issue for me. The lights coming out of my pocket.
Leo: Gina you were thinking about giving this thing up and sending it back because of your disgust over their plan to market to women.
Gina: I was very frustrated with their ineptitude in the marketing department, yes I was.
Leo: Everybody knows the story by now but in case you don’t, OnePlus posted a contest, this is how you get it you either have to get somebody to give you an invitation, someone who already has one. None of us have invitation because we all got it from somebody else. More than likely you would participate in the contest. The most recent contest posted on the OnePlus One forums was ladies we want you to jump the line, take a picture of yourself with the OnePlus logo on your body and then the forum will rate you all and the top rated ladies will get an invitation to buy the phone at full price. No nudity please.
Jeff: But something close to it.
Leo: I thought maybe this was cultural, because remember they are a Chinese company. Mainland China is considerably more prudish than the rest of the West. I thought you see people with company logos on themselves all the time. On their hands, on their arms and on their faces. It does not necessarily mean that they thought people would take sexy pictures.
Mike: The marketing wasn’t in Mandarin. They are trying to market to English speaking people.
Gina: It was women only. If they had said post of picture of anybody with creative use of our logo it would have been a totally different story.
Leo: The rating of people on the forum is very reprehensible.
Mike: Everything this company has done has been sleazy. First of all this is Oppo. The idea that OnePlus is a separate company is not true.
Leo: I’ve said as much, Oppo executives, OnePlus One oddly enough is OPO.
Mike: Basically they said we’re going to do a fresh new start and launch this brand new company and it turned out the domain name is owned by the company. You find out that the sole owner is Oppo and they said no there is two Oppos. Oppo the investment company and Oppo the mobile company.
Leo: It may be
Mike: It’s not true. The investment company supposedly owns both companies but I can’t find any evidence of that. There is tons of evidence that in fact it’s the same company. So they pretty much lied about that as far as I can tell. Their first big marketing stunt was they said smash your old phone. People misunderstood and started smashing their phones expecting to be put on the list for an invitation. That is not how the contest worked. You had to get the invitation first and then smash your phone. It was dangerous, environmentally insensitive and just wasteful and horrible. Then they came out with this ladies night essentially for invitations. What they wanted was a bunch of women with the OnePlus logo on their bodies out there on the internet as a viral campaign. They specified women. They haven’t done a single thing that isn’t sleazy. Not one
Gina: It’s true. Their marketing department is clearly inept but, and I hate to defend them. When we talk about bugs in software, open source software, I’ve always said, bugs are going to happen it’s about how you respond. I do believe that. To their credit, within hours they pulled the ladies first contest, apologized and asked about women in tech organizations. Now I agree, their marketing department is inept. Terrible ideas. Certainly, maybe brilliant ideas if they’re subscribing to the any press is good press. They’re getting us to talk about it. They apologized, they pulled it and if I return every device that I had some sort of ethical or moral problem with the way it was produced I wouldn’t have any technology. In the end I decided to keep my OnePlus One and be vocal about how bad the contest was. I think it’s a really good phone and I love Cyanogen. It was interesting to see Cyanogen make a comment about the contest.
Leo: What did they say?
Gina: Cyanogen came straight out and said we don’t support any contests that objectify people period. That’s interesting. Cyanogen doesn’t have the best history of being an inclusive or sensitive company either. I think when these things happen, conversations happen that is useful. I might be a nerd that is trying to justify it because I actually do like this phone. I think this company makes a really good phone. Their marketing tactics are horrible.
Leo: It’s probably not better than a few other flagship phones from other manufacturers but its $350.
Mike: What this is, is the Oppo Find 7 that is running Cyanogen.
Leo: That’s what I think. This is what puzzles me. What is the strategy?
Mike: To get attention.
Leo: For the Find?
Mike: They created this fiction of this innovative new company, but basically what they did is create a fiction around an existing product and we’re all being punked.
Jeff: I got used.
Leo: We could have just gone out and bought the Find 7A maybe.
Mike: The Find 7 isn’t as affordable and it doesn’t run Cyanogen. It doesn’t have a denim option and things like that. They are going to come out with a denim back and bamboo and stuff like that. There are some unique things about it. The price is fantastic. The phone is great and the Cyanogen is great. Those are the real things, but they could have just done another Oppo phone with all of these features, nobody would be talking about it. So it worked.
Gina: Isn’t all marketing a fiction on some level?
Mike: Not like this. Its bad marketing when people catch you lying or they catch you doing stuff that is offensive. Yes publicity is great. Viral campaigns are great, but don’t blow it like this.
Leo: I still don’t get what the angle is. Publicize who?
Jeff: I think the angle is what we’ve just done. We’ve talked about the phone.
Leo: But what end? If they had this for sale widespread for sale, I’d understand but they don’t.
Mike: Jason Howell and I were talking about this on Tech News Today. Just say this is the best phone for under $300 and we’ll all buy it. It really is the best phone you can get for under $300 as far as I know.
Leo: It is
Mike: You don’t need sexist contests and smashing phones and things like that.
Jeff: If they’re losing money on it, they are not going to come out with this broadly at this price. There is another trick to irritate you coming.
Leo: Which is?
Jeff: We ran out.
Leo: Yeah we don’t have any more but guess what, the Find 7 is the same thing. I speculated that a few weeks ago on this show. Then I pulled back because I thought that is really uncharitable. Maybe they deserve it. If you look at the spec comparison. There are differences, the screen is different materials. One is IPS the other LPTS. There are a few differences, Cyanogenmod is a huge difference. Frankly, I prefer Cyanogenmod to whatever version of Android that Oppo is selling. I like Oppo, Oppo is a good company. Oppo blue ray player for years was the best blue ray player on the market. Might still be.
Mike: I have a feeling and this again is total guess work, not anything based on real information, that they really did want to come out with a super innovative phone and said to themselves how can we really drive home the point this is different, this is completely different. Cyanogenmod, low price and all these other features and benefits, how can we do that? They constructed this phony baloney startup out of this thing.
Leo: At some point they are going to need to sell it or there is no point to any of this. They need to sell it in a widespread fashion. Or, let’s go crazy. If I were Adam Curry I would say remember Oppo is a Chinese company and for all we know could be run by the Chinese government or be influenced by the Chinese military. This is just a great spy device and we are all using it.
Mike: It could be the only device the Chinese government isn’t using to spy on us. You never know.
Leo: Another fan has offered us the new phone from, who is it Jason?
Jason Howell: Xiaomi
Leo: Xiaomi 4
Mike: So nice to have him right there.
Leo: We’re going to get one of those. That is the company Hugo Barra went to. Also Chinese government run, actually this one is run by the Chinese military I believe.
Mike: The Chinese government loves Apple.
Leo: I’m very curious what’s going on here? It’s wonderful, it’s a great mystery, but it’s also a great phone. Everybody I know has one.
Mike: I want the denim one, I’m holding out.
Leo: Tell you what, I’ll give you this one when the X PlusOne comes out. September 4 Motorola has an event. The Lenovo does not yet own Motorola.
Mike: That’s correct.
Leo: It’s still Google. So this is your last chance to get a Google Motorola phone, September 4. They will probably ship the 360 and the X PlusOne or whatever they call it. Or announce it, and I presume ship soon because the iPhone comes out five days later so they better hustle.
Mike: They said for those who went to Google IO you have until September 5 to send in your address for getting the 360. They are probably going to start shipping on the 5th or 6th for the Moto 360.
Leo: You’re going to get one right? You’re all going to get one?
Gina: I was very happy to fill out that form with my shipping address, yes.
Leo: People have been complaining. I didn’t notice it until people complained, about the black bar at the bottom.
Mike: The screen needs and electronic base to throw up all those pixels.
Leo: I want to thank you for pointing it out. Now I can’t appreciate the thing at all.
Mike: I ruined it for you.
Gina: The black bar at the bottom of what?
Mike: The Moto 360 doesn’t go to the bottom
Gina: Oh, now that is all I can see.
Leo: See, it’s Elgan’s fault. You are just raining on our parade.
Mike: You can see it on all the screens.
Chad Johnson: How did no one notice that before?
Leo: Apparently people did, mostly they use this shot which is a black face so you don’t see it.
Mike: I think the illusion is close enough. I don’t think it’s going to bug people in the end.
Gina: This is horrible you guys.
Leo: He’s trolling us
Mike: We’re going to get into the definition of trolling and that’s not trolling. That’s called annoying you.
Leo: That’s called telling the truth.
Mike: I still want one
Leo: It might be Gruber who brought it to my attention because he said it looked like a flat tire. Now I really can’t un-see it. Come on Gruber!
Gina: Deflating everyone’s tires
Mike: The unspoken point that Gruber is making is that Apple would never do that. They probably would be so obsessed with every little detail that there wouldn’t be a black bar. What are you going to do?
Leo: There are limitations in the world.
Gina: Holding out hope that when that thing ships that black bar isn’t there.
Mike: It’s going to be there
Jeff: Why does it have to be there Mike?
Mike: I read an explanation, it has something to do with when you can’t have a completely bezeless, you have to have some real estate, on edge of a screen like this and they need a certain amount. They wanted to make the watch as small as they could and this is the compromise they came to. Whereas the screen electronics need a bit of it there at the bottom. That’s a terrible explanation, there is a good explanation out there, but it’s technical.
Leo: It where the guts goes.
Gina: I can’t wait to talk about this with Ron on All About Android. He’s been all about the round screen.
Leo: He didn’t notice either.
Gina: I can’t wait.
Leo: So painful. All right class.
Jeff: This is a Louie CK moment
Leo: Everything is wonderful and nobody is happy.
Gina: Round screens are amazing but everyone is upset about the black bar.
Leo: You’re wearing a wristwatch that will tell you your flight is delayed and the traffic is going to take an extra 10 minutes so relax and you are complaining about a black bar at the bottom. Come on.
Gina: You didn’t even know that round screens existed and now you’re upset about a black bar.
Leo: Mike Elgan who continues to write for, what are you showing?
Mike: This is the original post, this is a close up showing in the black mode where it’s enhanced.
