I wish I was kidding.

Traffic to news publishers plummets in six countries after one Facebook tweak; Twitter to disclose political ad buys; and more.


  • Media matters: Alexis C. Madrigal’s report for The Atlantic on how Facebook reshaped news consumption in Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Cambodia virtually overnight is an absolute must-read. “None of the editors I was able to contact, or anyone that they knew, had heard from Facebook about the change before it happened,” Madrigal writes. “They just walked into work one day and everything was different.” The impact on news consumers is harder to qualify, but no less drastic. Facebook had become the number one news source in Cambodia according to one recent study, and now?

    “Pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach. Reach of several asked Facebook pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days,” reported one Slovakian journalist. “Sixty biggest Slovak media pages have 4 times fewer interactions (likes, comments, shares) since the test. It looks like the effect in Guatemala and Cambodia is the same.”

  • Techdirt’s Mike Masnick explains why the Justice Department demanded Twitter hand over detailed information about five Twitter users, all because of one smiley-face emoji tweet. As Masnick writes, “I wish I was kidding.”

  • Inside Philanthropy’s David Callahan asks what philanthropy is doing to challenge the power of tech giants. “By and large, private funders have paid little attention to the growing dangers posed by monopolization or big tech specifically,” Callahan writes. “[Barry] Lynn’s shop [Open Markets, the project recently ousted from New America] is one of the few outfits around that’s been working this problem, and raising money has not always been easy. A handful of foundations have supported this work, including Nathan Cummings; many others have taken a pass when Lynn has coming knocking.”

  • Twitter has announced that it will now label political ads, and disclose who bought them and for how much, Michelle Castillo reports for CNBC.

  • Cyber-insecurity: David Ignatius writes for The Washington Post that Russia is angling to rewrite global cyberspace. “The Kremlin’s proposed convention would enhance the ability of Russia and other authoritarian nations to control communication within their countries, and to gain access to communications in other countries, according to several leading U.S. cyber experts,” Ignatius reports.

  • Writing for Slate, Christina Bonnington expands the call for more transparency algorithms to include emerging artificial intelligence systems as well.

  • Sara Winge explains how the organizers of Foo Camp responded to allegations of sexual assault at one of their events in the early 2010s. Among other changes, they have started inviting more women, and the percentage of invitees is up to a whopping 31 percent, from 24 percent. (It’s unclear in what time period they accomplished this—since last year? Since the allegations of assault were made nearly seven years ago? That works out to just over a single percentage point increase every year.)

  • This is civic tech: Catherine Caruso profiles Count Love’s Tommy Leung and Nathan Perkins for Boston University’s Research page for their work counting protests since the inauguration. Some of their work has been questioning dominant narratives, like whether there really is a urban/rural divide. “For the most part, there was surprising consistency in their priorities, which was kind of nice to see,” Perkins told Caruso. “It suggests that a lot of values are held throughout the country.”

  • Attend: The nonprofit Thorn is inviting Civic Hall community members to participate in a hackathon to stop child sexual abuse. But you must hurry! They’ve asked interested participants to register for the November 11 – 12 event by October 25 (today). Learn more here.