Two tech issues emerged in the hours after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton this weekend: extremist message boards and violent video games. We'll look at both in turn today.
Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,136 words (~ 4 min read)
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The apparent posting of a racist manifesto by the suspect in the El Paso mass shooting has raised a new outcry over the role of 8chan, an anonymous chat site, in fomenting violent hate crimes.
Why it matters: The internet was built by true believers of free speech and has flourished by "assuming good intentions." But the combination of anonymous hate-mongering and abundant guns in the U.S. has weaponized the online world way beyond the level of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater.
Driving the news: Late Sunday, security provider Cloudflare announced it would stop providing service to 8chan.
The other side: 8chan has said that it removes posts like the shooting manifestos within minutes.
Yes, but: For every proponent of shutting 8chan down, there's another arguing that's futile since the board's users will keep hopping to new spaces.
Our thought bubble: That's bound to happen, as the origins of 8chan itself prove. Nonetheless, making hateful communications harder to find might have value in itself — and it's a strategy Western governments and businesses have had no difficulty enacting when the target was al-Qaeda or ISIS.
Violent video games (and television and movies) have been a frequent scapegoat for acts of real-world violence. But it's hard to ignore the fact that video games are popular all over the world, yet mass shootings aren't common in most of those places.
Naturally, that was the case put forth by the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's trade group.
The same case is also backed up by academic research.
That's not to say there aren't voices making such a connection, including House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy, who argued as much on Fox News on Sunday. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also laid the blame on video games, pointing to the shooter's references to Call of Duty in his manifesto. (Patrick has also blamed video games in the past.)
Our thought bubble: At most, one could argue that games contribute to a world in which we are desensitized to such violence. And that may be true. But you know what else makes people numb to mass shootings? Reading about a new one practically every day.
IBM charts a 200% rise in destructive malware attacks on business networks in the first half of 2019 over the last half of 2018 in a new report, Axios' Joe Uchill reports.
Why it matters: Destructive malware damages systems or data. It adds a tremendous burden to recovering from attacks — the same IBM report calculates a $239 million average cost to a business to recover from a destructive attack.
The big picture: There are several reasons that hackers use destructive malware in an attack, Chris Scott, global remediation lead for IBM's X-Force IRIS security division, told Axios.
More than half the victims operate in the manufacturing sector.
Backing up data can allow an organization to recover after a breach. But recovery isn't as easy as you might think.
There are a few ways to minimize the damage, said Scott:
SmartNews, the Japanese news discovery app that has amassed 20 million subscribers in the U.S., has raised $28 million in its latest funding round, bringing the company's valuation to $1.1 billion, executives tell Axios' Sara Fischer.
Why it matters: It's notable that in today's bleak news market — where U.S. tech giants like Google and Facebook dominate most news referral traffic online — a Japanese-based news startup has been able to gain traction. SmartNews is one of the few news-related startups that has achieved "unicorn" status, or a valuation of over $1 billion, in years.
Go deeper: Sara has more here.
For those who thought "I could manage these traffic lights better than the city," the game Traffix gives you that chance.