I’ve seen this article over at Forbes pop up quite a bit, about how a Canadian hacker can do a better job of finding gun sales online than Facebook can. There’s a lot of things I believe that might seem conspiratorial, like the fact that anti-gun groups, namely Bloomberg’s groups, are feeding the media these stories. But that’s really become standard practice, so the surprise would be if they weren’t doing it. Maybe this one was spoon fed, but maybe it wasn’t. But the strategy at work here is pretty smart (from their point of view).
Having the machines look for patterns is going to create a lot of false positives, because machines kind of suck at this. If that wasn’t the case, you’d never have to retrieve anything out of your spam folder, and in some ways that’s an easier problem if you have enough samples to evaluate.
I think the anti-gun folks know this, and that the real target are the false positives that will be generated. Social Media is a key place we promote the shooting culture, share information, and self-organize. Facebook is now my number two referrer (behind SayUncle). The false positives are going to occur most often when people are talking about guns, sharing pictures, and spreading the culture. If people can be made to fear sharing that information, because of their accounts keep getting suspended when they do, it would hobble us as a social movement pretty severely.
It’s not just Bloomberg’s money I fear, but the skills the man has that got him that money. I doubt it’s lost on the leaders of his gun control organizations that the spread of the culture is a real problem for them finding success going forward.