Wednesday, July 4, 2018

98% of web users missed absurd clauses in terms of service about data sharing with the NSA & employers, & about providing a first-born child as payment for access

The biggest lie on the Internet: ignoring the privacy policies and terms of service policies of social networking services. Jonathan A. Obar & Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch. Information, Communication & Society,

ABSTRACT: This paper addresses ‘the biggest lie on the internet’ with an empirical investigation of privacy policy (PP) and terms of service (TOS) policy reading behavior. An experimental survey (N = 543) assessed the extent to which individuals ignored PP and TOS when joining a fictitious social networking service (SNS), NameDrop. Results reveal 74% skipped PP, selecting the ‘quick join’ clickwrap. Average adult reading speed (250–280 words per minute), suggests PP should have taken 29–32 minutes and TOS 15–17 minutes to read. For those that didn’t select the clickwrap, average PP reading time was 73 seconds. All participants were presented the TOS and had an average reading time of 51 seconds. Most participants agreed to the policies, 97% to PP and 93% to TOS, with decliners reading PP 30 seconds longer and TOS 90 seconds longer. A regression analysis identifies information overload as a significant negative predictor of reading TOS upon sign up, when TOS changes, and when PP changes. Qualitative findings suggest that participants view policies as nuisance, ignoring them to pursue the ends of digital production, without being inhibited by the means. Implications are revealed as 98% missed NameDrop TOS ‘gotcha clauses’ about data sharing with the NSA and employers, and about providing a first-born child as payment for SNS access.

KEYWORDS: Privacy policies, terms of service, privacy, consent, social networking service, social media

h/t: Rolf Degen

Prolonged sitting is linked to increased disease & premature mortality risk; but standing at work as a way of reducing sitting generated marked psychological discomfort due to concern at being seen to be violating a strong perceived sitting norm

“Could you sit down please?” A qualitative analysis of employees’ experiences of standing in normally-seated workplace meetings. Louise Mansfield et al. PLOS One,

Abstract: Office workers spend most of their working day sitting, and prolonged sitting has been associated with increased risk of poor health. Standing in meetings has been proposed as a strategy by which to reduce workplace sitting but little is known about the standing experience. This study documented workers’ experiences of standing in normally seated meetings. Twenty-five participants (18+ years), recruited from three UK universities, volunteered to stand in 3 separate, seated meetings that they were already scheduled to attend. They were instructed to stand when and for however long they deemed appropriate, and gave semi-structured interviews after each meeting. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using Framework Analysis. Four themes, central to the experience of standing in meetings, were extracted: physical challenges to standing; implications of standing for meeting engagement; standing as norm violation; and standing as appropriation of power. Participants typically experienced some physical discomfort from prolonged standing, apparently due to choosing to stand for as long as possible, and noted practical difficulties of fully engaging in meetings while standing. Many participants experienced marked psychological discomfort due to concern at being seen to be violating a strong perceived sitting norm. While standing when leading the meeting was felt to confer a sense of power and control, when not leading the meeting participants felt uncomfortable at being misperceived to be challenging the authority of other attendees. These findings reveal important barriers to standing in normally-seated meetings, and suggest strategies for acclimatising to standing during meetings. Physical discomfort might be offset by building standing time slowly and incorporating more sit-stand transitions. Psychological discomfort may be lessened by notifying other attendees about intentions to stand. Organisational buy-in to promotional strategies for standing may be required to dispel perceptions of sitting norms, and to progress a wider workplace health and wellbeing agenda.


The experience of providing Likes to others on social media related to activation in brain circuity implicated in reward, including the striatum and ventral tegmental area, regions also implicated in the experience of receiving Likes from other

What the Brain “Likes:” Neural Correlates of Providing Feedback on Social Media. Lauren E Sherman, Leanna M Hernandez, Patricia M Greenfield, Mirella Dapretto. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, nsy051,

Abstract: Evidence increasingly suggests that neural structures that respond to primary and secondary rewards are also implicated in the processing of social rewards. The “Like” – a popular feature on social media – shares features with both monetary and social rewards as a means of feedback that shapes reinforcement learning. Despite the ubiquity of the Like, little is known about the neural correlates of providing this feedback to others. In the present study, we mapped the neural correlates of providing Likes to others on social media. Fifty-eight adolescents and young adults completed a task in the MRI scanner designed to mimic the social photo-sharing app Instagram. We examined neural responses when participants provided positive feedback to others. The experience of providing Likes to others on social media related to activation in brain circuity implicated in reward, including the striatum and ventral tegmental area, regions also implicated in the experience of receiving Likes from others. Providing Likes was also associated with activation in brain regions involved in salience processing and executive function. We discuss the implications of these findings for our understanding of the neural processing of social rewards, as well as the neural processes underlying social media use.

