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First POST: Mistakes

BY Miranda Neubauer and Nick Judd | Thursday, December 15 2011

  • As this post is going up, Andy Carvin and other observers of the Middle East are on Twitter, trying to verify if the woman being dragged by police in the above video is Bahraini protester Zainab AlKhawaja.

  • Who needs WikiLeaks when a New York Times reporter can find a tranche of documents about the American military's investigation into its own misdeeds in Iraq merely by going to a junkyard? On the day America's war in Iraq has officially ended, here's this.

  • Bloomberg reports on the Obama campaign's cabal of web developers, baking smart ways to "listen" to voters into the campaign's web presence and its management software:

    Right now, if you want to call this the 'data arms race,' clearly Democrats are ahead," said Alex Gage, CEO of TargetPoint Consulting, who worked on voter targeting for Bush's successful re-election effort in 2004. The Obama campaign is guarding the details of the operation like the political equivalent of nuclear secrets: "I'll be happy to discuss what we're doing after we do it," said David Axelrod, Obama's chief political strategist. [...]Other hints can be gleaned from an Obama campaign job posting that Gage, now consulting for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, took note of last spring recruiting "quantitative analysts. "The Obama for America analytics department analyzes the campaign's data to guide election strategy and develop quantitative, actionable insights that drive our decision- making," it says. "We are a multidisciplinary team of statisticians, mathematicians, software developers, general analysts and organizers -- all striving for a single goal: re- electing President Obama."

    TechPresident had this in July and has been all over the data angle since April. Just saying. But click through on the Bloomberg piece — it does a good job of putting you in the campaign office, where Obama's programmers code away while sitting on exercise balls or working at impromptu standing desks.

  • An anti-Romney ad by a Democratic group — which purposefully mistranslates Romney speaking French — has brought up memories in France and elsewhere of the 2004 election and Republican attempts to tie John Kerry to France.
  • The AP noted that Newt Gingrich's campaign website features an article from the network CBN under the headline, "A Tale of Three Wives: Life on the Campaign Trail." While the article is about Gingrich's wife, Callista, and the wives of fellow candidates Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, the AP notes that the article could also remind voters that Callista is Gingrich's third wife.

  • Reuters looks at the plans of the grassroots Tea Party movement, including the chairman of the Myrtle Beach Tea Party, who scores South Carolina's legislators in Google spreadsheets.

  • Carrier IQ, the maker of tracking software found in many smartphones, has denied a report in the Washington Post that it is under federal investigation.

  • At a House hearing, lawmakers continue to say that ICANN should delay the roll-out of its new top-level domains.

  • A senior manager at Oracle who had criticized the relaunch of USAJobs by the Office of Personnel Management has been fired, the Washington Post reports.

  • New York City residents could get emergency notification test messages today, WNYC reported. Earlier this week, in New Jersey, Verizon accidentally sent out emergency notification messages warning of a "civil emergency" without adding that it was a test.

  • "Occupy Wall Street" has a slightly higher approval rating in New York City than Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

  • Police from an e-crime unit raided the office of the Australian newspaper the Age for allegedly tapping into a Labour Party database. The Supreme Court in that country then stepped in to bar the police from removing the newspaper's computers. (via hannahgvickers)

  • A man in the United Kingdom has been jailed for 30 months for creating a Facebook page called "Letz start a riot." The BBC reported:

    The judge, Mr Justice Butterfield, said: "I would be failing in my public duty if I did not impose a substantial custodial sentence." The court heard that Cook set up the group page on 9 August and that it was immediately joined by 44 people. The defence said the site was "an immature demonstration of some sick form of humour". The court heard the Facebook page was only accessible for half an hour. Mr Justice Butterfield said: "This is a very serious offence committed in the context of riots which took place across the country." He ordered that Cook should be released on licence after he had served half of his sentence.

    Meanwhile, the Guardian and the London School of economics have released their full report on this summer's riots in the U.K.

  • China is blocking references to an ongoing protest in the village of Wukan on the Chinese micro-blogging service Sina Weibo, the BBC reports. Searches for the village return no results. "Instead, a message appears saying: 'According to relevant law, regulations and policies, search results for Wukan cannot be displayed,' according to the BBC. The New York Times also recently highlighted Chinese efforts to crack down on the spreading of "rumors" online.

  • Syrian blogger Razan Ghazzawi is now facing criminal charges, while Egypt slightly lessened the sentence of another blogger, Maikel Nabil.

  • More than 100 million EU citizens have never surfed the web, Reuters reports.

  • TorrentFreak finds records of torrent downloads and IP addresses that suggest someone in French President Nicolas Sarkozy's house has been downloading pirated content from BitTorrent. Sarkozy has been particularly supportive of tough anti-filesharing legislation.

  • The German family minister has proposed an Internet emergency button for children to click if they see content that disturbs them. The button would notify a child protection center. According to German reports, it is not yet clear if the button would be integrated in browsers or on websites.

  • A woman's attempt to get a new trial in Chicago because the judge's children were Facebook friends with the victim's family was not successful.

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.


wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.


The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.


tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.


Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.


monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.