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First POST: Stats

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, February 8 2012

  • Ahead of Rick Santorum's unexpected three-state win in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota, the New York Times' Nate Silver had analyzed Google search data that also had the former senator from Pennsylvania doing well:

    [I've] looked at the number of Google searches on each candidate’s full name in each state over the past week, and then compared it to a baseline, which is calculated by taking the median amount of search traffic for a candidate in the 10 largest states. The candidate who does the best by this measure is Mr. Santorum. In each of the three states voting tonight, his name is generating about twice as much search traffic as it does in the baseline states. That suggests that voters are taking a serious look at Mr. Santorum in these states, and that the fact that he is well behind Mr. Romney in national polls is not of that much significance. Mr. Gingrich does poorly by this measure; he's getting essentially no more search traffic in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri than he is in inactive states like California or North Carolina. Mr. Romney and Mr. Paul are somewhere in between, getting above-average traffic in Colorado and Minnesota but not in Missouri, where Mr. Santorum's numbers are much more impressive and where Mr. Gingrich is not on the ballot.

  • Politico reports that on the day of the Florida Primary, Mitt Romney gained 12,000 new likes on his Facebook page.

  • A federal appeals court in California struck down the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage known as Proposition 8. The rush to find out the ruling temporarily overwhelmed the website of the court, according to Twitter reports. Prop 8 and proposition 8 were top trending Google searches.

  • Lloyd Blankfein, C.E.O. of Goldman Sachs, is the latest high-profile individual to express his support for same-sex marriage in a video as part of an effort by the Human Rights Campaign


  • Karen Handel, Susan G. Komen for the Cure's vice president for public policy, resigned from her position yesterday after controversy over her purported role in the organization's decision to end funding to Planned Parenthood erupted. An online petition had also called for her resignation. The Daily Dot noted that she did not communicate her resignation on her website, Facebook or Twitter very effectively at all.

    Handel's Tuesday resignation doesn't seemed to have quelled controversy and debate online however. As of Tuesday afternoon, the public was still debating each other and leaving angry comments for the foundation on its Facebook page. As of Tuesday afternoon, for example, a Friday blog post from the foundation announcing its policy reversal was still getting comments: There were 11, 391 of them.

  • Poynter noted that unlike during the Iowa Caucus, in Nevada the A.P. was ahead of Google's elections' results. "But unlike in Iowa, Google’s figures lagged AP’s for a couple of hours Saturday night. At one point, AP had results from 41.3 percent of precincts, while Google had just 18.7 percent," according to Poynter.

  • Only a minority of Americans are turning to Facebook and Twitter for campaign news, according to a new Pew study.

  • In a blog post, Barack Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, defended the decision to seek Super PAC money in order to stay competitive with Republican Super PACS


  • Today at 9 a.m. ET, the White House is hosting a livestream event featuring various government officials and individuals from the private and public sector to discuss the progress made between the government and private sector in "harnessing science, technology, and innovation to promote global development." This will be followed by an "Open for Questions" event at 11 am ET, which will include Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator for the US Agency for International Development, Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council, , and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Senior Advisor for Science, Technology, and Innovation for the National Economic Council.

  • An article in Ad Age emphasizes the growing importance of data for online advertising in the 2012 election campaign:

    These data sources include both offline registration data (brought online in ways that de-identify personal information while associating political affiliation and other relevant voting data with a browser cookie), and more traditional online data types, such as age, gender, geography and the interests and actions expressed by a web user's browsing behaviors ... How will prospective voters experience these developments? For starters, voters in swing states should prepare to be inundated — not only by the expected phone bank calls, robocalls, mailers and TV ads, but also by an onslaught of online ads from every digital corner (search, display, email, pre-roll). On the plus side, with the greater use of smart data, consumers should see fewer irrelevant ads and more ads that relate to candidates and issues of interest to them.

  • The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has obtained e-mails that Anonymous said it hacked free from the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs. The passwords for some of the accounts were "12345," per Haaretz. An initial article focused on e-mails from a media adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad, particularly ahead of an interview he gave to Barbara Walters in December.

    She advised: "It is hugely important and worth mentioning that 'mistakes' have been done in the beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized 'police force.' American psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are 'mistakes' done and now we are 'fixing it.' It's worth mentioning also what is happening now in Wall Street and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by policemen, police dogs and beatings." ... Jaafari also stressed that Facebook and YouTube are important to "the American mindset" and advised to mention that "the face that Facebook and YouTube are open now – especially during the crisis – is important."