Keywords: social reward, social feedback, social media, ventral striatum

h/t: Rolf Degen

A man becomes a beast in 3 weeks, given heavy labor, cold, hunger, and beatings; the main means for depraving the soul is the cold; friendship, comradeship, would never arise in really difficult, life-threatening conditions

Forty-Five Things I Learned in the Gulag. Varlam Shalamov. June 12, 2018.


For fifteen years the writer Varlam Shalamov was imprisoned in the Gulag for participating in “counter-revolutionary Trotskyist activities.” He endured six of those years enslaved in the gold mines of Kolyma, one of the coldest and most hostile places on earth. While he was awaiting sentencing, one of his short stories was published in a journal called Literary Contemporary. He was released in 1951, and from 1954 to 1973 he worked on Kolyma Stories, a masterpiece of Soviet dissident writing that has been newly translated into English and published by New York Review Books Classics this week. Shalamov claimed not to have learned anything in Kolyma, except how to wheel a loaded barrow. But one of his fragmentary writings, dated 1961, tells us more.

1. The extreme fragility of human culture, civilization. A man becomes a beast in three weeks, given heavy labor, cold, hunger, and beatings.

2. The main means for depraving the soul is the cold. Presumably in Central Asian camps people held out longer, for it was warmer there.

3. I realized that friendship, comradeship, would never arise in really difficult, life-threatening conditions. Friendship arises in difficult but bearable conditions (in the hospital, but not at the pit face).

4. I realized that the feeling a man preserves longest is anger. There is only enough flesh on a hungry man for anger: everything else leaves him indifferent.

5. I realized that Stalin’s “victories” were due to his killing the innocent—an organization a tenth the size would have swept Stalin away in two days.

6. I realized that humans were human because they were physically stronger and clung to life more than any other animal: no horse can survive work in the Far North.

7. I saw that the only group of people able to preserve a minimum of humanity in conditions of starvation and abuse were the religious believers, the sectarians (almost all of them), and most priests.

8. Party workers and the military are the first to fall apart and do so most easily.

9. I saw what a weighty argument for the intellectual is the most ordinary slap in the face.

10. Ordinary people distinguish their bosses by how hard their bosses hit them, how enthusiastically their bosses beat them.

11. Beatings are almost totally effective as an argument (method number three).


19. Both my physical and my spiritual strength turned out to be stronger than I thought in this great test, and I am proud that I never sold anyone, never sent anyone to their death or to another sentence, and never denounced anyone.


28. The passion for power, to be able to kill at will, is great—from top bosses to the rank-and-file guards (Seroshapka and similar men).

29. Russians’ uncontrollable urge to denounce and complain.


From Kolyma Stories by Varlam Shalamov. Translation and introduction copyright © 2018 by Donald Rayfield. Courtesy of NYRB Classics

A different source:

What I Saw and Learned in the Kolyma Camps

While incarcerated offenders showed a high rate of cheating, levels of psychopathic traits did not influence the frequency of dishonesty; higher psychopathy scores predicted decreased activity in the ACC during dishonest decision-making

Reduced engagement of the anterior cingulate cortex in the dishonest decision-making of incarcerated psychopaths. Nobuhito Abe, Joshua D Greene, Kent A Kiehl. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, nsy050,

Abstract: A large body of research indicates that psychopathic individuals lie chronically and show little remorse or anxiety. Yet, little is known about the neurobiological substrates of dishonesty in psychopathy. In a sample of incarcerated individuals (N = 67), we tested the hypothesis that psychopathic individuals show reduced activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) when confronted with an opportunity for dishonest gain, reflecting dishonest behavior that is relatively unhindered by response conflict. During functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), incarcerated offenders with different levels of psychopathy performed an incentivized prediction task wherein they were given real and repeated opportunities for dishonest gain. We found that while incarcerated offenders showed a high rate of cheating, levels of psychopathic traits did not influence the frequency of dishonesty. Higher psychopathy scores predicted decreased activity in the ACC during dishonest decision-making. Further analysis revealed that the ACC was functionally connected to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and that ACC activity mediated the relationship between psychopathic traits and reduced reaction times (RTs) for dishonest behavior. These findings suggest that psychopathic individuals behave dishonestly with relatively low levels of response conflict and that the ACC may play a critical role in this pattern of behavior.

