First Post



A social graph of NH voters; Walmart is paying people to spy on OUR Walmart; and more.

  • Brave new world: Sasha Issenberg reports for Bloomberg Politics on the work of data-mining start-up Applecart, which has built a “social graph” of the voters of New Hampshire in an attempt to figure out not just who is connected to who socially, but who has the greatest influence on who. The company’s data comes from library visits nationwide (to cull yearbooks, church lists, sports rosters and the like) to the scraping of websites that contain things like law-firm directories. Issenberg writes:

    On Applecart’s “social graph” of New Hampshire, each voter is treated as a node in a network with each of their known contacts webbed around them. (Around a dozen voters in the state were found to be “hermits,” with no meaningful interpersonal links.) Nuclear family, extended family, friends, professional acquaintances, and non-professional acquaintances are each assigned different statistical weights, then mixed with other values such as geographical proximity to calibrate a “connection score” between the voters in question.

    The company is working on behalf of John Kasich’s presidential Super PAC. Applecart has also built a social network analysis of large donors to moderate Republican presidential candidates in the past, giving Kasich fundraisers a list of targets to woo.

  • Susan Berfield reports for Bloomberg Business on how Walmart hired an intelligence gathering service from Lockheed Martin to surreptitiously monitor the efforts of the pro-labor OUR Walmart group.

  • Thanks to a decision by Facebook to start alerting users when their accounts may be the target of state-sponsored hackers, staffers at the State Department began to realize last month that Iranian cyber-spies were breaking into their social media accounts, David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth report for the New York Times.

  • Mother Jones’ Bryan Schatz tries to get to the bottom of Anonymous’ “Operation Paris” which is supposedly attacking ISIS social media accounts, but in his telling this is a little like trying to nail jello to the wall.

  • Challenged during a Facebook chat hosted by Telemundo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promised to stop using the words “illegal immigrants” when referring to the undocumented immigrants living in America. She was responding to a question from Jose Antonio Vargas of Define American.

  • This is civic tech: Journalist and Oscar winner Laura Poitras explains why she is supporting the Tor Project. “Edward Snowden would not have been able to contact me without Tor and other free software encryption projects. Journalists need Tor to protect their sources and to research freely. It is an essential tool, and it needs our support.”

  • Writing for TechCrunch, Accela CEO Maury Blackman argues that 2016 will be “a year of leaps forward in the civic technology industry.” Among the trends he identifies: governments will expand their efforts to update their IT services, agencies will be more entrepreneurial about engaging the public, governments will embrace the “Internet of Things” and invest heavily in embedding smart sensors in their physical infrastructure, and public agencies will start embracing sharing economy start-ups like MuniRent, which lets municipalities rent equipment to each other.

  • Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive wanted to start a credit union aimed at helping the poor and workers at nonprofits obtain loans, but as this story by Nathaniel Popper details for the New York Times, he and his colleagues have abandoned the effort because federal agency charged with regulating credit unions completely stymied their efforts.

  • Have a great Thanksgiving! See you Monday.