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First POST: Recriminations

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, November 13 2012

Tuesday must-reads

  • GigaOm spoke to Obama for America CTO Harper Reed about how the online campaign was conducted. Reed highlighted the use of Amazon Web Services, developing methods to stay online even as cloud services crashed, and looking at how people used technology. "The president’s technology team knew ... that voters in urban areas where Obama was counting on high voter turnout were more likely to use a mobile phone rather than a laptop as their primary means of internet access. They’re also more likely to use Android devices than iOS devices, as are many potential swing voters who generally don’t care too much about technology. So, Reed said, the team designed apps to run on multiple operating systems and used responsive design to ensure apps ran well on whatever devices voters were using."

  • A mesh network is helping people in Red Hook, still without power after Hurricane Sandy, connect to the Internet.

  • A Montreal hackathon brought the city's usual geeky suspects together, but with a new twist — asking them to focus their efforts on tools to highlight and fight government corruption.

  • The scandal in the U.S. military appeared to widen late last night, as reports emerged that the FBI had uncovered 20,000 and 30,000 documents, mainly emails, of "potentially inappropriate" communications between Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, and Jill Kelley, the woman whose contact with the FBI about threatening emails she had been receiving started an investigation that ended David Petraeus' tenure at the CIA, the Washington Post reported. The New York Times reported: "The [defense official], who briefed reporters on Mr. Panetta’s plane, said that 'there is the distinct possibility'' that the e-mails were connected to an ongoing F.B.I. investigation into Mr. Petraeus and Ms. Broadwell."

  • Earlier, the Associated Press had reported in more detail how David Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, had interacted over e-mail:

    Petraeus and Broadwell apparently used a trick, known to terrorists and teen-agers alike, to conceal their email traffic.One of the law enforcement officials said they did not transmit all of their communications as emails from one's inbox to the other's inbox. Rather, they composed some emails in a Gmail account and instead of transmitting them, left them in a draft folder or in an electronic "dropbox." Then the other person could log onto the same account and read the draft emails there. This avoids creating an email trail which is easier to trace.

Around the web

  • Gawker highlighted another blogger's discovery that an anonymous Wikipedia edit to Paula Broadwell's page after her Daily Show appearance may have been a reference to the affair.

  • The University of Denver briefly removed YouTube video of Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell discussing the Benghazi attacks at a university event.

  • The New York Times reported on how the Obama campaign took an innovative approach to TV advertising, focusing on cable, reruns and somwhat more obscure TV programming.

  • ICYMI: Nate Silver analyzed the accuracy of various polling operations and found that those conducted online, such as Google Consumer Surveys, IPSOS/Reuters, and YouGov, were among the most accurate. Business Insider profiled the three-person Public Policy Polling operation. Director Tom Jensen told BI that its polls benefited from its simple screening process: "We have a very simple likely voter screen. 'If you don't plan to vote in this fall's election, hang up now.' What we find is that if you're someone who's not willing to take the time to answer a telephone poll, you probably aren't going to vote. But if you are willing to take the time to answer a telephone poll, you probably are going to vote. So it's a much less-complicated voter screen than somebody like Gallup or Rasmussen has, but I think that it's a better barometer of the electorate." The Washington Post noted that according to exit polls, "fully one-in-three Election Day voters nationally said they do not have land-line telephones, up from 20 percent four years ago and 7 percent eight years ago."

  • Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel confirmed via Twitter that he plans to stay on for Obama's second term, Nextgov reported.

  • Nieman Lab reviewed traffic for online news sites on Election Night.

  • Google shared some statistics from the 2012 campaign with an emphasis on its four-screen philosophy:

    "Total US Mobile searches related to finding a voting location increased by 164% from Monday to Tuesday. This trend was even more pronounced in battleground states."

    Total US Mobile searches related to finding a voting location increased by 164% from Monday to Tuesday. This trend was even more pronounced in battleground states."

    Google also claims that nine of the top 11 U.S. Senate races who spent more online with Google won on Tuesday.

  • ICYMI: In the days before the election and beyond, a letter by a 10-year-old girl who has two gay fathers to President Obama praising his support for marriage equality, and the President's response, have gone viral.

  • TechCrunch reported from a VetsinTech hackathon that was held in San Francisco over the weekend.

  • Demand Progress has launched a petition in response to a news report that ousted Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a supporter of the Stop Online Piracy Act, could be in the running for Secretary of State.

  • A petition is asking Target to not open in the evening on Thanksgiving.

  • Popular Facebook page and blog Humans of New York is partnering with Tumblr on an Indiegogo fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy victims. Both Indiegogo and Paypal are waiving their fees, accordign to the blog post.

  • OccupySMS is helping connect aid and volunteer efforts in response to the hurricane via text message. Another web application tracks stranded elderly residents.

  • Great Neck Patch reported that a Long Island radio station produced a Gangnam-style parody video called LIPA Style to criticize the slow response of the Long Island Power Authority.

  • The New York Times summarized new tools available for disaster aid.

  • The New York Stock Exchange had to suspend trading on over 200 stocks due to a technical glitch.

  • The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart wrote that the election of Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) is bringing "Occupy to Congress."

  • Pandodaily profiled the Counterpoint, a new online site to showcase informed political arguments.

  • Data from Twitter and Google suggests that migraines peak during the work week.

  • The College of William and Mary has received a federal grant to lead a new center that will track and map the disbursement of foreign aid.

  • An audit suggests that the State Department may still be vulnerable to Wikileaks-style breaches.

  • The Boston Globe wrote about crowdfunding sites, focusing on Citizinvestor and other efforts involved in Boston-based projects.

  • The Ad Council is running online ads promoting, a campaign to reduce the high school drop-out rate.

  • Many seniors are resisting the upcoming switch to electronic social security payments.


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.