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First POST: Solely

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 10 2014

Human rights and civil rights group call for answers on NSA/FBI spying on American Muslims; Senator Warner asks FTC for new regulations on big data usage; what political uprisings have to do with Brazil's World Cup collapse; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: First They Came For the Muslims

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 9 2014

The Intercept details NSA and FBI surveillance of Muslim-American civic leaders; Om Malik urges Google and Facebook to take their big data responsibilities more seriously; the New York Public Library attacks the digital divide; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

#FlashHacks: Crowdscraping Corporate Data to Understand "The Man"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, July 8 2014

(Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

You probably work for “The Man.” If not you, then someone close to you does, and even if you have no friends or family, your government is almost certainly doing business with him. Wouldn't it be nice to know a bit more about the so-called “Man”? Thanks to the massive open data project OpenCorporates, you now can, and they are intensifying their data opening efforts with #FlashHacks, a crowdscraping campaign launched today. The campaign goal is to release 10 million data points on the companies you work for, work with, buy from, sell to, and deal with in tangible and intangible ways every day, and all in just 10 days.

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First POST: Seers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 8 2014

Obama campaign guru predicts campaigns by hologram; the Senate intelligence committee takes up cybersecurity; a report card on Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us; and much, much more. Read More

New York City Payphone WiFi Project Presents Opportunities and Challenges

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 8 2014

Reinvent Payphones Prototype from Control Group & Titan (NYC Digital Tumblr)

While some technologists who have experience in the space share the concerns of some New York City Council members and current payphone franchisees that the city's decision to award the project to only one franchisee or one joint venture could hurt the project, the city and one of the companies preparing a response to the Request for Proposals see the approach as the best way to ensure a standard experience, competition and innovation. From both perspectives, the project illustrates how the vision for more accessible WiFi in New York is tied to the potential for innovation within the established procurement system. Read More

WeGov

That's So Meta: To Test Digital Democracy, Crowdsourcing Comments on Digital Democracy

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 7 2014

Balanced facts on sensitive subjects, but could a community like Wikipedia come to a consensus on fraught policy decisions?

For more than a month now, Wikimedia Meta-Wiki, the global Wikimedia community site, has hosted a little experiment in digital democracy. Carl Miller, co-founder of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think tank Demos-UK, and Wikimedia UK's Stevie Benton wanted to see whether the mechanisms that govern Wikipedia could be applied to political policy. The opportunity to do so arose when the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announced the Commission on Digital Democracy, an investigation into how digital technology can be used to improve democratic processes, and solicited comments from the public.

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WeGov

Weekly Readings: The "Snooper's Charter"

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, July 7 2014

The UK wants to increase surveillance; Russia demands Google, Facebook and Twitter open local offices and hand over user data; Tunisians debate on social media whether to boycott the next election; and much more. Read More

First POST: Intercepted

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, July 7 2014

NSA intercepts of foreign targets capture data mainly from Americans and other uninvolved parties; Participant Media's new tool for determining the impact of socially-conscious media; Lawrence Lessig's MayDayPAC hits its July 4th crowdfunding goal; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

While Jihad Waged in Iraq and Syria, Counter Narratives Go Online

BY Onnik James Krikorian | Thursday, July 3 2014

This is an infographic of attack metrics released by ISIS showing their 7,681 car bombings, suicide attacks and other acts

In a move as swift as any blitzkrieg on the ground, al-Qaeda offshoot the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) took many by surprise this week by announcing the creation of a ‘Caliphate.’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s leader, was proclaimed ‘Ca-liph’ and leader ‘of jihadists everywhere’ while the group also announced that its name was to be changed to IS (Islamic State). Read More

Why Facebook's 'Voter Megaphone' Is the Real Manipulation to Worry About

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 3 2014

Two years ago, on the morning of the 2012 election in the United States, I got an email with an urgent subject line: "You should write the story of how Facebook blew an opportunity to turn out 300k voters." The sender, a veteran progressive online activist who would prefer to remain anonymous, was upset for good reason. The election was bound to be close, and as of 10am that morning he hadn't yet seen an "I'm Voting" button on his Facebook page, nor had another colleague of his. Nor was one on my own Facebook page. Given that when Facebook deployed a similar "I Voted" button in 2010, and added messages in users' News Feeds showing them the names and faces of friends who had said they voted, the cumulative effect boosted turnout then by at least 340,000 votes, these activists had good reason to be concerned. Facebook had announced that it was going to do the same thing in 2012, and this time around its American user base had grown enormously, from 61 million to more than 160 million. A social and visible nudge like an "I 'm Voting" button had the potential to measurably increase turnout, even more so as Facebook was including a useful tool to help people find their polling places. And yet on Election Day 2012 its deployment was far from universal. Facebook was conducting research on us. Read More

News Briefs

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New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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