Facebook's crackdown on publishers feeds has sites paying celebs to repost


Facebook -- which accounts for as much as 75% of the traffic to popular websites -- tweaked its algorithm to downrank those same publishers, who had been engaged in an arms-race to dominate Facebook users' feeds through techniques intended to gain high rank in Facebook's secret scoring system. Read the rest

Where the #trumpwon trend came from (not Russia)


After the #trumpwon hashtag topped the Twitter trending charts -- something Trump gleefully noted, saying it proved he'd won the initial debate with Hillary Clinton -- @DustinGiebel's claim that the trend had originated in St Peterburg, Russia (along with an accompanying map, supposedly from Trendsmap) went viral, with more than 15,000 retweets. Read the rest

Coca-Cola is paying dietitians to tweet scare-stories about soda taxes


When registered dietitians like Roseanne Rust, Sylvia Klinger, Carol Berg Sloane tweet about proposed taxes on sugary drinks and claim that these will be used to impose "stealth tax" on other food, promoting the anti-soda-tax group Cart Choice (funded by Coke) they're reflecting the deeply held views of the Coca-Cola company and its industry body, the American Beverage Association -- and amazingly enough, they all take money from Coke or the ABA. Read the rest

In a leaked "weaponized information" catalog, Indian cyberarms dealer offers blackest-ever SEO


In 2014, an Indian company called Aglaya brought a 20-page brochure to ISS World (AKA the Wiretappers' Ball -- the annual trade fair where governments shop for surveillance technology): the brochure laid out the company's offerings, which ranged from mobile malware for Ios and Android to a unique "Weaponized Information" selection that combined denial-of-service with disinformation to "discredit a target" online. Read the rest

China's online astroturf is mostly produced by government workers as "extra duty"

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For many years, China watchers have written about the 50 Cent Army, contractors who are paid RMB0.50 per post to sing the praises of the government in online discussions of corruption, oppression and wrongdoing; but a new report from the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Science paints a radically different picture of Chinese networked social control. Read the rest

The "American College of Pediatricians" is a hate group with fewer than 200 members


Not to be mistaken for the legitimate American Academy of Pediatrics, which has 60,000 members! Read the rest

Trailer for The Internet Wants, when the big hotels use psychopaths to disrupt Airbnb


Indie sf movie kingpin Jim Munroe writes, "Ever wonder how the Hilton and the Marriott families feel about Airbnb? What would happen if the heir to a hotel chain empire gets fed up and decides to rebrand the sharing economy... as the scaring economy? A concept trailer for a new tech-horror webseries called THE INTERNET WANTS by Postopian Pictures, the guys behind HAPHEAD and GHOSTS WITH SHIT JOBS." Read the rest

"Citizens" who speak at town meetings are hired, scripted actors


Last December, the town council in Camarillo, a small town in southern California, a man called Prince Jordan Tyson stood up and delivered a three minute speech as a "concerned citizen" about a planned construction project before the council. Read the rest

Indian regulator stands up for net neutrality, bans Facebook's walled garden


India's Internet activists have scored an epic victory in their battle against Facebook and its attempt to become gatekeeper to the Internet in India. Read the rest

India's Internet activists have a SOPA moment: no "poor Internet for poor people"


My latest Guardian column, 'Poor internet for poor people': India's activists fight Facebook connection plan, tells the story of how India's amazing Internet activists have beaten back Facebook's bid to become gatekeeper to the Internet for the next billion users. Read the rest

India's telcoms regulator says it will ignore Facebook's astroturf army

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Facebook's misleading, high budget astroturf campaign sent over 14 lakh (1.4m) comments to TRAI, the Indian telcoms regulator, almost none of which responded to the questions raised in the regulator's Net Neutrality consultation paper. Read the rest

Indian Net Neutrality vs Facebook's astroturf army


When India's independent telcoms regulator opened up a consultation on whether to allow Facebook to continue bribing some ISPs to charge extra for access to URLs that Facebook hadn't approved, they were flooded with 5.5 million confused comments in support of the $300 billion US company. Read the rest

Government-run egg board waged high-price, secret PSYOPS war on vegan egg-replacement

The American Egg Board's members are appointed by the FDA, and it was they who funded a secrets, deceptive smear campaign against startup Hampton Creek's vegan egg replacement. Read the rest

GCHQ psychological operations squad targeted Britons for manipulation

The agency used fake accounts to "deter," "promote distrust" and "discredit" in political discussions on social media, uploaded fake book/magazine articles with "incorrect information," hacked websites, and set up fraudulent ecommerce sites.

Russia's troll factory

An outstanding expose of Internet Research Agency, a St Petersburg, Russia-based army of trolls for hire who post pro-Kremlin messages to comment forums all day. Read the rest

Imaginary ISIS attack on Louisiana and the twitterbots who loved it

Gilad Lotan has spotted some pretty sophisticated fake-news generation, possibly from Russia, and possibly related to my weird, larval twitterbots, aimed at convincing you that ISIS had blown up a Louisiana chemical factory. Read the rest

Comcast ghost-wrote politicians' letters in support of Time Warner Cable merger

Letters sent to the FCC in favor of Comcast's proposed Time Warner Cable merger came from Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell, GA; Councilor Todd Wodraska of Jupiter, FL; Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown and many other politicians -- all written in whole or part by Comcast's staffers and lobbyists. Read the rest

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