Leo: So you actually posted this on Google+ months ago?
Mike: Four months ago.
Gina: That’s why Mike makes the big bucks.
Mike: That’s why everyone hates me because I am the bearer of bad news.
Leo: So Mike writes for Computer World in his copious free time. He has none, it’s four in the morning when he’s writing these articles I think. ON August 16th you did a piece called “The Trouble with Trolls and How to Beat Them.” We all know the trolling problem is serious we’ve actually spoken about it twice on the last two episodes of This Week in Google. Gina talked about issues people were having with being harassed on Twitter and the lack of interests Twitter had on fixing the problem.
Gina: Until it was a celebrity.
Leo: Until it was Zelda Williams, Robin Williams’ daughter, now ooh
Gina: Now it’s a problem
Leo: I don’t know, they’re saying, they’re making the noises out of their mouths but I don’t know if there is any fix for this. Last week we talked about collaborative filters as a possible solution or perhaps adding a feature where you can say I don’t want to hear from anybody who’s account is less than a month old or whatever. Twitter is particularly problematic place because of the nature of Twitter. Jeff you’ve been bitching about Professor Jeff Jarvis.
Jeff: You didn’t have to say his name did you?
Leo: I looked at the account and I don’t understand how anybody can think that was you. The guy is wearing a beer hat.
Jeff: Here is the case. People put up silly pictures on Twitter pictures. It shouldn’t be my name.
Leo: It shouldn’t I agree.
Jeff: It is my name and that is the problem. Out of nowhere he went on and attacked Nassim Taleb, who is a very prominent author and economist. I’ve met him and have mutual friends. He attacks him. You don’t expect Taleb to have to stop and do a textual and analysis of who this is. Somebody with this name is going and attacking him and Taleb goes back at him. Everybody laughs because he’s attacking a troll and he’s real right. Taleb thinks it’s me! He’s using my name and I finally had it, I’ve lived with this for two and a half years. The guy has had his fun, enough.
Leo: I might disagree a little bit, I understand how upset you are.
Jeff: He goes under my name and he trolls someone else. That person believes it’s me that effects my reputation. I’ve had it.
Leo: The internet does require a little bit of, if you go to his site, he’s wearing a beer hat and his highlighted Tweet is the Sermon on the Mount was the first Ted talk. It’s a jokey parody site.
Jeff: Leo wait. You just did more research than he should have to do. In his Twitter feed comes this Tweet, that’s what he sees. The Tweet is calling him horrible things and he responds to that Tweet. He should not be expected to have to do any further research than that period.
Leo: I understand that point but on the other hand I understand why Twitter might say, parody is allowed. Do you expect Twitter to delete parody accounts?
Gina: Is this parody of impersonation?
Jeff: I expect them to label them so that they are clear. I expect to not be fooled on Google News, the Onion says satire. Facebook is going to do the same with those things so people are not confused. Confusion is not a good thing for a platform but here is the bigger question. That’s trivial compared to what Robin Williams’ family went through. I’m not comparing myself to anything like that and the guy said he’s going to change his name I just wonder when?
Leo: He is a hyperglocal thinkfluencer
Jeff: Please don’t
Leo: That’s funny, it’s clearly parody.
Jeff: But Leo, A - you’re giving him more attention, thank you very much. B - That again requires that you go, say they attack you what are you going to do? Let me find out who this is.
Leo: Actually what I do is immediately block them
Jeff: This guy responded.
Leo: I take that back, when somebody attacks me I do go to their account. I see how many followers they have, how long they’ve been around, whether they have a picture, I read previous Tweets and I look to see if this is a general pattern.
Jeff: That’s weird
Leo: I don’t think that’s weird, it’s the internet. Welcome to the internet. Aren’t we saying that we have to teach people critical thinking?
Jeff: I think that puts too low a standard. Zeynep Tufekci wrote a terrific piece at Medium, talking about the need for Twitter to be net neutral. That is what allowed people for example from Ferguson to come on and do whatever they want as opposed to Facebook where she saw no Ferguson because Facebook didn’t think she was interested in violence in a Missouri town. A truly neutral platform. The bigger question to me is then does a truly neutral platform have to be a breeding ground for trolls, a-holes, imposters, sickos and so on. That’s the question that Twitter has to face right now because it effects Twitter’s brand at some point. All the stuff going on today about the assassin video and so forth. Twitter came along and is killing accounts that have the horrid Foley video, of the American journalist who was beheaded in Syria. However, we will take down a picture of a deceases person if the family requests. On the other hand Twitter had pictures that did have news worthy value of Mr. Brown’s body lying in the street for hours in Ferguson, MO. Twitter wants to make an algorithm and say this is the rule set and everything that falls within that rule set that’s it. They’re in a very difficult position right now. In one hand their openness is a huge benefit to society and it enables people to use it. On the other hand it brings in a lot of awful things. What is Twitter? What is its brand? What does it mean? That is what Mike was writing about and I think that’s a really important discussion to look not just at Twitter, not just at the case of imposters or certain videos but to look at the larger question of what can we expect from a tech platform?
Leo: Would it be enough if it said Fake Jeff Jarvis or Parody Account?
Jeff: That would help as long as it was clear at a glance.
Leo: Like Fake Steve Jobs for instance.
Gina: Right. The bio should include a statement…
Jeff: I am in fact a professor and my name is Jeff Jarvis.
Leo: Is it Jeff H Jarvis? That’s not enough, the H doesn’t make a difference.
Gina: The bio should have this is a parody of this is a fan page. I think that you have reason to report this person as a violation of their impersonation policy.
Jeff: I went to an executive of Twitter when this episode happened. They came back to me and said you have to fill out a form and the form by the way says we’re going to share this with the person. Then I sit back and say what’s going to happen and it’s exactly what happened when I complained about him publicly. I get tons of people saying you’re a stick in the mud a-hole. So end up worse off.
Leo: We have a number of parody or impersonating accounts of our hosts. We report them in every case right? None of them have ever been taken down. Some have? It takes a long time
Unknown: We just got one suspended
Leo: There has been one of me for years right?
Unknown: Everyone we’ve tried to take down we’ve successfully taken down.
Leo: Twitter does respond, slowly.
Jeff: The problem is if I get something taken down then I’m going to get more blowback. The bigger question is what is Twitter’s policy whether I report it or not? What’s their real policy on this? What is their view? I’m not comparing it with the far more serious things going on.
Leo: How does this differ from the right to be forgotten?
Jeff: I think impersonation is an entirely different thing. The right to be forgotten is more a case of if the Foley video is taken down by Twitter, which they’ve done, that’s Twitter’s right to do under their brand. They can choose to distribute things or not. By Twitter doing that, it plays to the right to be forgotten, do we believe this is something people should be able to see. Matthew Ingram was out there today saying that Twitter is absolutely wrong to have taken it down.
Mike: The problem is that having Twitter itself go play whack a mole is never going to work because for everything that they whack down, they do the high visible things, the things in the news, and the prominent people. That’s not the real problem. The real problem isn’t your troll Jeff Jarvis, and I’m sorry to say that because it is a problem for you, but you’re somebody who can argue anybody under the table and you have a lot of fans and people know who you are. People can tell when there is a parody account. The real problem is that the vast majority of people don’t have troll problems. The vast majority of people use Twitter and everything is fine but there are certain people who are vulnerable to trolls. Namely, women, transgender people who live in conservative societies, young people, people who are in crisis like Robin Williams’ daughter and celebrities. Famous people of any kind like you Jeff. Those are the kinds of people who have troll trouble and the real problem isn’t a fake account. I see somebody and they will mention me with an @ symbol on Twitter and I see it and I go to the site and they have 3 followers. I’m the only one seeing this and it’s not a problem. The real problem is when somebody wants to be a public person and they don’t want to hide. They want to become like Jeff and become influential, a public intellectual or a public whatever they want to become. What’s happening is women and other people are leaving social media all together and my point of my column is that it is not a social media problem. It’s a Twitter problem, specifically and it’s a structural problem. Here is the problem…
Leo: I agree, we don’t see this anywhere else to this degree.
Jeff: This is why I wanted Mike on the show. Really good point.
Mike: The mechanics of it feel subtle but I’m going to say it very plainly. On a site like Google+, which is the best site for controlling trolls, Facebook is pretty good too compared against Twitter. On Google+, you control the conversation and results from your posts. You can boot anybody out of the conversation and block them. When you block them they can never comment on any of your posts again. On Twitter, you don’t control the results. The conversation is out there, it’s a difference of having a cocktail party at your home with invited guests and having a big scream fest and shouting match across the street. IN one case you can control it the other you can’t. Remember when Google forced YouTube users to use a Google+ login? YouTube community was flipping out and I had a lot of arguments about how great the troll control was on Google+. To make my point I went to the biggest troll I could find on YouTube and said I want all the trolls to come to my account and try to troll me on this message and I can promise every single person reading this there will be no trolls on this message board, not one. There isn’t, it’s still there. 381 messages.
Leo: You just go through and block the ones?
Mike: Nobody even dared because they know I’ll just block them. What’s the point? It’s so easy to do, when you block somebody you block them forever. That is the structural problem with Twitter. My message to everyone out there who feels like they’ve been trolled, and it can be horrible to be trolled. Especially if you don’t have the scar tissue that we have. It takes years to develop that kind of resistance to these types of attacks. Don’t leave Social Media, just leave Twitter. Twitter doesn’t have a solution.
Jeff: I think this is a really good point. The architect of Google+ came into one of the discussions and said that is absolutely right. A key difference, and I’ve urged him to come in and say more about this, is Twitter doomed by its architecture to be the breeding ground for trolls and imposters, bozos, etc.?
Mike: I don’t think so because the vast majority of users aren’t really affected. They don’t care that much.
Jeff: Gina, do you agree with that? When you defended women who had been abused on Twitter, it’s not about famous people, it’s about people who maybe have one stalker, who have one person going after them. It’s not about fame in that case. It’s about a platform for abuse right?
