Books of Hate

Why Google is failing us; using classification to hide waste at the Pentagon; and more.


  • Ignoring the problem: Hacker News bans political stories from its forum for a week, Nitasha Tiku reports for BuzzFeed.

  • The headline says it all: “Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste,” Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward report for the Washington Post. Evidence from a report that they had commissioned, no less. How, you might ask? By classifying the source material for the study and taking the public report offline.

  • Beginning in 2017, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube have agreed to tag terrorist propaganda with unique digital fingerprints so other partners can more quickly identify material that violates content policies and to hasten its removal, the Associated Press reports.

  • Anil Dash asks on Twitter when the incoming administration will classify Black Lives Matter as terrorism.

  • People, journalists in particular, have a lot to say about Liz Spayd’s visit with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson earlier this week, Oliver Darcy reports for Business Insider, in which she calls certain reporters’ tweets “outrageous” and said “there ought to be some kind of a consequence for that.” Some casual Googling reveals Spayd has been pushing back on the Times’ liberal slant since July.

  • “This is awful. It’s horrible. It’s the equivalent of going into a library and asking a librarian about Judaism and being handed 10 books of hate. Google is doing a horrible, horrible job of delivering answers here. It can and should do better,” Danny Sullivan, the founding editor of SearchEngineLand, tells The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr, referring to the Google results (and prompts) for “are jews,” “are women,” and “are muslims,” all of which return both suggestive prompts like “are women…” “evil” and a majority of hate-filled websites. As Cadwalladr reports, the problem goes far deeper than “fake news” alone. (h/t Derek Eder)

  • This is civic tech: A bit late to this, but Eder also shares the results from the post-election community feedback session for Chi Hack Night, which covered questions like “There is a lot of anger and resentment in Chicago and America today. How can we as a community of civic technologies direct it towards positive action?” and “What groups or organizations need help the most and how can we help them?”

  • Also a bit late to this, but Fusion’s Kristen Brown goes behind the scenes to find out how GitHub got rid of its troll problem.

  • Loomio has put out a suite of resources, guides, and stories for online facilitation and collaboration called Loomio.School.

  • Civis Analytics, the data analytics company founded by the Obama 2012 alum Dan Wagner that now counts Airbnb and Verizon among its customers, has raised $22 million in funding, Anthony Ha reports for TechCrunch.

  • The Omidyar Network announced yesterday that it has invested $500,000 in Citymart, a procurement platform for city governments.

  • In case your interest was piqued by Micah Sifry’s description of his latest Civicist article but you were stymied after clicking the link and being transported to a New Yorker article instead, here is the proper link! Thanks to those of you who brought this to our attention.

  • Show up to show up: A reminder that Hollaback! is running a number of Bystander Intervention trainings this month. Learn more and sign up for a webinar here here.