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First POST: Front Pagers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 20 2014

Front Pagers

  • If you are in the political news business, or if your interests are in any way affected by what gets covered in political news, stop everything and read this piece on the power of Facebook's trending topics feed, by The Kernel's Aaron Sankin. He looks at how more online publishers are jumping to cover those trending topics, with this result: "while Facebook may be the traffic heart of online journalism, it is pumping increasingly thin blood through its veins….by structuring trending topics in the way it has, Facebook is making it more difficult for all but the most mainstream stories to break through. More news outlets will all chase the same stories and a larger number of those stories will suck."

  • Oh, and by the way, we hear from an informed source that right now Facebook is prioritizing native videos over ones crossposted from competing platforms like YouTube.

  • Addressing The Guardian's report that it is monitoring its users and sharing data with law enforcement, Whisper CEO Michael Heyward did not fully deny the allegation, only saying that it does not "actively" track users.

  • The AP's Jack Gillum and Eric Tucker point out that in several of the cases cited by FBI director James Comey as evidence that the government needs a "backdoor" into encrypted phones, that's the not the whole picture. They write, "While digital evidence may have aided those investigations, authorities nonetheless relied upon evidence beyond what was stored on a cell phone to nab a criminal or secure a conviction."

  • Interviewed by Tom Englehardt, filmmaker Laura Poitras sums up the impact of the Edward Snowden revelations thusly:

    Without Snowden, just about everyone would still be in the dark about the amount of information the government is collecting. I think that Snowden has changed consciousness about the dangers of surveillance.  We see lawyers who take their phones out of meetings now.  People are starting to understand that the devices we carry with us reveal our location, who we're talking to, and all kinds of other information.  So you have a genuine shift of consciousness post the Snowden revelations….We’ve already seen shifts happening in some of the big companies -- Google, Apple -- that now understand how vulnerable their customer data is, and that if it’s vulnerable, then their business is, too, and so you see a beefing up of encryption technologies.  At the same time, no programs have been dismantled at the governmental level, despite international pressure.

  • Why companies like Airbnb and Uber are having trouble with the real world, by Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times.

  • Timely: How CrisisNet is democratizing crisis data, by Ken Banks on HowWeGetToNet.

  • WNYC radio's longtime host Brian Lehrer on how his morning news routine has been changed by the Internet: "I used to get four daily newspapers delivered to my door (yes, including The Wall Street Journal), read them on the subway, then start writing. Now, I get no print editions and my first front page on many days is Twitter. Looking at the tweets from the people I follow often tip me off the quickest to the stories that folks I’m interested in are talking about."

  • Monica Lewinsky just joined Twitter.