Gina: I was just reading just before the show about Zoey Quinn, who is a game designer going through a bitter breakup with a bitter ex-boyfriend who has brought the Reddit masses after her. They’re docking her, posting personal photos, personal chats, all these guys are calling her slut and whore and worse. Going to her co-workers and tarnishing her professional career right? This is somebody who has a little bit of fame within a sub-community. We’re all a little bit famous if we speak up within our professional circle. You have to define what famous means. There is a much lower bar now than there was. It’s affecting her professional life because she is outspoken on these networks. I don’t think that everybody is. This is what annoyed me with Twitter’s reaction, when it’s a celebrity complaining, they immediately had a response. When it’s regular people whose names aren’t recognizable, pounding that hashtag the day he did the CNN sit-down on the quarterly earnings report. There was no response. I shouldn’t say there was no response, he did Tweet the next day that he was meeting with his team of the folks who take care of these abuse complaints. I get the whack-a-mole argument but these companies spend so much time into preventing things like spam. I would just like to see that same type of work and energy and thought into dealing with abuse. This question about Twitter is similar to the question we had about Reddit when violent acres was out with the troll and the sub-reddit, Reddit said we’re just a platform we don’t police. It’s kind of the same argument. So you ask is the platform doomed as a consumer product. Probably not.
Jeff: I don’t mean that, is it doomed to have bozos and a-holes…
Leo: Because of its structure
Jeff: Because of its architecture and let’s also acknowledge that in Zeynep’s piece she argued that Twitter being open and giving the publisher control is what allowed Ferguson to bubble up and trend, where it couldn’t on Facebook and probably couldn’t on Google+. Is Twitter’s openness, which is an important asset, doom it to also be sleazy and scummed up all the time?
Leo: Let me ask this question.
Gina: I think Twitter could build in better moderation tools and they haven’t.
Leo: I think architecturally it will be very difficult because it’s so easy to create another account. Leaving Twitter, you’re saying just don’t participate in Twitter you can still use Facebook and Google+ but is still going to happen on Twitter and if other people are reading it, it’s like me blocking it on Twitter. I don’t see it but it doesn’t mean it goes away.
Mike: Nothing is perfect. I want to quickly address Gina’s point before I address yours. You can’t moderate a conversation that isn’t yours. That’s the difference you can’t moderate the open, whereas on Google+ you can moderate because you own the conversation.
Gina: A reply is subordinate to the host, on Tweets they are not.
Leo: That is not how Twitter works and never will work.
Mike: More to your point if you want to go from a small number of people having an influence that you engage with to a large number where do you do that? IF you do it on Google+ and you’re active with the blocking and muting tools and the flagging and other tools they have. You will grow this big community that is very easily 100% troll free. Twitter will forget about you for the most part, I can’t guarantee that people can take things to Twitter but they’re not going to be; when you start a conversation and people are talking about that conversation you don’t want trolls to be influencing other people in that conversation. That’s the big problem. On Google+ if the conversation is on Google+, you control that and they can’t influence that conversation.
Leo: Jeff’s problem would not have gone away. Jeff not being on Twitter would not make any difference.
Gina: It would have right, the parody wouldn’t be as funny if Jeff wasn’t. The parody is supposedly making fun of what Jeff does on Twitter. If Jeff doesn’t do anything on Twitter and didn’t have that presence there would be nothing to make fun of
Jeff: So what I’ve done since Sunday, I all but stopped Tweeting.
Leo: Should we all just leave Twitter?
Mike: I think leave Twitter
Jeff: On one hand I think I have 140,000 followers on the other hand I think I used to write for TV Guide, I have 25 million readers.
Gina: Leaving Twitter is not the solution. That is like saying I can’t legally be married in the United States so I should just move to Canada. I don’t like paying for health insurance so I should just move that’s crazy. That is not the solution. That doesn’t mean that the problems aren’t legitimate. It puts the ownest of change on the person that has been victimized right? It just gives the trolls and abusers more power.
Mike: Would that be a reason to leave Saudi Arabia for example?
Mike: My point is for a tiny number of people, who trolls is a huge deal. It is a reason to leave Twitter. I don’t think anybody really needs to leave Twitter, just don’t start a conversation on Twitter. Let me ask Jeff, Jeff has vastly more followers on Google+ than Twitter and yet is there anything like the Professor Jarvis trolling on Google+? I would guess that there is not.
Jeff: Don’t jinx me.
Leo: Wait a minute, Google+ just changed their real names policy so could we not have exactly the same problem soon on Google+?
Mike: It’s a tree falling in a forest on Google+. If some fake Professor Jarvis, there are lots of fake Mike Elgans on Google+ as well and they just don’t spoil anything. It’s a non-factor.
Leo: I think the key is, regardless of real names or not, is that you control the conversation so you can block. It does mean you have to moderate pretty actively.
Mike: Yeah, it’s totally worth it and its fun too.
Leo: Aren’t there troll in blog comments?
Gina: There are trolls everywhere.
Jeff: My Google+ conversations are far better than any conversations I have everywhere else.
Leo: But you control the conversation on a blog even more.
Jeff: People come in and there is more trolling there. It is architecturally different I think. Back to Gina’s question, Gina as always raises a very important point here. I agree with you, and I said this about advertising this week when Ethan Zuckerman wrote about this it’s the original sin of the net. The reflex should not be to give up on things, it should be to fix them. What I’m asking is, is it possible to fix Twitter? Is it possible, you’ve talked about some moderation tools, basically what those tools do is try to give less attention to the people that are still there which is Leo’s point. Those people are still going to get attention. I blocked probably 100 people this weekend, anybody who retweets or praises this guy, I’m blocking them. I don’t care who you are. I blocked somebody from the Wall Street Journal Europe and I don’t care. I just blocked them all and it felt pretty good.
Leo: That makes your Twitter experience a lot better but they’re still there.
Jeff: Your point is they are still doing what they’re doing.
Mike: Yeah it’s just you putting your own head in the sand.
Leo: I like Twitter a lot more after blocking that stuff. I don’t see it, I don’t care.
Gina: This isn’t an impossible problem to solve in an industry that prides itself on innovation and disruption it’s so weird that folks are so willing to be like oh whack-a-mole never going to be able to win that game. We can’t fix this. The way that Google+ fixes it, is that comments are subordinate to the post. Let’s just crazy and consider Twitter. Now when you view a Tweet of mine, that has a bunch of replies, the replies show up on that same page right? It wouldn’t be crazy for Twitter to say, if a Tweet is in reply to another post, maybe we consider giving the original poster rights to delete or mute or down vote or something that reply. I know that this is very, maybe some people would think that this is a terrible change to the basis of Twitter’s architecture. Somebody could mention me and I wouldn’t have any control. They could talk about me, but if they’re talking to me, maybe I have more control over what shows up on the page of my Tweet. That’s just one example, I’m not saying that this is the solution I just think there are things that we can think of. Twitter is changing the timeline right now, because they are prioritizing advertisers. They haven’t prioritized this problem and that is interesting to me.
Mike: I take issue with that because you’re saying there is no need to leave Twitter because they can fix this. What I would say is they’re not going to fix it unless you leave. It doesn’t matter if they could fix it. They haven’t fixed it and there is no evidence that they’re going to fix it.
Leo: If we all bitch and moan eventually, Dick Costello is a benign person right? They will fix it if we complain enough.
Gina: I don’t stick around anywhere that I think is completely helpless. I don’t think the solution is move to Google+. For me, my friends aren’t on Google+ and it’s a different experience, a different tool, it’s just a completely different thing.
Mike: I have a solution for that at the end of the show for my tool of the week. I won’t spoil it.
Leo: Move all of your followers to Google+ without their knowledge. It should be awesome. What is a troll?
Mike: I love that question because when I’ve been writing about trolling this week. The reason I wrote this column and I’ve been writing about trolls is last week’s This Week in Google got me starting to think about it. That was a really great conversation last week. A lot of people don’t know what a troll is. Essentially, people think that somebody who pesters somebody is a troll, which I don’t believe it is. Or somebody I got in an argument with online said a troll is somebody who wants to be an influencer. That’s absolutely not true. To me, a troll is somebody who either deliberately creates emotions in the minds of other people in a conversation to either hijack the conversation to get attention on themselves or to get a sociopath kind of thrill out of upsetting and disrupting a constructive conversation. That’s my definition of what a troll is. I think people use the word troll very broadly and unnecessarily. I think the trolling phenomenon is very specific and very real.
Jeff: I think that’s good and I also just put a piece on Medium, it’s a book title, An Asshole is a Theory. I assigned in the curriculum for our new degree, one of my favorite moments was to assign that book. Aaron James defines that person. He talks about the motive. I argued what distinguishes a troll from a mere asshole. I believe that he, I pointed out it’s usually men, one - has a target, two – seeks to get a response or a rise out of the target and three – believes he is acting out of some ordained moral principle to destroy or bring down his target. That’s my definition of a troll.
Leo: I’m going to read one from 1999 from alt.troll. This has been going on for so long on usenet that they actually had alt.troll and this is the definition. What is trolling? The use of the world trolling comes from the fishing technique where a baited hook, this actually might be useful to understanding this, is dragged through the water in an attempt to attract and catch a fish. Usenet is the act of posting an article or troll a usenet news group with the intention of attracting the native inhabitants and provoking an emotional response, at which point they would be caught. The phrase was originally coined as trolling for flames. That is the historical origination. The posters intention was to incite a flame war. Which I think is more to the point. I don’t want to impute an intent on a troll except that they get off in some way on the resulting carnage.
Mike: They’ve made a difference.
Leo: This by the way, the conversation we’re having is exactly what a troll wants. Here’s the definition of troll from alt.troll. It’s convenient that the world troll has multiple meanings aside from the fishing example above trolls are also the name of a mythical creature generally thought of as ugly, fat, cantankerous, wart covered, smelly and completely unlikeable. That’s a troll. Since trolling is thought of as a detestable and unsavory activity performed by loathsome, contemptible hooligans, I think that’s another good way.
Mike: I like sociopaths.
