Why Black Lives Matter Protests Are Growing In Minneapolis | BY DYLAN PETROHILOS NOV 18, 2015 4:44PM

How we got here.

On November 15th, Minneapolis police officers shot 24-year-old Jamar Clark, who witnesses say was handcuffed at the time, in the head. Police initially said Clark was a suspect in an assault who was interfering with paramedics. They also maintained he was not handcuffed, though he was unarmed. The police union president later claimed that Clark was trying to grab an officer’s weapon. The involved officers were identified as Mike Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze. The pair joined the force a little over a year ago and are currently on administrative leave.

The mayor called for an independent federal investigation, and police say they have snippets of footage that they will not yet release to the public. But while the circumstances of Clark’s death are investigated, protests are escalating.

Source: Why Black Lives Matter Protests Are Growing In Minneapolis | ThinkProgress


When Facebook shelled out a stunning $19 billion for WhatsApp in February of last year, few here in the US had heard of the tiny Silicon Valley startup. The move surprised even the small coterie of journalists who so closely cover the Bay Area tech scene. This was because WhatsApp doesn’t do much PR—and because its eponymous smartphone app was predominantly used overseas.

But, oh, how it was used overseas. Facebook shelled out $19 billion because the app—a way of sending text messages over the Internet, without paying the typically high SMS fees that wireless carriers charge to send texts across their private networks—had reached a similarly enormous 450 million people across Europe and the developing world, including India and Africa. Sure, the app was simple. But it met a real need. And it could serve as a platform for building all sorts of other simple services in places where wireless bandwidth is limited but people are hungry for the sort of instant communication we take for granted here in the US. One simple messaging app could provide voice calling, video calling, instant payments, and more.

“It’s an amazingly powerful communication tool, distributed to populations that frankly have been reamed for years by SMS charges, and it has changed all that,” David Soloff, who used WhatsApp to help bootstrap his company, Premise, told us shortly after Facebook acquisition was approved last fall. “This is a profound thing.”

Now, a year after regulators approved the Facebook deal, WhatsApp is used by more than 900 million souls, which places it among the most popular apps on earth. Facebook is used by more than 1.5 billion, but few others even come close. And indeed, WhatsApp has added voice calling to its service, with more additions undoubtedly on the way. What may be most impressive, however, is that the company has done all of this with such a small staff. One of the most popular apps on the planet is run by a company that employs about 50 engineers.

And yet, the US media still has little to say about WhatsApp. The app is still mostly an overseas phenomenon—and the company still does little PR. In the one story they participated in—a profile in Forbes that appeared the day of the Facebook acquisition—company co-founder Jan Koum was unapologetic in saying he considers PR and press a drag on the company’s time. “Marketing and press kicks up dust,” said the Ukraine-born Koum, who founded the company alongside an old Yahoo colleague named Brian Acton. “It gets in your eye, and then you’re not focusing on the product.”

But in the wake of the company’s one-year anniversary with Facebook, Acton agreed to answer some questions, though only by email. The result is below, edited (slightly) for clarity.


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Snowden hits back at Clinton – By Bradford Richardson – 10/17/15 05:38 PM EDT

Getty Images

National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward says Hillary Clinton is wrong to claim he could have come out under whistleblower protection laws.

“Sad to see Hillary repeat a false claim despite fact check. She could develop a reputation,” he tweeted on Friday.

Clinton claimed at the first Democratic primary debate that Snowden would have been protected if he had gone through the appropriate channels to reveal improper government practices.

But Snowden pointed to a PolitiFact statement rated “True” that says the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous presidential administrations combined.

Clinton doubled down on her stance at a New Hampshire rally on Friday, saying Snowden should be made to return to the United States to answer for his actions.

“I firmly believe that he could have gone public and released the information about the collection of information on Americans under whistleblower protection, and he could have done it within the tradition in our country that shields people who come forth acting out of conscience to present information they believe the public should have,” Clinton said.

The former secretary of State, who resigned from her position just months before Snowden stole and made public classified data on the U.S. government’s espionage practices, questioned the NSA contractor’s motives after he immediately fled to China and Russia after the 2013 leak.

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Why Does Hate Thrive Online?

Online, all users are part of “the global conversation of bits,” according to an influential 1996 manifesto. Photo by Tammy54/Shuttestock

Online, all users are part of “the global conversation of bits,” according to an influential 1996 manifesto.
Photo by Tammy54/Shuttestock

In 1996, John Perry Barlow published the Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. “I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind,” Barlow wrote. “Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live. We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.” Online, the “legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us,” he continued. Barlow envisioned an Internet where all users are created equal—male or female, rich or poor, sweetheart or asshole. “In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.”

