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First POST: Authenticity

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, April 6 2012

The House Oversight Committee obtained a GSA employee's joke video and used it to make this.

Online, mixing life and work — and maybe too much life

  • Reuters' Chrystia Freeland profiled how Carl Bildt, the foreign minister of Sweden, Michael McFaul, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, and Naheed Nenshi, the mayor of Calgary, use Twitter:

    One way Mr. Bildt uses Twitter is promote his bigger think pieces. “A lot of the tweets are links,” he said. “If I write an op-ed, then I can tweet it.” Mr. Bildt combines his Twitter posts with a blog . Twitter is for links and instant comments; the blog is for longer, more considered arguments. Mr. Bildt tweets in English and blogs in Swedish. One of Mr. Bildt’s followers is Mr. McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia. He likes the way Mr. Bildt mixes life and work, one moment tweeting about Syria and the next gently complaining about the long line for takeoff at the Istanbul airport. “The thing I feel most nervous about is blending the personal and the professional,” Mr. McFaul said. “That’s new to me. I’m learning where the lines are."


  • The General Services Administration, already under criticism for an expensive conference in Las Vegas, is now coming into an even worse light with the release of a joke video created by an employee during the conference. Dreaming of a stint as commissioner full of high-dollar purchases, he pledges that he'll "never be under investigation” by the agency’s inspector general. The video was released by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who obtained it from the GSA inspector general.

  • The White House is allowing users to "calculate" their federal tax dollar receipt to understand how their tax dollars are being spent.

Stitching together a case

A Kickstarter for seed funding

Re: Whoops

Stuff Chris Dodd Says

Around the Web

  • Poynter noted that Buzzfeed is now under greater pressure to conform to accuracy expectations as it moves into more serious journalism. The site ended up removing "unbelievable" photos from recent Texas tornadoes for being inaccurate.

  • In Massachusetts, both the Republican and Democratic parties have released new online ads in the Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren. The Republican ad attacks Warren on immigration issues, while the Democratic ad responds to Brown's claims of bipartisanship by linking him to Mitt Romney.

  • Conservative Catholics are using the web to more closely investigate which organizations Catholic groups give money to and if they comply with their religious or political beliefs, resulting in loss of funding for some groups.

  • Two U.S. lawmakers are concerned that Google is profiting from ads placed by sex traffickers and seek reassurance about how it is acting against such activity. The National Association of Human Trafficking Victims says Google should stop all dating ads unless it can guarantee that services are not engaged in trafficking. Meanwhile, video game companies came to an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to close accounts of registered sex offenders.

  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is planning a crowdsourcing initiative to speed up its production cycle.

  • A survey finds that 82 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Google.

  • spoke to some experts about how to verify content on social media.

  • DocumentCloud explained in a blog post its decision to comply with a request to remove a collection of e-mails from its service.

  • The New York Times noted that the younger generations of wealthy families with inherited fortunes have turned to technology and startups. Harrison LeFrak, the son of the real estate billionaire Richard LeFrak, recently helped the company RoboteX introduce its robotics technology to the NYPD's bomb squad.

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies have helped to create an application that can warn marine vessels if they are approaching areas inhabited by endangered North Atlantic right whales. The applications uses GPS and other technology to send the latest data about right whale detections, and is overlaid on NOAA digital charts.

  • Failure to alert some residents during recent Colorado wildfires was caused in part by the failure of software to recognize some data from Google Maps, the A.P. reported:

    A document released Thursday by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office indicates mapping software used by FirstCall Network Inc. didn't recognize where to map homes listed as being in Morrison. Those homes were placed in an "unknown" category and received no warnings about the fire. They included the home of Ann Appel, who is believed to have died in the blaze.


Around the World: Assange; News Corp. hacking; the Internet in fledgling democracies

  • Julian Assange testified in front of Britain's Leveson media inquiry and complained that he had been subjected to inaccurate and negative media coverage, and criticized the Press Complaints Commission for inaction. Assange's talk show on Russian television is also set to premiere next week.

  • Eastern European hackers are suspected in a data breach of the Utah Health Department that compromised 24,000 U.S. Medicaid files with names, Social Security numbers and other private information.

  • News Corp's Sky News admitted it had hacked into e-mails related to the case of a man who had faked his own death, as his wife was facing court for deception. Sky has defended its action as in the "public interest," even though, as the Guardian reported, "intercepting emails is a prima facie breach of the Computer Misuse Act, to which there is no such defence written in law."

  • The government of Poland is funding a full set of digital textbooks for schools under a free license.

  • A study found that the Internet is more helpful for democratization in countries that have already introduced democratic reforms than in extremely authoritarian countries. The study's authors suggest that countries that could currently benefit from the Internet in this way are Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, Singapore and Zambia.

  • The rebels who have taken over Mali in a recent coup have a website.

  • Anonymous says it has hacked into 500 websites in China.

  • Two Tunisians have been jailed for posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.


wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.


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.