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First POST: Showdown

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 29 2014


  • Pro-democracy demonstrators have taken over Hong Kong's main streets, Lily Kuo and heather Thomas report for Quartz, and the police are reportedly cutting off cell phone reception in protest areas.

  • In response, in the last 24 hours, about 100,000 people in Hong Kong have downloaded FireChat, a mobile messaging app that enables users to form local groups via Bluetooth or WiFi, reports Patrick Boehler for the South China Morning Post.

  • Meanwhile, a smartphone app that claims to coordinate the protests in Hong Kong is actually malware designed to spy on protestors, Code4HK, a government transparency group reports.

  • Thousands of Facebook users are turning their profile pictures to a yellow ribbon in support of the Hong Kong movement and emergency solidarity rallies are rapidly spreading around the world, reports James Griffiths for the South China Morning Post. This Google Doc has details.

  • China has blocked Instagram, apparently to prevent mainland Chinese from seeing and sharing news of the Hong Kong protests, reports Alexa Olesen for Foreign Policy. Twitter and Facebook are already blocked in China, and Chinese censors have told the media to immediately delete any information about the Hong Kong protests.

  • A petition calling on the Obama Administration to support the Hong Kong democracy movement and prevent a second Tiananmen massacre has obtained more than 184,000 signatures on the White House's We the People e-petition page.

  • Here's a drone video showing the extent of the street protests.

  • Which party will convert its digital know-how into more votes on Election Day here in the US? If anyone knows, they're not talking. Politico's Darren Samuelsohn reports that congressional Republicans believe they have reached "parity" in online targeting expertise with Democrats, while the Dems say their voter data models are "richer."

  • Citing actual data, National Journal's Shane Goldmacher reports that Democratic House candidates are "crushing" Republicans in the race for small-dollar donations, pointing out that "Because a huge share of smaller contributions is now collected online, strategists for both parties said the DCCC's years-long head start in digital operations accounts for most of the financial advantage."

  • A Republican opposition researcher working for America Rising is editing the Wikipedia articles of Democratic candidates, Andrew Kaczynski reports for BuzzFeed.

  • Emily Shaw, national policy director of the Sunlight Foundation, has written a valuable rumination on the purpose of civic tech, drawing on her three days attending last week's Code for America summit. Writing with care, she teases out an important distinction between tech that helps those who are most distant from power fulfill their needs, and tech that simply makes government more efficient or delightful to engage with for people who are already close to power.

  • Julian Assange of Wikileaks appeared via hologram Sunday as the final speaker at the 2014 Nantucket Project, in conversation with filmmaker Eugene Jarecki.

  • Scott Rosenberg explains why Ello isn't to be trusted.

  • Germany is considering a ban on late-night work emails, Alexander Kaufman reports for the Huffington Post.