In real life, Barlow comes from Wyoming. He’s a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead, and a white male libertarian. Read one way, Barlow’s declaration gives marginalized communities permission to speak truth to power. Read another, it discourages women and people of color from discussing their bodies and identities online while emboldening others to bully them into silence. Upon publication, Barlow’s declaration “spread like kudzu through the electrical wires of the virtual world,” Businessweek reported. Within months, it had been republished across the Web 5,000 times. Nearly two decades later, Kate Miltner, who studies online structural inequality at the University of Southern California, recognized Barlow’s words “echoing through the #GamerGate controversy.” It was almost as if the Web had been calibrated from the very beginning to allow a bigoted harassment campaign to flourish.

Why does hate thrive online? In a roundtable discussion published recently in Social Media + Society, Miltner and a crew of fellow digital culture scholars attempt to answer that question by identifying the historical roots of Internet trolling, bullying, flaming, and harassment. One culprit: The flattened perspective promoted by early Web activists like Barlow—which seeks to erase power politics, social context, and physical cues from digital culture—may force users to speak louder and harsher in order to be seen and heard. University of Sussex digital cultures professor Tim Jordan argues that because online “markers of identity” are “inherently unstable, unlike the body or timbre of a voice,” they “have to be stabilized by being heard consistently.” On the Internet, women and people of color are forced to constantly articulate aspects of their identity that are often obvious in face-to-face communication or already established in personal relationships where identities remain stable—you already know which participant in the discussion identifies as black and which has had an abortion. Meanwhile, their haters need to spew insults constantly in order to be consistently “recognized” as opponents of a marginalized group.

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This App Is Building a Giant Network for Free Messaging – LIZ STINSON. 10.12.15. 4:38 PM

Manila is using the FireChat app to build a city-wide mesh network.  FIRECHAT

Manila is using the FireChat app to build a city-wide mesh network. FIRECHAT

Last fall hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong and encountered a serious logistical issue: Their phones weren’t working. The sheer number of people concentrated in the area crushed the network, crippling their main form of communication. At a time when staying in touch was critical, it became impossible.

And then something interesting happened. People began chatting with each other, but not over Wi-Fi or data networks. It was via FireChat, a new app from the company Open Garden. FireChat, like the similar Serval Project, builds mesh networks by connecting smartphones via the device’s Bluetooth or peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. This effectively turns every smartphone with FireChat into a node that can carry and deliver text messages. The big idea is that instead of relying on a centralized ISP or telecom company to provide service, people are able to build their own decentralized network that can grow as large as there are people who have the app downloaded. In the case of FireChat, these messages end up in either a massive group chat or can be encrypted and delivered as a private message by hopping from phone to phone until it reaches its intended recipient. “In a sense it’s like a blind postman,” says Christophe Daligault, Open Garden’s chief marketing officer.

Since the app launched in the spring of 2014, it’s been used in Hong Kong, Iraq, France, and Ecuador during major protests and natural disasters (more than 500,000 people downloaded the app over the course of a couple days in Hong Kong). It’s also, we should note, wildly popular with the Burning Man set. As of today, though, FireChat is attempting to organize its biggest network yet. The company just announced it’s partnering with Marikina, a city of 400,000 that makes up metro Manila in the Philippines, to build a city-wide mesh network that can be used during natural disasters.


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How to Make a Clean Break With the Clingiest Social Networks – GORDON GOTTSEGEN. 10.11.15. 7:00 AM

Social networks walk a fine line between being a useful tool and a crippling addiction. Whether you want your free time back, or don’t like your information scattered about on the Internet, you may be considering deactivating some accounts. Coming to this conclusion is one thing, but actually being able to hit the delete button is another story. Social media outlets make money off of you and your information, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they don’t want to let you go. Because of this, many have made it complicated to delete your account. But if you are set on getting rid of them, here’s what you’ll have to do.


You’ve had your Facebook account for about a decade and in that time you’ve posted a little too much personal information. Maybe you’re just sick of all the baby pictures and slightly offensive status updates your friends are sharing. You’ve had enough.

If you’ve ever deactivated your account you may have noticed that everything goes back to normal the next time you log in, as if nothing has happened. That’s because deactivating your Facebook account is not the same as deleting it. When you deactivate your account, you are just hiding your information from searches and your Facebook friends. Although it’s not visible, your account information is still intact on Facebook’s servers, eagerly awaiting your return.

Deactivating your account is as easy as going into your settings, clicking Security, and then “Deactivate your account.” But finding the delete option is harder. The easiest way to delete your account is by clicking the lock icon in the top-right corner, then the search icon, then typing “delete account.” This will bring you to the page where you delete your account. There’s more help here.

Once you fill out the form on this page, Facebook will permanently delete your account. However, they don’t do this until 14 days after you submit your request. You know, in case you change your mind.

