Category : Blogging & the Internet

Martyn Minns–Pittsburgh ad clerum on anti-social media

Today we are living with instant messaging in which many people document their every thought – almost in real time – on various social media platforms. There is no time to reflect on the impact of their words on the unsuspecting world. When they are feeling angry or hurt, social media is ready 24 hours a day to pass along the pain-filled sentiments to everyone. This is already generating unprecedented levels of depression and self-harming behavior among teenagers – both boys and girls. I have witnessed the potential for serious damage with our own grandchildren.

When I was a child – light years ago – we had a childhood chant: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never hurt me!” It was intended to increase resiliency and avoid physical retaliation, but, sadly, it is simply not true. Hurtful words – uttered in person or via social media – can leave deep wounds long after physical scars might have healed. By way of response to this reality, our son and his wife have not only restricted the hours that social media is available in their home but also denied their 15-year-old son his own mobile phone – over considerable protestations!

I readily admit that the social media explosion has produced remarkable benefits. We are able to communicate with friends and family in ways that we never imagined. Angela serves as our family social media queen and stays in regular contact with our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and our rapidly growing global extended family. She passes along photographs, family news, and prayer needs, and because of her good efforts, we have stayed well connected throughout the pandemic lock down. We have even located high school friends with whom we had lost contact. I am also able to learn a great deal about the various clergy and churches that I now serve as interim bishop, because I can read through their websites and social media posts. But there is a dark side to all of this.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(NYT) Facebook’s Next Target: The Religious Experience

Months before the megachurch Hillsong opened its new outpost in Atlanta, its pastor sought advice on how to build a church in a pandemic.

From Facebook.

The social media giant had a proposition, Sam Collier, the pastor, recalled in an interview: to use the church as a case study to explore how churches can “go further farther on Facebook.”

For months Facebook developers met weekly with Hillsong and explored what the church would look like on Facebook and what apps they might create for financial giving, video capability or livestreaming. When it came time for Hillsong’s grand opening in June, the church issued a news release saying it was “partnering with Facebook” and began streaming its services exclusively on the platform.

Beyond that, Mr. Collier could not share many specifics — he had signed a nondisclosure agreement.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Religion & Culture

(C Of E) The church that grew out of a lockdown WhatsApp group

“Within a couple of days we had received lots of messages from people – mainly young adults,” Venessa said.

“We started engaging via WhatsApp on questions of spirituality and faith and out of that we began meeting on Zoom for social activities and to talk about faith. Gradually that transformed into something more formal and into an inter cultural worshipping community that we call Roots.”

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Posted in --Social Networking, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(CT) George Yancey–In the Push for Racial Justice, There’s a Middle Path Between Passivity and Aggression

….in our current society, we often deal with race by consistently trying to overpower our “enemies,” rather than by finding ways to communicate and persuade them of our perspective. Why can’t we work at finding common values and agreements? Why can’t we listen to each other until we accurately understand the interests and desires of others? Should not everyone be “quick to listen, slow to speak,” as James 1:19 reminds us?

Sometimes I think that we already know what we need to do to improve race relations but we simply don’t want to do it. But we are going to have to live in this society together. We are going to have to find answers to the racial issues of our day. We can choose to remain in a power struggle with each other, or we can begin to learn how to dialogue in a healthy fashion.

Many people on different sides of these racial issues have a vested interest in continuing our unproductive fighting. But if we learn to stop listening to those voices and start listening to each other, we can finally take important steps toward real racial unity and equality.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Apologetics, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) C of E General Synod to meet remotely in July

The July meeting of the General Synod will now take place remotely, because of the four-week delay in lockdown easing which was announced this week.

The meeting had been scheduled to take place at Church House, Westminster, when it was thought that all legal restrictions on social contact, mask-wearing, and indoor and outdoor gatherings would end on 21 June. The Prime Minister said on Monday, however, that most restrictions would remain in place until at least 19 July, because of concerns about the rapid spread of the Delta variant, first seen in India.

