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First POST: Spoilers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 24 2014


  • Tough words on the GOP's 2016 digital gap from one of its own, South Carolina consultant Wesley Donahue. Speaking to Darren Samuelsohn of Politico, Donahue said, "There is a massive talent gap. Half those [presidential campaigns] will have digital staff that don't know what the hell they're doing. They'll end up with some dude who plays on Facebook all day, which somehow makes him a digital expert."

  • New York City councilman Ben Kallos, the most tech savvy elected official we know (he posts his draft legislation on GitHub!), is profiled as "The Agile Politician" in Fast Company Labs by Jay Cassano. (We see what you did there.)

  • Our Sarah Lai Stirland reports on the most tech savvy candidate for statewide office in America, Republican Pete Peterson of California, who is running for Secretary of State.

  • With the help of Harold Feld of Public Knowledge, the Washington Post's Nancy Scola explains how "forbearance" might be how the FCC settles the current net neutrality debate.

  • Ndesanjo Macha reports for Global Voices Online on how Sierra Leonans are using social media not just to fight Ebola but also the stigma coming with the disease.

  • Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen is giving $100 million to the fight against Ebola, reports Stephanie Strom of the New York Times. He has also funded a new website,, to help connect small donors to projects in need of funding.

  • Snowden lawyer Ben Wizner (and friend of PDM) has a complex view of the relationship between big tech companies and the government, per this interview in Guernica:

    I think one of the great contributions that Snowden has made is to make some very powerful tech companies adverse to governments. When these companies and government work hand in glove, in secret, that is a major threat to liberty. But these tech companies, which are amassing some of the biggest fortunes in the history of the world, are among the few entities that have the power and the clout and the standing to really take on the security state. And again, I want them to be adverse to each other. I want the tech companies to see it as part of their responsibility to protect users from government. But I want the government to be a more active regulator of tech companies and to protect us as consumers from the depredations of these companies. I’d like to see the Federal Trade Commission be a more aggressive regulator against some of these companies, just as I’d like to see these companies stand between us and the NSA and the GCHQ.

  • Related: Senator Ron Wyden talks to Kim Zetter of Wired about his long fight against NSA abuses. Along the way, he responds to criticism from Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras that has failed to use his Senate immunity to call out the authorities from the Senate floor, arguing that he wouldn't just lose his intelligence committee seat, he'd likely be expelled from the Senate for not honoring the secrecy of classified information.

  • Tracy Van Slyke is out with a huge report on pop culture and activism called Spoiler Alert that makes the case for movement-level "big listening" to help progressive causes tap into and shape larger cultural trends.

  • In countries like the Philippines, more than 100,000 workers screen social media for offensive images on behalf of giant tech companies like Facebook and Twitter. With the permission of Whisper, which practices real-time content moderation, Wired's Adrian Chen reports from ground-zero of the ugly process of removing "pornography, gore, minors, sexual solicitation, sexual body parts/images, [and] racism" from its users' feeds.

  • People in Hungary are starting to protest a new tax on Internet usage, reports Cory Doctorow in BoingBoing.