Leo: The name troll fits them quite well. There are two troll species. Those who have overactive minds and constantly seek out new sources of mental stimuli. I say they want negative attention.
Mike: I would go even further and say that there are some trolls who don’t know that they are trolls.
Leo: Many trolls do not know that. Then there are trolls that are permanently disgruntled or physically short-changed in some way they seek out ways to compensate for their shortcomings through vicious personal attacks against others in order to achieve a mental erection.
Mike: 90s was a crazy time man.
Leo: This is not new to the internet. These kind of flame wars and trolling started with usenet.
Jeff: Remember we talked about a study a couple of months ago in which the most succinct definition of a troll you can possibly find is a sadists.
Leo: Right, it came down to that. That ultimately, they were sadists. To what they got pleasure out of causing others pain. If you look at what happened to Zelda Williams, that is precisely what happened. Somebody got pleasure out of knowing that they were causing extreme pain.
Mike: Their only interest in her was that she was vulnerable to having pain inflicted upon her.
Leo: It’s a really interesting problem, I don’t know what the answer is.
Leo: Your answer to everything is Google+
Mike: Works for me. Again, Jeff is so prolific on Twitter and yet where is the trolling on Google+. Jeff has these amazing conversations on Google+.
Leo: There is plenty of trolling on Google+. You can get rid of it and delete it.
Mike: But it’s a non-factor, the people who he is interacting with are not seeing that trolling that is the difference.
Jeff: There are platforms where you don’t bother, that was Mike’s real point.
Leo: I have a different experience. I had a troll on Google+. Deleted and blocked. The person was able to make new accounts to re-post and get others to re-post. It turns out even if you delete and block a post the link is a permalink so he was able to recover that. If you’re persistent, you probably can. Now whether they get any traction is another matter. I think you are right, it’s difficult to get traction on Google+.
Gina: If somebody on Google+ writes about you Leo, not replies but writes about you. You can’t control that right? The main difference between Google+ and Twitter is that you can delete comments on your post.
Mike: There are three or four differences. One of them you can delete comments, in which case they can check and see that the comment was deleted. You can flag comments in which case the troll thinks that their message is still there but nobody can see it.
Leo: I like that.
Mike: They have blocking and reporting and Google tends to be more responsive to reporting than Twitter seems to be if you’re not famous, or a celebrity or if it’s not something big in the news. Here’s another one that I never hear anybody talking about. Let’s say that Jeff Jarvis is not following me and I have a troll who is targeting me on Twitter and I want to contact Jeff but he’s not following me. I send a public Twitter message that is the only way for me to reach Jeff on Twitter. The trolls can see that I’m interacting with Jeff and they can go after Jeff and pretend to be me and do all kinds of trouble like that.
Jeff: it happened today, I’ve got five Mike Elgan trolls coming after me this afternoon.
Gina: Me too on Twitter.
Jeff: I blocked them all
Leo: By the way, it’s all the same person, I’ll point that out.
Mike: On Google+ you contact anyone, including a stranger and totally of the eye of trolls. You simply @mention them, they get the private message and it’s a great way to contact people. Unless they’ve set it up where they can’t be contacted. That’s is yet another way to do it. The sum total of all those things on Google+ lends itself to cultivating a community with zero trolling. In your community.
Jeff: We are creating a society online. We’re creating a couple of things at once. Code is law and the code of Google or Twitter is its law. We’re also creating norms, every time you egg on a troll you are trolling. You are an accessory to the crime, you are just as bad.
Leo: It’s been our experience that the best thing to do is give them nothing.
Jeff: But then in essence the trolls have won.
Leo: I disagree.
Jeff: Everyone has said don’t go after this guy don’t do anything, but then he keeps going and going.
Leo: You’ve created a Streisand effect here Jeff.
Jeff: I understood that but I finally just had it.
Mike: I think the norms that given can only be taken so far. Look at the Louis CK routine where he talks about what a horrible person he is when he is driving compared to when he is in an elevator. The situation will always, he talking about screaming horrible things while he’s driving but when you’re standing next to someone you would never do that. I think that affects lots of people.
Jeff: We both have responsibilities. The code creates an environment that brings certain behaviors and discourages others but within in that environment we can choose to behave well or badly. What I’m really asking, and you guys are trying to answer. Can we create a better society than what we are building? Do we give up and just say the trolls are going to be there and that is that? People are going to be abused and that is that.
Leo: One thing we don’t want for sure is an internet community where no women are participating because they can’t participate safely. That would be a horrific effect. No vulnerable people of any kind.
Jeff: That is Zeynep’s point about Twitter and Ferguson. The fact that it was open, that fact that it couldn’t be controlled by an algorithm or the fact the fact that it couldn’t be controlled by other people is what let Ferguson trend up to the point that it got on media. I fully recognize the value of Twitter being open and it’s a question I’m not answering, does that doom it? As a social network is it doomed to be anti-social?
Leo: That’s a good question. By the way from the definitions we’ve heard today, upworthy could be considered a troll, most radio talk show hosts could be considered a troll.
Mike: I would disagree.
Leo: Is link baiting a form of trolling?
Mike: I don’t think it is, because the idea is to disrupt somebody else’s conversations.
Leo: So it’s more targeted and vicious.
Mike: If you want to start your own annoying conversation…
Leo: It’s not look at me it’s…
Mike: Its disruption. If you set up a radio station that’s entirely about screaming political venom. That’s not disrupting anything, you’re creating your own cesspool. If you go into somebody else’s conversation and wreck it deliberately, that’s trolling.
Leo: It’s a form of vandalism
Mike: That is exactly what it is.
Gina: Don’t feed the trolls policy from what I’ve seen and experienced there are a few different types of trolling scenarios. One is the drive by which is one or two days with one person talking crap at you. That is a straight up do not feed the trolls, block, mute, whatever and walk away. I’ve had the long term, literally it’s been almost 9 years of that one person and I’ve done the don’t feed the trolls, don’t respond to him, never mention him and he keeps going. That’s the one I don’t have the solution for. Then you have the Zoey Quinn situation where you have a bitter ex-boyfriend awakening the mass, sleeping giants of Reddit-jerks who are now docking, or the other situations where you have this huge mass of people who are creating new accounts and using a huge network of people to attack someone in a concentrated way. Those are the situations where I wish the victim had better tools for reporting. Blocking one person is one thing but when you have a situations like that it can make a person feel helpless because they are. Twitter takes months to respond to a report and somebody else can’t report someone for you. That is where I feel like Twitter needs to empower it’s users a little more. I don’t have the answers but I do think that is something that has to be addressed. I love Twitter, it’s my social network of choice so yeah I want it to change and that’s why I’m not saying screw this I’m going to Facebook or Google+. My people aren’t there, I’ve built my community on Twitter and for whatever reason, if I thought there was no hope for change and the platform was doomed I guess I would leave. I’m just not there.
Leo: The other thing that I observed is that people in public eye have had to deal with this forever. Going back to Louis XIV. We’re mad at him for marrying the mistress instead of keeping the mistress separate.
Mike: Poor Alec Baldwin, what he’s gone through.
Leo: Everybody who is in the public eye and you kind of maybe know that you’re making that deal, you might not know how bad it’s going to be but you know you’re making that deal.
Jeff: The belief is that you deserve everything you get if you’re in public.
Leo: So what’s happened here is the public eye is much broader here than it ever was before. Normal people are now subject to the same type of public and it actually strikes home. If you’re a nobody and nowhere, nobody is going to write an article in the National Inquirer about you and even if they did it would die an instant death. We’re all a little internet famous all of sudden…
Gina: I could be at the park with my daughter and my phone could be blowing up with all the, I could wake up in the morning and literally the first thing that I read on my phone.
Leo: We’re all getting the Alec Baldwin treatment. I don’t want to make this This Week in Trolls but can we on a little bit or we can all have one final thought how about that?
Jeff: Gina believes that things can be fixed and better on Twitter. Mike you say move to Google+.
Mike: I don’t say that actually. I think that Twitter is great for incoming information. It’s not a great place for somebody that want to build a community of people and have great conversations. Twitter doesn’t allow great conversation anyway because of the 140 character limitation. If you want to do that Google+ is much better than Twitter. I would never give up Twitter myself. I like getting the incoming stream.
Jeff: I’m not going to give it up either. My last question or point is: I presume this is the case but I hope they’re having discussion like this there and grappling with I think this is a reason that Twitter isn’t growing as fast as Wall Street wants it to grow. Some people are scared of it. Their scared of the bad people it brings out. If Twitter doesn’t figure out how to A – deal with that while B – while still being more open than Facebook and Google+ to enable Ferguson to trend up. That’s the magic of Twitter, it could be lost. I
Leo: I bet Wall Street is more scared of the thing we most value Twitter for, things like Ferguson because that is not good for commercial. Where Wall Street would like Twitter to go is somewhere that is a great place for advertising.
Jeff: What they're scared of, is the bad people it brings out. And if Twitter doesn't a) find a way to deal with that, while b) still being more open than either Facebook or Google+ to enable Ferguson to trend up, that's the magic of Twitter. It could be lost. It becomes a scary place of bozos that could be lost.
Leo: You know what, I bet Wall Street is actually more scared of the thing that we most value Twitter for - it’s things like Ferguson, because that is not good for commercials. And, really where Wall Street would like Twitter to go is somewhere that's a great place to put advertising.
Mike: I think, I don't know if you did that on purpose, but I think that's the place to talk about the terrorists’ video. Which is that, is the ban on these videos, which by the way there have been horrible videos on Twitter for a long time, but now this is a famous case that involves an American and now it’s a problem.
Leo: We're talking about the American journalist who was recently, like yesterday beheaded by ISIS, and they posted a video and those videos have been circulating. You know, I've... Not looked at that video for obvious reasons. I don't want to see it. And yet it’s a horrific story, so Twitter has been pulling those videos down.
Mike: No, they've been pulling down the accounts of people who posted the videos. They've been suspending people's accounts if they posted the video.
Leo: See, they're good at that.
