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First POST: Frauds

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, December 9 2014


  • According to long-time conservative activist Brent Bozell, ForAmerica is "not a fake, make-believe army." As he tells Shane Goldmacher and Tim Alberta of National Journal, "this is 7 million people who are active in the political conversation, who are conservatives." But this "digital army" has been built, Goldmacher and Alberta report, "by the paid acquisition of its members through targeted advertising," raising the age-old question: is it for real? Nearly all of its $2.5 million in funding in 2013 came from a single donor.

  • Related: is spending $1 million to build a draft movement for Senator Elizabeth Warren in Iowa and New Hampshire, Jonathan Martin reports for the New York Times.

  • It's not all that surprising that by the end of the 2012 presidential race the Mitt Romney campaign required as many as 22 people to sign off before it posted a tweet, as recounted by a staffer interviewed by UNC professor Daniel Kreiss. But as Derek Willis explains, reviewing Kreiss' new paper on campaign digital operations in The New York Times, "both campaigns were alike in using Twitter as an agenda-setting tool."

  • Washington Post columnist (and a former New Republic staff writer) Dana Milbank declares The New Republic "dead" and its owner, Chris Hughes, "a dilettante and a fraud." Among the details Milbank offers: Hughes "redesigned the Web site himself: it looked good but didn't work well" and when a senior editor suggested "writing a piece about Apple avoiding taxes just after Apple's Tim Cook had come out of the closet," Hughes "shot back that 'Apple has acted squarely within the law'" and that the piece would be "tone deaf."

  • Conventional wisdom about Hughes has hardened fast, too fast. Here's George Packer, the New Yorker's wise man (so wise that he was a prominent liberal backer of the invasion of Iraq), on the TNR mess: "This might be the first case of an inadvertent killing, a death by character flaw, as if Hughes didn't quite care enough to do everything to keep his new child alive. Right now, Jeff Bezos, of Amazon, who has given his new acquisition, the Washington Post, case to grow and otherwise kept out of the way, looks like a journalist's dream."

  • Speaking of journalist's dreams: First Look Media's Andy Carvin unveils He writes:

    We’re an international team of journalists with literally dozens of years’ worth of combined experience as online community organizers, storytellers and curators. We don’t try to send people away from their favorite online communities just to rack up pageviews. We take pride in being active, engaged members of Twitter, Facebook, reddit — no better than anyone else there. We want to tell stories from around the world, serving these online communities as our primary platforms for reporting — not secondary to some website or app. Forget native advertising — we want to produce native journalism for social media communities, in conjunction with members of those communities.

  • On Mobilisation Lab, Purpose's Jeremy Heimans talks to Emily Hunter about the "new power" model as it applies to grassroots campaigns and social change.

  • In the Daily News, Susan Crawford explains why she is an enthusiastic supporter of New York City's new LinkNYC free Wi-Fi plan, responding to critics like city comptroller Scott Stringer who have argued that it may increase inequality.

  • Most Americans say they feel better informed thanks to the Internet and cell phones, Kristen Purcell and Lee Rainie report for PewResearch Internet Project. Interestingly, people are far more likely to say that these tool help them be better informed about products and services to buy (81%) than about local civic activities (4(5) or their neighborhood (39%).

  • After being blocked by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-VA), the Freedom of Information Improvement Act passed the Senate today, reports Alex Howard.

  • Ushahidi is ending its support for its "Swift River" codebase that enables real-time information sifting.