Slightly Overzealous

Predictive policing masquerading as philanthropy; Cambridge Analytica denies influencing UK voters; and more.


  • Tech and politics: Russian intelligence penetrated the election systems in seven states before the 2016 election, although no votes were were changed as a result, Cynthia McFadden, William M. Arkin, Kevin Monahan, and Ken Dilanian report for NBCNews. Disturbingly, six of the seven states deny that their systems were breached on the basis of their own investigations.

  • What a muddle! A “slightly overzealous PR consultant” told an ad industry magazine that the psychographic targeting company Cambridge Analytica was working on Leave.EU’s social media campaign, and now the CEO of the company is at pains to correct the record, Mark Di Stefano reports for BuzzFeed. “During a grilling at Westminster that lasted several hours, CEO Alexander Nix repeatedly rubbished suggestions that Cambridge Analytica had manipulated voters by combining data from Facebook and other social media platforms with psychological profiling,” Di Stefano writes.

  • Media matters: A new Knight Foundation report looks at how social media subcultures like Black Twitter, Feminist Twitter, and Asian American Twitter share, reframe, and critique the news.

  • Craig Timber and Drew Harwell report for The Washington Post on how lies about the victims of the Parkland, Florida, shooting are concocted and spread online through a distributed but coordinated network.

  • The thoughts and prayers are coming from inside the Party: After the Vegas shooting, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee advised House Democrats to not “politicize” the shooting, and instead to offer “thoughts/prayers,” Daniel Marans reports for The Huffington Post.

  • This is civic tech: A new app by Salesforce.org wants to be the social media platform for corporate giving, to make the philanthropic process more appealing, increase participation, and amplify impact, Ben Paynter reports for Fast Company.

  • Our dystopias, ourselves: Peter Thiel’s data-mining company Palantir has been working with the New Orleans Police in secret since 2012, a program ushered in “as a philanthropic relationship with the city through Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s signature NOLA For Life program,” Ali Winston reports for The Verge. “Thanks to its philanthropic status, as well as New Orleans’ “strong mayor” model of government, the agreement never passed through a public procurement process.”

  • GQ’s Benjy Hansen-Bundy tried out WeLive, WeWork’s answer to the apartment complex, where the rooms come preloaded with books and tchotchkes, and the beer and cortados flow freely.

  • You know what’s cheaper than an ambulance? A Lyft. You know what’s cheaper than Lyft? Uber Pool. Caroline O’Donovan reports for BuzzFeed on the sticky (sometimes literally) situations that arise when customers want their on-demand drivers to take them to the emergency room.

  • This must be how the world of Wall-E began: Doctors have observed that children aren’t developing the necessary finger muscles to hold a pencil or pen correctly, Amelia Hill reports for The Guardian. (h/t Dave Pell)

  • Writing in Wired, Susan Crawford explains how the Bloomberg administration screwed up the fiber internet deal with Verizon, and screwed over New Yorkers.

  • Attend: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is working with Civic Hall and Progressive HackNight to Hack the Opioid Crisis. The day-long event will take place Sunday, March 11. RSVP here.

  • The Center for Media Justice and WITNESS are hosting an event on 21st century policing and immigration enforcement. Register to attend “Power Not Paranoia: Surveillance, Sousveillance and Protecting Our Communities” on Thursday, March 15, here.