The predictable dystopian trajectory of China's Citizen Scores

China's Citizen Score system combines surveillance of your social media and social graph with your credit report, your purchase history and state spy agencies and police files on you to produce a "trustworthiness" score -- people who score low are denied access to high-speed travel, financial products, and other services like private school for their kids. Read the rest

Tesla pulls a Trump, smears critical press outlet as "extremists"

Tesla was extremely upset to learn that the employees who'd been injured and maimed in its factories spoke to Reveal News about the unsafe working conditions and culture of cover-ups at the Tesla plants. Read the rest

DHS dismisses critics of its plan to assemble a hostility-sorted list of journalists and commentators as "conspiracy theorists"

When Bloomberg spotted a Department of Homeland Security RFP for a database of journalists and sources, classified by how friendly or hostile they were to the DHS, it struck many of us as sinister, especially under an administration whose official, on-the-record position is that the free press is an enemy of the USA. Read the rest

Clearchannel took over America's local radio, Bain Capital took over Clearchannel, Clearchannel went bankrupt

As I've written, the demise of newsmedia can't be blamed on tech -- rather, it was the combination of technology and deregulated, neoliberal capitalism, which saw media companies merged and acquired, vertically and horizontally integrated, with quality lowered, staff outsourced and assets stripped, leaving them vulnerable to technological shocks, after all their in-house experts were turned into contractors who drifted away, their physical plant sold and leased back, their war-chests drained by vulture capitalists who loaded them up with debt that acted like a millstone around their necks as they strove to maneuver their way out of their economic conundrum. Read the rest

Study finds that false news spreads faster than truth online, thanks to humans (not bots)

An MIT research team has published a paper in Science detailing their analysis of the virulence with which truth and falsehood spread on Twitter; they analyzed 126,000 stories tweeted by 3m people 4.5m times, characterizing the stories as true or false according to consensus among a pool of independent fact-checking organizations, and concluded that "falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information, and the effects were more pronounced for false political news than for false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, or financial information." Read the rest

Exiled Cambodian opposition leader sues Facebook in California over allegations of collusion with Cambodia's dictator

Cambodian dictator Hun Sen has ruled since 1998, and when an opposition leader used Facebook to challenge his election in 2013, Hun Sen teamed up with a fake news outlet called Fresh News to deploy a Facebook-based strategy to consolidate his control and neutralize democratic opposition. Read the rest

Rod Serling: human rights activist as science fiction showrunner

Science fiction author Hugh Spencer (previously) has published an essay on how Rod Serling's activist views on human rights were embodied in The Twilight Zone, drawing on the practice of using fantastic fiction to evade social constraints, in the tradition of Gulliver's Travels (to say nothing of books like Pinocchio and Inferno). Read the rest

In the USA, Trump supporters are the most prolific users and sharers of "junk news" (a mix of untruth and distastefully presented materials)

Oxford's Computational Propaganda Project surveyed 13,500 "politically active" US Twitter users and 48,000 publicly visible Facebook pages, coding them for political affiliation, then measuring how much "junk news" (a news article that fails to live up to three or more of the following: professionalism, style, credibility, bias, counterfeit) was consumed and share by users based on their political affiliation. Read the rest

Facebook helped consolidate power for Cambodia's dictator and his attack-dog media, then killed the independent press's platform

In Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen has held power since 1998, a reign characterized by systematic looting, political patronage and violent suppression of human rights; when opposition parties used Facebook to organize a strong showing in the 2013 elections, Hun Sen turned to the tool to consolidate his slipping hold on power. Read the rest

Peter Thiel, "libertarian," wants to buy Gawker's archive, which would give him the power to censor stories he didn't like

Libertarian wisdom holds that "the answer to bad speech is more speech," but if you're a Peter Thiel libertarian (that is, the kind of "freedom lover" who doesn't think women should vote, wants to spy on everyone in the world, and secretly wields power to censor the free press), then "the answer to bad speech is secretly backing lawsuits by washed-up pro-wrestlers in order to kill a media outlet whose reporting you don't like." Read the rest

Above the Law's template for reporting on Donald Trump's stupid, doomed legal threats, of which there are so, so many

Donald Trump's legal threats against Fire and Fury publishers Macmillan, USA are merely the latest in the series of absurd, unwinnable, doomed legal threats to emanate from Donald Trump, who is an idiot. Read the rest

Rumour mill says that the Mercers are going to axe Bannon from Breitbart over "Fire and Fury" remarks

In his new book Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff says that one-time White House chief strategist Steve Bannon accused the Trump campaign of "treason", a revelation that sparked a hilarious denunciation by Donald Trump, who claimed that his Chief Strategist didn't know anything about his strategies or his chiefs -- which drew more attention to the book (as did the legal threats the Trump administration fired at the book's publisher, Macmillan), widening the rift between Bannon and Trump. Read the rest

Crowdfunding Lupiga, a progressive, independent voice combating rising fascism in Croatia

Lupiga is a longrunning, much-loved independent news source in Croatia that is virtually single-handedly doing battle with the country's surging fascist movement; they're crowdfunding to continue operations. Read the rest

Hedge funds killed the newspaper industry, not the web

The web came of age with no-holds-barred finance capitalism, so it's hard to decide which of the last twenty years' worth of changes are the result of the tech industry, or of financialization, or a toxic mix of both. Read the rest

Millions of poor rural voters now hate Trump and millions of rich voters still support him, but the press only profiles poor people who remain Trumpists

Trump won the election by welding together a coalition of racist rich people who wanted tax breaks and racist poor people who'd been living in Fox-induced terror for decades and believed the world was ending and thought that Trump would at least make brown people and liberals as miserable as they were on the way to total collapse. Read the rest

After Roy Moore threatens to sue AL.com, the publisher puts him on notice to preserve all documents for their countersuit

Threatening to sue journalists who paint you in an unflattering light has been a pretty effective tactic for the Trump crowd -- hell, Trump's special advisor Peter Thiel managed to destroy an entire media company in retaliation for their coverage of him, by secretly fronting legal fees for a clownish wrestler who had sex with his friend's wife -- but multiply accused child molestor and Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore isn't very good at it. Read the rest

How to investigate and report on modern slavery

Thalia Holmes summarizes the "Exposing Human Trafficking and Forced Labor" panel at the 10th Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Johannesburg, where veteran reporters who've broken major modern slavery stories discussed their methods and offered advice for others pursuing similar stories. Read the rest

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