A census of leading Italian politicians' Twitter followings finds a horde of zombies and bots

As Italy heads into a national election in which mass inequality and food poverty have disrupted Italy's always-shaky political equilibrium, La Republica publishes its analysis (Google Translate) of the Twitter followers associated with each of Italy's political superstars and finds some pretty intense inflation in the numbers. Read the rest

Browser extensions to restore "View Image" and "Search By Image" to Google Image search results

It's been 72 hours since Google Images removed the "View Image" and (the even more essential) "Search By Image" buttons from its search-results; now you can just install a browser extension (Firefox, Chrome). Read the rest

Wikipedia discontinues its "zero-rating," will focus on research-driven outreach

When Facebook was desperately trying to game the Indian regulatory process to get approval for its "zero-rating" system (where it would bribe Indian ISPs to give it the power to decide which services would be free to access, and which would be capped and metered), one of the frequent arguments in favor of this "poor internet for poor people" was that the Wikimedia Foundation had struck similar deals in poor countries around the world, freeflagging Wikipedia use on networks that were otherwise strictly capped and metered. Read the rest

AT&T's 1993 "You Will" ads, the rightest wrong things ever predicted about the internet

In 1993, AT&T ran a series of ads trumpeting the future of the internet, called "You Will." Read the rest

New York Federal judge rules that embedding tweets can violate copyright law

Katherine Forrest, an Obama-appointed federal judge in New York, has overturned a bedrock principle of internet law, ruling that embedding a copyrighted work can constitute a copyright infringement on the part of the entity doing the embedding. Read the rest

Canada's SOPA moment: Canadian telco giants pushing for site blocking without court orders

SOPA may be a distant memory for the Internet community, but Canada now finds itself in its own SOPA moment. Telecom giant Bell leads a coalition of companies and associations in seeking support for a wide-ranging website blocking plan that could have similarly harmful effects on the Internet, representing a set-back for privacy, freedom of expression, and net neutrality. While that need not be the choice - Canada’s Copyright Act already features some of the world’s toughest anti-piracy laws - the government and the CRTC, Canada's telecom regulator, are faced with deciding on the merits of a website blocking plan that is best described as a disproportionate, unconstitutional proposal sorely lacking in due process.

Deepfakes that hurt people are already illegal, so let's stop trying to rush out ill-considered legislation

Deepfakes -- videos with incredibly realistic faceswapping, created with machine learning techniques -- are creepy as hell, except when they're not (then they're a form of incredibly expressive creativity with implications for both storytelling and political speech). 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

Unpaywall: a search-engine for authorized, freely accessible versions of scholarly journal articles

Unpaywall is a service that indexes open access repositories, university, government and scholarly society archives, and other sources that make articles available with authorization from the rightsholders and journals -- about 47% of the articles that its users seek. Read the rest

Teen Bo$$: a magazine advising tweens on how to get rich by being "social media brands"

Bauer Media's Teen Boss is a new quarterly magazine, launched last summer for "Gen-Z entrepreneurs" aged 8-15 who want to pursue careers as "influencers." Read the rest

America's school systems serve unencrypted web resources that are riddled with ad-tech trackers

Edtech Strategies, "a boutique consultancy focused on providing strategic research and counsel on issues at the intersection of education, public policy, technology, and innovation" has published a report detailing the dismal state of America's state education agencies web-practices, where encrypted connections are hard to find and adtech trackers are everywhere. Read the rest

After industry adopts open video standards, MPEG founder says the end is nigh

Leonardo Chiariglione is founder and chairman of the International Standards Organization's Motion Picture Expert Group (MPEG), whose standards have dominated video playback since the earliest days; MPEG's primary rival is the Alliance for Open Media, an ascendant open standards body that requires that members promise not to enforce patents that overlap with its standards, meaning that anyone can play back AOM video without paying rent to MPEG members. Read the rest

The Financial Times's 404 page is an ingenious, hilarious introduction to major concepts in economic theory

If you hit a dead link on the Financial Times' website, you get a 404 page that offers a series of funny possible explanations for the page's nonexistence, each corresponding to a different economic theory (like "monetarism," the "efficient markets hypothesis" and "trickle-down"), and many are linked to articles from the FT's archives that delve into the concept. Read the rest

Canada stripped the TPP of its terrible IP proposals: will the US seek revenge in NAFTA talks?

It's been nearly a year since Trump killed the Trans Pacific Partnership by pulling the US out of it; last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada and the other TPP countries would sign the agreement without the USA -- an announcement timed to coincide with Trump's appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, presenting the TPP nations as a kind of coalition of the willing for political moderation and maturity. Read the rest

Deepfakes has democratized the creation of extremely realistic video faceswapping, especially in porn

Late last year, a redditor called Deepfakes gained notoriety for the extremely convincing face-swap porn videos he was making, in which the faces of mainstream Hollywood actors and rockstars were convincingly overlaid on the bodies of performers in pornography. Read the rest

Research report explains how adtech supercharges political deceit, allowing even bumblers to be master propagandists

A new report from the New America Foundation uses the current fear that Russian government elements manipulated the 2016 US election to explore the relationship between advertising technology, surveillance capitalism, and "precision propaganda," showing how the toolsuite developed for the advertising industry is readily repurposable by even modestly competent actors to spread disinformation campaigns. Read the rest

Comprehensive, open tutorial on using data analysis in social science research

Benjamin Mako Hill (previously) collaborated with colleagues involved in critical technology studies to write a textbook chapter analyzing the use of computational methods in social science and providing advice for social scientists who want to delve into data-based social science. Read the rest

More posts