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First POST: Info-Kale

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, February 2 2015


  • Internet Says Go: It's taken a long time, but in the fight over net neutrality rules at the FCC, open internet activists appear to have moved from simply blocking bad laws (read: SOPA, PIPA) to constructively supporting better policy (read: reclassifying broadband as a communications service), reports Dominic Rushe for The Guardian.

  • The Open Technology Institute's Danielle Kehl takes to The Hill to stamp down ill-founded concerns that reclassifying broadband as a communications service would somehow lead to the United Nations' takeover of the Internet.

  • Steven Levy reports on how Facebook is continually tweaking News Feed, aiming to make it the central daily experience of its more than 1.3 billion users. The problem, he explains, is that the company's algorithms are taught by user behavior that it can measure (clicks, time spent on a piece of content, comments) and not by unexpressed desires. And thus, emotional, feel-good fluff consistently trumps higher quality content. So, if you want your News Feed to be less full of "info-doughnuts" lacking any real informational value, how does Facebook respond to that desire? How else can it learn what we want? How to get people to like info-kale? Levy reports: Facebook is running intensive focus groups, asking people directly and studying their answers. But the jury is still out on whether you can make them demand nutritious information.

  • In the Washington Post, Lydia DePillis explores why new media workers rarely unionize, with Mike Elk's efforts to organize colleagues at Politico the interesting new exception.

  • The #BlackLivesMatter movement isn't leaderless, writes Jodie Tonita, co-founder of the Social Transformation Project, it's leader-ful.

  • This is civic tech: Software programmer Arion Hardison is building CopScore as his response to the Tamir Rice killing, and "to provide a tool that lets people know that the people in their community can be trusted." Here's his GoFundMe account.

  • "For many years, the Internet was Russia’s last beacon of honesty. That’s no longer the case," Ilya Klishin, an independent Russian journalist, writes for Global Voices. He continues, "Over the past three years, a social-media army fielded by the Kremlin has stormed what was once a stronghold for people who seek a 'Russia without Putin.'” Wow:

    It seems like a joke, but thousands of hired bloggers “go to work” every day, writing online about Vladimir Putin’s greatness and the decay of the West. They’re on Facebook, Twitter, news sites, and anywhere else the Kremlin feels threatened and outnumbered. Fresh instructions arrive every day in emails, specifying what to say and where to post it, all with the aim of bolstering Putin’s presidency amidst war and economic crisis.

  • The cyberwar in Syria, report David Sanger and Eric Schmitt for the New York Times, involves both Syrian government spying on dissident fighters and American snooping on President Bashar Assad's communications.