Gina Trapani: This video was posted on YouTube, and YouTube pulled it. So if somebody posted a link to the YouTube video, right, so this is what they're doing, even if you expanded the tweet and tried to play the video, you couldn't, because it'd been pulled from YouTube, is that correct?
Mike: It’s on all of the video services. It’s on all of them, it's everywhere now.
Leo: After sharing a link to a news story about Foley's alleged killing, Decosta announced this morning that any users who shared images of the supposed execution would have their feeds frozen, not deleted. We've been actively suspending accounts as we discover them, related to this graphic imagery.
Gina: Images of... Okay. So I'm confused still.
Leo: People have been posting stills...
Jeff: Meanwhile in the UK, the police, the government said it is a crime to link to the video.
Mike: They said it’s an act of terrorism.
Jeff: It is an act of terrorism. That is... A pure definition of censorship. That is government forbidding some speech. And I think that even that goes too far.
Leo: Mia Farrow, tweeted, "Blackout on group that murdered James Foley. Don't share video. Give them nothing. Respect James Foley." She has a point. Thats appropriate for her to do, as a private citizen, but not for government agencies to do, is that what you're saying?
Jeff: Right, right. Twitter was also killing the ISIS accounts. There's an argument that says, that we should hear what they have to say so we can know how awful they are. I'm taking a stand about that, necessarily. But these are tough decisions that Twitter has to make. And so we can't argue that, oh, we have to wait for somebody else to report something to us. Twitter made the decision to take this down, to your point, Gina. Twitter made that, and they didn't wait for people to report accounts. They're doing it on their own. So where is Twitter's line now? Is a legitimate question.
Mike: I started getting afraid of this general area back when Facebook was caught doing experiments on their users, if you recall they did a mood study to find out whether if people's news feeds were negative or positive if they would turn around and themselves post things that are positive or negative, accordingly. And they in fact found that it is contagious, mood is contagious. And I started thinking, why are they testing that, because they say that all their tests are about improving their service, so are they contemplating the idea of adding to their algorithm a positivity filter that weeds out bad news or negative comments, by your friends and family, by the way.
Leo: Because you'll be happier, what's wrong with that?
Mike: Am I the only one who read Brave New World. I mean, it’s...
Leo: It’s Selma.
Mike: Is this where they're going? Are we supposed to, as citizens, if Twitter and Facebook is the new public square are we as citizens supposed to just shut up and enjoy our bread and circuses and all that?
Leo: More cat videos!
Mike: Negative things... And just because it’s bad for selling things, and you know... Or are they, do they have a responsibility of some kind to represent reality to a certain extent. And also, it has to be said that there's a value judgment here. There are lots of cultures where for example, sexual imagery is far more upsetting than violence, violent imagery. In fact, if you even watched the Spanish language news in the United States, and you look when they show a car accident, they just show it all, and they would never do that in the US. So there's a cultural difference between English speaking Americans and Spanish speaking Americans about how much violence is acceptable in the evening news. So it’s a value judgment that's being played there, and it's an interesting question.
Jeff: So are you asking whether Twitter is just pushed this too far, but that's what they do... Is Twitter's motivation for taking on the video commercial?
Leo: You bet! I'll say.
Mike: That is the question.
Leo: Of course it is.
Jeff: This is a great little anecdote, Ethan Zuckerman wrote this piece in the Atlantic about advertising being the web's original sin. I responded that it wasn't. But, leave that to the side. In it, he told the anecdote that when he was at Tripod as one of the early employees, Ethan, they had a problem with advertisers not wanting to be on bad sites. So Ethan said, "I'm sorry, we had good motives, but that's when we invented the popup." That way the add was not actually on the site...
Leo: It’s why Myspace got... Let’s be clear. This is why Myspace got beat by Facebook, because advertisers were very reluctant to advertise on Myspace because they weren't sure exactly what environment their ads would pop up in. And so...
Jeff: And lets also say that Myspace was for, this is Danah Boyd's point. Myspace was more urban. Facebook was far more wealthy and white. And, as a result people were disenfranchised for a while there, because of that.
Leo: Yeah. I mean, if you're Twitter, you have a fiduciary of a publically held company, you have a fiduciary responsibility to do what's best for the stockholders, which is to cultivate an environment that advertisers want to be on.
Gina: A less cynical view is that Twitter is a product and Facebook is a product, and the product designers at those companies are creating a user experience, and they want that to be a good user experience. They want... People to be happy and to feel like...
Leo: For everybody.
Gina: Right. And that's what brings in the advertising dollars.
Mike: And the slipperiest of slopes...
Leo: On the other hand, I am perfectly happy not to see images of beheadings in my Twitter stream.
Gina: I am too.
Mike: There's a vast trove of things on Twitter, right now, that are not banned, which you don't want to see. And they don't...
Leo: Actually Twitter is very free with porn, adult pictures and all sorts of stuff that you could not see on Facebook, you wouldn't see on Instagram.
Jeff: But you also got to count like Brown Moses who's tracking Syria, and he put up pictures of corpses today, because he's documenting a war.
Leo: And haven't we criticized news organizations for not showing the bodies in a war? For sanitizing war footage?
Mike: Right. Is it citizens of a country that supports the military and sends people to war, not supposed to know the realities there? I mean, look at the effect of television on the Vietnam war, and how that essentially is attributed the anti-war movement to a very large extent, to the fact that we could see the realities of it much more clearly than we could in previous wars. Should they be mucking around with that sort of... Media citizenship, you know? Social movement kind of... Connection?
Jeff: Right. Which is... But now go to the red, the one we just had the conversation about. So now we have, you know, I'm going to trivialize this badly but I'm doing it for a point. ISIS is the ultimate troll, right? ISIS is trying to cause pain, that's their goal. And so when you put up ISIS's picture, you serve their ends. When print the picture of the neighbor of Mr. Brown in Ferguson, you perhaps serve the Brown family's ends. And so trying to get context and motive in this discussion, only complicates it more, but it’s relevant.
Leo: It’s I think a good statement...
Mike: But you can't... You don't know whose end it is.
Mike: So it could be quite the opposite.
Jeff: Here's the problem. I'm reading Technopoly right now, by Neil Postman. I disagree... But it’s the most beautifully written, but provocative... And he argues essentially that technology has no morals, and replaces systems of morals. I'm oversimplifying, don't get mad at me, Postman's column actually wasn't. But, in essence what you see in this case is Googles and Twitters and Facebooks are trying to be reductive and reduce life to an algorithm. Algorithmic rule set... So that they don't have to make individual judgments, because any of those judgments are expensive and can be very tricky.
Leo: That's the main thing I'm coming away with is how hard this is to do.
Gina: I mean, we're dealing with primitive machines that aren't anything like actual humans, on a huge scale. Like, of course these systems are messed up because the technology isn't there, because we're trying to make rules about how humans interact. And those are complex and fragile, and differ across space and time, which in the internet is everywhere. And there's a lot of different decisions here. So do you think, that if Brown's family asks Twitter to not publish photos of him, dead in the street, that they wouldn't have done the same thing?
Jeff: I don't know. They didn't have the policy before. It’s a new policy. And then, if they were taken down at the Brown family's request, if the Brown family said that we don't want you to put the video up in the store or whatever the case may be, then would there be other cases that say, well, I know you're trying to sanitize the news and the world.
Gina: The video at the store, now that's interesting. That's a different... Because the beheading video, you can argue that's violence that Twitter is trying... The terms of service around violent images, right? But the video at the store is not violent, you know, so that's kind of a different thing, and to me, the video of the beheading is a lot more violent than the still of a body. I realize that these are extremely subjective, fuzzy lines... But, it’s... For what it’s worth, I found the whole Ferguson thing has been so fascinating on Twitter, I found if I'd been gunned down, hashtag amazing. I saw media outlets changing the photos that they were using of Brown, as a result of that. It was really incredible, I didn't even turn on the TV at all, I was just watching Twitter and livestreams.
Leo: And that's, by the way, that's how it should be handled. I feel very strongly that no organization should censor in any way, but should give individuals the tools to self-censor, to protect themselves. If it’s a checkbox that says, "I don't want to see beheading videos." There should be a check box. You can do that, and that's much more affective. You have control, you just showed that control, Gina, by saying well, I'm not going to watch the TV news, I'm going to watch Twitter.
Jeff: And that's Gina's point back to Twitter, and trying to give better controls to the...
Leo: You just need to give the users the tools. Don't try to do it for us. We don't need censorship, we need tools.
Mike: Thats exactly right. Now when the news of the existence of the video hit, I did a breaking news thing on Google+... And the vast majority of people... Talked about the news and talked about how horrible it was, and there was a big conversation about Islam and all that kind of stuff, but there was a minority of people who said, "I don't want to even know about this, you're helping the terrorist by even posting this information." I didn't put a video there, or a graphic picture of any kind, but the fact that I was reporting the news, some people felt that I was... Helping the terrorists and I was even blocked by a couple of people. And that's how it should work. Anybody who...
Leo: They get to choose.
Mike: That's right. People should block me if they don't want to see the kinds of things that I post.
Jeff: there are cases where the platform has to intervene.
Leo: I don't know. I disagree. I disagree. I think that's what TV does. And needs to do, because it’s a single channel. But that's what so different about Twitter and all of our digital technologies, they can do that. They can... They have the tools to do that.
Jeff: Twitter has a rule about imposter accounts. It says you can have them, but here's the rules. That's an intervention by the platform.
Leo: An intervention in order to make it clear, but they're not blocking those accounts. They're just saying, you have to label it in such a way. Right?
Jeff: If the account refuses to change, they block it.
Leo: I don't think that's appropriate. I think that's saying, "You have to do these things so that people then, can make appropriate judgment." You want to empower the users, ultimately you want to empower the users.
Jeff: That's... I agree with that principle one. Go, Gina.
Gina: I don't know, God, Jeff. I think the helplessness issue is... That's kind of the worst part of it when you're the victim of the situation. Not only that there's, you know, a threat or there's, you know a... Something that makes you feel bad, it’s the feeling that you can't do anything about it. So empowerment is step one. Go ahead, Jeff, what's the next from there...
