Help this half-onion in a plastic bag beat Trump's Twitter-follower count

@HalfOnionInABag has one goal in life: to exceed Trump's follower-count, proving that such numbers are a plebiscite on precisely nothing. Read the rest

Trump to take over official @POTUS Twitter account

Adding a sheen of legitimacy to his Presidency, Trump will soon begin to tweet uncontrollably from the @POTUS account.

Recode shares the story:

Starting Friday, @POTUS, the official Twitter account created by The White House and reserved for the sitting president, will change hands from Barack Obama’s team to Trump’s administration.

Included in the exchange: @POTUS’s 13.6 million followers.

That means that if you currently follow @POTUS under the Obama administration, you’ll continue to follow the account as it moves under Trump’s control. The stream of tweets will be wiped clean so Trump and his team can start fresh.

Twitter will also automatically follow a new account for you — @POTUS44 — where Obama’s stream of tweets live. The same process will take place for a number of other high-profile accounts, like @FLOTUS (First Lady Michelle Obama) and @WhiteHouse.

So we know how the accounts will change hands, but we don’t know how Trump will use @POTUS, if at all. Earlier this week, Trump suggested he’d continue to use his personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, which has more followers (more than 20.3 million at last count).

But he also suggested that he’d soon have 280 characters to tweet, double Twitter’s 140 character limit, an apparent nod to using both accounts. So who knows.

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Obviously fake "paid protester" site sets right wing media aflutter

Demand Protest, a service that bills itself as providing "deliver[ing the appearance of rage] at scale while keeping your reputation intact" purportedly pays protesters $2500/month plus $50/hour for left-wing protesters to take to the streets, and claims to have run 48 campaigns, despite having only registered its domain last month (it also displays a copyright notice that spans 2015-2017). Read the rest

Political leaks disrupt Ecuadoran election

Opponents of Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa -- himself a prolific and shrewd social media campaigner -- have had their social media accounts hacked and used to dump embarrassing transcripts purporting to show their party in disarray and romantic scandals in their personal lives. Read the rest

What happens when your political photo goes viral in 2017

Sean Bonner's posted his share of viral images over the years, but the most recent time was a little different: he tweeted a picture of an anti-Trump political sticker he spotted in Tokyo, created by street artist 281_Anti nuke. Read the rest

Send Chelsea Manning a hug with #hugsforchelsea

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Chelsea Manning saw injustice and stood up for what's right. Now, she's serving a 35 year sentence in an all-male military prison, and has faced systematic abuse. But now there's hope! President Obama has reportedly put her on a "short list" of candidates for a possible commutation. we need to show how much support Chelsea has right now, so people are posting photos with their arms outstretched, to tell POTUS they want Chelsea Manning free, so we can all give her a hug. Post your own photos to #HugsForChelsea and we'll add them to the gallery!" Read the rest

Bernie Sanders uses poster-sized screengrab of a Trump tweet to remind us of promises on health care and social security

Remember when Donald Trump tweeted that there would be no cuts to "Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid?" So does Bernie Sanders, and he wants us all to bear this in mind as the Republic Congress prepares to gut all three. Read the rest

What is the future of Twitter?

Great article by Nick Bilton in Vanity Fair about the future of Twitter.

Vanity Fair special correspondent Nick Bilton reports on the state of Twitter, writing that the rise of its most famous user—Donald Trump—and the defection of its top executives, would seem to spell doom for the company. Early Twitter employees tell Bilton they regret their involvement in a company that became a tool of the alt-right, while a former developer says he regrets not building a tool to fight trolls.

“If anything,” Bilton writes, “Trump has become another headache for Twitter. Some in Silicon Valley have relayed to me that they wouldn’t work at Twitter precisely because of the platform it has afforded the incoming president. Early employees at Twitter have also said to me that they regret being involved in a company that would become a vessel for an army of alt-right trolls. One early Twitter developer recently told me that one of his biggest regrets in his career was not building some sort of design mechanism that could have helped Twitter extinguish its troll problem. If he had, we most certainly would be living in a different sort of world.”