Keywords: anterior cingulate cortex, cognitive conflict, deception, dishonesty, honesty, psychopathy

h/t: Rolf Degen

Many consumers claim to have a positive attitude towards ethical products, but reported purchases show that this behavior is not consistent; taste and perceived health benefits, could be seen to generate higher consumers’ commitment

Coffee consumption and purchasing behavior review: Insights for further research. Antonella Samoggia, Bettina Riedel. Appetite,

Abstract: This paper presents a systematic literature review of consumer research towards coffee with the objective to identify and categorize motives, preferences and attributes of coffee consumption and purchasing behavior. Research papers were analyzed in terms of main characteristics and components (study type, research methodology, sampling, and product type). The review gives a systematic overview of the heterogeneous group of concepts and approaches that have been used so far to examine consumer behavior towards coffee. Results provide a model of key determinants for coffee consumption that can be grouped into the categories, (1) personal preferences, (2) economic attributes, (3) product attributes, (4) context of consumption, and (5) socio-demographics. The findings also show that there is a strong focus on coffee sustainability.

Eveningness is related to increased sociosexuality; having nocturnal short-term sexual strategies is an adaptive niche-exploiting behavior for both men and women that is governed by natural selection

Evening chronotype is associated with a more unrestricted sociosexuality in men and women. Robert L.Matchock. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 135, 1 December 2018, Pages 56-59.

Abstract: Chronotype and sociosexuality have been reported to be associated with each other and to also be sexually dimorphic. Specifically, research has suggested a link between evening chronotypes and increased sociosexuality, but the research is sparse, including the extent to which gender may interact with chronotype and sociosexuality. To that end, the present study administered the Horne and Ostberg morningness/eveningness questionnaire (MEQ) and the revised Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (SOI-R), which consists of behavior, attitude, and desire subscales, to 554 participants (61.7% female). Results indicated that men had a more unrestricted sociosexuality than women, except for the behavioral subscale. Eveningness was related to increased sociosexuality for both men (except the behavioral subscale) and women (for all subscales). It is suggested that adopting phase-delayed nocturnal short-term sexual strategies is an adaptive niche-exploiting behavior for both men and women that is governed by natural selection.

h/t: Rolf Degen

Justice was swift with ISIS... Before, “You have to have wasta —a connection to someone— for the police to take your case under consideration"

The Case of the Purloined Poultry: How ISIS Prosecuted Petty Crime. Rukmini Callimachi. The New York Times, Jul 01 2018,


TEL KAIF, Iraq — The crime scene was Stall No. 200 in a market eight miles north of Mosul, Iraq.

It was there that Zaid Imad Khalaf, 24, made a living selling chickens, scraping by next to a grocer who sold onions by the kilogram and a trader who sold flour by the scoop.

And it was there that an Islamic State soldier, one of the thousands who ruled the plains of northern Iraq, walked by and pointed to Mr. Imad’s plumpest chicken. “That one,” he said.

Mr. Imad butchered the bird, plucked it, weighed it and then asked for the 8,000 dinars he was owed, around $7. That’s when the problems started. “When he went to pull the money from his pocket he said that he only had 4,000 dinars and said he would pay me the rest tomorrow,” Mr. Imad recalled.

Normally, the story should have ended there, with a poor man being stiffed by a more powerful one.

And yet a week after the incident in 2016, Mr. Imad did something that might seem foolhardy when the rulers of your city have a reputation for unbridled brutality: He lodged a complaint for the missing $3.50 with the town’s Islamic Police station. The next day, the Islamic State fighter hurried in to pay the amount he owed.

It was a quick, neat and efficient resolution to the pettiest of problems, one which probably would have gone unheeded before the arrival of the militants.

In a terrorist version of the “broken window” school of policing, the Islamic State aggressively prosecuted minor crimes in the communities it took over, winning points with residents who were used to having to pay bribes to secure police help.

