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Why Facebook's 'Voter Megaphone' Is the Real Manipulation to Worry About

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 3 2014

Two years ago, on the morning of the 2012 election in the United States, I got an email with an urgent subject line: "You should write the story of how Facebook blew an opportunity to turn out 300k voters." The sender, a veteran progressive online activist who would prefer to remain anonymous, was upset for good reason. The election was bound to be close, and as of 10am that morning he hadn't yet seen an "I'm Voting" button on his Facebook page, nor had another colleague of his. Nor was one on my own Facebook page. Given that when Facebook deployed a similar "I Voted" button in 2010, and added messages in users' News Feeds showing them the names and faces of friends who had said they voted, the cumulative effect boosted turnout then by at least 340,000 votes, these activists had good reason to be concerned. Facebook had announced that it was going to do the same thing in 2012, and this time around its American user base had grown enormously, from 61 million to more than 160 million. A social and visible nudge like an "I 'm Voting" button had the potential to measurably increase turnout, even more so as Facebook was including a useful tool to help people find their polling places. And yet on Election Day 2012 its deployment was far from universal. Facebook was conducting research on us. Read More

WeGov

The Internet is Not a Horseless Carriage: Talking Tech, Activism & Capacity Building With Zeynep Tufekci

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 6 2014

Zeynep Tufekci speaking at Personal Democracy Forum 2014 (photo: PDM)

Yesterday at Personal Democracy Forum, Zeynep Tufekci spoke in a session on “The Internet's Double-Edged Sword,” which covered the promise and potential of the Internet for both activists and regular citizens, and for authoritarian governments. Only Tufekci doesn't think that is the conversation we should be having—whether the Internet is good or bad, or better for citizens than government, or vice versa. When I asked whether she approaches a new social media movement with initial optimism or pessimism, she said neither.

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WeGov

Hashtag Activism Has Profound Psychological Effects On Movement Creators & Participants

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, June 5 2014

Screenshot of a #NotYourTigerLily tweet

It has become quite trendy these days to downplay or mock hashtag activism, or what many dismiss as “slacktivism.” The takeaway from the Thursday morning session on “The Internet's Double-Edged Sword” at Personal Democracy Forum, however, was that even seemingly small actions play an important role in movement building, especially on the psychological level.

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First POST: Beware the Ides of May

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, May 9 2014

The net neutrality fight is getting hotter; the absurdity of the NSA's new policy on not talking about what everyone is talking about; how "civic" crowdfunding projects are Kickstarter's best category; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Data Acts

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 29 2014

Debating the value of municipal broadband in the net neutrality fight; celebrating the passage of the DATA act; pondering the role of data analytics in US elections in 2014 and the UK elections in 2015; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Launches

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 15 2014

It's a day for civic start-up launches and we've got the run down; The Pulitzer committee says the NSA revelations were a "public service"; Ready for Hillary is organizing on campuses; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: USAID's Exploding Cigar

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, April 7 2014

Why ZunZeneo, the "Cuban Twitter" funded by USAID, was such a bad idea; some hard questions about the Comcast-TimeWarner merger; tech's "man problem"; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Take Me To the Moon

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 20 2014

Larry Page isn't happy about the NSA; Twitter backs off encrypting direct messages; Zeynep Tufekci explains why social media is a mixed blessing for social movements; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Weird Nerds

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, March 19 2014

The NSA can collect a whole country's phone conversations (not just metadata); Edward Snowden gets his 15 minutes of TED fame; the evolving etiquette of quoting public Tweets; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Openly Closed

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, March 17 2014

It's Sunshine Week, and the US government is less transparent, says AP; secret-sharing apps like Whisper and Secret are dangerous, says Austin Hill; and taking pictures of people in public now requires their permission, says Hungary; and much, much more. Read More