In “see for myself” reporting, individual sentiment crowds out institutional facts

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Photo: Kypros/Getty Images

By Max Read

Last week, The Wall Street Journal published a YouTube video in op-ed form. I call it a YouTube video not because it’s a literal video — that might have been better — because its concept is immediately familiar to anyone who’s tumbled down a right-wing YouTube rabbit hole. “This summer, I found myself heading back to the U.K. as it was plunging into a debate over Islamic dress,” journalist Andy Ngo explains. “I wanted to cut past the polemics and experience London’s Muslim communities for myself.” He spends a couple of days wandering around neighborhoods in London with large Muslim populations, observing “hundreds of residents busy preparing for the Eid al-Adha holiday” and “girls in hijabs gathered around tables to paint henna designs on their hands.” …

“The big problem is that hospitals don’t buy new devices, and they keep using really dangerous ones ad infinitum — until they just stop working”

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Photo: dimarik/Getty Images

By Lindsay Gellman

Last spring, Joshua Corman found himself staring in disbelief in a New Hampshire hospital. Corman, a cybersecurity researcher and self-described “good-guy hacker,” had brought his 11-year-old daughter in for blood work. After several hours of waiting, it was clear it would be a long night, so he’d left, briefly, to grab her pajamas from home. Now, he’d returned to find her fitted with a Hospira infusion pump, a network-connected model he recognized as particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

“Almost exactly two years after the FDA said to hospitals, ‘Stop using this device; it’s too dangerous to use,’ they’re using it on my kid,” Corman told me. …

What’s stopping internet companies from using everything they can to target kids? Surprisingly little.

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Photo: milanvirijevic/Getty Images

By Joseph Bien-Kahn

When Kathryn Montgomery walked into the Digital Kids conference in New York, she didn’t know what to expect. This was 1995 — the internet was new and full of promise. She still believed that access to books and unlimited information could mean a lot for children’s development.

But sitting through presentations on online playgrounds populated by the likes of Chester Cheetah and Ronald McDonald — places where kids could build personal relationships with these corporate mascots — she began to feel panicked. The internet was supposed to be something different, but the ad men from Madison Avenue just saw a new opportunity. …

Our smart TV seemed to amplify a sense of urgency. The simple, daily question, “What should we watch?” suddenly had stakes.

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Photo: Archive Photos/Getty Images

By Lauren Michele Jackson

Since I first subscribed to Hulu — or rather, since I began freeloading my parents’ Hulu subscription — all I ever wanted was a way to integrate the applications taking over my life via handheld devices onto the behemoth screen that concenters the living room in my apartment. Of course, this wasn’t some prescient pipe dream, or anything. We, in humankind, had made it possible to stream online videos as at-home entertainment for quite some time before I finally had access to the hybrid progeny of tube and tech — the Smart TV.

The transition to smarter, web-ier watching had one pit stop between. My first Northside apartment, shared with a roommate with tastes straight from West Elm (for a visual), introduced another first: Chromecast. It was a lovely but imperfect partnership. Netflix and YouTube ran like a dream, ushering in a ritual I never gave name to but will here call “Beyoncé Fridays,” which involved casting Beyoncé’s videography in chronological order (from “No, No, No Pt. 2” onward) while pregaming alone for a night out. Past these apps, however, it was tug-and-pull mirroring content from unsupported applications that seemed to acquire roughly shod cement shoes compared to the clear, speedy results with compatible services. This was only a minor hitch in my viewing habits, though. Neither I nor my roommate was ready to cut the cord quite yet, and contrary to headlines adding cable to the enormous list of millennial murder victims, we still relied on regular prime-time television to fill in the gaps. …

The modern practice of redirecting links runs counter to the original vision of the internet

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Illustration: PeterSnow/Getty Images

By Vijith Assar

You could be reading literally any other article on the internet right now, so how is it that you ended up here, right now, reading this one? (Thanks for your time, by the way!) You probably clicked on the link on Twitter or something, right? Well, not exactly — you certainly clicked something on Twitter, sure. But it wasn’t actually this link, because Twitter is one of many companies aggressively trying to destroy the very idea of links as we know them.

