The web’s creator has some advice for Mark Zuckerberg — and said he sometimes feels devastated by his own invention (FB)

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Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee, the British creator of the web, has said that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg can fix the issues that meant Cambridge Analytica could scrape millions of user profiles.

Berners-Lee added in a tweetstorm that it was likely Zuckerberg felt "devastated" by the way Facebook had been "misused and abused" — and that sometimes he felt the same about his own creation.

He wrote: "I would say to him: You can fix it. It won’t be easy but if companies work with governments, activists, academics and web users we can make sure platforms serve humanity."

But he also said internet users who rely on free services need to become better educated about how they give away their data.

He wrote: "What can web users do? Get involved. Care about your data. It belongs to you. If we each take a little of the time we spend using the web to fight for the web, I think we’ll be ok. Tell companies and your government representatives that your data and the web matter."

Although Berners-Lee refrained from criticising Zuckerberg or Facebook, that he felt compelled to comment at all is indicative of how the scandal is indicative of a wider battle over the internet and how it works. Cambridge Analytica could only harvest data from Facebook, because the company permitted access to third-party app developers in a bid to boost user engagement and growth.

You can read Tim Berners-Lee’s tweets in full here.

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In court, oil company admits reality of human-caused global warming, denies guilt

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On Thursday, in a packed federal courthouse in San Francisco, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup donned a space-themed tie and listened as scientists and lawyers formally presented the fundamentals of climate science. The hearing, dubbed a “tutorial” by Judge Alsup, marked the first time a judge has ever asked for and heard a presentation of climate science for the purposes of deciding a court case.

The case Alsup is presiding over involves several fossil fuel companies and two major cities — San Francisco and Oakland. The cities are suing the world’s oil giants — Chevron, BP, Shell, and others — for extracting and selling fuels that the companies knew would stoke climate change and sea level rise. 

Adapting to these changes requires massive infrastructure undertakings, such as building formidable concrete sea walls, and the coastal cities want Big Oil to pay.

Judge Alsup gave each side two hours to present charts, data, and research on both the history of climate science and “the best science now available on global warming, glacier melt, sea rise, and coastal flooding.” 

Although Alsup made clear from the outset that the event was not a trial of climate science — but a climate lesson for himself — the evidence provided likely foreshadows the arguments both sides will make during the actual trial. While admitting the reality of human-caused global warming, lawyers for Chevron (the other oil giants have two weeks to tell Alsup if they agree with Chevron’s science presentation) presented outdated science and repeatedly emphasized uncertainties about how fossil fuel emissions will affect global warming.

They also presented climate change as a global problem requiring a global solution, foreshadowing a defense strategy of arguing that no single company should be held liable for climate change-related damages.

“Oil companies basically went from a climate deniers playbook,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute, in an interview. “They overemphasized and overstated really narrow issues of uncertainty about the effects of global warming.”

For instance, the oil companies’ lawyer, Ted Boutrous, cited a U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report from 1990, which stated that the observed increase in global temperature could just be due to natural shifts in the planet’s climate. 

Nearly three decades have since passed, however, and confidence has grown about tying increasing temperatures to fossil fuel burning. A federal climate report published in late 2017, for example, found that there is no natural explanation for recent global warming. 

“This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the report said. “For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

As Don Wuebbles, a former White House climate science advisor and atmospheric scientist, said during the tutorial, 17 of the last 18 years have been the warmest years on record. The instrumental climate record began in the late 1800s, although researchers have far longer climate timelines gleaned from tree rings, ice cores, and other so-called “proxy” sources.

While three climate scientists presented climate science basics for the plaintiffs, the defendants relied exclusively upon Boutrous, who has previously defended both Walmart and the Standard Fire Insurance Company before the U.S. Supreme Court, to inform the judge about the nuances of climate science.

“I don’t know if Ted Boutrous has a background in climate science, but he has a background in spin,” Siegel said.

Chevron and the other oil companies may have a difficult time finding scientists who will, in a federal court, make scientific statements about climate change that oil companies find agreeable.

“The oil companies are now in a real pickle,” said Siegel, noting that climate scientists have previously made false or misleading statements on behalf of oil companies. Publicly, most of these companies now admit that climate change is occurring, even if they continue to sell more oil and gas that contributes to the problem. 

“It’s a lot harder to lie to the court under penalty of perjury,” said Siegel.

Richard Wiles, Executive Director of the Center for Climate Integrity, agrees.

“The fact that Chevron’s lawyer, rather than an actual climate scientist, provided the court with its version of climate history suggests that the industry could not find a scientist willing to carry its water,” Wiles said in a statement. 

NASA satellite data observations showing sea level rise from 1993 to the present.

NASA satellite data observations showing sea level rise from 1993 to the present.

Only scientists, however, presented evidence for the plaintiffs. Along with Wuebbles, geoscientist Myles Allen, who leads Oxford University’s Climate Dynamics Group, and Gary Griggs, a professor of earth sciences at University of California at Santa Cruz, presented climate science information to Alsup. 

