Brad Johnson's opinion piece for US News and World Report today should be spread far and wide:
Today, Google is promoting a prominent speech by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who denies the reality of climate change and held the government hostage for weeks in a failed attempt to kill universal health care. Cruz, who has received $12,500 in campaign funding from Google, is the main attraction at this year's American Legislative Exchange Council summit in Washington, D.C...There is simply no squaring the moral ambition of the "Don't Be Evil" motto of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin with funding for a group that promotes "The Many Benefits of Increased Atmospheric CO2." ALEC is exactly who Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was talking about when he said at a recent Google symposium: "You can lie about the effects of climate change, but eventually you'll be seen as a liar."
Even I, a Kickstarter skeptic, think this is just reprehensible: Heidi MacDonald at The Beat has published two posts explaining the growing trend of Kicktrolling. Cartoonist Thom Pratt explains his experience with someone going by the name Lee McAllister, who at first pledged $500 toward a collected edition of Pratt's new comic on Kickstarter:
...over the holiday weekend, he suddenly raised his bid to $1,000. “Well, okay,” we thought, “maybe he reeeeaallly wanted to see the project get funded.”
And then we woke up to suddenly find ourselves at 65% of goal, up from around 25%. Why?
Well, “Lee” suddenly increased his pledge to $10,000. And bragged about it in the comments.
Pratt says that McAllister's big-money bids on other Kickstarters have since disappeared from the site, and he's unsure if his Kickstarter is going to be funded by its deadline. Now other people who have been Kicktrolled are stepping forward to tell their stories. This kind of phony pledging hurts artists because they have to pay fees on the pledges regardless of whether they actually collect, and the higher-pledged totals affect the number of rewards that artists are obligated to send out.
I assume people who do this sort of Kicktrolling thing enjoy the momentary feeling of beneficence that pushing a button on a website gives them, and they just don't give a damn that they might pull the plug on someone else's dreams because that thrill is so powerful. (It makes me think of Cienna Madrid's great feature about people who lie on the internet about having terrible diseases for sympathy.) Obviously, Kickstarter needs to do something about this before it spreads any further on their site. This is the sort of thing that could ruin Kickstarter for small projects.
In light of Paul's earlier post, please enjoy this. (There's a promo for the guy's video game at the end. Bonus?)
Thanks, Slog-Tipper Mark!
Rachel Dukes posts her cartoons on the internet for free. She loves it when her cartoons are shared. But even an artist who gives her work away for free wants her name attached to her work. Dukes posted a cat cartoon in January that circulated around the internet at a pretty healthy clip. However, the cartoon didn't really take off until some 9Gag user clipped the URL and credit information from the bottom of the cartoon and published it as their own work. Dukes provides a tally of how far the cartoon made it around the net, in both credited and uncredited versions:
Posts using the credited image:
2,721 Tumblr notes
0 Pintrest shares
14,000 Facebook likes
10,700 Facebook shares
Posts using the uncredited image:
62,393 Tumblr notes
6,000 Pintrest shares
2,085 Facebook likes
347,984 Facebook shares
This is, obviously, crazy. Dukes is asking for no payment other than her own name attached to her own work; most of the internet can't even be bothered to allow her that one simple request. Why has the uncredited version traveled so much further than the credited version? Is it that people just like to claim others' work as their own? Or is it somehow subconsciously easier for people to "share" work online when there's no obvious authorship attached? Now that Google makes it ridiculously easy to do a reverse image search, there's no reason for sites like BuzzFeed and Cheezburger to get away with these kinds of shenanigans. But they still do it. Boy, do they ever do it.
(The Lost in Font blog on Tumblr deserves credit for getting this post in front of my eyes.)
Ted Rall had been posting his cartoons at Daily Kos for several weeks. Over the long holiday weekend, he put up a post explaining that his cartoons had been banned from Kos because, in the words of a site administrator, his "depiction of Barack Obama as ape-like is intolerable." (You can see a sample of Rall's Obama on his site.) Rall's post is packed with outrage: "This is what the Democratic Party has come to: so unable to face criticism, whether from left or right, that they stifle opposing voices," he huffs. Then, when faced with charges of racism, Rall falls back on the old standby
Anyone familiar with me and my work knows I'm not racist.... It should be noted that my editors at a variety of American newspapers, magazines and websites, almost all of whom are left of center politically, some of whom are black and many of whom voted for Obama, have never expressed the slightest concern about the way I draw the president.
