Greatest Thing

The silver lining of the Trump administration; buying a better prison stay; and more.


  • Yesterday the Washington state police obtained a warrant to search the Facebook page of a group protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, David Kravets reported for Ars Technica. By the end of the day the American Civil Liberties Union had filed a motion to suppress the warrant, saying the warrant is overbroad and unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported.

  • Resistance is not futile: More than 1,400 companies (!) have dropped advertising on Breitbart News as part of a campaign by the anonymous group the Sleeping Giants, Aja Romano reports for Vox. Sleeping Giants encourages Twitter users to nudge companies about their media buy with screenshots of their products showing up on Breitbart next to offensive content and then retweets them to create more pressure and visibility.

  • Trump watch: Jason Chaffetz, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has raised concerns about the new administration’s communications practices, both internally and with the wider world (cough Twitter cough), because they likely are in violation of the Presidential and Federal Records Acts. He penned a letter to the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, requesting information regarding practices and tactics the administration is following to comply with the acts by March 22.

  • And Stuart Leavenworth and Adam Ashton report for the Spokesman on other changes raising transparency advocates hackles, like the archive of White House visitors, which went dark after Trump stopped paying a contractor to maintain a web app.

  • BuzzFeed’s Ali Watkins talked to some of the officials investigating the Trump administration’s connections to Russia and heard that many worry their results won’t live up to the media’s hype, and that this will cast their findings into doubt.

  • Writing for the Aspen Institute’s blog, Eric Liu makes the case for the silver lining of Trump’s presidency. “There are two ways to look at the effect of Donald Trump’s presidency on American democracy,” Liu writes. “One is that he is a menace to the republic: that his attacks on journalists, federal judges, and constitutional norms undermine the rule of law. The other is that he is the greatest thing to happen to America’s civic and political ecosystem in decades.” I don’t think that I—personally—am ready for this argument but maybe you are.

  • Writing in The New York Times, Zeynep Tufekci explains WikiLeaks’ latest misinformation campaign, which falsely characterized a dump of C.I.A. files as revealing the weaknesses of secure messaging apps Signal and WhatsApp. On Twitter, she took journalists to task for swallowing and regurgitating WikiLeaks’ claims without checking themselves, writing, “You are being played.”

  • One of the “fathers of the internet” has launched a new internet utopia—tagline “Connect to Thrive”—that’s heavy on dreams and light on detail.

  • This senator with a grudge against net neutrality has a serious (if misplaced) case of NIMBYism. As Libby Watson reported for Gizmodo: “The distinguished senator from Wisconsin thinks net neutrality is like if “a group of neighbors want to build a bridge,” but then “they find out the local government is going to require that [the] bridge is open to the entire community of a million people,” and now “a million people can come onto their property, ruin their lawns, and walk over that bridge,” Think of the lawns!”

  • Alysia Santo, Victoria Kim, and Anna Flagg report for the Los Angeles Times on how wealthy prisoners can buy their way to a nicer, safer prison stay.

  • Rebecca Nathanson reports for the Village Voice on how video calls are replacing in-person visits for the families of the incarcerated—against the recommendations of experts.

  • How important is gender in the day-to-day? Read this little anecdote by Martin Schneider on Twitter to find out.

  • Moment of zen: I have no words.

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