Griggs noted that significant sea level rise has been measured just miles from the courthouse near the San Francisco shore, and Allen delivered quotes from Svante Arrhenius, a scientist who in 1895 noted that carbon dioxide emissions could have a warming effect on the Earth.

As for what comes next, the oil companies have filed a motion asking Alsup to dismiss the case. If this were to happen, there would be no trial, said Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, via email. 

But if things proceed, the next step will likely be discovery, wherein plaintiffs and defendants exchange information that will be used as evidence in the trial. During the past few years, as climate change-related litigation has increased, oil companies have gone to great lengths to avoid the discovery process, since it could reveal what oil companies knew about climate change, when they knew it, and what they told the public and their shareholders about it.

The tutorial event may have been unprecedented, but the case is just one of many current lawsuits against oil companies. Across the country, New York City is also suing the same oil companies for damage caused by human-caused climate change.

 “Taxpayers around the country should ask themselves whether they want to foot the bill for climate impacts that scientists now attribute directly to the oil and gas industry or demand that polluters pay for the damages they’ve caused,” Wiles said.

 

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Jeep Teases 7 ‘Easter Safari’ Concepts for 2018

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Every year Jeep aims to wow the Moab off-road crowd with an offering of cool concept vehicles. This year is no different, with seven concepts that dive into the brand’s heritage and heavily accessorize all sorts of iconic Jeeps.

Jeep Jeepster

For 2018, Jeep and Mopar are showing off seven new concept vehicles: the 4SPEED, Sandstorm, B-Ute, Wagoneer Roadtrip, Nacho, Jeepster, and J-Wagon. Each is extremely off-road capable, or “Trail Rated” as Jeep likes to say.

“Pushing the limit is something the Jeep brand is no stranger to, and these seven new, exciting, and capable concept vehicles are the latest example of that,” said Mike Manley, head of Jeep brand at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

While you’re unlikely to see any of these concepts make it into production, you will see them swarming the hills around Moab during the nine-day 52nd annual Easter Jeep Safari event, beginning March 24.

4SPEED

Jeep 4SPEED

The 4SPEED is all about lightweight, quick, nimble off-road performance. Carbon fiber and perforated aluminum components make up much of the body, providing weight savings.

Shortened by a full 22 inches while retaining the stock wheelbase, the 4SPEED offers impressive entry and departure angles. This lightweight off-road machine should be no slouch, receiving power from the new 2.0L turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine.

Sandstorm

Jeep Sandstorm (formerly Desert Hawk)

The Sandstorm is all about high-speed desert fun, carrying a Baja desert-racing theme throughout. The wheelbase has been extended and the suspension fully rebuilt to allow for massive wheel travel and high-speed off-road stability.

The 6.4L V8 Hemi under the vented carbon fiber hood will be an absolute hoot when ripping through the desert!

B-Ute

Jeep B-ute

The B-Ute takes the Jeep Renegade to new heights of off-road performance, without going over the top. A small 1.5-inch lift, bigger tires and wheels, and some rock rails will make this little SUV quite capable.

A stealthy dark-gray and black theme blankets this Jeep, creating a clean yet rugged look. You could easily apply this design concept to your own Jeep Renegade build.

Wagoneer Roadtrip

Jeep Wagoneer Roadtrip

The Wagoneer Roadtrip is an extremely tasteful restomod. Based on an original 1965 Jeep Wagoneer, the Wagoneer Roadtrip concept vehicle is heavily modified for off-road capability and modern comfort.

A stretched wheelbase, beefy axles, custom lifted suspension, 33-inch MT tires, and rock rails will make this Wagoneer a capable adventurer. And a clean, modern interior and Hemi V8 with four-speed automatic transmission make for a comfortable and spirited drive in this modern classic.

Nacho

Nacho Jeep

The Nacho showcases what you could drive away at the Jeep dealer by throwing the Mopar parts and accessories catalog at a new Jeep Wrangler. The only conceptual part on the whole Jeep is the satin-carbon finish on the bead-lock capable wheels.

A 2-inch lift and 37-inch tires make the Nacho seriously off-road hungry. Write a really big check to your local Jeep dealer, and you too can have a Nacho Jeep.

Jeepster

Jeep Jeepster

Based on the styling and classic paint scheme from the 1966 Jeepster, the new Jeepster concept combines the latest from Jeep performance and the brand’s long heritage of iconic vehicles.

A raked back windshield and concept roll cage help complete the iconic aggressive Jeepster look. The Jeepster concept has a 2-inch lift and 37-inch tires – a bold, useable setup.

J-Wagon

Jeep J-Wagon

The J-Wagon is all about clean, classy styling that looks at home in both urban and remote mountain landscapes. “Brass Monkey”-colored accents inside and out add class to the conceptual “Warm Neutral Grey” paint scheme. Black metal concept rock sliders let you know the J-Wagon isn’t just about looks, it’s trail ready.