Jeff: I agree, first principle is give the user more control. I absolutely agree, but then, at some level, the... What am I trying to say? ... The brand does intervene, it does care about things. It’s got to have a transparency about that and say well the rules are... Right? So Facebook you put up nude pictures, that means it won't let you put up pictures of women breastfeeding their babies.
Leo: That's a slippery slope, that's where they get into trouble.
Jeff: Exactly. But Facebook decided they didn't want to for commercial reasons, you just said a minute ago that they have to have a fiduciary responsibility so they decided that breasts are bad business.
Leo: They're very wrong on that...
Jeff: I... I'm just trying to make an illustration here. And so, but the problem there is that Facebook tried to make an algorithm. Breasts=no, by the way, a clever programing way to say that. If breasts then that. But that doesn't work. Because you have to make human judgment, you have to come in and you do have to intervene in that case, and say, "No, no no, you fool algorithm writer, breast feeding is fine!" I would also say breasts are fine, but that aside, there's nothing wrong with the human body. But Facebook made a decision, and that's their right to do, and they said they don't want breasts.
Leo: I think a better way to do it is to enforce... You have to have rules, but you enforce a taxonomy rule, that things are clearly labeled and they're not misrepresented, that if it’s a beheading video or a breast, it’s clear what it is. And then the user is given the tools to filter. And that's exactly how it should be. This should be proper taxonomy that you can enforce.
Jeff: Ahh, but Leo, it’s still a slippery slope. I remember I had a huge argument with Ed Marque, representative of Marque, on a TV show many years ago. When the V chip came into cable boxes, because the belief was of course violence on cable and sex on cable was going to corrupt all of our youth because they're all a bunch of idiots and they're easily susceptible to this horrible influence that's called sex.
Leo: By the way, V chip has been implemented, you know that?
Jeff: It has been implemented, and...
Leo: And it works really great. I can change my cable settings so that the kids don't see various things.
Jeff: But here's the issue. Who decides what gets the scarlet letter? And that alone is a decision that can affect, again... It’s an attempt to algorithmically...
Leo: Yeah, you're right.
Mike: I think we're dismissing the idea that if you give enough control to users, to block people or stop following people or whatever, that's plenty. That's plenty. People don't follow that many people, on Google+ for example, the max is 5000. I don't know what it is on Facebook. Twitter it’s probably unlimited, or it’s dependent on how many people you're following or something like that, but it’s good enough. As soon as somebody posts something offensive, you unfollow them or you block them or whatever. And over time, you end up with exactly the content you want to see.
Jeff: Mike, no. No. Because what you're giving up there, is the examples you gave. And Gina gave... Of around you, a thousand people are attacking you. And you may not see them, but you have this horrible life around you that actually you know somewhere out there is causing you misery and people are talking about you...
Leo: Ignorance is bliss...
Mike: There's somewhere between ignorance is bliss, and actually affecting things. I mean, basically, if you create a community within your social network, whatever it is, not just Google+, and you thrive and live in that community and every time somebody does something like that, you block them, eventually they're just outside kind of fog in the window of your life. Of your online life.
Jeff: I think in a lot of cases you're right, but there are cases where that is not true. Where people, get attacked and attacked and attacked, and just saying, "If they don't hear it it’s okay to do this." That's not a good norm for our society.
Leo: And we should point out that all of these are privately held companies that could do any damn thing they please. There's no first amendment right when it comes to privately held companies, so... Twitter gets to do whatever it wants, but we can reasonably argue that a good solution would be to censor less and give users more power. Yes.
Jeff: I think that is the first principal and I think that works. But there will be exceptions to that, that responsible humans will probably have to deal with. And that’s my point of intervention.
Leo: Yes. Okay, good. We've solved this. We're going to take a break and come back with the properly formed Change Log... We've got to run, we're almost out of time here. Gina Trapani, shine up your Change Log shoes. First, this is fun stuff. And I think one of the things about TWiG that is unique of all the shows that we do, it’s very philosophical and we get into these deep dives, and I hope this hasn't, you know, turned you all off at home. Because I think these are important topics.
Gina: This has been a great conversation and the reason why I'm glad we're talking about it is because I think the solution is for people like us, commentators who have an audience thanks to you, Leo and thanks to TWiG, is to raise these questions. We don't necessarily have the answers but I'm just really glad that we're talking about it because I think it’s important.
Leo: It’s not easy.
Mike: I also think that we have to acknowledge that this trolling thing which started out on the Usenet, and so on, and has been sort of a geek problem is now as of very recently, a big public mainstream problem. And so it’s also that's another good reason why it’s good that we're talking about this right now, because this is now totally mainstream. Like so many technology topics.
Leo: The New York Times wrote an article about it, it must be a big story. There are trolls on the internet and the New York Times is on it! Our show today...
Jeff: Good Gina, very good. That was great timing.
Leo: That's a parody site, you might if you were the New York Times be deeply hurt by that.
Jeff: The New York Times will go, they will do cease and desist on you. If you use their logo they go after you in a flash, even when it’s an obvious parody.
Leo: Parody is protected though, by the law, is that not right?
Jeff: Comment is protected.
Leo: Nobody is going to ever sue Weird Al Yankovic.
Mike: Plus he has permission anyway, even though he doesn't have to.
Leo: Our show today... Hey, this is a great transition here. How would you like... Do you have a fiduciary responsibility to yourself? Do you have a fiduciary responsibility to your older self? So that you don't have to live on Alpo when you're sixty five? Yes you do! It is very important that you plan for your future, and the young people watching, go, "Eh, it’s fine, I'm going to live forever." That's right, you are! And thats why you need to have a good financial plan, ladies and gentlemen. You need to go to Personalcapital.com and start keeping track of what's happening to your money. They start out by bringing all of your accounts and assets into a single screen on your computer, on your phone, on your tablet, real time intuitive graphs. Mike and I actually have our Personal Capital on our Android where watch, so we get flash. Your 401K is dropping, like a stone! Really it’s amazing, this is actually one of the first Android Wear apps, they were out right away. So you'll know how you're doing, but then take the next step. Find out if you're overpaying in fees. If you are not balancing your investments properly. You can optimize your 401k, optimize your mutual funds. And plan for your future, and they make it easy. It’s absolutely free, there are half a million people now using Personal Capital, you saw right there. One hundred billion dollars in investments being monitored. If you wish, and this is not a requirement, but if you wish, you can use their certified financial planners, they are not working on commission, to give you advice about how... They have lots of kind of, calculators and free stuff you can use, but you're going to actually get human advice as well. it really is a great solution, it just takes a minute to sign up. Even if you just use the calculators, just use the chart, it’s going to make a huge difference. Total clarity, transparency, understand what you're doing. Personalcapital.com/TWiG, signing up is free, just takes a minute or two. It’s the smart way to grow your money. And we are thrilled to have them on This Week in Google. Plan for your future, because no one else is. If you want to have fun, write to the social security administration and find out what your social security checks are going to be. And then compare that to your current budget. It is time to break out the trumpets, Chad Johnson if he hasn't fallen asleep, let’s get that Change Log! Gina Trapani has the latest from the Google.
Gina: Kind of a thin Changelog today, but I've got a couple of things. First yet another improvement to Google Now, is Google detects that your flight is delayed or canceled, Google Now will suggest alternate routes or flights from other airlines that will eventually get you where you need to go. In the card... And Google Now will also show you things to do while your flight is delayed, according to Gadget. Those recommendations use Field Trip, to power that software. So we're going to start seeing Field Trip recommendations in Google Now as well, without having to install Field Trip. That of course, the local software that will point out points of interest and places to go nearby. So, Google trying to keep you busy while your flight is delayed.
Jeff: Gina, may I add in here? That United just announced about an hour ago that their putting connect links to Uber in their app. So when your flight is delayed, and you need to get a ride, to go to the fun thing that Google tells you to do, you can use Uber through United.
Gina: That's interesting. Uber is really getting some serious play in the defaults... Like default app recommendations for drivers for cars. Got some good news for spreadsheet power users, who love charts, in Google's sheets, trend lines, and you know this tip is for you if you know what trend lines are, those are now available in scatter, plot, bar, column, and line graphs. This is in Google Sheets which is the spreadsheet product, and both exponential and linear trend lines. You can see, I think that's a scatter chart in the screenshot there. You can automatically have a trend line show there, and you can now copy and paste charts from one spreadsheet to another, inside Google Sheets so that’s pretty cool. Finally a new street view tour got added to Google Maps and this one is of Iceland. These are just some really pretty pictures, I recommend taking a look at them, you've got waterfalls, crater lakes, geysers, national parks... Beaches, there's actually a direct link in Google Maps to their highlighting all these new photos, they added from Iceland. Just really beautiful.
Jeff: I so want to go there. Leo can we do shows from Iceland?
Leo: Oh, I'm dying to go there too. Sarah Lane just came back from there. It just... It’s a photographer's dream.
Gina: Yeah, these look amazing. I didn't really want to go to Iceland until I looked at these new Street View images. These are beautiful.
Leo: Yeah. Glaciers, volcanoes, ponies, and...
Leo: Beautiful ponies.
Leo: Yeah. They're... Special kind of ponies there.
Gina: Icelandic something or others.
Leo: Icelandic ponies. Yeah.
Gina: Icelandic ponies.
Leo: I'm a pony brony.
Jeff: Oh god.
Leo: Look at that! Look at that! Is that a glacier, what is that? Is it the ocean? Is it a waterfall? It’s all of the above. It’s everything. It’s global warming.
Gina: It’s global warming...
Leo: Real large. Oh.
Gina: Yeah, this is concept design here Leo, we need to travel.
Leo: I think our show should be like in that kind of environment.
Gina: It'd keep the show...
Leo: Shorter. Little shorter. That's pretty... Oooh, it’s 3D too! Neat-o...
Gina: Well, that's all I got today.
Leo: Ladies and gentlemen, play the drums, because that's the Google Change Log. Thank you, Gina. See she does this so well! Jeff, there's so much to learn.