The documents show that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, was willing — even eager — to get involved in the messy details of people’s day-to-day lives, and conversely that hundreds of people trusted them to fairly resolve their issues, no matter how trivial.

With the Islamic State’s territory reduced to a fraction of what it once was, the world’s attention has moved on. Yet the records shed light on how the group managed to hold onto so much land in the first place. And with ISIS still in control of approximately 1,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria, they may also offer lessons about the battles ahead.

The records are contained in hundreds of files recovered from a cluster of buildings in the northern Iraqi town of Tel Kaif, which had housed the group’s Shorta Islamiya — its Islamic police force. Most of the papers were discovered by Iraqi security forces who liberated the area in early 2017. They in turn handed them over to The New York Times, so that their contents could be shared with the world.

Grocers, convenience store owners and traders who sold their goods on credit turned to the Islamic State government when customers failed to pay. They sought reimbursement for a cow, a bird, meat, wheat, vegetables, an oil change and a heater. One filed a report for the 150 meters of electrical wire he hadn’t been compensated for.

Farmers asked for investigations into the crops damaged by livestock. One sought compensation for the watermelons trampled by an errant sheep. Another said his newly planted field had been kicked up by a total of 21 cows. Yet another reported a shepherd who, he said, allowed his flock to graze on his land seven different times. “Each time, I forgive him and he says he won’t do it again, and then he does,” he lamented in the report.

One father came to complain that a neighbor’s child had kicked his son. (He underlined that the child doing the kicking was bigger than the child being kicked.) Another accused an acquaintance of calling him a “pimp.” Yet another came to file a complaint because he had been called a “shoe.”

Justice was swift and efficient, mostly because no one wanted to risk punishment at the hands of the militants. Yet the fact that hundreds of civilians filed complaints, including against ISIS fighters who had wronged them, suggests that at least some Iraqis believed the terrorist group would do right by them.

Even residents who suffered abuses at the hands of the militants gave them points for their policing, saying that for nonreligious disputes, they were not only fair but also willing to wade into problems that might have been brushed off by most authorities.

Would the Iraqi government have pursued the case of a stolen chicken?

“They wouldn’t have even heard this complaint because it was only for 4,000,” or $3.50, said Mr. Imad’s younger brother, Alosh Imad. “You have to have wasta — a connection to someone,” for the police to take your case under consideration, he explained. “As far as justice was concerned,” he said, “ISIS was better than the government.”


Frustrated at being repeatedly brushed off by the fighter, who surely by now had eaten his plumpest bird, Mr. Imad, the chicken seller, padlocked his stall, changed into fresh clothes and headed to the Islamic State police station on Al Bareed Street.

The procedure for filing a complaint involved several steps, and each step involved its own paperwork, the voluminous remnants of which were found at the old station.

The police station was housed in a square room, 20 feet by 20 feet.

The police chief faced Mr. Imad across a large desk. Under the circling of a Chinese-made plastic fan that sliced the thick air, he heard Mr. Imad’s complaint. Then he pulled out a form bearing the terrorist group’s name and, in the field labeled “Case Number,” jotted down: 329.

Then, in blue ink, he filled in the date — Jan. 22, 2016, Sunday, 10 a.m. — before writing down the details of the claim in neat script: “The complainant (Zaid Imad Khalaf) complains that the respondent (Bariq) owes him (4,000 Iraqi dinars) after selling him a chicken.”

Then he pulled out another form, this one a summons. It ordered the ISIS fighter to report to the precinct. “Warning: In the event you do not show up, necessary steps will be taken to punish you,” it said. The police chief then dispatched one of his agents on a scooter, Mr. Imad said, to deliver the summons.

The fighter showed up the next day and immediately paid up, according to a receipt (below).

“In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Gracious,” the statement begins. The police officer then filled in the blanks on the form: “An amount (4,000 IQD) was received from (Bariq Sibhan Younis) to be paid to (Zaid Imad Khalaf),” it said. “Remaining amount is zero.”

Both parties signed the form and put their fingerprints on it, dipping their index fingers into bright purple ink, a gesture that aped one of the bureaucratic procedures of the Iraqi government.

To ascertain the authenticity of the documents, The Times showed a cross section of them to six independent analysts who study the Islamic State, including Mara Revkin of Yale University; Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi of the Middle East Forum; and a team from West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.