Stay tuned for more about these impressive Jeep concepts as they hit the trails in Moab from March 24 to April 1.

The post Jeep Teases 7 ‘Easter Safari’ Concepts for 2018 appeared first on GearJunkie.

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Deleting Facebook is easier said than done

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Over the past few days, Facebook has come under intense scrutiny due to its previous relationship with Cambridge Analytica, a data-science company that secretly culled information from 50 million Facebook users. This has raised questions not only about the social network’s role in the data harvest but also over Facebook’s entire business practice of collecting data from its users.

Some are so fed up with Facebook that they’ve called for a mass exodus, kickstarting the #deletefacebook movement — including Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp (which Facebook bought in 2014 for $22 billion). But while that reaction is understandable, for many, that just isn’t an option.

The fact is, with over 2 billion users, Facebook is the most popular social network in the world. Many people, including myself, use it to keep in touch with family and friends from around the globe. It doesn’t matter if my mother lives in Malaysia or if I have friends who live in Japan and Australia; I can keep in touch with all of them in just one place. Facebook’s also where I learn about their birthdays, their marriage proposals, their babies and their problems. It’s how I know if a friend is in from out of town, if my cousin got a new job, or just if someone is in trouble and needs help. I know that without Facebook, I would feel more disconnected and more isolated from the people I know.

But it goes beyond just keeping in touch with loved ones. Many people rely on Facebook for employment as well as community support. I’m a member of a couple of Facebook groups where comedians and improv troupes regularly find gigs or advertise their shows. I’m in another group where Bay Area female entrepreneurs find solace with each other and help each other find work.

Safiya Noble, an assistant professor of information studies at the University of Southern California, wrote in her book, the Algorithms of Oppression: "For many people, Facebook is an important gateway to the internet. In fact, it is the only version of the internet that some know, and it plays a central role in communicating, creating community and participating in society online."

Jillian C. York, a writer and activist in Berlin, pointed out on Twitter that deleting Facebook is a privilege that many people just don’t have. She notes that those with disabilities or illnesses, people with families across borders, young queer and trans folks and many others will lose their support network if Facebook were to go away.

"If people use social media to actively maintain relationships and create connections, Facebook can improve our wellbeing," Melanie C. Green, associate professor and director of graduate studies for the department of communication at the University of Buffalo, told Engadget. Facebook can also have a negative influence, she added, if, for example, people compare themselves to others and then feel worse about themselves. But leaving Facebook still isn’t as easy as just, well, deleting your account.

"The challenge with leaving Facebook is that it’s a collective-action problem," Green said. "Lots of people may want to leave, but since there is not a clear alternative platform that everyone can move to at once, it’s hard to give up those connections." In short, there just aren’t any usable alternatives for the masses at this time.

There’s also the practical matter of Facebook Login being used for so many apps and websites. Tinder, for example, relies on Facebook Login to authenticate users. For some, their Spotify playlists are tied up with a Facebook Login account. Sign up for a new Spotify account, and years of song preferences are suddenly gone. Sure, that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but could be enough inconvenience for people to not delete their Facebook accounts. It also bears remembering that deleting your Facebook account while keeping your Instagram and WhatsApp accounts won’t exactly rid you from Facebook’s data-collecting ways.

Deleting an app from a new ipad

The Guardian reports that Noble also said that deleting your Facebook won’t change how data are collected, sold and used against the public. Many companies track and profile us in our everyday lives, and "the abuses of power that come from having vast troves of information about us" is "available for exploitation."

Other data experts agree. Frederike Kaltheuner of Privacy International told the media outlet: "You can delete your Facebook, but you will still be tracked in your online and increasingly also your offline life. Mobile phones are, by definition, a tracking device." That’s why York, Noble and others like them are strongly pushing for international standards and regulations, to at least make sure that companies like Facebook are accountable for their actions.

Plus, there are a few ways to remain on Facebook while lessening your data trail. You can, for example, revoke permission from certain third-party apps in the Apps tab under Settings. You can also choose what kind of information about yourself you want to share — probably none, if you’re paranoid — or you can just disable the app platform altogether if you’re OK with not using Facebook Login anymore. In general, it’s probably a good idea to stop taking those Facebook quizzes — knowing which celebrity you look like isn’t exactly worth giving up your data to an anonymous third party.

And hey, if you just don’t want to risk it and you have no qualms of doing so, there’s no harm in removing your Facebook account. Just be sure to backup all of your archives before then. The company says that it’ll take up to 90 days to delete your account entirely, so you have some time to recover it if you have second thoughts.

In the end, there’s no right or wrong answer to the question of whether you should delete your Facebook account. Go ahead and do so if you want. But if you don’t want to, because of personal or professional reasons, you shouldn’t feel ashamed about that either.

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