How Google shapes our public health crises; Wikipedia's challenge; and more.

  • After Google came under fire for selling prime advertising space to shady rehab centers, the company announced that they would no longer run ads from treatment facilities, but the blanket ban effectively threw out the baby with the bathwater, David Dayen reports for The Intercept. Now, only rehab centers with savvy SEO make it to the top of the page, and those are often the same or similar bad actors. And why should one company hold so much sway over a public health crisis anyway?

  • And, Google is doing this other great thing where it places ads for fake-news websites on banners and sidebars of fact-checking sites, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Linda Qui report for The New York Times.

  • What happened: Writing for Civicist, Dave Karpf argues that evidence-based skepticism about the value of advertising on Facebook meant the Clinton campaign lost out on a powerful new tool—and digital naiveté paid off for the Trump campaign.

  • Part of the Russian disinformation campaign during the election involved 100 paid American activists, Max de Haldevang reports for Quartz.

  • In case you’ve lost the thread of the Russian story, Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn has compiled a timeline for Mother Jones of what we know about how Russian agents used social media to influence the election and when we learned it.

  • Alexandra Samuel considers our options for a Facebook replacement, including Public Benefit Corporations and a cooperatively built and owned platform. It it possible to build a better Facebook? Or is that platform both the best and the worst that we can do?

  • The growth rate of contributors to Wikipedia is flattening, which Hossein Derakhshan writes is causing an existential crisis. “Now the challenge is to save Wikipedia and its promise of a free and open collection of all human knowledge amid the conquest of new and old television—how to collect and preserve knowledge when nobody cares to know,” Derakhshan argues. “Television has even infected Wikipedia itself—today many of the most popular entries tend to revolve around television series or their cast.”

  • George Soros has give $18 billion to his Open Society Foundations, David Gelles reports for The New York Times.

  • In an open letter published on Inside Philanthropy, Tom Steinberg shares some advice for another (slightly less wealthy) billionaire who’s moving to work in the nonprofit, tech-for-good space: Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp.

  • In response to Amazon’s request for proposals/begging from American cities, civic groups around the country have made a few demands of their own, Anna Hensel reports for VentureBeat.

  • Get involved: mySociety has put out a call for people interested in running workshops to improve open data on politicians, part of their Global Legislative Openness Week (GLOW) challenge. Learn more here.