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First POST: Video Stars

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, January 26 2015

Video Stars

  • YouTuber Hank Green, one of three popular hosts of channels on the giant site that got to ask President Obama questions after the State of the Union last week, pushes back on media criticism that their access to the president demeaned the office. On Medium, he writes, "I feel like there’s an actual and honorable goal in all of this. America needs to convince young people that there are good reasons to be civically involved. Millennials are soon to be the biggest hunk of the electorate and, if the mid-terms are any indication, they simply don’t care. And that shouldn’t be surprising since no one is connecting to them in the ways they connect with each other or talking about issues that matter to them from perspectives they can identify with. There’s a problem that needs to be solved and this is clearly an attempt to solve it." Amen to that.

  • Green also points out, quite smartly, that the White House's use of new media often really does connect to young people. He notes, for example, that Obama's video of his announcement January 8th of his plan to make community college free has gotten more than 250,000 views on YouTube, far more than is typical for the White House.

  • And the full 46-minute video of the YouTubers interview with Obama, which also included Bethany Mota and GloZell Green, has gotten more than 2.7 million views (almost twice as many as watched the YouTube video of his actual State of the Union). Kudos to Google's Steve Grove, who has built this annual event into a creative franchise.

  • Quinn Norton, who has long reported with great intelligence on the internet underground, says she is taking a step back in the wake of journalist and Anonymous-pal Barrett Brown's sentencing last week to 63 months of prison time. She writes, "Barrett Brown crossed lines that journalists shouldn’t cross, and when he threatened the family of a man whom he hated, he crossed a line humans shouldn’t cross. But in holding that he had done something potentially criminally wrong in posting a link, the government has also crossed a line. They threatened a behavior basic to the operation of the net, by conflating pointing at data and examining it, with using that data for fraudulent purposes."

  • It took Google more than two years to notify WikiLeaks that it had handed over digital data (including emails) of three of its staffers to the US government, responding to warrants in March 2012. As Ed Pilkington and Dominic Rushe report for The Guardian, WikiLeaks' lawyer Michael Ratner says the news organization is "astonished and disturbed" at the lengthy delay, saying it may have deprived those staffers--Sarah Harrison, Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell--of their ability to protect their rights to "privacy, association and freedom from illegal searches." Google says it had been under a gag order preventing it from saying anything about the warrants.

  • CrowdTangle, the Facebook dashboard app that grew out of the Occupy moment and that many media companies are using to figure out what content is trending on the mammoth site, gets dissected by Sarah Kessler for FastCompany.

  • has scaled back on sharing personal data with thrid-party websites, responding to complaints from lawmakers and privacy advocates after the AP reported on the issue earlier in the week.

  • The New Haven, CT headquarters of civic tech company SeeClickFix were the setting on Friday of a call from several top Connecticut politicians, including long-serving House Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to make the Nutmeg State the first "gigabit state."

  • Cool job: Google is looking to hire a full-time digital campaigner for its public policy and government relations team.