A statement from Church House, issued on Thursday, says: “Synod’s Business Committee examined alternatives including a hybrid meeting or reduced attendance to comply with restrictions but has reluctantly concluded that the only viable option is to hold the group of sessions from July 9 to 12 remotely.

“As a result, the timetable for the event has been slimmed down slightly, with some items better suited to a face-to-face meeting postponed and some extra screen breaks introduced.”

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), Science & Technology

Blessed Trinity Sunday 2021 to all Blog Readers

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

(Forbes) What Will The New World Of Work Actually Look Like?

The most helpful resource I found in understanding the future of the workplace is a whitepaper produced by the folks at Haworth. Haworth is a privately held furniture company focused on building work environments that help people be their best, whether they’re at the office, at home or at their “third place.”

In their whitepaper, Haworth describes the new world of work as “Work from Anywhere.” They point out that employees are often in the driver’s seat and “they’re naturally drawn to places that make them feel comfortable and productive.” The most salient argument from this whitepaper is that there is no one single answer—no one-size-fits-all approach for companies in the post-pandemic workplace.

According to Marta Wassenaar, “Work from Anywhere is the ecosystem that gives organizations and employees choice in when and where work occurs. This autonomy supports creativity and drives innovation. The flexibility serves as a tool for attraction and retention. The work from anywhere ecosystem certainly has an impact on organization culture and workforce wellbeing, too.”

Employees will split their time among these three work locations. When at the office, people will be working with each other—think collaboration and access to equipment and resources that are not available at home. Meeting centers, video studios, and other places for collaboration, play, broadcasting and engaging will replace walled-in offices and individual workstations. Wassenaar from Haworth adds, “Although collaboration can happen virtually, working together on the same task is better done in person. Virtual teams need to put in more effort, time and intentionality toward developing and maintaining social connections.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(MIT Technology Review) Is a New Kind of Search Engine on the Horizon?

In 1998 a couple of Stanford graduate students published a paper describing a new kind of search engine: “In this paper, we present Google, a prototype of a large-scale search engine which makes heavy use of the structure present in hypertext. Google is designed to crawl and index the Web efficiently and produce much more satisfying search results than existing systems.”

The key innovation was an algorithm called PageRank, which ranked search results by calculating how relevant they were to a user’s query on the basis of their links to other pages on the web. On the back of PageRank, Google became the gateway to the internet, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page built one of the biggest companies in the world.

Now a team of Google researchers has published a proposal for a radical redesign that throws out the ranking approach and replaces it with a single large AI language model—a future version of BERT or GPT-3. The idea is that instead of searching for information in a vast list of web pages, users would ask questions and have a language model trained on those pages answer them directly. The approach could change not only how search engines work, but how we interact with them.

Many issues with existing language models will need to be fixed first. For a start, these AIs can sometimes generate biased and toxic responses to queries—a problem that researchers at Google and elsewhere have pointed out.

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Posted in Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Language, Science & Technology, Theology

(Economist) A ransomware attack on Apple shows the future of cybercrime

Apple is a prominent victim of the booming business of “ransomware” . In its original incarnation, at the start of the 2010s, this involved spreading malicious software to ordinary people’s computers. The software would encrypt pictures, documents and so forth, transforming them into unreadable gibberish. If the victims paid a ransom, the hackers would provide the decryption key necessary to restore the scrambled files—at least, in theory.

These days the practice is more professional. Hackers increasingly focus on big organisations rather than individuals, since firms are more likely to pay larger ransoms. Hospitals, universities and even police forces have been attacked. Besides Apple, REvil claims to have stolen data from Kajima Corporation, a big Japanese construction firm, the government of Fiji, Pierre Fabre, a French pharmaceutical company, and dozens of smaller businesses. And as big organisations usually store back-ups of valuable data, which makes scrambling attacks less damaging, hackers increasingly threaten their victims with leaks instead.

