Banned from Youtube, Chinese propagandists are using Pornhub to publish anti-Hong Kong videos

China's state disinformation campaigns against the Hong Kong protesters are unwelcome on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook, with the mainstream platforms shutting down accounts that spread propaganda videos; but increasingly these blocked videos are available on Pornhub, something that has been jubilantly announced by mainland Chinese social media influencers on Wechat. Read the rest

Leaks reveal how creepy, cultish monopolist Intuit lobbied Congress and the IRS to kill free tax-filing

Virtually every rich country on Earth provides pre-completed tax-returns that you can either ignore (and pay an accountant or do your own taxes), or just sign and return: after all, the government already knows what you're earning and how much tax you paid, so they can do all the heavy lifting for your annual return. Read the rest

Amazon pays happy warehouse workers to tweet about how happy they are whenever someone complains about warehouse conditions

Nelsie writes, "Twitter user tweeting about inhuman conditions at Amazon warehouses gets brigaded by tag-team of warehouse workers who are paid to tweet about working at Amazon warehouses two days of the week." Read the rest

The only thing health insurance companies are good at is scaring us about socialized medicine

In a new column in the LA Times, business columnist Michael Hiltzik makes the argument that the only thing health insurers have done with any effectiveness is scare us into thinking that the socialized medicine services that every other advanced country has will not work in America. Read the rest

Paying for climate change: the question isn't "How?" but "Who?"

Writing in Wired, political scientist Henry Farrell points out what should be obvious: we're going to pay for climate change (that is, either we're going to rebuild the cities smashed by weather and take care of the people whose lives are ruined, or we're going to pay to cope with the ensuing refugee crisis), so the question isn't "how can we possibly pay for climate change?" but rather, "Will the people who profited from pumping CO2 into the atmosphere pay, or will their victims be left on the hook for their greed and recklessness?" Read the rest

Health industry lobbyists are posing as "ordinary citizens who don't want Medicare for All"

Here are some "ordinary citizens" who have recently been featured in the press as people who are completely OK with the state of American healthcare and totally opposed to Medicare for All or any other project to reform America's worst-in-the-world health care system: "Mustafa Tameez, businessman, Texas" (Tameez is managing director at Texas-based Outreach Strategists, a public affairs and lobbying firm that reps Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, University of Texas Physicians, and St. Luke’s Hospital). Read the rest

Blockbuster Gizmodo investigation reveals probable masterminds of the massive anti-Net Neutrality identity theft/astroturf campaign

US government agencies can't just make up rules: they're require to show that the rules they make reflect the best evidence, and part of that is a "notice and comment" period for major policy shifts where the public gets to weigh in on proposals. Read the rest

If you tell Facebook you're a senator looking to buy political ads, they just take your word for it

Vice decided to test out Facebook's commitment to positively identifying the people and organizations behind political ads, so they applied for clearance to buy ads in the names of ever sitting US Senator, showing no proof, and Facebook granted permission in each case. Read the rest

New York Attorney General expands law-enforcement investigation into the bots that killed Network Neutrality

The FCC justified its Net Neutrality-killing order by claiming that comments it received showed strong public support for dismantling the rules that stop your ISP from deciding which parts of the internet you get to use; but it was widely reported that the comments in the Net Neutrality docket were flooded by bots that opposed Net Neutrality, using names and personal information from stolen identities of dead people, sitting US senators, journalists and millions of others. Read the rest

US governmental requests for comment are routinely flooded by pro-corporate bots

Last year, the FCC was only able to ram through a repeal of Net Neutrality by refusing to reject the millions of comments sent by bots that used the stolen identities of regular internet users, dead people, and even sitting US Members of Congress. Read the rest

There's a giant geodesic dome floored with fake grass in NYC

Josh, one of my inbox zine's readers, made this. He wrote, "For a very long time I’ve wanted to build a giant geodesic dome filled with fake grass in lower Manhattan. This August it happened."

His piece is called dusk-space and it's an immersive synthetic environment meant to "recreate the experience of being in a remote country field at dusk." Here are some words about it from its statement (emphasis mine):

Urban life is completely disconnected from natural experience. There is no night in New York City, only an artificial dusk that lasts until dawn...

Everything about the experience is designed to evoke the sensations and feelings of the real thing, while always being obviously and unequivocally manufactured.

Visitors arriving at the dome will notice the sweet and clean smell of Premium Grade Fresh Cut Grass Fragrance Oil as they walk past the stands of 36-40" Tall Natural Meadow Grass in Green. The diffuse sounds of Ambient Cricket Loop will fill the air. Entering the dome, they will feel the unmatched softness of the SYNAugustineX47 dense thatch below their feet. Looking up, they will see the sharp twinkling of the Ultrabright White 5mm Untinted Non-Diffused LED stars above.

I hope that everyone who comes will enjoy the simple pleasure of lying in a field on a warm summer night looking up at the stars, even if it is only a simulation...

Finally, I hope a few will stop to think about the meaning of authenticity of experience in our technologically advancing artificial world.

Read the rest

Scott Pruitt's EPA has opened secret backchannels to the climate denial industry to find "scientists" and other "experts"

The Environmental Defense Fund and the Southern Environmental Law Center sued the EPA to force it to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request for access to emails to and from thinktanks associated with the climate denial industry like the Heartland Institute, Plants Need CO2, The Right Climate Stuff, and Junk Science. Read the rest

Two sitting Senators were among the people whose identities were stolen in FCC comments from anti-Net Neutrality bots

Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was so determined to ram through a Net Neutrality repeal that he ignored the fact that the FCC's public comment inbox was flooded with fake comments from anti-Net Neutrality bots -- at least a million of them -- who indiscriminately stole identities from the dead and alive alike (Pai said he'd treat these fake comments with the same weight that he gave to comments from humans, refusing to help law enforcement track down the botmasters, so that the Congressional Budget Office had to step in). Read the rest

It's laughably simple to buy thousands of cheap, plausible Facebook identities

Twitter draws a lot of fire for making it easy for anyone to set up an anonymous account or a bot; the argument against this says that making it easy to be anonymous also makes it easy to be shady. Read the rest

How Russian investigative journalists working for precarious free press outlets exposed the "troll factory"

St Petersburg's Internet Research Agency -- AKA "The Troll Factory" -- is in the news since Robert Mueller indicted 13 of its employees, but it first came to public attention in 2013, when investigative reporters working for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta revealed that the agency was working to manipulate Russian public opinion in favor of Putin and the Kremlin and against opposition politicians by flooding Russian online discussions with thousands of "patriotic" posts made under a welter of pseudonyms. Read the rest

Lobbyists release push-poll in an effort to tank Right to Repair bills and control independent security research

The Security Innovation Center is a lobbying group backed by CompTIA, CTIA, TechNet and the Consumer Technology Association for the express purpose of fighting laws that would legalize repairing your own property, or choosing to have it repaired by third parties. Read the rest

The independent experts who favorably evaluated Facebook's "Messenger Kids" were funded by Facebook

When Facebook rolled out "Messenger Kids," an IM product aimed at the 6-and-up set, it trumpeted that during the product's 18-month development cycle, it had been evaluated by child development experts in order to "safeguard" the young children it was targeting from harm. Read the rest

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