There needs to be some sort of an intervention technique for white people who have been accused of racism—maybe an anthropomorphic pencil that pops up on the screen and says "It looks like you're writing a blog post refuting charges that you're racist. Would you like help?" The first two pieces of advice that the talking pencil would offer would be:
1. Don't tell us you're not racist. Racism isn't an either-or proposition. It's complicated. Racism isn't always intentional. Racism is not always active. Racism can be about perception, and someone else's perception is out of your control. It's not a simple yes or no, and immediately denying your own racism throws your entire argument into doubt.
2. For the love of Christ, using the "some of my best friends/coworkers are black" argument is a terrible decision. Guess what? Arguing that nobody of a certain race should be offended because you know one or two members of a certain race who aren't offended? That's racist.
Based on the comments of the post, Kos commenters are by and large happy to see Rall go. Maybe if Rall had approached the situation as a conversation, rather than declaring himself to be the victim of a pro-Obama conspiracy, something useful would have come out of this. But I just don't see Rall's response to the controversy winning him any new fans.
In a classic social media blunder, J.P. Morgan announced on November 6 that they'd be holding a Q&A on the 14th (today), but then something happened.
It’s a #TwitterTakeover: We'll host our 1st live Q&A on leadership & career advice w/a leading $JPM exec on 11/14. Use #AskJPM to submit a Q
— J.P. Morgan (@jpmorgan) November 6, 2013
Unsurprisingly, public vitriol toward the mega-bank took over the hashtag during the last week, to delightful results. A few examples:
Would you rather negotiate with 1 horse-sized Eric Holder, or 100 duck-sized Eric Holders? #AskJPM
— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) November 13, 2013
What's it like working with Mexican drug cartels? Do they tip? #AskJPM
— David Dayen (@ddayen) November 13, 2013
Hooray for Jennifer Lawrence! She's sincerely and thoughtfully answering questions about role models for young women and body image on her PR tour for the new Hunger Games movie.
Boo for Toys R Us! Their newest ad feeds into that stupid "science is boring and normal kids hate it" stereotype. This ad is practically an illustration of our nation's shameful anti-educational decline.
That last video is via George Dvorsky at io9, who explains exactly why this ad is anti-science bullshit.
@marv_nelson I go on Twitter to be antagonized & hated in front of a mob. It helps balance out life's teeter-totter.— Mark Driscoll (@PastorMark) November 12, 2013
Yesterday, I told you that Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll was going to be answering questions on Twitter this morning. It turned out to be quite a spectacle. Driscoll answered a few sincere questions from his flock, even though his answers weren't always coherent:
@travisman1994 If it involves a single woman and your hands the answer is no— Mark Driscoll (@PastorMark) November 12, 2013
Very good Twitter user Jake Dockter kept a tally of all of Driscoll's responses based on the gender of the questioner and the subject of the question. The results are just about what you figure they'd be: biased way toward men and focusing especially on "quirky" questions about pop culture or financial success. Driscoll, after all, made his fame as the hip preacher who lured people in with rock music and the glamour of prosperity before dropping the boom with his hateful homophobia and his creepy need to see women subjugated and silenced.
The best questions, though, are the ones that Pastor Mark completely ignored. After the jump, you'll find a sampling.
Remember Ashley Madison, the social networking site that promises to bring married people together for secret affairs? Seems like it may not be as full of sexy un-singles as advertised:
A Toronto woman named Doriana Silva says she was hired to help launch the Brazilian version of the adultery-themed dating service, but soon realized her duties were to seed the new platform with fake female profiles. "The purpose of these profiles is to entice paying heterosexual male members to join and spend money on the website," the lawsuit alleges. All told, she created over a thousand profiles, which she now claims left her with debilitating repetitive stress injuries.
If you're looking to have a secret affair, you might have to do it the old-fashioned way: Take off your wedding ring and spend way too much money a nightclub that's demographically way too young for you.
A Phoenix Fox affiliate has uncovered a secret Facebook group in which grown women make fun of children.
A secret Facebook group is secret no more.
Photos were sent to us from what we're told is a private Facebook group where women, some mothers themselves, post pictures of other people's children to make fun of them.
Under one photo of a baby, a woman wrote, "It's hideous." Another woman commented, "You can absolutely not fix ugly." Another wrote, "An ugly baby thread.. I have died and gone to heaven. Why can't you guys live near me so we can do this over cocktails?"