  • NPR's Andy Carvin has been receiving some negative responses for tweeting graphic images of violence in Syria:

    The issue of whether to link to graphic imagery via Twitter is something that has come up a lot over the last year, due to the nature of much of the footage coming out North Africa and the Middle East. On my Twitter account, I will share links to graphic images when I think it's warranted. Until very recently, mass media had no choice but to be very discrete when it came to such imagery: think of the evening news playing in the family room, or the newspaper sitting on the counter at breakfast ... On Twitter and other types of social media, I feel the situation is different. Before a person is going to see anything I've linked to, first they have to subscribe to be a member of Twitter, then subscribe to my feed, and then make the choice of whether or not to click the link. I always go out of my way to label such footage as "graphic," and try to describe the content as bluntly as possible, so people will know what they're getting themselves ...War is hell-there's no way around that. And the growth of alternative media, social media, citizen journalism and the like now gives the public many ways to access content that would otherwise have been lost in archives.

    Several groups are collaborating on a Ushahidi platform to map and document violence in Syria.

  • Public Intelligence, a research project that defends the right to access information, has collected a number of documents designed by the FBI and Department of Justice to help Internet cafes spot suspicious activities. One of the suggestions states that an individual “overly concerned about privacy” is someone possibly worth pointing out to law enforcement officials.

  • Google has launched the Solve for X initiative. As the website explains:

    Solve for X is a place to hear and discuss radical technology ideas for solving global problems. Radical in the sense that the solutions could help billions of people. Radical in the sense that the audaciousness of the proposals makes them sound like science fiction. And radical in the sense that there is some real technology breakthrough on the horizon to give us all hope that these ideas could really be brought to life.

  • The U.S. Constitution is becoming less popular as a model in other emerging democracies, the New York Times reported.

    In an interview, Professor Law identified a central reason for the trend: the availability of newer, sexier and more powerful operating systems in the constitutional marketplace. "Nobody wants to copy Windows 3.1," he said.

  • Sam Kass, Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives at the White House, answered questions on Twitter regarding the First Lady's Let's Move campaign.

  • Clint Eastwood's "Halftime in America" Super Bowl ad sparked criticism on Twitter from Michelle Malkin, but positive reactions from David Axelrod and Dan Pfeiffer.

  • In pandodaily, Paul Carr is skeptical about Buzzfeed.

    Even McCain's endorsement of Romney was only a traffic-driver to BuzzFeed because people were already searching for Romney (the story was published to coincide with the Iowa caucuses). It's hard to see how a totally unreported story, without an existing new hook, would have any place on a site which is so obsessed with search traffic. And as for un-"buzzy" foreign and local stories? Forget it.

    Ben Smith defended the site with examples in the updated post.

  • The lawyers for a marine who is suspected in a case involving the death of unarmed Iraqi civilians called Anonymous "cowards" for hacking the law firm's website and publishing internal e-mails.

  • Congress has passed a Federal Aviation Administration bill that provides for the switch from radar to an air traffic control system based on GPS technology.

  • The New Mexico state Senate has passed a bill requiring that government contractor employees' information be made available on the state’s “Sunshine Portal.”

  • A woman in Illinois has been charged under a strict eavesdropping law for recording a conversation between two police officers who she says were trying to stop her from filing a sexual harassment complaint against one of their colleagues.

  • Video feeds from thousands of Trendnet home security cameras were breached and at one point accessible by any web user without a password, the company has admitted.

  • Paidcontent updates on the ongoing academic protest against medical journal Elsevier. So far 4,000 researchers have signed a petition. The Economist also takes a look at the issue.

  • Bill Gates is financially supporting climate researchers who favor geoengineering, manipulating the climate through technology, to counter climate change.

  • While the New York Times now often thinks about potential hashtags in its reporting, British broadcaster Sky News instructed its reporters not to retweet posts from non-Sky employees and to stick to tweeting about their own beat. Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation has partial ownership of the channel, tweeted yesterday, likely in response to criticism of the new policy, "I have nothing to do with Sky News."

  • British news broadcasters have written to the prime minister in favor of legislation that would end a ban on cameras in courts.

  • The British Home Affairs Committee released a report that recommended that ISPs actively monitor content to remove any “material which promotes violent extremism.” The Council for Child Internet Safety also released a set of guidelines of safer internet practices for parents and children.

  • An Israeli cable TV company pulled an ad from its YouTube channel that joked about a possible Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

  • Police in the German state of Lower Saxony will soon use Facebook to hunt suspects. A similar test program in the state's capital, Hanover, had been met with skepticism by data protection officials because of fears that personal data could end up on an American Internet server. The new system will direct Facebook users to a police server. But the state commissioner for data protection still has concerns that personal data will circulate online and will not be deletable.

  • The Brazilian government has sued Twitter with regard to accounts that warn citizens of police speed traps and roadblocks, saying they impede the country's efforts to counter drunken driving


  • Italian free speech groups led a successful movement against legislation that was being called the "Italian SOPA."

  • A South Korean software magnate who has presidential ambitions is starting a charity to combat social and economic inequality.

With Raphael Majma and Sarah Lai Stirland