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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

First POST: Don't Forget

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 3 2014

How Google is starting to implement the "right to be forgotten" decision in Europe; more Facebook research experiments on its users; Lawrence Lessig teams up with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

[Report] What Can Mobile Do For You? A Report on How to Use Mobile in Development

BY the engine room | Wednesday, July 2 2014

Stories, questions and answers from the engine room to help you navigate choices in platforms for mobile data collection, management and outreach. Read More

WeGov

Fixing Myanmar With a Social Network

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, July 1 2014

Before 2011, Myanmar was a technology desert. A basic SIM card was a black market item that could cost between US$50 to $300. Now as the country opens politically and as telecommunication companies and private businesses begin to invest in connectivity and infrastructure, Christoph Amthor hopes to leverage the country’s technological progress to connect the country’s civil society through a mobile and online platform. Read More

First POST: Corrupt Personalization

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 1 2014

The latest NSA disclosures ensnare the FBI and CIA; more on Facebook's controversial emotional contagion study; how recycled smartphones can help save rainforests; and much, much more. Read More

HandUp Chips Away at Homelessness

BY Sam Roudman | Monday, June 30 2014

A cross section of people trying to raise money with HandUp.

Poverty is a social problem, but can it benefit from a business solution? According to HandUp, a San Francisco startup that teams with service organizations to channel donations directly towards those in need, the answer is yes. Co-founder and CEO Rose Broome started thinking about the issue a year and a half ago, after coming across a woman sleeping in the streets of San Francisco on a cold evening. Read More

WeGov

Norway Ends Its Experiment With E-Voting

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, June 30 2014

It's not time for e-voting in Norway: the government recently decided to end the trials of the system that was used in elections held in 2011 and 2013, BBC reported on Friday. Read More

First POST: Contagious

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, June 30 2014

Facebook's manipulation of its users' News Feeds makes news; the new NSA director shrugs at Snowden while protests grow; how the Supreme Court's Riley decision may affect government surveillance practices; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Pitches and Forks

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, June 27 2014

FCC chairman Wheeler sounds out Silicon Valley on net neutrality; Chris Soghoian schools German parliamentarians on their own surveillance state; tech billionaire Nick Hanauer warns of class warfare; and much, much more. Read More

Libraries Hope to Help Close the Digital Divide by Lending WiFi Hotspots

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 27 2014

Computers for public use at the New York Public Library (Wikipedia)

Two plans to begin lending portable WiFi hotspots to underserved communities were among the winning projects of the Knight News Challenge to strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation. Although the mechanics of the Chicago Public Library and New York Public Library initiatives are unique, the goal—to expand Internet access and promote digital literacy—are the same. Since the target demographic for these projects are underserved, often poor communities, the libraries will have to be careful to not infringe on users' privacy or digital freedoms in order to demonstrate the success of the projects.

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