Ha ha ha! Way to put those stupid babies in their place, ladies. That'll teach them to get born.
A French court has ordered Google to find a way to remove recurring links to nine images of former Formula One chief Max Mosley, who was photographed in 2008 at an orgy.
The civil dispute in the Paris superior court relates to photographs of Mosley published by the defunct London British tabloid News of the World that were accompanied by an article suggesting he had organised a "sick Nazi orgy".
2. Techdirt's Mike Masnick says that Office Depot sent a DMCA notice to Reddit because one of their users pointed out that you can find a backwards swastika hiding in the negative space of Office Depot's logo. Stupid Office Depot. Don't they know that you can't take something off the internet, unless possibly if it's the French internet? I never saw that Reddit post until this morning, when I read about the DMCA notice on Techdirt. But now that I am aware of the post, thanks to the DMCA notice, I'll always see a hidden swastika every time I look at the Office Depot logo. Thanks, Office Depot, for bringing this to my attention.
Fox News has been having a rough time of it lately—for allegedly creating false Twitter accounts to bolster their image, and for... you know... lying all the time. Luckily for them Stephen Colbert is there to help them out by setting up a brand new Twitter account called @RealHumanPraise, which substitutes Fox News anchors into lines from positive movie reviews... every two minutes! Watch his explanation here, and check out the small hilarious sampling below!
Mike Huckabee's haunting, hallucinatory Vietnam War epic is punditry at its most audacious and visionary. #PraiseFOX
— Real Human Praise (@RealHumanPraise) November 5, 2013
Beautifully written and anchored by the great Sean Hannity, bittersweet and heartfelt, this is sheer delight. #PraiseFOX
— Real Human Praise (@RealHumanPraise) November 5, 2013
History may be written by the winners, but On the Record with Greta Van Susterens tells the story of life's lovable losers #PraiseFOX
— Real Human Praise (@RealHumanPraise) November 5, 2013
If this doesn't rescue Fox News, nothing will! Read 'em all here!
Over the weekend, Richard Dawkins was roundly mocked for tweeting about the fact that the TSA took a bottle of honey from his personal belongings at an airport security checkpoint. He said the fact that he no longer has his honey means that Osama bin Laden has won:
Bin Laden has won, in airports of the world every day. I had a little jar of honey, now thrown away by rule-bound dundridges. STUPID waste.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) November 3, 2013
Mediaite has a very long account of what happened next, including a Twitter post where Dawkins wrote: "Do you idiots seriously think I give a damn about my stupid honey? It's the PRINCIPLE I care about. Get it? Principle, not honey, principle." This honey-rant, when combined with Dawkins's defense of "mild" pedophilia from September, is enough to cause some Dawkins fans to rethink their love of the man. But what do you think?
Khalil Shreateh is already well-known in the tech world for hacking Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook page, leaving the message:
Dear Mark Zuckerberg,
First sorry for breaking your privacy and post to your wall , i has no other choice to make after all the reports I sent to Facebook team .
My name is KHALIL, from Palestine…
This was after he'd attempted to notify Facebook's white hat team about the bug. (Shreateh provides a full account at his site, and it's widely corroborated, although Facebook denies Shreateh followed the proper channels, citing an "absence of detail.") Shreateh, who at times worked construction 12 hours a day during his 10-year bid to complete a B.A. in Information Systems at Al-Quds Open University (an institution proposed by the PLO in the 1970s), learned English by reading chat boards. It's all the more impressive considering his conditions:
The West Bank is no easy place to be a hacker, or to do anything in the technology sphere. The occupied region depends on Israel for electricity, water and telecommunications, including the sluggish Internet that crawls into the South Hebron Hills. Shreateh has a well and three water tanks on his roof because Yatta only receives several days of running water every few months. Blackouts are common, and the town often goes without electricity for whole days in the winter.
This week, in advance of their IPO, Twitter began rolling out a fairly large change to the way its central timeline looks. Photos and other attached media have begun showing up by default in the timeline. It gives the timeline a more visual feel, and it also makes ads more prominent. This was the top of my Twitter feed earlier today:
I understand that ads are necessary for these free services to operate. But the aesthetics of this change affect what Twitter is and what it does. Film Critic Hulk published an essay on BadAss Digest earlier today arguing that your "Twitter feed is going from taking something that is entirely text & idea-based to something visual and surface based. It will go from something that represents yourself and helps lead people to other content to something that presents content itself*." This is a massive change, and it's something that does damage to the idea of what Twitter is supposed to be.
