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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

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

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

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

First POST: Unwarranted

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, June 26 2014

The Supreme Court says "get a warrant"; how the Snowden Effect is leading to promised improvements in European privacy protections and a balkanized Internet; Sean Parker's Brigade attracts criticism for its male-heavy leadership team; and much, much more. Read More

Charge of the Light Brigade: Is Sean Parker's Civic Startup Too Male and White?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, June 25 2014

Screenshot from Brigade.com's About page

Brigade, the $9 million Silicon Valley civic engagement startup backed by billionaire Sean Parker that is promoting itself as restoring voters "to the center of our democracy," got a hard whack on Twitter today after it unveiled more details about its leadership team on its nascent website. Read More

First POST: Media Futures

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, June 24 2014

The Knight Foundation gives $3.4 million to groups expanding the open Internet; Comcast and NBC hackathon winners promote entertainment apps; Rock the Vote relaunches its website; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Trafficking

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, June 23 2014

Booker-Rubio bill to expand Wi-Fi spectrum launches; House members cryptoparty on the Hill; Chicago's new sensor network has fans and detractors; and much, much more. Read More

News Briefs

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In the Philippines, Citizens Go Undercover With Bantay to Monitor Public Offices

The Philippines, a country of almost 100 million, is considered among the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia, despite a boost in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in the past few years (from 134th in 2010 to 94th in 2013 out of 175.) Corruption involves all levels of government, but benefits also from a mindset of tolerance, says Happy Feraren, the co-founder of Bantay.ph, an anti-corruption educational initiative that teaches citizens how to monitor the quality of government services, sometimes by going undercover. GO

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

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