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The dark side of the whisper network; Stanford economists will use Facebook data to study inequality; and more.


  • If you text NRA to the Resistbot (50409), it will tell you how much money the organization spent for and against your elected officials, and then invite you to share your findings on social media.

  • Twitter has heard about the harassment of the Parkland shooting survivors who have been speaking out against gun violence, and says they are “taking action on any content that violates our terms of service.”

  • Twitter has also visibly taken action against suspected bot accounts, angering far-right social media celebrities who saw their followings shrink in an instant, Eli Rosenberg reports for The Washington Post.

  • Responding to news that conspiracies about the Parkland shooting are trending on social media platforms like YouTube, New York Magazine’s Brian Feldman asks why things should trend at all. “If we’d been smart, Twitter removing Justin Bieber from its “trending” module should’ve been the moment we all agreed to stop using “trending” as a prominent way to sort content on major social networks,” Feldman argues. “If adolescents, accidentally or on purpose, could game a system, force a topic to “trend,” and attract more attention toward it, what would stop more pernicious actors? And if trending algorithms can be changed, then doesn’t the common industry refrain that algorithms are value-neutral and unbiased, unlike humans, ring false?”

  • Writing with the story she broke about allegations of sexual and physical assault by security researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire in mind, Sarah Jeong considers the dark side of the whisper network, how it protects predators as well as past and potential victims, and can enable abuse to carry on for years.

  • A rare peek inside Facebookistan: Facebook will share some of its user data with a team of economists from Stanford studying wealth and inequality in the United States, Nancy Scola reports for Politico.

  • Media matters: A new report by Data and Society’s Robyn Caplan, Lauren Hanson, and Joan Donovan examines possible solutions for combating fake news.

  • In a jargon-filled blog post Joe Powell announced the creation of the Open Government Partnership Trust Fund, a pool of money from which they will make “small awards to undertake activities to meet the OGP Participation and Co-Creation standards.”

  • The encryption and cryptography company Signal launched a nonprofit called the Signal Foundation yesterday, “to support, accelerate, and broaden Signal’s mission of making private communication accessible and ubiquitous.” The Foundation was made possible by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who “left WhatsApp and Facebook last year, and has been thinking about how to best focus his future time and energy on building nonprofit technology for public good.”

  • Writing for The New Inquiry, Sam Adler-Bell argues in a review of two books—by Virginia Eubanks and Khiara Bridges respectively—that middle-class fears of mass surveillance and the invasion of privacy are a luxury; “For the poor and marginal, the nightmare scenario is already here.”

    “Those of us who believe in privacy as a fundamental right—a guarantee of human dignity, autonomy, and self-determination—should also advocate for policies to correct the massive inequalities in wealth and power that make the equitable enjoyment of privacy impossible,” Adler-Bell concludes.

  • Watch: Intercept writers/reporters James Risen and Glenn Greenwald debate each other on the Trump/Russia story.