One Year Later: What Have We Learned About Russia, Facebook and Our Elections?


NewCo Shift Forum 2018

John Heilemann, Renee DiResta, Laura Rosenberger and Roger McNamee discuss the future of democracy in an era of unrestrained social media.

One year after the Shift Forum convened one of the very first conversations around the role of Russia in disrupting the US electoral process in 2016, moderator John Heilemann once again convenes a panel of experts to plumb what we know about the story. What was revealed is both fascinating and deeply disturbing.

John Heilemann: All right, guys. We have the third in our series of political policy-related panels this morning. This is the one that I have been most looking forward to, because I think it gets to one of the issues that everybody in this room has been thinking about. Everyone in the country’s been thinking about, and the one that no one in the country was thinking about.

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The Algorithm of Deceit


Money Quote, Nov. 6 2017

YouTube, Russia, Trump, Facebook…this one has it all.

Well, I was planning on writing a full throated column today, but the unfriendly skies, coupled with a failing laptop, denied us of that outcome. So here are the links I’m reading. It’s an abbreviated version of Money Quote, but it’ll have to do this time. More soon. I’m on the road most of the week, so keep your fingers crossed the Apple Store in Austin or Boulder can help…

Something is wrong on the internet

Yes, it is. And while this story is about out of control capitalism mixed with uncontrollable algos on YouTube with kids’ programming, it’s essentially the same thing that’s happening with Russian bots.

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Donald Trump in the Age of Cynicism


A model for understanding what’s going on today

I want to tell you a story about something that happened in the news a few days ago. Even though it didn’t turn into a giant disaster, it accidentally revealed a lot about what’s really going on in the United States right now — and may offer us a clue to understand the situation we’re in.

1: Cojones

Last week, ex-general John Kelly made public remarks that many interpreted as testing the waters for military rule. He explained how only members of the military, and the families of those killed in combat, can really understand the nature of government and legitimately criticize the President — unlike civilian members of Congress, or the press. The next day, Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down on the point, saying it is “highly inappropriate” for a (civilian) reporter “to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general” — this despite the fact that Kelly is no longer a general, that civilian control over the military is a bedrock of the American system, or that this “debate” was over the fact that Kelly had provably lied several times in his remarks that previous day.

The idea that “only the military can really understand what it takes to run the government” is common rhetoric worldwide: from Thailand to Egypt to Argentina, it’s been the bedrock argument of why the military should seize power. Fortunately, and to our country’s credit, several other ex-generals quickly (and publicly) stomped down Kelly’s suggestion, and nobody seems to have taken up his idea.

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Bears and Dragons Bite Tech Where It Hurts


Thanks to Trump, Russia and China Ban Virtual Private Networks, and the Internet Loses in the Process. Plus: Uber! & Forum!

It’s hard to pay attention to much more than our own domestic tragicomedy lately, but as we pointed out earlier in the month (final item), there’s trouble afoot abroad for the tech industry, particularly in China. And over the weekend, Russia added its voice to the chorus of countries rejecting American tech giants.

Both Russia and China have been the subject of abuse from none other than our commander in chief, who this past weekend both tweet-primanded China over North Korea, and also announced his willingness to sign a new bill sanctioning Russia. Rarely does retaliation from two of our most cherished antagonists take such a distinctly similar response: they both banned virtual private networks, technology that allows millions of citizens access to otherwise banned or sensitive information. Was the target American business and expats living abroad? Certainly that’s got to be part of it.

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The Horseman of the Digital Apocalypse Is A Virus Named Petya


The NewCo Daily: Today’s Top Stories

Christoph Scholz | Flickr

That virus that shut down networks around the world this week, the one that’s been dubbed Petya, isn’t propagating like crazy anymore. But as we’ve learned more about it, it has begun to look even more consequential — less of a disaster than a prophecy.

Point one: Petya turns out not to be “ransomware” at all. It asked users to pay money to free their data, but their data has already been deleted (The Verge).

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