The Morons

Facebook revolutionized spamming; vast majority of affiliate links on YouTube, Pinterest are not disclosed; and more.


  • New York City is looking to the design industry to improve public services, putting out a request for proposals as part of its new program “Government x Design.”

  • Life in Facebookistan: ICE has been using Facebook data to track and locate suspects, with support from Peter Thiel’s data analytics firm, Palantir, Lee Fang reports for The Intercept.

  • Charlie Warzel writes for BuzzFeed that the Cambridge Analytica scandal could be the tipping point for a “a full-scale personal and public reckoning that looks at the way we’ve used the internet for the last decade.”

  • Civic Hall member and former media studies professor Nathaniel Poor of the Underwood Institute argues that the outcry over Cambridge Analytica comes down to users of a free service not wanting to be reminded that they’re the product.

  • Spammers attending a conference for internet advertising told Bloomberg’s Zeke Faux that “Facebook had revolutionized scamming.” One person who advertises face creams with fake Chelsea Clinton endorsements told Faux, “They go out and find the morons for me.”

  • MobilizeAmerica has acquired the Facebook Messenger chatbot platform, Grove AI, which they plan to use for volunteer recruitment, fundraising, and advocacy, MobilizeAmerica co-founder Allen Kramer writes.

  • A new study on affiliate links on YouTube videos and Pinterest found that 10 percent or less of the posts that contained them also contained the requisite disclosures meant to give consumers better context for buying decisions, Arunesh Mathur, Arvind Narayanan, and Marshini Chetty write on the blog Freedom to Tinker.

  • BYO: Romain Dillet explains for TechCrunch how you can build and run your own VPN using a new product from Alphabet/Google/Jigsaw.

  • Opportunities: The Rita Allen Foundation is soliciting ideas to curb the spread of misinformation to be featured in a forum at the Aspen Institute in October. The top team would receive a prize of $50,000. Learn more here.

  • Attend: Tomorrow, Erika Balbuena, head of strategic initiatives at Twilio.org, will give a presentation at Civic Hall on how to access and use Twilio tools. Learn more and RSVP here.