A Warm Bath

The Facebook election; how much will tech companies really do for Dreamers?; and more.


  • Life in Facebookistan: Scott Shane wrote an in-depth report for The New York Times on the tactics leveraged by the Russians on Facebook (and Twitter) to influence the election.

  • “We don’t know everything about Facebook’s role in the campaign,” Margaret Sullivan writes in The Washington Post. “What we do know—or certainly ought to know by now—is to not take Facebook at its word. It always plays down its influence, trying for a benign image of connecting us all in a warm bath of baby pictures, tropical vacations and games of Candy Crush.” In fact, Sullivan argues, the evidence is mounting against the company. “Would Donald Trump be president today if Facebook didn’t exist?” she asks. “Although there is a long list of reasons for his win, there’s increasing reason to believe the answer is no.”

  • Pierre Omidyar went off on the company on Twitter, writing, “And another thing: why is Facebook secretly pushing ads from people it doesn’t know, designed to create social divisions during elections? / First, how can you accept ads from people you can’t identify? Second, ads clearly designed to affect election. Third, refuse to share them? / None of this makes any sense and doesn’t reflect an understanding of the critically important role your company plays around the world.”

  • The Russian-funded ads leading up to the election were seen by between 23 and 70 million people, Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen, and Spencer Ackerman report for the Daily Beast.

  • Senator Mark Warner has warned that the Facebook discovery might just be the tip of the iceberg, Melissa Quinn reports for the Washington Examiner.

  • And Twitter is also supposed to give a report similar to the one from Facebook to congressional investigators looking into Russian influence on the election, Ali Breland reports for The Hill.

  • How you can help: ProPublica is crowdsourcing a review of political ads on Facebook, Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson announce.

  • The Guardian asked 19 technology companies if they would continue to employ DACA-protected employees after DACA expired and only ONE company—Airbnb—said yes, Sam Levin reports.

  • Asher Schecter of the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business interviewed Barry Lynn about his ouster from New America.

  • The Californian Senate passed a bill this week that protects scientific data from censorship and government interference, Kate Murphy reports for The Mercury News.

  • Not a good look, guys: ICYMI, there was a breach at Equifax that exposed information on up to 143 million U.S. consumers—and three senior execs sold shares valued at $1.8 million shortly after the company learned about it, but before announcing it publicly, Anders Melin reports for Bloomberg. The company claims the individuals had no knowledge of the hacking, but something smells skeevy.

  • The Economist reports that two researchers have shown that machines can guess the sexuality of men and women from their photographs with up to 91% accuracy for men, and 83% accuracy for women.

  • Susan Crawford reports for Backchannel on how Seoul is becoming a cutting-edge, data-driven city.