We don't even have the words, writes Micah Sifry in In Facebook We Antitrust, to describe the role that Facebook and other platforms play in controlling data, information and global economic decisions. [The Nation]
A video explainer. Related, a New York Times video explores Facebook's efforts to manage vast segments of internet traffic and the power it has to control what billions of people hear and see.
Online activism is a powerful threat to authoritarians. Recent news that technologist Bassel Khartabil (pictured above – photo by Joi Ito) was executed by the Syrian government two years ago didn't surprise observers. There had been no news of Khartabil's fate since being imprisoned in 2012. Eric Steur, creative director at Creative Commons and a friend of Khartabil, writes that "merely showing people how to use a smartphone...made Bassel a threat in the eyes of the state." [Wired | ht @infoactivism ]
Satellites, illegal fishing, crowdsourcing. Satellite observation and heavy duty data analysis of ship ID beacons (think of Flight Tracker for boats) is helping Sky Truth and Global Fishing Watch find needles in haystacks (or highly damaging illegal fishing boats on crowded open seas).
Meanwhile, Jessica McKenzie of Civicist, details how another SkyTruth project is crowdsourcing analysis of satellite images to find toxic spills in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and other disasters. [World Economic Forum and Civicist]
Rise of the social bots. Can social change advocates engage (real) people and build power in these circumstances? "Social media ecosystems populated by hundreds of millions of individuals present real incentives—including economic and political ones—to design algorithms that exhibit human-like behavior." [Journal of the ACM]
Miss MobLab Live? Great conversation about social ties this week with campaigners around the world and Hahrie Han, David Karpf, Meghana Rao and Vanessa Williamson. Catch the recording here or tune in next week for a full recap. [MobLab]
Networks don't distribute power equally (and those who run networks have huge advantages). [Niall Ferguson | Foreign Affairs]
One in five tweets during the 2016 U.S. election was sent by bot. [Mother Jones]
9 tips. Don't underestimate the value of running effective virtual meetings (or in person meetings, for that matter). [Beth Kanter at Guidestar]
Banging pots and pans. That's just one innovative (but traditional) way protesters in Morocco's Rif region are organising against government repression. [Ursula Lindsey | MobLab]
Want to change minds? Understand bias. Not facts. [Talia Sharot | CNN]
What to know before advertising on LinkedIn. [Jasmine Cordew | NTEN]
International Civil Society Week. Registration is open and a few spots remain – join CIVICUS Alliance, activists, and global change leaders from around the world in Fiji to address threats to civic space, youth activism, the environment and more. We'll be there - learn how you can join.