Working out the size of the problem is tricky. Coalition, a firm which provides insurance against cyber-attacks, says ransomware assaults made up 41% of claims in the first half of 2020. (“Funds transfer fraud”, the second-biggest category, accounted for 27%). According to Palo Alto Networks, a cyber-security company,the average ransom demand rose from $115,000 in 2019 to $312,000 in 2020.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

(Chris Martin) 10 Facts from New Pew Data on Social Media Usage

4) Young people flock to Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok.
Summarizing the data from the report, Brook Auxier and Monica Anderson write:

Majorities of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram or Snapchat and about half say they use TikTok, with those on the younger end of this cohort – ages 18 to 24 – being especially likely to report using Instagram (76%), Snapchat (75%) or TikTok (55%).

These shares stand in stark contrast to those in older age groups. For instance, while 65% of adults ages 18 to 29 say they use Snapchat, just 2% of those 65 and older report using the app – a difference of 63 percentage points.

This is probably the least surprising data of the whole study, if I’m being honest, but the stark contrast in age usages of these apps is notable.

5) About 95% of Americans ages 18-29 use YouTube, the highest usage rate of any social media platform by any demographic.
The greatest affinity between any demographic and any social media platform is 18-29-year-olds and YouTube. Check out this table (I’ve circled the stat for you). The darker the boxes on the table, the greater the affinity/usage.

YouTube is television for the youngest American adults, and I hesitate to say that 95% number could ever reach 100%, but it very well could.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Science & Technology

(RNS) Likes and prayers: Facebook tests new ‘prayer post’ feature

When the unfamiliar pop-up touting a new feature appeared on Robert P. Jones’ Facebook, the CEO and founder the CEO and founder of PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) posted a screen grab to Twitter.

“Wondering what fb algorithm thinks it knows about me?” Jones mused.

The new Facebook feature? Prayer posts. The function will allow members of Facebook groups to ask for and respond to prayer requests.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Religion News Service that the social media platform is currently testing the prayer post feature.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Spirituality/Prayer

Away for the Weekend for a Major Family Wedding

We shall return Tuesday–thanks for your prayers; KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Blogging & the Internet, Easter, Harmon Family, Marriage & Family

Blog Transition for the Triduum 2021

As is our custom, we aim to let go of the cares and concerns of this world until Monday and to focus on the great, awesome, solemn and holy events of the next three days. I would ask people to concentrate their comments on the personal, devotional, and theological aspects of these days which will be our focal point here. Many thanks–KSH.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Holy Week

(PD) Adam Seagrave–The 50/50 Problem: How the Internet Is Distorting Our Reality

Many causes combined to produce the US Capitol insurrection on January 6. In the immediate aftermath, most of the blame has been assigned to Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric. Those inclined to look deeper connect the spark of Trump’s words to the tinder of extreme polarization that accompanied his presidency. Subgroups of Americans increasingly live in entirely different worlds from one another.

This is more than a metaphor. We—in the United States and throughout the world—have actually and quite literally lost the ability to interact and coexist in the common world we once shared.

I’m not just talking about conflicting worldviews, radically differing perspectives, disparate education, or political party polarization. I am talking about a specific, simple, everyday problem that has led to and reinforced all of these broader social and political causes. This is a problem so pervasive, so ubiquitous, so powerful, and so subtle that most of my readers probably have no idea what I’m about to say.

I’m referring to what I call the 50/50 problem: more than 50 percent of Americans spend more than 50 percent of their waking hours living in virtual, artificial worlds rather than the given, created one in which their bodies exist. The 50 percent threshold represents a tipping point that renders dialogue, deliberation, civic friendship, and compromise extraordinarily difficult in any society.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Telegraph) Giles Fraser–Christian faith can’t be sustained on Zoom

But despite Zoom’s many advantages, no technology can outweigh the fact that Christianity is inescapably physical. It is not just “a message” that can be communicated through social media. It is also about bodily participation, the receiving of bread and wine.

And while the carefully nuanced and endlessly debatable metaphysics of how bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus is a question I have long left to the theological anoraks, I have no doubt that receiving the Eucharist is a physical activity requiring physical participation. The statements “this is my body” and “this is my blood” make Christianity about matter, physically ingested. You can no more do this over Zoom than you can go to the dentist over Zoom.