Gina: Little, little thin today. Little thin today.
Jeff: But even so, you bring it panache that we couldn't bring it last week.
Gina: From geysers to charts, I got 'em all.
Leo: We're pretty much done with the show here... You could do the pick and the number and the tool, but if there's... But there's lots of other stories if there's anything that we missed, that any of you want to talk about, I mean, we have quite a few things to chat, we have quite a few stories in the rundown... We've talked about...
Gina: We should talk about Google a little bit, shouldn't we?
Leo: Oh, yeaaah. Well, Kevin Rose is leaving Google Ventures. We had Kevin on Triangulation a couple of weeks ago, he kind of intimated that he wanted to get back into designing projects. I guess he's going to consult Google Ventures but he's got a new tech startup called North. It’s all about moving to Iceland. No... I don't know... It’s mobile. He's really into mobile apps. Smart Things sold to Samsung.
Gina: yeah, good for them!
Leo: Two hundred million dollars. They're one of our advertisers, disclaimer. Um. But yeah, it just shows that Samsung wants to have a product that will compete in the home automation space with Google and Apple, because both are moving into that big time.
Jeff: They were a Kickstarter start?
Leo: They were.
Gina: Yeah, they were.
Leo: They were, and that's another...
Jeff: There's a couple now.
Leo: Yeah, Oculus Rift, raised money on Kickstarter and sold for billions to Facebook, and now two hundred million Smart Things to Samsung. Two years old. It’s a nice exit. Cable companies are a little flip happened... In the last month. Cable companies started to make slightly more money on internet access than on cable TV. That's a milestone. That's a shift. Peter Kafka writing for Recode, "The cable guys have become the internet guys." This is from Liedman Research group. Fourty nine million, nine hundred and fifteen thousand internet subscribers, compared to forty nine million, nine hundred, ten thousand TV subscribers. I don't know what that means.
Mike: I don't think they want to be the internet guys. I think they liked being the TV guys.
Leo: They loved it because there was a lot of money, a lot of free money in there, and I remember talking fifteen years ago to Cable vision, which was of all the cable companies, the most forward thinking in Long Island, New York. And they said, our financial model does not work selling wholesale bit’s. We've got to sell the premium retail bit’s. But I think they've also seen...
Jeff: They've got to go against net neutrality...
Leo: They see the writing on the wall...
Jeff: The margins in the cable business and the internet access business are phenomenal.
Leo: But if you look in those intervening ten years, what the cable companies did is they raised the cost of internet, considerably. So that people were paying as much for their internet as they are for their TV. Oh good, now we're okay, now we're happy. We don't lose money on the internet any more.
Mike: You know it’s a really interesting story that came out this week, is that Google is coming out with a under 13 year old sign up... Which has parental controls and so on, so the... Just to summarize the story, the good news is that Google will enable parental controls and have a version of Youtube and Gmail probably some other properties, that don't collect data, they don't collect private data, which is against the law in any event. And they'll hopefully be converting people who are under the age of 13 who are using these services by lying about their age. And... So that’s the... Yeah.
Leo: Rife on Facebook. I don't know if it happens on Google+, but...
Mike: It does happen on Google+, I've seen a kid show up on my stream, I always block them and delete them and stuff like that, but the downside of course is that they're targeting kids, they would be targeting children for a kind of Ronald McDonald style marketing of kids so that they sort of develop their brain and preferences for...
Leo: C'mon kids! You can follow me on Google+!
Mike: I don't know if they're going to come out with their own clown.
Leo: They need a clown. Plusy the clown.
Mike: That's right.
Leo: I'd work for Google. You could do balloon animals in the shape of a G.
Mike: Yeah, listen.
Leo: Woah-hoooo! It’s Plusy the clown!
Mike: So is this a benefit to mankind, or is this a terrible thing? What do we think?
Jeff: I think it’s a good thing, and who was it who also thought... Who wrote a piece...
Leo: I mean, you've got to recognize that kids are doing it anyway. It’s not that it’s illegal for that, it’s that parents have to approve it. Most companies don't want to go through the problem of proving that the parent has approved.
Mike: But will the kids who currently are doing it by lying about their age, say, "Finally, I can now have a parental controlled version!"
Jeff: No, but Larry Maggot who writes at Forbes and works at a CBS station does a lot of things about kids, and he argues today that it’s a good thing. That millions lie anyway, we need free speech. He's saying that... Well, actually he's saying they should admit children under thirteen anyway.
Leo: I think no. Very few kids under thirteen want to use Google+. They all want to use Facebook.
Mike: But the Youtube is the big one...
Leo: Oh, they had to do it so that they could comment on Youtube.
Mike: There's some pretty horrible stuff on Youtube, so a kid friendly version of Youtube would be nice, for parents.
Leo: There were rumors that Youtube was looking at that.
Mike: Yeah. Yes. Right. Including special programing.
Leo: You also said a story on TNT that there's a new Google/Youtube music effort, and that hasn't launched yet.
Mike: What a show TNT is, all this news. Just incredible.
Leo: You'd never be out of the loop. It’s for people who want to be in the loop.
Mike: So yeah, they're looking at a music service and it’s weird, because the nine ninety nine that you would pay would get you both the Youtube music service, and also Google Play music.
Leo: See I already pay for play. So I'm just going to get Youtube. But I get it anyway. What do I get that's new?
Mike: You get an offline mode, you get an audio only mode, you get other benefit’s like that. But you also have lots of content and music from concerts and stuff that would never show up on an album and there's extra music... So for super fans it sounds pretty good, but I don't think they're going to change the world with this thing.
Leo: It’s not out yet, right?
Mike: No. They haven't even announced it.
Leo: I can't stop watching the Taylor Swift video over and over and over. Shake it off. You've seen it Gina, I can tell by your laugh.
Gina: I saw that it was trending... I am aware of it, but I have not watched it yet.
Mike: I saw the animated .gif of it.
Leo: No, that's for you to... Me to know and you to find out, said mother. It'll be called Youtube Music Key. It’s like the key to your music. In fact all the Google Play stuff, will be renamed Key... Or just the music stuff?
Mike: So far what we believe we know from somebody's anonymous sources is that Music Key is one service, Google Play Music will continue as it is, but the monthly subscription of nine ninety nine will get you both. Which is, again, that's weird.
Leo: What did you think about this, Jeff Jarvis. Time Magazine rating it’s writers not only for the quality of writing, the impact of stories, their newsworthiness, but also how well they produce content that's beneficial to the advertiser relationship.
Jeff: You know, I keep rooting for these big ol' companies to survive somehow but they keep shooting themselves in the foot.
Leo: It's so horrific! I showed this to Lisa, she said that's a good idea. I said NO! But it’s very, you know... She does sales, right, it’s very tempting for the sales department to say, "Hey, Mike if you could just tone down that story a little bit about smart things, we'd appreciate it." We don't do that.
Jeff: I know places that have taken the traffic of a given writer and tried to calculate the CPW the cost per writer.
Leo: Well, that's normal. Dvorak tells that story all the time about how they measure which column... You were an editor at... You know about, what is it, Windows Magazine...
Mike: Windows Magazine and other publications and I've had the conversation where basically the, what happens is... What the publisher usually is eventually, you know all publishing companies, like tech startups, they have a visionary founder who's usually editorial. Right? And then what happens is eventually a sales person rises in the ranks to become the publisher so the publisher is like a super salesman, even though they're in charge of sales, editorial, and circulation and so on, and so you always have that conversation... Can you not do that? And it’s almost always about the headline, because publishers don't read. They don't read, they see the headline doesn't sound... So it’s a constant battle, in publishing.
Leo: I take it back, I really maligned Lisa. She did not say that.
Gina: Alright. We appreciate the correction. The correction is noted.
Leo: That was unfair, to Lisa. She understands. Actually that's one of the things that we've done, I think really well here is we've really made that clear to everybody, that you tell the story. That's what's important and we make it clear to advertisers too. You're not going to get favored treatment. And I think it’s nice to be in a medium where you're a little bit more in control of this. Where you have a chance to have them understand that, from up front. Look, you're not going to get special treatment, you're buying an ad. But I can understand how that gets to be a slippery slope.
Jeff: When I was the TV critic at People, I called the Hallmark Hall of Fame again and and again and again, the horrid trickle that it was... And they pulled all their advertising from People Magazine and it was a lot of money.
Leo: Well Dvorak tells a story.. I think it was Dvorak. It might have been Bill McCrone, Microsoft at one point pulled all it’s advertising from PC Magazine for one week, and then said, "Whoops." And they put it right back in. It’s nice to be in a position where they have to advertise with you.
Mike: That's right.
Leo: I think we are done. I can't see anything else really important. Nothing we can't save for next week. It’s a great conversation.
Gina: This was a good show.
Jeff: Really good conversation. Mike, I'm so glad you were able to join us, because you work there.
Mike: Thank you for dragging me, I walked all the way over from right over there.
Leo: He's so good, we are so thrilled that Mike joined the team. And TNT has become, I think, what our intent really was at the the Journal of Record for Tech News, you go there you know you're seeing... You're going to see Peter Kafka, you're going to see all the people who're writing these stories come and talk about what they know.
Mike: It’s really really fun to get all these good journalists in and have them talk about the stories they wrote.
Leo: I really like it. Let’s, because you're our guest, let’s let you kick things off with your tool of the week. It’s going to make us all want to move to Twitter.
Mike: I consider Twitter to be a feature of Google+. That's how I use it. I don't think it’s a separate service, what I do is I have a Twitter bot, Tweet bot... What's it called? My desktop third party version of... That shows me Twitter. Tweet Bot, and it’s great because it just streams in with no intervention on my part, and I can see breaking news and all kinds of things, and when Professor Jarvis posts something, I get it right away. No, I'm just kidding.
Leo: I'm using it right now. Chad, you want to show...
Mike: That's the input, and I have several streams and whatnot and when I post, I use the service, this is the tool of the week, called FriendsPlusMe, so if you go to FriendsPlus.me you can download this free tool, and what it does, it automatically posts your Google+ posts on Twitter and other sites. Now there's a controversial point, people say, never do that.
