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Joe Biden Promotes 'Science Advisor' to US Cabinet-Level Position

Slashdot.org - 48 min 5 sec ago
"President-elect Joe Biden announced Friday that he has chosen a pioneer in mapping the human genome — the so-called 'book of life' — to be his chief science adviser," reports the Associated Press, "and is elevating the top science job to a Cabinet position." Biden nominated Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who was the lead author of the first paper announcing the details of the human genome, as director of Office of Science and Technology Policy and adviser on science. He is the first life scientist to have that job. His predecessor is a meteorologist. Saying "science will always be at the forefront of my administration," Biden said he is boosting the science advisor post to Cabinet level, a first in White House history.... "Elevating (the science adviser) role to member in the President's Cabinet clearly signals the administration's intent to involve scientific expertise in every policy discussion," said Sudip Parikh, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society.

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US President-Elect Biden Starts New Twitter Account, Criticizes Policy on POTUS Account

Slashdot.org - 1 hour 33 min ago
"This will be the account for my official duties as President," tweeted U.S. president-elect Joe Biden on Thursday — but from a new account at @PresElectBiden (which will transition to @POTUS after Wednesday's inauguration). But Bloomberg reports Biden is still "clashing with the social media company over its decision to deny the incoming administration millions of existing White House followers." Biden's transition opened @PresElectBiden in order to start building a following for one of the official accounts the new president will inherit at noon on Jan. 20: @POTUS. In a change in practice from 2017, when President Donald Trump entered office, Twitter Inc. plans to reset both the @POTUS and @WhiteHouse official accounts to zero followers for Biden. The two accounts currently have a massive audience — nearly 60 million followers combined, though there is overlap. Trump got a head start in 2017 when he inherited about 12 million followers of @POTUS from President Barack Obama's tenure, plus millions of followers from other official accounts. Though Trump used his personal account, @realDonaldTrump, as his primary social media mouthpiece throughout his presidency, Biden's aides think it's unfair Twitter isn't handing over followers along with the official accounts... Twitter said it is too technically difficult to copy or roll over the millions of followers from the Trump White House accounts to Biden's official accounts. But two transition officials privately expressed skepticism, pointing to other social media platforms' handling of the change in administration. Both Facebook Inc. and its subsidiary Instagram will duplicate the millions of followers currently following the Trump White House accounts to follow new Biden White House accounts. "They are advantaging President Trump's first days of the administration over ours," Rob Flaherty, the transition's digital director who will be director of digital strategy in the Biden White House, said of Twitter. "If we don't end the day with the 12 million followers that Donald Trump inherited from Barack Obama, then they have given us less than they gave Donald Trump, and that is a failure."

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EFF, Cory Doctorow Warn About the Dangers of De-Platforming and Censorship

Slashdot.org - 2 hours 33 min ago
Last week Cory Doctorow shared his own answer for what Apple and Google should've done about Parler: They should remove it, and tell users, "We removed Parler because we think it is a politically odious attempt to foment violence. Our judgment is subjective and may be wielded against others in future. If you don't like our judgment, you shouldn't use our app store." I'm 100% OK with that: first, because it is honest; and second, because it invites the question, "How do we switch app stores?" Doctorow warns that "vital sectors of the digital economy became as concentrated as they are due to four decades of shameful, bipartisan neglect of antitrust law." And now Slashdot reader esm88 notes that "The EFF has made a statement raising concerns over tech giants control over the internet and who gets to decide which speech is allowed." Whatever you think of Parler, these decisions should give you pause. Private companies have strong legal rights under U.S. law to refuse to host or support speech they don't like. But that refusal carries different risks when a group of companies comes together to ensure that forums for speech or speakers are effectively taken offline altogether... Amazon's decision highlights core questions of our time: Who should decide what is acceptable speech, and to what degree should companies at the infrastructure layer play a role in censorship? At EFF, we think the answer is both simple and challenging: wherever possible, users should decide for themselves, and companies at the infrastructure layer should stay well out of it.... The core problem remains: regardless of whether we agree with an individual decision, these decisions overall have not and will not be made democratically and in line with the requirements of transparency and due process. Instead they are made by a handful of individuals, in a handful of companies, the most distanced and least visible to the most Internet users. Whether you agree with those decisions or not, you will not be a part of them, nor be privy to their considerations. And unless we dismantle the increasingly centralized chokepoints in our global digital infrastructure, we can anticipate an escalating political battle between political factions and nation states to seize control of their powers. On Friday Bill Ottman, founder and CEO of the right-leaning blockchain-based social network Minds (which includes a Slashdot discussion area), posted that in order to remain in the Google Play store, "We had to remove search, discovery, and comments..." We aren't happy and will be working towards something better. What is fascinating is how Signal and Telegram are navigating this and in my opinion they are still there because they are encrypted messengers without much "public" content. Obviously controversial speech is happening there too... We will be releasing a full report on our plan for fully censorship-resistant infrastructure. Ottman also advises users downloading apps from Apple's store to "leave if you're smart."

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