As hoax-fueled lynchings continue in India, Whatsapp puts limits on video-forwarding

The viral hoax video purporting to show child-snatchers kidnapping Indian children continues to fuel lynchmobs, whose death toll has climbed to more than two dozen victims. Read the rest

Mark Zuckerberg and his empire of oily rags

Surveillance capitalism sucks: it improves the scattershot, low-performance success-rate of untargeted advertising (well below 1 percent) and doubles or triples it (to well below 1 percent!). Read the rest

The internet, 2008-2018: what's changed?

In 2008, Telstra Chief Scientist Geoff Huston wrote an informative and important retrospective on the shifts in internet technology since 1998; now, ten years later, he's written another one, tracing the remarkable shifts (and weirdly unbudgeable technological icebergs) in the past decade's worth of internet changes, advances and retreats. Read the rest

China has perfected the internet control playbook and now it's exporting it to the world

After decades of back-and-forth over internet freedom, China has figured out a method for allowing people to use the internet for social and business purposes, but not for political reform -- a combination of huge boiler-rooms full of censors, centralization of internet services under tight government control, and control over standards to ensure that surveillance and censorship are always possible. Read the rest

70+ internet pioneers to the EU: you are transforming the internet into a "tool for automated surveillance and control" SHARE THIS!

In one week, an EU committee will vote on a pair of extreme copyright proposals that will ban linking to news articles without permission, and force internet platforms to spy on all the pictures, text, video, audio and code their users post, sending it to AIs designed to catch copyright infringement and automatically censor anything that might violate copyright. Read the rest

Uganda enacts unenforceable, ridiculous anti-"gossip" internet tax

At the urging of Uganda's corrupt dictator Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan parliament has enacted legislation imposing a daily tax on anyone using social media platforms; Museveni said the measure would curb "gossip," while Matia Kasaija claimed it would fund security and electrification efforts. Read the rest

Court rules that Trump can't block people on Twitter

A New York federal judge has ruled that Donald Trump can't block people he doesn't like on Twitter, because he uses Twitter to communicate his edicts and policies as President of the United States, and the US government can't exclude communications based on viewpoint, as this violates the First Amendment. Read the rest

"I Agree": Visualizing terms of service with long scrolls of colored paper

"I Agree" is a Dima Yarovinsky's art installation for Visualizing Knowledge 2018, with printouts of the terms of service for common apps on scrolls of colored paper, creating a bar chart of the fine print that neither you, nor anyone else in the history of the world, has ever read. Read the rest

Britain's Great Firewall blocks access to official Disney sites, internet safety guides, VPNs, and coding sites for kids

In the decade since the UK rolled out its Great Firewall, the project of somehow dividing the entire internet into "good" and "bad" (or even "all-ages" and "adult") has run into a series of embarrassing gaffes, blocking rape crisis sites while letting through all sorts of ghastly porn -- and at every turn, the Conservative government's response has been to double down on internet censorship, expanding it from a parental filter to an opt-out porn filter, whose biggest backers have repeatedly demonstrated their technical incompetence. Read the rest

Amazon orders Signal to stop using AWS to defeat censorship

Repressive autocracies like Egypt, Oman, and the UAE ban Signal and other encrypted messaging apps, using national firewalls to try to block their traffic; Signal evades these blocks by using "domain fronting," in which the service's cloud provider shows up as the origin of its traffic, forcing countries to block Google or Amazon to get at a single service hiding behind them. Read the rest

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

2,000+ awesome hieroglyphs, coming soon to Unicode

Unicode pioneer Michael Suignard has submitted a "Revised draft for the encoding of an extended Egyptian Hieroglyphs repertoire" in Unicode, trying to replicate the expressivity of the 7,000 hieroglyphs used in Greco/Roman times. Read the rest

Family-owned Smugmug acquires Flickr, rescuing it from the sinking post-Yahoo ship

Flickr exists, in part, because I needed a photo-sharing tool to help me woo my long-distance girlfriend, who later became my wife, and whom I've been with now for 15 years -- so I have watched the service's long decline and neglect at the hands of Yahoo, and then its sale to the loathsome telco Verizon, with sorrow. Read the rest

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

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