The Data Drive, a dystopian Facebook spoof

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At first glance, thedatadrive appears to be a charming cartoon version of Facebook. But it soon turns into a nightmare, distilled from the social network's brain-drilling efforts to force your attention to BRANDS. It's impossible to tell if and when the joke dissolves and actual marketing, presented as adbusters-esque antimarketing, starts up again. Which is the point, I guess! It's impossible to know, now that we are all living in the last chuckle of a dead French philosopher.

Turns out, though, that the spoof's heart is in the right place: it's the work of Daniel Kolitz, Adrian Chen, Alix Rule and Sam Lavigne, who are launching a new publishing venture—Useless Press— which promises "high-quality internet things."

Good luck! Read the rest

Escaping the new media cargo cult

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Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Ignore the Metrics

Moxie Marlinspike profiled in WSJ. Obama thinks secure messaging apps like the one he built are “a problem.”

[Wall Street Journal]

[Wall Street Journal]

The Wall Street Journal just discovered what some of us have known for a long time: Moxie Marlinspike is really cool, and the work he does is important. Read the rest

Let's turn everything into Facebook

earlybird

Nick Bilton does not approve of how Twitter works. Read the rest

Why Facebook changed its friends icon

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Caitlin Winner, design manager at Facebook, explains why she gave Facebook's friends icon a much needed update:

Next, I was moved to do something about the size and order of the female silhouette in the ‘friends icon’. As a woman, educated at a women’s college, it was hard not to read into the symbolism of the current icon; the woman was quite literally in the shadow of the man, she was not in a position to lean in.

My first idea was to draw a double silhouette, two people of equal sizes without a hard line indicating who was in front. Dozens of iterations later, I abandoned this approach after failing to make an icon that didn’t look like a two headed mythical beast. I placed the lady, slightly smaller, in front of the man.

When she says "slightly smaller," she means it:

Do you have your own ideas for a redesign? Post them in the comments! Read the rest

On Big Data's shrinking returns

In my new Guardian column, I point out that the big-data-driven surveillance business model is on the rocks. Read the rest

Facebook can't trace revenge-porn poster

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Because its policy is to delete data 90 days after an account closure, Facebook is unable to comply with a court order that it turn over information about the revenge-porn-posting user. Read the rest

What does Facebook learn about you when you rainbowify your profile pic?

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When Facebook offered a "rainbow filter" for images, following last week's landmark Supreme Court decision in favor of gay marriage, people joked that it was probably another creepy social experiment. Well, probably, yes.

Even seemingly small online actions—clicking the “like” button, changing one’s profile photo—are being tracked and analyzed. Just like McAdam’s research on Freedom Summer shapes our understanding of support for marriage equality, Facebook's past research on marriage equality has helped answer a question we all face when deciding to act politically:

Does the courage to visibly—if virtually—stand up for what a person believes in have an effect on that person’s social network, or is it just cheap, harmless posturing? Perhaps the rainbow colors across Facebook will become part of the answer.

Previously: Facebook's massive psychology experiment likely illegal Read the rest

Anti-corruption journalist immolated by cops, allegedly under orders from minister

Jagendra Singh reported on corruption in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on his Facebook account, which allegedly prompted Ram Murti Singh Verma, a ruling party politician, to send police to his house to burn him alive; he died a week later of his injuries. Read the rest

If the FBI has a backdoor to Facebook or Apple encryption, we are less safe

Reuters
It seems pretty clear the next battle in Congress will almost certainly be over encryption.

After lying and covering up, Facebook finally changes rules for inmates' pages

After at least four years of lying about its rubberstamp takedown process for prison authorities and omitting prison takedowns from its transparency reports, Facebook is finally bringing a crumb of due process to its treatment of prisoners. Read the rest

Facebook rolls out new encryption features

Photo: Reuters
The update allows users to post their public email encryption key on their Facebook profile, so others can encrypt future emails to that user.

Mark Zuckerberg just dropped another $100M to protect his privacy

Remember when Mark Zuckerberg declared that the age of privacy was over? Read the rest

Images of breastfeeding, operative scars now permitted on Instagram

How magnanimous of them! Your breasts are now appropriate for their "authentic and safe" environment, so long as you're not doing anything bad with them. But don't get any ideas: "close-ups of fully nude buttocks" are still unacceptable.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock Read the rest

Strengthening neighborhoods with ... Facebook!

Facebook gets a bad rap, but where I live, it has brought neighbors together, and it started because of the things I didn't want to share. 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

Facebook tells Native Americans that their names aren't "real"

Facebook's "real names" policy means that from time to time, it arbitrarily decides what its users are allowed to call themselves, which sucks if your name is something like Dana Lone Hill or Robin Kills The Enemy or Shane Creepingbear. Read the rest

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