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First POST: Angry News Feed

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 23 2014

How Facebook's News Feed may be accentuating negative political polarization; new tools for visualizing political corruption; how posting your cat's photo online gives away your location; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Signals

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, July 18 2014

FCC in the cross-hairs on net neutrality and local broadband pre-emption; the political mood at Netroots Nation; how an Israeli rocket-alert app affects perceptions of the conflict with Gaza; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Unequal Relationships

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, July 11 2014

A rush to legislate new data collection law in the UK is drawing pushback; how the cellphone unlocking movement is a great example of "internet activism"; why journalists should fear Facebook; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Orkut and Why Facebook Beats Out Local Social Networks

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, July 10 2014

Orkut, Google’s social network platform once beloved in Brazil, will soon shutter with Facebook taking its place. Mark Zuckerberg's social network currently not only operates but also dominates in every time zone, making it at this point in time, an empire upon which the sun literally never sets. Read More

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: 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: 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: 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

News Briefs

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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

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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