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First POST: Beware the Ides of May

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, May 9 2014

Beware The Ides of May

  • Nearly 100 advocacy, consumer and media organizations rallied by Free Press (including us here at PDM) have sent a letter to the FCC urging the rejection of any rules allowing Internet service providers to start discriminating among content providers. Free Press has also launched an online hub,, to coordinate protests around the commission's next upcoming meeting.

  • We also hear that net neutrality activists are hard at work on developing a throttling tool that would allow websites to give visitors a taste of what their browsing experience might be like in a future without net neutrality.

  • Meanwhile, the "most open and transparent administration in US history" has a new policy in the works that would prohibit current as well as former employees and contractors of the NSA from citing public news reports based on unauthorized disclosures in any of their public uttering or writings, Charlie Savage reports for The New York Times (building on Steven Aftergood's original story on the new policy yesterday). Supposedly (and absurdly), "The use of such information…can confirm the validity of an unauthorized disclosure and cause further harm to national security."

  • This "Google-Nest" product launch is eerily realistic. But don't fall for it; just think about it.

  • Never forget: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't. That bit of folk wisdom might have saved CNN and ABC from broadcasting credulous profiles of LA filmmaker Ramaa Mosley portraying her as a naive mother who "didn't even know what a hashtag was" before claiming to start the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag, as Elizabeth Williamson, Natalie Andrews and Michael Phillips disentangle the story for the Wall Street Journal.

  • Zeynep Tufekci explores the paradox of national attention, and what happens when it gets mobilized in ways that may exacerbate rather than solve the problem it was meant to address, with Nigeria and #BringBackOurGirls as the latest case in point.

  • Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers main political arm, is planning to spend at least $125 million on its efforts to swing the 2014 congressional elections, including funding for a new "closed-loop data system in which volunteer and membership information is automatically updated" for field operations. The group is also planning to develop a "sophisticated new media message-testing strategy to target specific demographics in specific locations," reports Politico's Kenneth Vogel. Worth noting:

    AFP’s $125-million projected 2014 budget alone would also exceed the total 2012 fundraising hauls of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

  • The FEC says political committees can accept Bitcoin (in limited amounts); Dave Levinthal explains the details.

  • MIT's Rodrigo Davies has finished his research on civic crowdfunding and in addition to posting his Master's thesis, he's shared some highlights of his findings. For example, while most funding projects tagged "civic" on Kickstarter are pretty small, they succeed 81% of the time--making them Kickstarter's most successful type of project.