Fix Things

Why Zuckerberg is rich and Siva Vaidhyanathan is not; how the YouTube Kids app pushes conspiracies; and more.

  • Life in Facebookistan: Here’s my in-depth discussion of the whole Cambridge Analytica-Facebook firestorm unleashed by Saturday’s front-page story in The New York Times and London Observer about a supposed “data breach” of 50 million user profiles.

  • Siva Vaidhyanathan of the University of Virginia, who has a new book coming out later this year on Facebook, has the best line I’ve seen yet on Life in Facebookistan: “If back in 2004 Mark Zuckerberg had sought my counsel I would have told him to ‘move slowly and fix things.’ That may be why he’s rich and I’m not and why I’m a professor and he’s not. But I’ve yet to break democracy. So there’s that.”

  • Ex-Google engineer Yonatan Zunger also offers a larger context for the current moment: that like the fields of physics and chemistry, which created strong codes of ethics after confronting reckonings over the dangers of dynamite, chemical weapons and the atomic bomb, computer engineers face a reckoning today.

  • Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) of the House Intelligence Committee is worried that Russia might try to cause voter registration records to go haywire on Election Day 2016, Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen report for Axios.

  • The YouTube Kids app apparently pushes conspiracy videos on kids, James Cook reports for Business Insider.

  • This is civic tech: Here’s a very nice exit interview in US News & World Report with Miguel Gamino on what he’s achieved and learned during his time as NYC CTO.

  • SwingLeft co-founder Ethan Todras-Whitehill offers four key takeaways from their involvement in the PA-18 special congressional election last week. Here’s one nugget: the group got to test critical infrastructure for moving and housing volunteers, called “Airbnb for Democracy.”

  • Civic Hall Organizer-in-Residence Sherry Hakimi shares that her organization, genEquality, “is now completely #MadeInNYC.” Its stylish tees are now produced by Reconnect Brooklyn, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization that hires formerly-incarcerated individuals and gives them training, mentorship, and jobs. Proceeds from all genEquality tees benefit organizations advancing gender equality, including Girls Who Code, PL+US, Project Callisto, Time’s Up, and VoteRunLead. NYC-based Civic Hall members: use code NOSHIPPING to avoid shipping fees and receive in-person delivery!