Instead, Twitter gave you something else and then swapped it out for this article’s actual URL instantaneously the moment you clicked, before you even had a chance to realize what was going on. You’ve probably run into this kind of link redirection before in the form of shortening services like Bitly and TinyURL, which first rocketed to popularity back when Twitter counted the full text of links against the character count. Those user-facing services were occasionally handy for cases where you might have needed to simplify long and highly specific URLs, like a specific view of Google Maps highlighting a destination, which might include in its URL some unwieldy combination of geographic coordinates to seven decimal places, an opaque blob of metadata, specific location names, and more. …

Facebook stock fell 24 percent overnight not because of political scandal but because there just aren’t enough people for it to grow

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Photo: Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images

By Max Read

Is Facebook in trouble? Yesterday, the company reported its earnings, and — relatively speaking, of course — the picture wasn’t pretty. Growth and sales are not falling, exactly, but they’re decelerating — exactly the kind of thing investors don’t want to hear. The stock dropped by nearly a quarter in after-hours trading. Tragically, Mark Zuckerberg himself “lost” about $11 billion.

Facebook and the journalists who cover it have tended to focus on the last two years of scandal and complaint as the source of the company’s failure to meet expectations; Wired writes that this is the “true cost” of Facebook “fixing its problems.” Zuckerberg and other executives have said that Facebook will be significantly increasing its operating budget to address security problems, affecting its profit margins, and that doesn’t even address the cost of bad PR. …

Plug in, drift off. The world of hyperconnected sleep monitors claims to make you snooze smarter. But most of the solutions don’t address the problem.

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Photo: Frederic Lewis/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

By Lauren L’Amie

I spend my day glued to a laptop, squinting, often taking breaks only to walk around scrolling through Instagram and suffering bouts of distraction sickness. If you’re like me, you probably know that after a day of being extremely online, the rule for getting a good night’s sleep is hard and fast: no screens before bedtime. You probably also break this rule.

We’re supposed to log off and disconnect before bed. That’s why it’s so strange that smart sleep technology has made sleeping more connected and quantifiable than ever before. The New York Times coined the term vamping in 2014, referring to teens’ proclivity to binge on social media late at night. But it’s not just the teens — in 2017, the Sleep Foundation reported that 90 percent of people in the U.S. …

Facebook’s gestures toward “free speech” make it sound like a liberal democracy. But where are its checks and balances?

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Photo: Photo by Stock Montage/Getty Images

By Max Read

In a lengthy interview published today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg attempted to explain to Recode’s Kara Swisher why his platform wouldn’t ban Holocaust deniers:

[A]t the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong, but I think —

Swisher: In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be, but go ahead.

It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. I’m sure you do. I’m sure a lot of leaders and public figures we respect do too, and I just don’t think that it is the right thing to say, “We’re going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times.” What we will do is we’ll say, “Okay, you have your page, and if you’re not trying to organize harm against someone, or attacking someone, then you can put up that content on your page, even if people might disagree with it or find it offensive.” …

Security experts warn that Russia’s new DNS alternative could increase the odds of a large-scale cyberattack

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Photo: BirgitKorber/Getty Images

By Mack DeGeurin

Russia has nearly completed an alternative to the Domain Name System — the common “phone book” of the internet that translates numerical IP addresses to readable text like “Amazon.com” and “NYMag.com.” When implemented, the DNS alternative could separate Russia and its allies from the rest of the connected internet — a possibility that, however remote, has experts worried about a “balkanization” of a global network.

Last November, the Russian Security Council announced its ambition to create an independent internet infrastructure for Russia and the other members of BRICS (Brazil, India, China, and South Africa). According to reports, the Russian government sought to create the alternative internet to protect itself from American and Western manipulation of internet services and avoid “possible external influence.” …

Up until the late ’90s, basic encryption technologies in the U.S. fell under the same category as anti-aircraft missiles and militarized submarines

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A young man takes part in a rally for ‘free Internet’ and in support of the Telegram Messenger in Akademika Sakharova Avenue, Moscow, Russia. Photo: Mikhail Tereshchenko\TASS via Getty Images

By Mack DeGeurin

On the afternoon on April 30, with a few strokes of a pen, nearly half of all of Iran’s internet traffic suddenly became illegal. Iran’s judiciary had declared Telegram, a messaging service used by many to circumvent state media censors, a threat to national security and a de facto enemy of the state.

A new report released by the Center for Humans Rights in Iran on Tuesday details how the ban has impacted Iran, and sheds light on the need for secure messaging systems to combat authoritarian regimes bent on censorship and online surveillance. …

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A look at how people live and express themselves online, using technology and social media.

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