This is why lockdown has been such a threat – literally – to the lifeblood of the Christian faith. And why the bolted door was such a betrayal of the need of so many of my parishioners for the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist.

This Thursday evening, Maundy Thursday, churches traditionally hold “watch services” where we sit up into the small hours to stay with a terrified man who did not want to be alone on the night before he was to die. This year it will be hard not to think of all those who have died without the physical presence of their loved ones beside them.
Saying goodbye over Zoom, unable to reach out to hold someone’s hand, has to be among the most appalling things that some families will ever go through. And Last Rites are really not for Skype.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(University of Cambridge) Is Social Media Changing Your Life?

“Social media is inherently complex, but trying to set guidelines for ‘consumption’ the same way we do for alcohol or food – as policy makers have tried and failed to do – is a massive oversimplification,” says Orben.

Everybody uses social media differently, and it affects our lives in such a diversity of ways, that setting a recommended daily screen time is far from simple.

Orben adds: “You could use it for twenty minutes to keep in touch with family abroad, or twenty minutes to look at self-harm images on Instagram, for example. The relationship with mental health is really complicated.”

She has found that adolescents who use more social media score lower on mental health questionnaires – but it’s not clear whether social media makes them feel worse, or whether they turn to social media more when they feel worse. And of course, social media isn’t the only thing affecting how adolescents feel.

“There are other things like sleep, parenting, and environment that all affect wellbeing. I don’t think we have the evidence yet to say we should invest lots of money into decreasing social media use, and not invest in other things like youth clubs or better mental health care for adolescents,” she says.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology

(C of E) Millions join worship online as churches bring services into the home in pandemic year

Clips and content from the services have been seen 40 million times on social media channels.

The Church of England’s prayer and discipleship apps – in which people can join in ancient services of morning and evening prayer from wherever they are – have been accessed eight million times, up 50 per cent on the previous year.

The figures for online services are thought to be just the tip of the iceberg as churches’ response to the challenge of the pandemic triggered a major change in the way Christians worship and reach out to their neighbours.

At least 20,000 services and other online events are now listed on the Church of England’s ‘church-finder’ website AChurchNearYou. A year ago there were none.

And a special hymn download service, designed for local churches to use as part of online worship, has seen more than a million downloads.

As churches look ahead to an expected easing of restrictions and more public gatherings, many are assessing how to incorporate the lessons of the last year into their regular patterns of worship and outreach after the pandemic.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Sky News) Government urged to close loophole that allows extremists to radicalise others

The government has been urged to close a loophole in the law that allows extremists to operate with impunity, spreading hateful ideologies without fear of prosecution.

The Commission for Countering Extremism wants to see the introduction of a legal framework, enabling authorities to prosecute those who propagate harmful and hateful extremist views.

It said the “gaping chasm” in existing legislation meant many groups – from radical Islamists to far-right neo-Nazis – were able to spread hatred and radicalise others.

The commission – which was formed in the wake of the 2017 London Bridge attacks – said current legislation was focused on dealing with the threat of terrorism.

However, it meant that much extremist activity – so long as it did not cross a certain threshold – was not covered by the law.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Terrorism

(CS Monitor) No pew? No problem. Online church is revitalizing congregations.

All that changed last year, however, when joining another church became an option – a church 2,000 miles away.

Ms. Schultz began worshipping at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, one of many making room during the pandemic for new “virtual members” who attend only online. She watches services on YouTube in her bathrobe, attends social gatherings on Zoom, and is glad to be rid of what she calls “the judgment factor” that she’s too often felt when visiting churches in person. So when Wilshire Senior Pastor George Mason started inviting online attendees to join the congregation, no matter where they live, she eagerly signed up.

“It’s nice to be seen, noticed, and welcomed when you show up alone,” says Ms. Schultz, who tithes to her faraway church and sometimes has a speaking role during worship. “It feels like less pressure when you’re behind a screen. You don’t have to talk, but you can talk when you’re ready to talk.”

