Category Archives: Internet

Google Search is not what it used to be

Charlie Warzel writes: A few weeks ago my house had a septic-tank emergency, which is as awful as it sounds. As unspeakable things began to burble up from my shower drain, I did what any smartphone-dependent person would: I frantically Googled something along the lines of poop coming from shower drain bad what to do.… Read More »

The content that fills discontent with nothing

Kyle Chayka writes: In the beginning, there was the egg. In January of 2019, an Instagram account called @world_record_egg posted a stock photo of a plain brown chicken egg and launched a campaign to get the photo more likes than any online image had before. The record holder at the time was an Instagram shot… Read More »

How you’re still being tracked on the internet

The New York Times reports: The internet industry shuddered last year when Apple introduced privacy measures for the iPhone that threatened to upend online tracking and cripple digital advertising. Google pledged similar privacy actions. But in less than a year, another type of internet tracking has started taking over. And it is having the unintended… Read More »

The staggering ecological impacts of computation and the Cloud

Steven Gonzalez Monserrate writes: Screens brighten with the flow of words. Perhaps they are emails, hastily scrawled on smart devices, or emoji-laden messages exchanged between friends or families. On this same river of the digital, millions flock to binge their favorite television programming, to stream pornography, or enter the sprawling worlds of massively multiplayer online… Read More »

People mistake the internet’s knowledge for their own

John Timmer writes: Many of us make jokes about how we’ve outsourced part of our brain to electronic devices. But based on a new paper by the University of Texas at Austin’s Adrian Ward, this is just a variation on something that has been happening throughout human history. No person could ever learn everything they… Read More »

Millions of people rely on Facebook to get online. The outage left them stranded

MIT Technology Review reports: One of the last messages that Vaiva Bezhan sent on Facebook Messenger on Monday afternoon, Central European Time, was a bit of a cliffhanger—and incredibly time sensitive. The Lithuanian photojournalist is co-organizer of the Afghan Support Group, one of many volunteer initiatives trying by any means possible to help evacuate vulnerable… Read More »

The glue that holds the internet together is coming undone

Jonathan Zittrain writes: The internet’s distinct architecture arose from a distinct constraint and a distinct freedom: First, its academically minded designers didn’t have or expect to raise massive amounts of capital to build the network; and second, they didn’t want or expect to make money from their invention. The internet’s framers thus had no money… Read More »

Google to stop selling ads based on your specific web browsing

The Wall Street Journal reports: Google plans to stop selling ads based on individuals’ browsing across multiple websites, a change that could hasten upheaval in the digital advertising industry. The Alphabet Inc. company said Wednesday that it plans next year to stop using or investing in tracking technologies that uniquely identify web users as they… Read More »

The internet rewired our brains. Michael Goldhaber predicted it would

Charlie Warzel writes: Michael Goldhaber is the internet prophet you’ve never heard of. Here’s a short list of things he saw coming: the complete dominance of the internet, increased shamelessness in politics, terrorists co-opting social media, the rise of reality television, personal websites, oversharing, personal essay, fandoms and online influencer culture — along with the… Read More »

The takedown of a dark-web marketplace

Ed Caesar writes: You could buy pretty much any contraband you desired on DarkMarket, an online marketplace that was shuttered last week: illegal drugs, counterfeit passports, malware. The site, a kind of eBay for the dark Web, ran on Tor, the encrypted software that allows users to communicate with one another without betraying their real-life… Read More »

The data economy is facing a social reckoning

MIT Technology Review reports: Each innovation challenges the norms, codes, and values of the society in which it is embedded. The industrial revolution unleashed new forces of productivity but at the cost of inhumane working conditions, leading to the creation of unions, labor laws, and the foundations of the political party structures of modern democracies.… Read More »

Google’s star ethics researcher highlighted the risks of large language models — then she got forced out

MIT Technology Review reports: On the evening of Wednesday, December 2, Timnit Gebru, the co-lead of Google’s ethical AI team, announced via Twitter that the company had forced her out. Gebru, a widely respected leader in AI ethics research, is known for coauthoring a groundbreaking paper that showed facial recognition to be less accurate at… Read More »