Over at Quartz, Zachary M. Seward and Ritchie King argue that even though Facebook has way more ads than Twitter, this new change makes Twitter feel more ad-heavy than Facebook. This change is slowly rolling out to apps and Twitter clients. It's inescapable. And maybe it's necessary to make Twitter profitable, but it's also made Twitter feel a lot less fun and, more importantly, a lot less smart.
* I converted Film Critic Hulk's quote from all caps to regular sentence case for ease of reading. I'm not entirely proud of this decision, but I think it made sense within the context of this post.
David Lieberman at Deadline points out one of the most noteworthy parts of Facebook's earnings call:
...CFO David Ebersam said the company had seen a drop in use among young teens. “Our best analysis on youth engagement in the U.S. reveals that usage of Facebook among U.S. teens overall was stable from Q2 to Q3, but we did see a decrease in daily users, specially among younger teens.”
Every stock analyst in the country is looking for concrete proof that teenagers are dropping Facebook in droves. That's generally been the quietly agreed-upon point at which Facebook loses its amorphous sense of "cool," and that's when the barrage of "Is Facebook Dying?" articles will start being published around the world. Lieberman says the above information has already done some small damage to Facebook's stock price, but I don't think this is enough to hurt Facebook in the long term. It is, however, a tiny taste of things to come.
In other news, it looks like almost half the site's daily users are accessing Facebook on mobile devices. I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that deleting the Facebook app from your phone is a really simple, satisfying way to feel better about your life. Seriously, you don't need Facebook on your phone. I know quite a few people who've deleted the Facebook app from their phone (or even just removed it from their home screens) and they all say it's made their days better in tiny, significant ways.
Map of the Internet in 1969 pic.twitter.com/ObCrIgkZvj
— ClassicPics (@History_Pics) October 21, 2013
Have you seen this ad campaign from UN Women? It uses real Google searches—ones where when you type in words and it fills in popular searches to save you time—to demonstrate that sexism's nowhere near dead. (This one's for you, person who complains that feminists are whining about nothing!) Hey, what are people searching for that begins with "Women shouldn't..."? According to the ads, they often finish that sentence with "have rights," "vote," or "work."
The ad campaign is really effective messaging, especially with those big, beautiful photographs, and their goal is just to start conversations, to make the case that there's more work to to be done when it comes to fighting sexism globally. But surely they must've been edited, I thought. And doesn't Google know you a little bit as a user, maybe take your search history or your profile into account? I mean, shit, if I type "Women should..." into Google, if it has any computer-brain at all, it should fill in "destroy the patriarchy," "make more art out of menstrual blood," or something like that.
Nope. I get this:
As if that's not enough, try looking at results for both men and women. Cienna was looking at this same story, and yelled across the office: "Jesus, try it with 'men.'" So I did.
It's heartening that the living wage discussion is finally inspiring Democrats to fight on behalf of the American worker. Salon's Josh Eidelson says:
A slide from Wal-Mart’s U.S. CEO’s presentation to Goldman Sachs’ retail conference boasts that “Over 475K” U.S. employees earned more than $25,000 last year. Activist workers and members of Congress seized on that statistic at a Wednesday press event, arguing it amounts to an admission that annual pay for the majority of Walmart’s 1.3 million-member US workforce falls below $25,000.
“Low-income people, poor people, have been demonized for being the ‘takers,’” Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky told reporters at a D.C. press conference. But because “taxpayers are the ones that are subsidizing Wal-Mart right now,” she contended, Wal-Mart elites are the true “welfare kings in this country.”
Thank you! Thank you! More like this, please!
First, Facebook banned videos of decapitations. Then it reversed its policy on decapitation videos. Now it's banning them again. Nudity is still, and has always been, banned on Facebook.
Reddit user Casiokid has compiled all of Mayor McGinn's answered AMA questions in one convenient and easy-to-read string. This may have been the exchange that surprised the most users:
Q: /u/jdsamford: What will happen with Gigabit should you not win?
A: I don't know, but I do know Comcast gave Murray a big pile of money.
Q: /u/SeattleandStuff: This should become a bigger part of your campaign. If Ed Murray is the Comcast candidate, the entire internet will vote for you.
