Reddit's wonderful "Change My View" forum launches its own independent website

Change My View (previously) is a wonderful subreddit founded by a Scottish highschooler named Kal Turnbull as a forum where people can conduct honest inquiry and debate, where the house-rules ensure that there is an open-minded willingness to have your views changed, and where those changes are marked with a Δ (delta) symbol. Read the rest

Facebook's year-old "improvements" to the newsfeed have elevated enraging Fox News posts to the service's dominant form

A year ago, smarting over public criticism of its role in promoting division and stoking racism, Facebook announced a major shift in its newsfeed algorithm which would downrank posts from media organizations and uprank the things sent by your friends on the network, in the name of promotion a gentler form of "engagement" that would emphasize discourse over clickbait, which founder Mark Zuckerberg promised would be "time well spent." Read the rest

Millions of Americans have left Facebook, led by young people aged 12-34

A new report from Edison Research finds Facebook's American user-base contracted for the second consecutive year in 2018, shrinking by 15,000,000, and that the biggest declines have come from the coveted 12-34 year old group. Read the rest

Open dataset of 1.78b links from the public web, 2016-2019

GDELT, a digital news monitoring service backed by Google Jigsaw, has released a massive, open set of linking data, containing 1.78 billion links in CSV, with four fields for each link: "FromSite,ToSite,NumDays,NumLinks." Read the rest

German Data Privacy Commissioner warns at new Copyright Directive will increase the tech oligopoly, make EU companies dependent on US filter vendors, and subject Europeans to surveillance by US companies

Ulrich Kelber is the German Data Privacy Commissioner, and also a computer scientist, and as such, he is uniquely qualified to comment on the potential consequences of the proposed new EU Copyright Directive, which will be voted on at the end of this month, and whose Article 13 requires that all online communities, platforms and services block their users from committing copyright infringement, even if the infringing materials are speedily removed after they are posted. Read the rest

The next Firefox will block all autoplayed audio, video

There are plugins and obscure settings that will get this behavior, but, as the saying goes, "defaults matter": Firefox 66 will not play any audio or video until "a web page has had user interaction to initiate the audio." (via Four Short Links) Read the rest

Glossary of Broken Dreams: now available to stream!

Johannes Grenzfurthner writes, "My film 'Glossary of Broken Dreams' (which is getting more and more relevant, given all the political turmoil currently around) (previously) is finally available on Vimeo on Demand (buying and renting). Read the rest

Sort by Controversial: training machine learning to sow irreparable divisions

Scott Alexander continues to delight with his works of short, sharp science fiction (previously): this time, it's "Sort by Controversial," a teachnolovecraftian story of training a machine learning system to recognize (and then produce) "controversial" stories by exploiting Reddit's "sort by controversial" feature to obtain training data. Read the rest

The sad history of Livejournal as a lens for understanding the state of social media today

Like Facebook, Livejournal was built in a bright student's dormroom; but unlike Facebook, LJ wasn't built "for nonconsensually rating the fuckability of stolen photos of undergrads," but rather as a community-minded platform for self-expression and connection-forging. Read the rest

Shoshana Zuboff discusses her new book, "Surveillance Capitalism"

Ever since academic Shoshana Zuboff coined the term "Surveillance Capitalism" in 2015, it's become a touchstone for the debate over commercial surveillance (we've cited it hundreds of times). This week, Zuboff published her (very thick) book on the subject, to excellent early notices; I haven't read it yet, but it's next on my list. Read the rest

The Boing Boing blog turns 19 today

Nineteen years ago today, Mark decided to do some research on the new Blogger service for an article in The Industry Standard, and so he created a blog and started posting to it (the Standard spiked the story, on the basis that blogging was probably a passing fad). Read the rest

Thunderbird team vows faster, easier-to-use, more stable versions in the year to come

In 2015, Mozilla announced that it would turn Thunderbird -- one of the last freestanding, cross-platform email clients -- into a freestanding, independent project, and in 2017, Thunderbird became a community-overseen project with institutional backing from Moz. Read the rest

Mozilla pulls a popular paywall circumvention tool from Firefox add-ons store

Bypass Paywalls is a popular extension for Firefox and Chrome that does what the name implies: allows your browser to manipulate its cookies so that websites with "soft paywalls" that allow a small number of free articles can't accurately determine if you've already exceeded your limit. Read the rest

Assessing Snowden's legacy, five years on

Five and a half years ago, Edward Snowden put his life on the line, gave up his country, and went into exile, just to reveal that he had been part of a widespread, illegal mass-surveillance program within the US government -- an illegal enterprise that the most senior spies in the nation had routinely lied about (including lying to Congress), and that had distorted the internet, suborning the titans of surveillance capitalism and pressing them into service as part of a program of national surveillance unlike any the world has ever seen. Read the rest

Jay Rosen's "Letter to My Network: Join The Correspondent"

This is for everyone who follows me on social media, or who has read my press criticism. All my former students. Fans of my blog, PressThink. Anyone who owns my book. Anyone who's heard me speak. It is a personal statement, from me to them.

I have never asked you for anything. Except maybe to read this, or share that. I don't push products, or join campaigns. But today, after 32 years as an observer and critic of the press, I am breaking with that policy. Breaking it in half. Read the rest

The market failed rural kids: poor rural broadband has created a "homework gap"

America's commitment to market-based broadband -- fueled by telcom millions pumped into campaigns against public broadband provision -- has left rural Americans without access to the broadband they need to fully participate in twenty-first century life, with students among the hardest-hit victims of broadband deprivation. Read the rest

The internet is made up of revolutionary technologies, but isn't revolutionary

My latest Locus Magazine column is What the Internet Is For: it describes the revolutionary principle (end-to-end communications) and technologies (general purpose computers, strong cryptography) that undergird the net, but also cautions that these are, themselves, not sufficient to revolutionize the world. Read the rest

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