One Tel Kaif resident, Abdulwahid Abdalla, described being on the receiving end of a complaint handled by the militants.

Mr. Abdalla said he had owed his cousin about $145 for the transportation services the cousin provided to help him move some heavy materials. He had managed to pay off half but then stopped making payments because he ran out of money, he said. To his surprise, his cousin lodged a complaint against him.

The Islamic State gave him a deadline. They didn’t care if he didn’t have the money, he said, and instructed him to sell something to come up with it. So Mr. Abdalla, a carpenter, sold some beams he had been saving for a construction job at a loss.

When the dispute involved one party insulting or harming another, the Islamic State played a role not unlike that of a school principal asking an unruly pupil to apologize.
Case No. 393, for example, involved three shepherds who beat a farmer after he asked them to stop their sheep from trampling his crops. The three signed a statement saying: “I will not attack my Muslim brother Ahmed Mohammed Qadir and I will not swear at him. I will not let my sheep enter lands belonging to Muslims.”

And to make sure that the resolution had teeth, there was also an implicit threat: “In the event I do not keep my promise,” the form reads, “I expect to face any and all legal sanctions and punishments” — which meant only one thing in ISIS-controlled Iraq.

One of the Islamic State’s first priorities when capturing a new area was to win the trust and cooperation of the civilians, whose labor and good will were essential to their state, said Ms. Revkin, the Yale researcher. Among the ways it did this was by providing swift justice, which is one of the most basic functions of any state — and one that was sorely lacking under Iraq’s government.

“ISIS seemed to recognize early on that it could exploit local demands for dignity by listening to people’s complaints and problems and offering some fast solutions,” said Ms. Revkin, who has interviewed more than 200 people who lived in ISIS-controlled areas.

Now in prison, the “emir” of the police station in the village of Sahaji, which had jurisdiction over an 11-mile stretch northwest of Mosul, confirmed that the militants’ goal was to try to win over the population. In a jailhouse interview in northern Iraq, where he spoke with his hands in handcuffs while a guard looked on, he recalled how he had aggressively investigated the case of a shopkeeper who had been owed the equivalent of $4.25.

“If we succeeded in delivering justice, we knew we would win the hearts of the people,” he explained.

As word spread, residents began showing up with complaints about unpaid loans and services dating to well before ISIS came to power. Among them was a complaint for an unpaid bill of $119 from 2010 — or four years before ISIS planted its flag in Tel Kaif. “He has been asking for his money during that period, but the respondent was stalling and delaying until now,” the filing says.

There was also a three-year-old debt of $340 for electricity, a claim for $298 for a three-year-old window installation, a three-year-old unpaid meat bill of $170 and two-year-old claims for $2,115 for vegetables.

Mr. Salim, a stocky, rosy-faced 26-year-old, said he filed three complaints in the time ISIS ruled the town, one of which was recovered in the files left behind in the police station. Before the militants took over, he recalled, he struggled for over a year to get the $136 owed him by a butcher who frequented his convenience store. “It was as if I was begging him,” he said.
As soon as the Islamic State got involved, the problem disappeared. The man showed up four days later to pay back what was owed.

“It was efficient, because people were afraid of them,” Mr. Salim said. “If you hear you’ve been summoned to the ISIS police station, you’ll do everything to avoid that.”

Prosecuting Their Own

“This case was transferred to the court,” the police officer scribbled in the margin of Case No. 407, a complaint lodged by a woman who said her husband had beaten her in public.

While a majority of the cases were settled inside the police station, the records show that those the group deemed to be the most severe were sent to an Islamic tribunal.

The 87 carbon-copied, prison transfer records found in the police station are an archive of religious zeal. Citizens were thrown in jail for shaving their beards and for more obscure transgressions, like eyebrow plucking.

Men were locked up for sitting too close to a woman, for being found alone with a woman, for wearing tight clothes and even for disobeying their parents. Several were charged with mocking or slandering the Islamic State.

Reporting was contributed by Falih Hassan from Baghdad; Alaa Mohammed from Mosul; Muhammad Nashat Mahmud and Mohammed Sardar Jasim from Erbil; and Abduljabbar Yousif from New York.

A version of this article appears in print on July 2, 2018, on Page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: In ISIS Territory, Justice Was Swift for Petty Beefs.