Right Decisions

The rule of law under assault; what Facebook owes journalism; and more.


  • The Army Corps of Engineers and North Dakota’s governor have ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline protestors to leave by Wednesday afternoon, Mitch Smith and Alan Blinder report for The New York Times. Meanwhile, thanks to @congressedits, we know that the Dakota Access Pipeline Wikipedia article has been anonymously edited from with the House of Representatives. Another Twitter user reported that “they took out the part about armed soldiers being there.”

  • Sam Biddle reports for The Intercept on how Peter Thiel’s company Palantir has been helping to expand the spying capabilities of the NSA and other “Five Eyes” spy organizations. The software is responsible for making the floods of data collected by these agencies more manageable and easier to analyze, but at a cost to individuals’ privacy and security, not to mention the actual price tag.

  • “The timing of the tape that brought down Yiannopoulos reeked of a coordinated oppo dump, and the clip had been circulating in conservative circles for months,” Rosie Gray writes, reporting on provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’s fall from (conservative) grace. This belief in a coordinated attack is also shared by Breitbart editor-in-chief (and Yiannopoulos’s former boss) Alex Marlow, who thinks the liberals did it, Jeremy W. Peters reported for the Times. But Gray reached out to the Twitter account who brought him down and was told it is run by a “handful of conservative-minded commentators who oppose the extreme crazies who try to hijack the movement.” Soon after, the account referred Gray to a paid spokesman who could answer her questions.

  • Only 53 percent of Americans trust judges more than our current president to “make the right decisions for the United States,” according to a new Public Policy poll. A whopping 38 percent said they trusted Donald Trump more than judges. Austin Sarat opines in The Guardian that this and other stats show that the rule of law and democracy are being eroded under Trump.

  • Sam Altman wanted to play journalist so he went “to the middle of the country, the middle of the state (of California), and talked to many online” to speak to 100 Trump supporters. Quartz posted his…collection of quotes.

  • Abir Kopty and Civicist contributor An Xiao Mina report on the challenges of working on translation and communication tools in a refugee camp in Serbia, part of their work at Meedan.

  • Muslim Americans raised funds to repair the 200 or so headstones vandalized in a Jewish cemetery in Missouri, Alexandra Larkin and Faith Karimi report for CNN. They crowdfunding the money on the platform Launchgood, a site run by and for the Muslim community (I covered its launch in 2015), and quickly exceeded the $20,000 goal.

  • Increasing meaningful engagement through viral altruism might actually require deliberately hindering the hyper-viral nature at some point with a stabilizing force,” argues University of Cambridge researcher Sander van der Linden in a paper on online charity campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

  • A coalition of NGOs, trade organizations, and individuals have signed a letter condemning the Department of Homeland Security proposal to require social media passwords from non-citizens entering the United States.

  • Facebook owes a lot to journalism, Steven Waldman argues in The New York Times, starting with all the money from advertisers that it has vacuumed up while struggling local newspapers close up shop. Maybe, Waldman argues, Facebook should actually—out of the kindness of its heart!—give some of that money back.

  • Authorea launched the New York City Foster Care Data Challenge yesterday. The challenge is to design a digital solution that would help identify and on-board potential foster families in New York City. Submissions are due by the end of March and there is $5,000 available in prize money. Learn more here.