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First POST: Counts

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, February 6 2012

  • @nvvotecount tweeted the results of the Nevada Caucus beginning Saturday. Google looked at data about searches originating in Nevada about housing foreclosures, analyzed searches for the candidates in the caucus, and noted several references in searches to a photo circulating online that compared a young Newt Gingrich to Dwight Schrute, the fictional character played by Rainn Wilson in the TV show The Office.

  • In a Politico poll on Facebook, Nevada users said that the results of the Florida primary wouldn't influence them in their caucus decision. Another Politico poll on Facebook found that Donald Trump's endorsement of Romney reflected negatively on the candidate.

  • Anonymous announced last week that it had hacked into a phone call between the FBI and Scotland Yard discussing cyber crime and posted a 15 minute excerpt of the call.

  • Wikileaks suspect Bradley Manning will face a court martial.

  • Selected members of the U.S. government and military are expected to get secure Android phones, CNN's Mark Millan reports.

  • New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor, author of The Obamas, has been spending time on Reddit taking questions about her book. She fielded a question related to President Obama's BlackBerry use:

    OK, so Barack Obama revolutionizes online campaigning in 2008, right? And back then he also had his own blackberry, and used it to keep in touch with tons of people, get independent feedback, etc. But when he became president, the authorities took it away for legal/security reasons and gave him this sort of fake bbery-- a hack-proof military fascimile that only allows him to email 10 or 15 people. Don't you think it's strange that the president of the United States can't use the same communications tools as a 17 year old? That's what's so strange about the presidency; the combination of power and powerlessness.

    Another highlight was the following:

    Ha. The funny thing about reporting in the White House is that Bo is by far the most accessible member of the family! He runs around, everyone pets him, and he doesn't seem to care who rubs their hands all over him.

  • The New York Times today looks at how the Obama Campaign is using the web to constantly monitor and respond to Republican opposition, particularly Mitt Romney:

    Mr. Woodhouse, a high-octane party spinmaster, was getting his children ready for school around 7 Wednesday morning when he spotted a new present from the Romney camp. "Romney on CNN: I'm not concerned about the very poor," the blogger Rachel Weiner reported over Twitter. Mr. Woodhouse sprang to action ... [He] promptly reposted the Romney comments on Twitter. Then he sent an e-mail to a list of reporters, "just in case everyone hadn't seen it," he said. Minutes later, Mr. Woodhouse was on a conference call with several campaign and White House officials, discussing the remarks ...The Obama partisans came up with their plan for the day. "It was clear by 9 a.m. that this thing had a life of its own," Mr. Woodhouse said, as Mr. Romney tried to clarify his remarks while news anchors, bloggers and reporters gave his comments round-the-clock coverage. Mr. Woodhouse sat back and enjoyed the melee for a few hours. "We took some time to let a thousand flowers bloom," Mr. Woodhouse said. "And then we took out our ad." The Internet ad cobbled together by the Democratic National Committee hit the Web on Wednesday afternoon.

  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement of financial support for Planned Parenthood after the Susan G. Komen foundation's initial decision to suspend its funding triggered an unprecedented response on the mayor's website and Facebook page, City Hall aides said.

  • David Carr takes a look at Buzzfeed, Jonah Peretti's curious website with former Politico blogger Ben Smith at the editorial helm, in the New York Times today:

    Now [Ben Smith] is overseeing an editorial world where there are still articles like "The Cutest Boys With Dogs" (not to be confused with "30 Cats Sitting Like Humans") and "50 Things You Will Never See in Real Life," which includes a picture of a Chihuahua wearing double cheeseburgers for shoes ... But those numbers riffs now sit side by side with serious news about fraudulent mortgage foreclosures. "I am hiring people who don't just want to waste their time reporting other people's work," he said. "No one is going to care if we come up with a story that is almost as good as someone else's scoop four hours earlier." ... "People are now used to having everything mixed together in a Facebook newsfeed," Mr. Peretti said. "A story about the Arab Spring will be next to a picture of your sister's new baby. Why not have a publishing site that embraces those colliding worlds?"

  • The Obama campaign has created an interactive and shareable graphic of the president's jobs record.

  • New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote about the power of online petitions this Sunday, noting an instance where fourth graders persuaded a movie studio to include environmental information on a movie website and petitions that were started in response to his own columns, particularly on Sallie Mae changed its fee policy for loan suspensions in response to an online petition.

  • A New York Times graphic editor was able to uncover a major donor to Mitt Romney by searching on Google for a company named in campaign finance reports, which brought up the web-address of an under-construction website for the company. The New York Times is encouraging readers to help identify donors to Super PACs by researching the recent campaign finance filings.

  • While Eduardo Porter, a member of the New York Times editorial board, wrote a column in which he emphasized the financial damage that the entertainment industry suffers from piracy, the former executive editor of the Times, Bill Keller, wrote a column in which he notes Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales' concerns with anti-piracy legislation and calls the OPEN act a step in the right direction. (Keller also notes that he corrected minor inaccuracies in his and his father's Wikipedia entries.)

