Trains Botting: twitterbot posts a new emoji train landscape every 4 hours

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Trains Botting/@choochoobot is a new twitterbot from prolific botmaster and EFF staffer Parker Higgins. Read the rest

Landmark study on the effects of copyright takedown abuse on online free expression

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Three of America's sharpest copyright scholars have released a landmark study of the impact of copyright takedowns on free expression in America: Notice and Takedown in Everyday Practice, by Jennifer Urban (UC Berkeley), Joe Karaganis (Columbia), and Brianna L. Schofiel (UC Berkeley) uses detailed surveys and interviews and a random sample from over 100,000,000 takedown notices to analyze the proportion of fraudulent, malformed or otherwise incorrect acts of censorship undertaken in copyright's name, using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's takedown procedure. Read the rest

Surveillance has reversed the net's capacity for social change

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Sociologists describe the "spiral of silence": people with socially unpopular ideas fear that they're the only ones who think that way, and say nothing, and their silence convinces others that they, too are alone, begetting yet more silence. Read the rest

Instagram is a dialup BBS

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JWZ reminds us that all social media is some variation on the walled garden strategy, designed to lock you in and lock value away from the open, interoperable Web into a silo where it languishes and rots. You know, AOL. Read the rest

Jerks were able to turn Microsoft's chatbot into a Nazi because it was a really crappy bot

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Microsoft Research deployed a tween-simulating chatbot this week, only to recall it a few hours later because it had turned into a neo-Nazi, and the next day, they published a bewildered apology that expressed shock that it had been so easy for trolls to corrupt their creation. Read the rest

Bruce Sterling's SXSW 2016 closing remarks

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It's his 30th consecutive closing address to the attendees of SXSW Interactive, and as always, Bruce delivers: an overarching, everything-in-the-world tour of everything weird, dystopian, screwed up, hopeful and ugly in the year 2016. Read the rest

Russia moots ban on discussions about VPNs, reverse proxies, and other anti-censorship techniques

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Russian law provides for a national censorwall that entertainment companies can populate with the URLs of websites they dislike, without much oversight or review (it's similar the system used in the UK in that regard). Read the rest

BART's twitter manager drops truth-bombs, world cheers

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On Wednesday night, the person who runs the Twitter feed for San Francisco's BART system began answering riders' frustrated tweets with frank, honest statements that eschewed the bland "thank you for your feedback" and the chipper "we're working on it!" norms of corporate social media in favor of brutally honest assessments of the sorry state of the system, starting with, "BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality." Read the rest

Group chat: "an all-day meeting with random participants and no agenda"

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37 Signals' Jason Fried was there when the company launched Campfire, a pioneering group chat for business that made it easier for whole companies to follow each others' work; 10 years later, he's ready to talk about the ways that group chat gets in everyone's way. Read the rest

Glitch News Network: glitched and mashed news in less than 2 seconds

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The Glitch News Network is the latest twitterbot from Shardcore, a prolific purveyor of mad bots (previously). Read the rest

Some ad-blockers are tracking you, shaking down publishers, and showing you ads

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The ad-subsidized Web is at a crossroads: faced with pressure from social media platform, publishers are accepting ever-more-intrusive ads, which combine with the mounting public concern over privacy and tracking to encourage ad-blocking, which, in turn, makes publishers more desperate and more biddable to the darkest surveillance and pop-up desires of advertisers. Read the rest

Crowdfunding an English translation of the story of activists who kept the Internet on during the Arab Spring

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Stephan Urbach is part of Telecomix (previously), activists who worked tirelessly to keep the Internet on during the Arab Spring, when endangered despots were killswitching net links in a bid to keep protest from spreading. Read the rest

Uganda's corrupt president just stole another election, but he couldn't steal the Internet

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General YK Museveni has been president of Uganda for 30 years, presiding over a grinding and brutal civil war as well as a series of far-reaching laws that limit the human rights of Ugandans. Read the rest

The latest DNS bug is terrifying, widespread, and reveals deep flaws in Internet security

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Dan Kaminsky is master of all that is terrible and wonderful about the Internet's Domain Name Service, a vital piece of Internet infrastructure dating back to 1983, whose criticality and age make it a source of ongoing problems in Internet securityland. Read the rest

bell hooks and Emma Watson in conversation

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Paper Magazine's "Girl Crush" series pairs notable women for fascinating conversations, which they transcribe and publish. The series is spectacular, and this interview, between author/feminist/activist bell hooks and actor/feminist/activist Emma Watson, is the best yet. Read the rest

Clay Shirky: social media turned Dems, GOP into host organisms for third party candidates

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In an "essay in 50 tweets," Clay Shirky explains how the growth of direct-to-voter channels has ruptured the mainstream political parties in America, who relied upon party power-brokers to enforce a prohibition on mentioning the third-rail topics that are the fissure lines the parties paper over. Read the rest

Facebook's "Free Basics" and colonialism: an argument in six devastating points

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Though India's independent telcoms regulator has banned services like Facebook's "Free Basics" -- which bribed phone companies to exempt Facebook's chosen services from the carriers' punishing data-caps -- the debate rages on, as Free Basics has taken hold through many poor countries around the world. Read the rest

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