If you decide to get rid of your Facebook account, you may want to download your account information before you delete it. The information downloaded includes everything from the photos and statuses you post, to the ads you’ve clicked and IP addresses you’ve used. The list of what’s included is extensive, but you can view it in its entirety here. Also, due to the nature of this data, you’ll want to keep it in a safe place.

To download your account, go into Settings > General Account Settings > Download a copy of your Facebook data and then click “Start My Archive.” When your download is ready, Facebook will send you an email with a link to download. For added security, this link will expire after a few days, so act fast.


Even though it’s such a mobile-first service, Instagram doesn’t let you delete your account through the app. Instead, you’ll have to log into your Instagram account via the web to delete it.


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Why I Quit My Facebook Quitting – JESSI HEMPEL. 09.20.15. 7:00 AM

Sixteen days into my social media sabbatical last month, I cheated. I was looking for an email address I couldn’t find, and I knew the guy I wanted to reach was active on Twitter. I logged on and tweeted at him. Presto, he got right back to me. So did another friend, with a one-word dm: “Busted!”

He was right. I was busted, but that was hardly the only time I slipped. Last month, I embarked on my third annual social media cleanse. I logged off all of my social software, moved my apps into a separate folder and turned off the push notifications, and told my friends to pick up the phone if they wanted to talk to me. I invited Wired readers to join me, and more than 100 of you sent me emails to say you were up for the challenge.

So how did you all do? My month was long, and my stalwart commitment to improving my Internet hygiene flagged quickly. I cheated a lot.

Some of the cheats were purposeful. Once I needed an address for an event I planned to attend, and the invitation was on Facebook. Another time, I was getting ready to interview a story subject, and I wanted some background on her before we spoke.

Most of the time, though, my slips were accidental. I discovered (again this year) that social software is embedded everywhere. My Facebook log-in doubled as my log-in for my ride-sharing app (Uber), my jogging music app (RockMyRun), my house-sharing app (Airbnb), and my bike-riding app (MapMyRide). And then there was Rise, the social app I use to send photos of my meals to a professional dietician, who advises me to leave off the chocolate and add a bit of spinach. Wasn’t that basically a social app?

Then I traveled to a country that had expensive data, and I didn’t want to pay for a plan. I decided to use Wi-Fi to call home, and turned to Google Hangouts to video chat, send photos and generally keep in touch. It was all over. Social media won.

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Here’s a look inside the Facebook app that only famous people can use – James Cook Sep. 18, 2015, 7:00 AM

oscar selfie ellen degeneresEllen DeGeneres/APFacebook Mentions is where all the famous people hang out.

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Facebook released a little-known app that, until recently, could be used only by famous people verified by the social network.

It’s called Facebook Mentions.

Mentions is a better way for influential people to “keep in touch with their fans,” according to the company. It’s accessible only to verified Facebook users, a privilege that was previously reserved for celebrities, sports stars, and musicians. Users are verified if they have a blue tick next to their name.

Since journalists can now be verified too, we downloaded the app to see what it does and how it differs from regular Facebook.

Forget ‘Dislike’ – here are 12 new buttons Facebook really needs – Wednesday 16 September 2015 04.59 EDT

From baby boredom to Candy Crush begging, once the social network starts adding new buttons, it’s hard to know where it should stopScreen Shot 2015-09-17 at Sep 17, 2015 12.59

Facebook is introducing a ‘Dislike’ button. Or at least something like it, for people to “express empathy” for status updates they feel awkward about liking – from people posting about the death of a loved one to news stories about crises.

“Not every moment is a good moment,” said Mark Zuckerberg, as he confirmed that work had begun on an alternative.

Why stop there, though? The average Facebook feed is full of stories begging responses beyond “Like” or even “Dislike”. If you’re reading, Zuck, here are some more candidates for shipping as soon as possible. Please.

1. ‘U OK hun?’

Sounds similar to the empathy button being worked on by Facebook, but for many of us this would play a different role: a coded “stop moaning” for friends who can’t stop posting passive-aggressive complaints.

2. ‘I’ve had better in Wimpy’

Tough love for friends who just can’t stop posting their Instagram burger shots.

Tough on Instagrammed burgers; tough on the posters of Instagrammed burgers
Tough on Instagrammed burgers; tough on the posters of Instagrammed burgers Photograph: REX Shutterstock/REX Shutterstock

3. ‘Mum, step AWAY from the emoji keyboard’

“That’s enough smilies and dancing ladies for this week. And btw that’s not a happy brown ice cream.”

4. ‘That’s racist’

As ideal for friends sharing far-right memes as it is for the latest unpleasant news story. This button even ships with its own GIF.

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