Q: /u/The_Kenosha_Kid: Seriously. I know some "undecided" people that would make up their minds really quick if they knew that.
Mayor McGinn just launched an AMA thread on Reddit. He'll start answering your questions at 2 pm today.
This is one of those not-so-rare-anymore stories that reads like an Onion article. Apparently, BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti is ready to take the site global because it's growing so much that, pretty soon, they're going to run out of new English-language speakers to read their GIF-filled lists.* But that part is not the ridiculous part. Nope! It starts sounding really wacky when you learn just how they're addressing the issue of translation.
From Farhad Manjoo at the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Peretti has long believed that BuzzFeed's appeal is universal, that people in Paris and Mexico City would be just as engrossed by "32 Cats Who Were Way Too Curious For Their Own Good" as are folks in New York and San Francisco. But going international presented logistical challenges. How do you translate dozens of BuzzFeed posts, many of them lousy with English idioms, into several languages every day, within a few hours of each story's publication?
How do you think? By hiring professional translators with a solid grasp of English idioms and an appreciation for curious cats and GIF parades? Fuck no, this is BuzzFeed.
Instead, BuzzFeed's posts will be translated by crowds of foreign-language speakers who are learning English using an app called Duolingo. In theory, as part of their coursework, these hordes will translate a BuzzFeed post in a matter of hours—at a quality that rivals that of professional translators, but at the speed, scale and price that you'd get from a machine...
For instance, people learning French might be asked to translate as much of "24 People Who Are Really Nailing This Parenting Thing" as they can. Duolingo will show each piece to dozens of people. Once enough French learners see and translate a piece, Duolingo's systems will shuttle a translated version to BuzzFeed, which will publish it internationally.
Yup! People who are just learning a language will translate listicles for global markets... aaaaand we've officially entered someone's slightly futuristic short story from five years ago. Congrats! Poynter has a screenshot of a French translation and says it is just fine. And as an added benefit, this surely offers BuzzFeed at least one new article in the future called "20 Hilarious Translation Goofs on BuzzFeed's International Sites."
*I couldn't think of a perfect example—so quick, let's Mad Libs one! "[Number] [Adjective] [Plural Noun] That Will Make You [Verb]!" Go!
Facebook is getting rid of a privacy feature that let users limit who can find them on the social network.
Facebook Inc. said Thursday that it is removing a setting that controls whether users could be found when people type their name into the website's search bar.
What about people who are hiding from stalkers? I guess they're just plain out of luck. Facebook says that only "a single-digit percentage of the nearly 1.2 billion" Facebook users employ the feature that hides them from social search. Even if that single digit is one percent, which is highly doubtful, that's still twelve million people who want or need to be hidden. Seems like a significant audience to me.
I just love Talking Points Memo. Nobody reliably connects the dots like Josh Marshall, while the crack staff of political reporters he's assembled consistently deliver the news I need with the attitude I want. But as much as I love TPM, I just can't stand the link style they've chosen—largely because I can't see it!
I'm told you normals have no trouble seeing the red text in the post above, and thus understanding that as a link. But for the approximately 8 percent of males like me with some form of red-green color vision deficiency, not so much. (Not to mention the 0.5 percent of females, like my two nieces.) At a casual glance I don't distinguish the link color from the rest of the text at all. After the fact—after I randomly move my cursor all over the text attempting to get the rollover effect to reveal the link—I can maybe barely see the linked text as a little darker. Maybe.
It's endlessly frustrating. And not simply because I can't see the link. It's frustrating because there are so damn many of us colorblind people out there, and yet designers insist on plying their trade as if we don't exist!
Back in elementary school, as soon as my classmates learned that I was colorblind, some asshole would peel all the wrappers off the crayons so that I couldn't read the names of the colors. Because kids are assholes. But web designers have no such excuse. I have a legitimate disability, but one that is easily overcome through just a tiny bit of courtesy.
So my suggestion to the web designers at TPM and elsewhere is, if you want people like me to click on your links, put them in a goddamn color or style that we can actually see!
As Twitter prepares for its IPO, there's still no proof that they know how to make Twitter profitable:
...in a regulatory filing Thursday, Twitter confirmed a more modest financial reality: It’s a perennial money loser. The company hemorrhaged $69 million in the first half of this year, an increase of 40% from the same period in 2012.
You'd think that would be off-putting for Wall Street. But then, what do I know? I'm clearly not a financial expert; I've never even destroyed a single national economy!