It’s a pandemic shift no one saw coming at the start of 2020. Churches that had long assumed their members would live nearby are no longer resigned to geographic constraints. As congregations have gone online to maintain ministries while social distancing, new worshippers from other regions have been showing up. Now some are getting even more involved. They’re becoming part of the fabric of church life as members, regular donors, and active participants in a host of church activities.

“Online really is a way to reach people that maybe we couldn’t reach in a local setting because some people wouldn’t come into a church building,” says Gary McIntosh, professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Biola University in La Mirada, California, and author of 23 books on church growth. “But they will observe a worship service online, and they will get involved in a small group online

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Charleston, South Carolina’s St. John’s Chapel Experiences Growth through Social Media During COVID Pandemic

Before the lockdown, the Rev. Matthew Rivers wasn’t a fan of Facebook. But last spring when COVID-19 shut the doors of St. John’s Chapel, he reluctantly ventured into preaching via social media. To his surprise, the sermon and worship videos allowed the church to grow during the pandemic and expand the ministry far beyond its Eastside setting.

“God used the thing I wasn’t really enamored with, to enlarge the church,” Rivers said with a laugh.

In recent months, 22 new members have joined St. John’s Chapel, with about 30 percent discovering the church through its Facebook postings. In addition, more than 60,000 people around the world are following its Facebook services, which also feature the First Lady of the church, Chaplain Henrietta Rivers.

“The online ministry has been pivotal; St. John’s has been exposed,” Henrietta says. “We know God’s vision is larger than our small building.”

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There are so many ways God can use us, especially when we follow him into uncomfortable and unknown places. Rev. Matthew…

Posted by The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina on Saturday, February 6, 2021

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Latest News, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Parish Ministry

(FT) Boom in private companies offering disinformation-for-hire

Politicians are increasingly hiring private companies to spread disinformation online, according to researchers who found campaigns run by third-party contractors targeting 48 different countries over the past year.

The Oxford Internet Institute said the “disinformation-for-hire” market is booming, with advertising, marketing and public relations companies offering to manipulate online opinion for political parties and governments.

The OII said private contractors help to identify which groups to target with messages, and then “prompt the trending of certain political messages” either through fake accounts or with armies of bots, or automated accounts.

Researchers said they had found evidence of at least $60m of spending on such campaigns since 2009, although the real total may be far higher.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Blessed New Year to all Blog readers

Posted in Blogging & the Internet

Happy Boxing Day to all Blog Readers!

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, England / UK

Making a Blog Transition for Christmas 2020

We are going to take a break from the Anglican, Religious, Financial, Cultural, and other news until later in the Christmas season to focus from this evening forward on the great miracle of the Incarnation–KSH.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Christmas

(LA Times) Muslims reel over a prayer app that sold user data: ‘A betrayal from within our own community’

Five times a day, tens of millions of phones buzz with notifications from an app called Muslim Pro, reminding users it’s time to pray. While Muslims in Los Angeles woke Thursday to a dawn notification that read, “Fajr at 5:17 AM,” users in Sri Lanka were minutes away from getting a ping telling them it was time for Isha, or the night prayer.

The app’s Qibla compass quickly orients devices toward the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia — which Muslims face when praying. When prayers are done, the in-app Quran lets users pick up reading exactly where they left off. A counter tallies the days of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Listings guide users to halal food in their area.

These features make it easier to practice the many daily rituals prescribed in Islam, turning Muslim Pro into the most popular Muslim app in the world, according to the app’s maker, Singapore-based BitsMedia.

But revelations about the app’s data collection and sales practices have left some users wondering if the convenience is worth the risk.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Wired) The Russian Hackers Playing ‘Chekhov’s Gun’ With US Infrastructure

Over the last half a decade, Russian state-sponsored hackers have triggered blackouts in Ukraine, released history’s most destructive computer worm, and stolen and leaked emails from Democratic targets in an effort to help elect Donald Trump. In that same stretch, one particular group of Kremlin-controlled hackers has gained a reputation for a very different habit: walking right up to the edge of cybersabotage—sometimes with hands-on-the-switches access to US critical infrastructure—and stopping just short.

