How political emails get blocked (or not); tech for good in Europe; Kashmir's internet shut down and more.
This is civic tech: “Tech for good” is heating up in Europe, with “a growing number of entrepreneurs and investors setting out to prove that Europe can create alternative models for tech innovation that are both profitable and good for society,” Marie Mawad and Amy Lewin report for Sifted.
The Detroit Center for Innovation, a new tech research and education hub to be located downtown, has announced a $100 million commitment from real estate magnate Stephen Ross.
Sam Gringlas of NPR reports on the efforts of nonprofit Senior Planet to teach more senior citizens how to spot fake news online.
Audrey Gelman, co-founder of The Wing, which is dedicated to building community workspaces where women can gather, connect and feel safe and supported, reflects for Fast Company on some of the hard lessons she’s learned about managing rapid growth.
Apply: Brave News Films is looking to hire a director of outreach.
Apply: Facebook is offering $2 million in unrestricted grants to “to support independent social science research on misinformation and polarization related to social communication technologies.”
Brave new world: The people of Kashmir have been without the Internet for 205 days and counting, going without email, Whatsapp, maps and many other services, and as Pranav Dixit reports for Buzzfeed, students are clandestinely sharing videos, doctors can’t do their jobs, and many businesses are crippled. “I feel like there’s an iron curtain between the rest of the world and us,” says a 20-year-old linguistics undergrad. “We can move around, but we can’t see, feel, or breathe.”
Privacy vs open government? Good government groups are raising questions about NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s use of encrypted messaging app Signal, Julia Marsh, Carl Campanile and Daniel Cassady report for The New York Post. “The big question is does the Signal App follow city and state archiving laws,” said John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany,
Tech and politics: With little variation based on political party, almost 80% of Americans think tech companies have a responsibility to prevent the misuse of their platforms to influence the 2020 election, but at the same time an almost equal percentage express little or no confidence that they will do so, Pew Research’s Hannah Gilberstadt reports.
Gmail doesn’t treat emails from presidential candidates equally, The Markup’s Adrianne Jeffries, Leon Yin, and Surya Mattu report. Some make it to a user’s primary inbox, while others are marked as promotions or spam, with Pete Buttigieg doing much better than any of the other Democrats still in the running. As the reporters’ note, “It’s well known that Facebook and Twitter curate which posts people see through the news feed, highlighting some while others are scarcely shown. What’s received less attention is how email has also become an algorithmically curated and monetized platform—essentially another feed—and the effect that can have.” They report that advocacy groups like Change.org, Democracy for America, CREDO Action, SumofUs have also seen a drop in where their emails are ending up, suppressing donations and petition signatures.
Related: A bipartisan study led by researchers at the Center for Information, Technology and Public Life recommended last fall that all political email go to users’ primary in-boxes by default.
You are reading First Post, a twice-a-week digest of news and analysis of the world of civic tech, brought to you by Civic Hall, NYC’s community center for civic tech. If you are reading this because someone forwarded it to you, please become a subscriber ($10/m) and support our work and support our work or sign up for our newsletter and stay connected with the #CivicTech community.