  • The White House participated in a conference call about immigration policy as part of a further response to a We the People petition on the subject, particularly as it concerns students in colleges and universities.

  • Verisign, the company that provides security for many corporate and government websites, was hit by hackers. So were Brazilian banks. Hackers associated with Anonymous also targeted a Greek ministry website. The computer network of a job-development agency in the Commerce Department might also have been the target of a cyber attack.

  • Legislators on Capitol Hill still have concerns over Google's new privacy policy, even after lawmakers participated in a closed-door briefing with Google executives. One member of Congress said Google's handling of medical searches could violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Danny Sullivan writes in Marketing Land why the new policy shouldn't be a large cause for concern. Google also responded to European calls to halt the implementation of the new policy.

  • Evgeny Morozov writes in the New York Times that the commercialization of the web, and the rise of "social," is killing the concept of "surfing" the web. Instead, he argues, the new web is focused on all things immediate and commercial.

  • In a tweet, Senator Mike Lee, Republican from Utah, wrote that the day President Obama named the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau "will live on in infamy."

  • A professor argues that restrictions on the publication of details related to a new bird flu strain hinder research.

  • A New York Times reporter has been attempting to crowdsource the identification of a cluster bomb used in Libya last year.

  • The Washington Post looked at how Facebok has put political veterans in executive and board positions.

  • According to a new Pew study, a minority of Facebook users drive a large portion of activity on the social network. The study also found:

    The average user has 245 friends and their average friend has 359 friends (12% of which is interconnected). The average user would then reach 77,400 people through friends and 'friends of friends.' Additionally, some rough calculations show that within 2 degrees of separation (one more level of friends) a user can reach 7,821,772 people

  • Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, is urging the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department to investigate recent business agreements between Verizon and Comcast.

  • A court found that a roommate matching website does not violate laws that forbid discrimination in the sale or rental of a residence, Reuters reports.

  • An appeals court found that photos on Facebook and Myspace of a man "drinking and partying" could be used as evidence to deny him workers compensations claims.

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation has asked federal prosecutors and lawyers for Megaupload to allow its former users to download any non-copyrighted material they uploaded


  • The Huffington Post has announced an upcoming live video offering, the HuffPost Streaming Network.

  • The New York City Council approved a bill requiring the posting of foreclosure data and city contracts online.

  • Libraries and archives are increasingly using crowdsourcing to collect documents for historic collections.

  • Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake wrote a column on Torrentfreak expressing her opposition to ACTA and the need for real copyright reform.

  • The European Union has launched a free online credit ratings database.

  • But the European Union's 27 countries all have different interpretations of new e-privacy rules.

  • The Sunday Times of London abandoned an appeal against a court order to give investigators copies of an email exchange between the newspaper and the former wife of the minister for energy and climate. The New York Times reports this decision contributed to the minister's resignation over a scandal related to his suspected interference with the investigation of a speeding case.

  • The former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was hit in the face with cake when he was meeting with a representative of the Pirate Party in Berlin. Guttenberg was recently named an advisor to the European Commission on Internet. Internet activists had criticized the selection because Guttenberg had resigned a previous government post after allegations that he plagiarized his doctoral thesis, allegations that were in part uncovered by a wiki site run by Internet activists. He had also been a target because of his tough stance on regulating Internet sites with inappropriate content. Video of the incident was posted on Youtube with an Internet activist group taking responsibility. He seemed to take the incident lightly, posting on his Facebook page: "Hurray, a cake attack! I had thought I would starve [in the Berlin neighborhood] of Friedrichshain. Two activists thank goodness had pity on me. A wonderful Black Forest Cherry cake! Next time, cheesecake please!" Over the weekend, his website was hacked to show an image of him with cake on his head and a message stating he had been named "Cake Minister."

  • Google noted that Germany's Federal Office for Information Security highlighted Chrome's security features in a guide for Windows users.

  • Fidel Castro talked about the importance of the Internet while announcing the launch of his two-volume memoirs.

  • China has cut off the Internet in one area of Tibet in response to unrest.

  • An anonymous feminist punk band is causing a stir with its anti-Kremlin lyrics in Russia. Tens of thousands of protesters marched in bitter cold in Russia this weekend in ongoing protests of Putin's government that have been coordinated with the help of social media."'We'll be back,' the organizers said on a social network site, one day after demonstrators defied the cold to stage the third mass rally since anger mounted over alleged fraud in a parliamentary election won by Putin's party on December 4," Reuters reported.

  • Farsi and English Internet satirists target a cardboard cut-out of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini used during an Iranian anniversary celebration.

News Briefs

RSS Feed tuesday > Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and And strangely enough, seems to want its early users to ask for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.


monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.


The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.


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.