Victims

The limits of the Honest Ads Act; the chatbots delivering gov't services; and more.


  • Four sitting U.S. Senators, Elizabeth Warren, Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp and Mazie Hirono went on Meet the Press yesterday to share their stories of being sexually harassed.

  • Data scientist Jennifer Listman writes on Medium that when she was 19, author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel “grabbed my ass.”

  • Life inside Facebookistan: Back in the summer of 2015, a Facebook engineer noticed that obscure hyper partisan sites like Conservative Tribune, Western Journalism and Breitbart were getting tons of referral traffic from Facebook users, but when he posted his concerns to an internal forum, the general response was “Yeah, this is pretty crazy, but what do you want us to do about it,” Charlie Warzel reports for BuzzFeed. While this seems now like a missed opportunity to address how the giant platform was affecting the public discourse, back then it didn’t even register. “Things are organized quantitatively at Facebook,” the engineer said, noting that the company was far more concerned with how many links were shared than what was being shared. “There wasn’t a team dedicated to what news outlets [were using the platform] and what news was propagating (though there was a sales-oriented media partnerships team). And why would they have had one, it simply wasn’t one of their business objectives.”

  • Warzel also reports that the mood inside Facebook now is that “we’re the victims” and that the company is being unfairly targeted for its role in the election.

  • Issie Lapowsky points out in Wired that the proposed Honest Ads Act that would require disclosure of who is paying for political ads online won’t do much to clean up the digital political environment. That’s because organic content, made by malicious actors, can do just as much damage if it goes viral on its own.

  • Canadian digital politics experts are skeptical that Facebook’s “election integrity” plan will do enough to protect their country’s election system, Sabrina Nanji reports for The Star.

  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey twice retweeted posts from an account that has been linked to a Russian troll factory, Ben Collins reports for The Daily Beast.

  • Media matters: Writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, Matthew Ingram criticizes new rules promulgated by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal aiming to prevent their journalists from expressing partisan opinions on social media. He says they won’t convince readers that their journalists aren’t biased, but they will prevent these media outlets from using social media to its full potential.

  • References to “climate change” are being scrubbed from websites run by the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Friedman reports for The New York Times.

  • This is civic tech: Chatbots are starting to deliver government services, such as basic interactions with residents reporting problems with local services, Apolitical reports.

  • Attend: The 2017 Platform Cooperative conference is coming up November 10-11. You can also RSVP for its free keynote event called “What Happened to the Future?” Friday night with Alicia Garza, Felicia Wong, Yochai Benkler and Douglas Rushkoff.

  • Self-care: If responding to every new outrage is exhausting you, Robert Wright’s advice in Vox about mindful resistance should resonate.