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Why Lindy West quit Twitter

Writer Lindy West is done with Twitter. From her essay in The Guardian:

Twitter, for the past five years, has been a machine where I put in unpaid work and tension headaches come out. I write jokes there for free. I post political commentary for free. I answer questions for free. I teach feminism 101 for free. Off Twitter, these are all things by which I make my living – in fact, they comprise the totality of my income. But on Twitter, I do them pro bono and, in return, I am micromanaged in real time by strangers; neo-Nazis mine my personal life for vulnerabilities to exploit; and men enjoy unfettered, direct access to my brain so they can inform me, for the thousandth time, that they would gladly rape me if I weren’t so fat.

Image: Faruk Ateş/Flickr Read the rest

Suggestions for improving Twitter

Twitter's wonderful, but it's also horrible a lot of the time &endash; especially for the people using it. And we all complain about it, too! Anil Dash weaves the obvious and not-so-obvious threads of criticism into a billion dollar gift for Twitter. It comes down to these five key points: Read the rest

After ACLU investigation, Twitter blocks US surveillance "fusion centers" from monitoring tool

The ACLU of Northern California recently published a leaked email showing that Dataminr -- a Twitter-monitoring company partially owned by Twitter itself -- was selling access to US domestic surveillance "fusion centers" where local, state and federal agencies pool resources to spy on their targets. Read the rest

Snowden on fake news, Twitter features, and the rule of law

Edward Snowden's Periscope interview with Jack Dorsey -- hosted by the Pardon Snowden campaign ranged over a lot of territory, including the special problems of metadata surveillance (metadata can be "more intrusive" than content "because it can be understood at scale"); asymmetry in privacy (where "an increasing imbalance of power" arises between citizens, with no privacy, and officials with all the privacy: "We can't even see their tax-returns"); the problems of relying on the rule of law in a "global context" where surveillance crosses borders and jurisdictions; and fake news, which Snowden thinks can't be solved by asking Google to be a "referee" but rather when "We talk and we share and we point out what is true." Read the rest

Bravo Twitter: company promises not to help create Trump's Muslim registry

The Intercept's Sam Biddle asked nine tech companies if they would help authorities create a national registry of known muslims—one of president-elect Donald Trump's campaign suggestions. Only Twitter would go on the record to state that it would not co-operate with such a list.
Twitter: “No,” and a link to this blog post, which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.” which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.”

Bravo. It takes courage and planning for publicly-traded businesses to take a hostile stand on hot potatoes like this, and Twitter bothered. Compare to IBM, whose CEO wrote Trump a slobbering mash note promising the services of her company.

Seven of the other companies didn't respond at all. Microsoft responded with "We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point."

We're asking if tech firms are going to cooperate. But when it comes to inferring affiliations from the mass surveillance of private data, it's just the sort of thing whistleblowers warn us is already going on. Trump's off-the-cuff blather about official registries isn't about what is known, but about making it acceptable.

That said, Biddle's post was met this weekend by dismissive sneering from the Gilfoyles: a good reminder that Silicon Valley is cynical and willing, and that fatalism is the best policy.

Update: Duped Cory. Read the rest

Figuring out Donald Trump's media diet by mining his tweets

Data journalists pulled 26,234 of Trump's 34,062 tweets (dating from Jun 1 2015 to Nov 17 2016) from the Twitter API and analyzed them for news-sources, producing a long, detailed analysis complemented by interactive graphics. Read the rest

Congressional Science Committee tweets link to Breitbart climate denial by self-confessed bullshit artist

James Delingpole is an invective-hurling anti-climate science columnist who has candidly admitted that he doesn't bother to read scientific papers, calling himself a "an interpreter of interpretations." Read the rest

Out of 8 companies surveyed, only Twitter would rule out helping Trump build a database of Muslims

Trump's Muslim database promise was extreme, even by Trump's standards; worse news, the US tech industry has built out a surveillance capability that would let him do it. Read the rest

NYT publishes damning, deep look at Trump's commercial/presidential conflicts of interests, so Trump tweets crazy fake-vote conspiracy

As George W Bush taught us: "fool me twice, we don't get fooled again." Read the rest

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