Leo: Yeah, I used to do that with Twitter to Facebook and I stopped.
Mike: And it often doesn't work and I personally don't think it works from Google+ to Facebook because my family doesn't want to see all the stuff that I post on Google+ and that's mainly who I'm concerned about on Facebook, but for Twitter it’s perfect. What happens is it takes the first line of whatever your Google+ post is, it posts that as the Tweet on Twitter and puts a simple link back to Google+ where you can have a civilized conversation that you control about that topic. And it works fantastic. It looks beautiful, the Tweet is indistinguishable from an ordinary Tweet, but the beautiful thing is you get all your Google+ community and all of your Twitter community together in one conversation talking to each other, and it’s a troll free thing that happens on Google+ rather than on Twitter. People go off and talk about it on Twitter, they do, but for the most part it brings a huge critical mass back to Google+. They also support LinkedIn, Tumblr, App.net, and you know, private blogs. So a single Tweet can go out to all of those. You can schedule them, you can say, OK, when I post something on Google+ post it on Twitter or an hour after you post it on Google+, you can do all kinds of flexible things like that. And again, it’s a free service, so the basic service is free. And you can do just about everything I described with the free version, and you can upgrade for team support and things like that. But I recommend that everybody at least try it. Again, it’s free. And just try to see what it does for your Twitter feed. It essentially Dragoon's Twitter into your Google+ orbit. And that's a great way to use Twitter, I think.
Leo: I'm signing up right now for zero dollars. Up to five accounts free! Well, that's everything I'm...
Mike: Just want to use it for yourself.
Leo: Very cool. Gina Trapani, your tool....?
Gina: My tool this week is actually kind of a late addition, yeah, to the ChangeLog, but I saw it after I did the ChangeLog, and that is that...
Leo: You've been holding out on us, Trapani!
Gina: Whoops! Photo sphere camera, which is Google's photosphere product, which is now available on IOS. It’s now in the app store. So this is the camera feature that lets you create images and publish them to Google Maps. So, I think it’s... iPhone... So it’s iPhone four, and above. Or above iPhone four. But I believe this just got released, oh. Looks like... Hmm. Says yesterday, so I apologize I did miss this in the ChangeLog. For those of you with an iPhone, grab it! It’s in the app store and it is free.
Mike: You can also, I'm the Google+ guy apparently. You can also upload photospheres to Google+ and it'll go into this special immersive mode just like it does in Google Maps.
Jeff: Leo, what's that photo thing that you used on one of your many phones that does amazing things, what is it called, with a funny name...? Zoey's coming to all Android phones, right?
Gina: Yeah, they released it into the play store.
Leo: Is it out?
Gina: It’s out.
Jeff: Oh, see I knew you'd know.
Leo: I love Zooeeeeeeeyyy.
Gina: It’s in the play store. I was not able to install it on my One Plus One, and I think it’s a little buggy but it’s out there.
Leo: It’s not compatible with the OnePlus. Oh well. It’s okay. It’s a camera thing, you just wouldn't understand. Jeff, do you have a number?
Jeff: I have a number. We talked about it last week, the ten year anniversary of the Google IPO. But today we have ten, there's only ten spots that...
Leo: Not ten. It’s more than ten. Oh, the Google IPO... God has it been that long? Wow.
Jeff: And if you invested ten thousand dollars at the time, I think you'd have a hundred thirty thousand dollars today. But there are ten stocks that have done better. Only ten, but they've done better. And you know actually know some of them. Keurig Green Mountain...
Leo: Oh, the coffee pots. Keurig.
Jeff: Monster, Priceline, Apple, NetFlix, among them.
Leo: Who knew that coffee pots would be that profitable?
Jeff: I know!
Leo: Apple, I believe, they've crossed a hundred yesterday. My tool I just got. This looks like a lot of fun, it’s a board game. I got it on Amazon called Query the game. A board game where fun is auto completed. YES! Isn't this a great idea?
Gina: This is very appropriate to the show.
Leo: You're going... I want you to play it... Maybe we'll play it next week. Query the game, the idea is you've got a query master. And each road, you get little pens and you have to write a query ending. It’s kind of like Family Feud with autocomplete. Does that make sense? You're going to predict what the autocompletes are, okay? So here's a card. So, I guess, the question is, "Why do..." You type this into your autocomplete , but don't do this at home. "Why do B-A-R..." What would be the completion of, "Why do B-A-R...?"
Mike: Why do baristas always have beards?
Leo: There you go! Why do barthlen cessory occur, why do barristers wear wigs... We did that on TWiT on Sunday! Why do bars close at 2am? Why do barber shops close on Monday?
Jeff: But these all change, don't they? I don't get it, this changes.
Leo: Yeah, so it’s a game.
Mike: So there's the upgrade model, there. So you have to buy it every year. Subscription...
Leo: "How can I make sure..." What do you think?
Gina: This could go badly...
Leo: That I'm not pregnant... That I get a raise... Any other guesses? How can I make sure... That the cat doesn't leave footprints... No.
Mike: That my dog is the one that farted.
Leo: How can I make sure that I get pregnant, ding ding ding ding, Jeff... How can I make sure that I have a girl? How can I make sure I have a boy? How can I make sure I'm not pregnant? Pretty much they're all related.
Mike: How can I make sure I neither have a girl nor a boy?
Leo: This was what was it, thirty bucks? It was a Kickstarter it is now out as a game. You get little query pieces, and the query game and the master scoring sheet. So you have the query master, and then... You can...
Gina: So at no point do you use your computer in this game...
Leo: At no point are you allowed to use your computer, you have to guess.
Gina: That's impossible, I'll just wear my Glass and um...
Jeff: Finally, a use for Glass!
Leo: There you go, Professor Jeff Jarvis. "Why do students..."
Jeff: Why do students...
Gina: Plagiarize Wikipedia.
Leo: Plagiarize is number one. Cheat, drop out of high school, procrastinate...
Mike: I'll tell you later. Leaders of tomorrow.
Leo: Why do they troll their teachers? Oh here's a hard one... "Does a nic..."
Mike: Nicotine patch replace a cigarette.
Gina: Does a nice boy exist?
Leo: Does a nickel have nickel in it? Does a nicotine patch work, Mike Elgan, ding ding. Does a nice car attract women? How can that be the third most popular query? And does a nickel weigh five grams? Those are... This is fun. Query the game, we're going to feature it on an edition of the Giz Wiz? No, we just bought it because we wanted it? Oh, we're going to play this on our New Year's eve party! We're already planning...
Gina: That'd be a great New Year's Eve...
Jeff: That reminds me, I was supposed to respond to somebody from your office about that...
Leo: Would you like to come out, Jeff and Gina, for our New Year's Eve party, we'll pay your way.
Gina: Yes, I got the email this has been a discussion in my house, because we normally travel to see family, but I thought oooh, wouldn't it be nice to go to California.
Leo: YOu're living with your family. We'll pay for Megan and Etta as well? Does that change the equation?
Gina: Oh. Oooohhh, I will bring that up at dinner tonight.
Leo: I just went off the reservation. I've now... Two reasons for Lisa to kill me tonight. So...
Gina: You also are going to talk about this at dinner tonight.
Leo: Yeah, we'll be talking about this at dinner too. Mmmhmm. We do for those that don't know, we're going to do a 24 hour New Year's party. We did it last year, we start at 3am New Year's Eve day, when the first time zone celebrates the entry into 2015. That's like the Pacific Islands somewhere and we go all the way through 3am New Year's Day, that's Hawaii, and in between every hour, and sometimes every fifteen minutes we check in with listeners all around the world. Last year we got more than half, I think, and I think this year we're going to do even better. We're also going to do for charity, it'll be a telethon, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. We're going to have music, bands, games, we'll play Query.
Gina: Oooh, we could play Werewolf! I would moderate a Werewolf game.
Leo: We'll play Werewolf for sure! Can somebody put that on the agenda.
Gina: Lets figure out how we want to do it, do we want to keep the wolves secret from the viewers?
Leo: I think we should do it like they do the world poker tours, we should have a little pocket cam... Hold up your assignment, and then so the people at home have to know, right? What you are?
Gina: Yeah, right.
Leo: They will, from watching the game, because...
Gina: Well, just from the night time... Right. That's right, but do we want to come out at night or do we want the viewers to know? And that...
Leo: Oh, the viewers should know everything.
Gina: Alright, well now. Alright, I'll talk to the family. I'll make the case.
Leo: We'll get Harper and some others to play with us. Alright. Alright.
Jeff: On one condition, one condition. Elgin's got to make pizza in his brick oven.
Leo: Well what we're trying to do is we're having each host do something that's completely out of character, some secret hobby or passion, right? So last year we had Alex show us how to do mixed drinks, we had Mary Jo Foley show us how to do a beer tasting, Steve Gibson made coffee. So whatever your passion is, I think Werewolf for Gina for sure.
Gina: Yeah, well this, I was kind of stuck on that, like oh let’s play!
Gina: I think Werewolf, I think I just figured it out.
Leo: Werewolf is my secret passion too. I love Werewolf. They're not telling me all of the things that we're doing, it’s all going to be a surprise for me, which I'm looking forward to as well. It'll be a lot of fun. Um... I think that's it. We're done. Should we wrap it up and go troll somebody? Let’s go troll Adam Curry. Thank you all for being here. We do This Week in Google 1pm Pacific, 4pm Eastern time, 2000 UTC, not in the morning, in the afternoon. Or in the evening, depending on where you are in the world. I hope you'll watch live and join us in the chat room, but if you can't, we do make on demand audio and video available at TWiT.TV/TWiG, and wherever you get your podcasts. We have our own third party apps, independent software designers have done great jobs. For all the platforms, including Roku, thank you, Houdini7, IOS, Android, Windows phone, thank you Dmitri. And even Windows and Mac, there are apps although you can just use the website. And it’s best if you subscribe that way you'll get it each and every week. I'll see you next time. We'll see you all next time, on This Week in Google. Bye bye!