The upside of big tech is Russia vs Telegram, but the downside is Cloudflare vs SESTA

Yesterday, I wrote about the way that tech-sector concentration was making it nearly impossible for Russia to block the encrypted messaging service Telegram: because Telegram can serve its traffic through giant cloud providers like Amazon, Russia can only block Telegram by blocking everyone else who uses Amazon. Read the rest

How abusive bosses and Slack led software engineers to unionize and demand justice

Lanetix is your basic shitty tech company, where your two weeks of annual paid leave is subject to often-withheld managerial approval, where bosses threaten engineers with getting canned if they participate in private Slack channels where they discuss working conditions, and where high-performing software engineers who object to bad management are summarily fired. Read the rest

Hells Angels around the world rally to downrank Manitoba businesses that don't serve outlaw bikers

After Winnipeg's Marion Hotel turned away members of the Manitoba Nomads -- a branch of the Hells Angels, classed as a criminal organisation under Manitoba law -- the gang's president called on Hells Angels affiliate around the world to leave one-star ratings for the business on Facebook, driving both the hotel and its restaurant off of Facebook, seemingly permanently. Read the rest

Youtube Face: the visual vocabulary of broad facial expressions dictated by Google's Algorithm Gods

You've probably seen the Youtube Face; it's that extreme facial expression (disgust, ecstasy, hilarity, etc) depicted in the thumbnails of Youtubers' would-be-viral videos, especially reaction videos. Read the rest

The .cm typosquatters accidentally exposed their logs, revealing the incredible scale of typojacking

.cm is the top-level domain for Cameroon, and the major use-case for .cm domains is typosquatting -- registering common .com domains as .cm domains (like microsoft.cm or apple.cm), in the hopes of nabbing traffic from users who fatfinger while typing a domain, and sometimes serving them malware or directing them to scams. Read the rest

The technologies that would make the web more participatory

The early web was heralded as a revolution in participatory media where everyone could make media as well as consuming it. Read the rest

Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1: an encrypted, privacy-protecting DNS service

Cloudflare, a company with a history of resisting surveillance and censorship orders (albeit imperfectly and sometimes with undesirable consequences) has announced a new DNS service, hosted at the easy-to-remember address of 1.1.1.1, which accepts connections under the still-novel DNS-over-HTTPS protocol, and which has privacy designed in, with all logs written only to RAM (never to disk) and flushed every 24 hours. Read the rest

Here are the moats and walls Facebook has been building for years to defend against #DeleteFacebook

As we set ourselves to the task of dooming Facebook to the scrapheap of history, it's worth considering the many ways in which Facebook has anticipated and planned for this moment, enacting countermeasures to prevent the rise of a competitor focused on delivering things that help users (making it easy to find people to form interest groups with), rather than focused on "maximizing engagement" and spying on us. Read the rest

Facebook deathwatch: a decade ago, it was impossible to imagine the fall of Myspace

In 2007, the Guardian's Victor Keegan published "Will MySpace ever lose its monopoly?" in which he enumerated the unbridgeable moats and unscalable walls that "Rupert Murdoch's Myspace" had erected around itself, evaluating all the contenders to replace Myspace and finding them wanting. Read the rest

Five years after Google conquered and abandoned RSS, the news-reader ecosystem is showing green shoots

RSS was a revelation for blogging and online media; we got our first RSS feed in 2001 and I have relied heavily on RSS feeds to write this site (and stay informed) for nearly two decades now; in 2005, Google bet heavily on RSS with its Google Reader product, which quickly eclipsed every other reader, so that by the time they killed it in 2013, there wasn't anything sophisticated, robust and well-maintained to switch to. Read the rest

How to evaluate secure messengers and decide which one is for you

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is running an excellent series on the potential and pitfalls of secure messaging app -- this is very timely given the ramping up of state surveillance and identity theft, not to mention anyone looking to #DeleteFacebook and transition away from Facebook Messenger. 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

Online copyright infringement is up, and water is still wet

During the Napster wars, Bruce Schneier famously quipped, "Making bits harder to copy is like making water less wet." Read the rest

Why no one has made a tool to turn off Facebook oversharing

The debate over whether Cambridge Analytica's harvesting of tens of millions of Facebook profiles was a "breach" turns on the question of whether Cambridge Analytica did anything wrong, by Facebook's own policies. Read the rest

More than a decade's worth of Facebook catastrophes

In the wake of the latest Facebook data breach catastrophe, Josh Constantine rounds up more than a decade's worth of major catastrophes wrought by Facebook's recklessness, greed, and foolishness, from Beacon to the "Engagement Ranked Feed" to the "Engagement Priced Ad Auctions" to the choices that created spamming games like Zynga's offerings, to the mass overwriting of privacy preferences, to "ethnic affinity" ad targeting, to the Real Names policy and the stalkers it abetted to Facebook's global anti-Net-Neutrality campaigns; to self-serve ads; to developer data access and the gift it handed to crooks like Cambridge Analytica. Read the rest

Facebook once boasted of its ability to sway elections, now it has buried those pages

Facebook maintains a repository of success stories trumpeting the advertisers who have attained greatness by buying Facebook ads; most of these are businesses, but until recently, Facebook also trumpeted Florida Governor Rick Scott's use of Facebook ads to "boost Hispanic voter turnout in their candidate’s successful bid for a second term, resulting in a 22% increase in Hispanic support and the majority of the Cuban vote." Read the rest

European Parliament ambushed by doctored version of pending internet censorship rules that sneaks filtering into all online services

For months, the European Parliament has been negotiating over a new copyright rule, with rightsholder organizations demanding that some online services implement censoring filters that prevent anyone from uploading text, sounds or images if they have been claimed by a copyright holder. Read the rest

More posts