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Meta in Myanmar (full series)

Erin Kissane's full series about Meta's conduct in Myanmar and its involvement in the genocide of the Rohingya. This is required reading for anyone in tech, and good for everyone who touches any of Meta's products to know.

"Meta bought and maneuvered its way into the center of Myanmar’s online life and then inhabited that position with a recklessness that was impervious to warnings by western technologists, journalists, and people at every level of Burmese society." And then it utterly failed the community it had placed itself in the center of.

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Mastodon Is the Good One

"I’ve now been using [Mastodon] for about two months and I am here to tell you that it is, in principle, what we should want the internet to be. If you have been remotely interested in Mastodon but had reservations about joining because you thought it would be difficult, confusing, or otherwise annoying, it is not."

Co-signed. I love Mastodon. That's not to say that there aren't problems to solve - of course there are - but it is exactly the kind of open flourishing of disparate communities that the internet should be.

The fragmentation issue that Jason Koebler dicusses here - you have to post to a million different networks to get the word out - will come out in the wash when social media lands on a "winning" protocol. Which it will - and it will be the ActivityPub standard that underpins Mastodon, WordPress, and (soon) Threads.

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To Save Democracy, We Must Stand Up for Strong Encryption

Encryption has been perennially under attack since (at least) the establishment of the commercial internet. Lawmakers argue that backdoors will make us safer; in reality they will harm journalists, activists, domestic violence victims, and lots of vulnerable communities, and put real chilling effects on free expression.

The bottom line, for me and many others, is that privacy from government and law enforcement is a human right and a fundamental prerequisite for living in a democracy. The alternative is a surveillance state.

So what can we do about it? Like many ongoing debates that have real effects, this seems to be a place where we just have to keep fighting. So let's do that.

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Everything Looks Like A Nail

Ed Zitron is characteristically on-point and razor sharp on the topic of Marc Andreessen's ludicrous "techno-optimism" manifesto. I agree with him: it's a cynical, disingenuous piece that has nothing to do with optimism.

"In 5000 words, Marc’s only real suggestion is that social justice or government regulation is bad, and that economic growth is good and makes people rich. This unbelievably wealthy man, one that has made rich people even richer and lost regular people billions of dollars, does not have any solutions, or policies, or ideas." Exactly.

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Hackers Target Company That Vets Police Data Requests for Tech Giants

Anyone that sets themselves up to be a single point of failure like this will be a target. And here we are, with hackers now able to make authentic-looking police requests for data.

Something that caught my eye in these screenshots: they include Authy, Twilio's 2-factor authentication app.

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Signal app President Meredith Whittaker on messaging privacy

I'm grateful that Signal exists. Meredith Whittaker has so far shown great leadership and spoken about the right things. May all projects follow her lead.

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Marc Andreessen's manifesto

"Perhaps, then it’s no surprise this reads like it was written by a 14 year old and put on Pastebin. That it was written by a 52 year old with billions of dollars at his disposal says more about the failure of capitalism to imbue life with meaning than Andreessen could possibly imagine."

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How to fix the internet

"The fix for the internet isn’t to shut down Facebook or log off or go outside and touch grass. The solution to the internet is more internet: more apps, more spaces to go, more money sloshing around to fund more good things in more variety, more people engaging thoughtfully in places they like. More utility, more voices, more joy."

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I Will Fucking Haymaker You If You Mention Agile Again

"You have to hire the correct people, motivate them to continue working even when there's no clear risk of being fired, make them feel valued and appreciated, not waste their time, ensure they've got the space to do work the right way, only accept the right work, and then just leave them the hell alone."

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“EtherHiding” — Hiding Web2 Malicious Code in Web3 Smart Contracts

A smart attack where malicious malware is stored on the blockchain, where it is immutable and can't be easily removed or blocked. The code can then be retrieved with any JS code that reads the blockchain.

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Building The Next Web

"This is the kick-off post in a series in which I'm going to explore things that we could change about the Web." I trust Robin - and his impressive list of feedback-givers - to do this justice, and I'm very much looking forward to this series.

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Engage a Wider Audience With ActivityPub on

Every hosted WordPress site - millions and millions of sites - can now be first-class members of the fediverse. This is a huge deal that has the potential to change the whole web.

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23andMe user data targeting Ashkenazi Jews leaked online

Pretty much the worst thing that could happen as an outcome of using a service like this.

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Teens Love LinkedIn

I no longer think the kids are alright.

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40 global technology companies beating their Western rivals

A fascinating list of 40 market-leading tech companies that are founded and run outside of the west. There are some familiar names here, but lots were new to me - they might be to you, too.

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More Thoughtful Reading & Writing on the Web

"The combination of taking more time (as longer form writing encourages) and publishing on a domain associated with your name, your identity, enables & incentivizes more thoughtful writing. More thoughtful writing elevates the reader to a more thoughtful state of mind."

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Mastodon Annual Report 2022

Amazing work. Consider how much this team has been able to achieve with a tiny fraction of the budget of a VC-funded tech startup - and the impact of their work is phenomenal.

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How Google Alters Search Queries to Get at Your Wallet

It turns out that Google quietly alters your search queries into ones it can more easily monetize, without you knowing. It's the kind of anti-user nonsense only a monopolist could pull off.

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A New Social Web Working Group at the W3C

A look at the inner workings of getting standards built within the framework of the W3C. It honestly sounds like technical writers should be a part of the mix alongside other practitioners.

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Photoshop for Web

Insanely good. It blows my mind that this can be done on the web platform now.

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Meta in Myanmar, Part I: The Setup

"By that point, Meta had been receiving detailed and increasingly desperate warnings about Facebook’s role as an accelerant of genocidal propaganda in Myanmar for six years." We need more discussion of this - I'm grateful for this four-part series.

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Privacy Party

This is really good: a browser extension (for Chrome-based browsers) that goes through your social networks and helps you update your settings to optimize for privacy and security. Really well-executed.

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Optimizing for Taste

A solid argument against A/B testing. A lot of it comes down to this: "It fosters a culture of decision making without having an opinion, without having to put a stake in the ground. It fosters a culture where making a quick buck trumps a great product experience." I agree.

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Meredith Whittaker reaffirms that Signal would leave UK if forced by privacy bill

Signal on UK privacy law: "We would leave the U.K. or any jurisdiction if it came down to the choice between backdooring our encryption and betraying the people who count on us for privacy, or leaving." Good.

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U.S. Counterintel Buys Access to the Backbone of the Internet to Hunt Foreign Hackers

"The news is yet another example of a government agency turning to the private sector for novel datasets that the public is likely unaware are being collected and then sold."

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