Last week the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency published an advisory warning that a group known as Berserk Bear—or alternately Energetic Bear, TEMP.Isotope, and Dragonfly—had carried out a broad hacking campaign against US state, local, territorial, and tribal government agencies, as well aviation sector targets. The hackers breached the networks of at least two of those victims. The news of those intrusions, which was reported earlier last week by the news outlet Cyberscoop, presents the troubling but unconfirmed possibility that Russia may be laying the groundwork to disrupt the 2020 election with its access to election-adjacent local government IT systems.

In the context of Berserk Bear’s long history of US intrusions, though, it’s much harder to gauge the actual threat it poses. Since as early as 2012, cybersecurity researchers have been shocked to repeatedly find the group’s fingerprints deep inside infrastructure around the globe, from electric distribution utilities to nuclear power plants. Yet those researchers also say they’ve never seen Berserk Bear use that access to cause disruption. The group is a bit like Chekhov’s gun, hanging on the wall without being fired through all of Act I—and foreshadowing an ominous endgame at a critical moment for US democracy.

“What makes them unique is the fact that they have been so focused on infrastructure throughout their existence, whether it’s mining, oil, and natural gas in different countries or the grid,” says Vikram Thakur, a researcher at security firm Symantec who has tracked the group over several distinct hacking campaigns since 2013.

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Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Science & Technology

(NBC) Best Story of the Week Candidate–Man’s Groovy Morning Commute Goes Viral

‘When Nathan Apodaca’s car broke down, he made a TikTok video of himself riding his longboard, drinking juice and listening to Fleetwood Mac. Now millions of Americans have enjoyed his video, and it’s changed his life forever.’

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Music

(Phil Inquirer) Excessive social media use linked to depression during pandemic

Excessive social media use during the pandemic is a predictor of symptoms of depression and secondary trauma, suggests a new study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University and Jinan University in Guangzhou, China.

The study, published last month in Computers in Human Behavior, surveyed 320 participants living in Wuhan about how they accessed and shared health information with friends, family members, and colleagues over WeChat, China’s most popular social media app. They also used a stress scale to measure anxiety and depression by asking participants to rate statements such as “I felt that life was meaningless” and “I had disturbing dreams about the coronavirus epidemic.”

Bu Zhong, a journalism professor at Penn State and a coauthor of the study, said that the team began looking into the effects of social media use on people’s mental health right after Wuhan was locked down to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We didn’t expect that this would become a global pandemic,” he said. “We were just thinking that we could reveal some invisible harms caused by the outbreak. In China’s situation, local media was not reporting on COVID-19. If you just read the local newspaper and watched television, you didn’t get information about the virus. This made people extremely stressed, and they began relying overwhelmingly on social media.”

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology

(MIT News) Why social media has changed the world — and how to fix it

The numbers make this clear. In 2005, about 7 percent of American adults used social media. But by 2017, 80 percent of American adults used Facebook alone. About 3.5 billion people on the planet, out of 7.7 billion, are active social media participants. Globally, during a typical day, people post 500 million tweets, share over 10 billion pieces of Facebook content, and watch over a billion hours of YouTube video.

As social media platforms have grown, though, the once-prevalent, gauzy utopian vision of online community has disappeared. Along with the benefits of easy connectivity and increased information, social media has also become a vehicle for disinformation and political attacks from beyond sovereign borders.

“Social media disrupts our elections, our economy, and our health,” says Aral, who is the David Austin Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Now Aral has written a book about it. In “The Hype Machine,” published this month by Currency, a Random House imprint, Aral details why social media platforms have become so successful yet so problematic, and suggests ways to improve them.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Science & Technology

Easing back into the Swing of Things Post Labour Day

We are back at it full time again, but give it some time for the blog to be back at full speed.

Posted in * By Kendall, Blogging & the Internet