It's Who You Know

As Banks Start Nosing Around Facebook and Twitter, the Wrong Friends Might Just Sink Your Credit

wonderful life

Let’s take a trip with the Ghost of Christmas Future. The year is 2016, and George Bailey, a former banker, now a part-time consultant, is looking for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for a co-op in the super-hot neighborhood of Bedford Falls (BeFa). He has never missed a loan payment and has zero credit card debt. He submits his information to the online-only, but halfway through the application process, the website asks for his Facebook login. Then his Twitter. Then LinkedIn. The cartoon loan officer avatar begins to frown as the algorithm discovers Mr. Bailey’s taxi-driving buddy Ernie was once turned down by PotterBank for a loan; then it starts browsing his daughter Zuzu’s photo album, “Saturday Nite!” And what was this tweet from a few years back: “FML, about to jump off a goddamn bridge”? Read More

Kickstart or Kill

Is This The Best Kickstarter Backer Reward Ever? (Answer: Possibly, Yes.)

free cab rides

You know Kickstarter: Back a project with a donation, if the project reaches its backing goal, your donation gets used, and in exchange, usually you’ll get something for being one of the first backers of the project. So what could a guy working on a “modern adaptation” of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot (entitled, naturally, Waiting For The G, as in New York City’s notoriously not very reliable G-Train) have to offer besides his brilliant mind for existential drama revivalism?

As it happens: He’s a cab driver. He’s a cab driver who has been written about in The New Yorker and who has a nice Tumblr of Things He Sees From His Cab. But most importantly, yes… Read More

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy The XBox: New Tom Clancy Video Game Targets Wall Street Fat Cats

Occupy your consoles


Tom Clancy can certainly count himself among the 1 percent. But the newest edition of his long-running video game series, Rainbow Six, has operatives gunning down Wall Street fat cats in a action packed extension of Occupy Wall Street.

It’s bizarre to see a man who blamed September 11th on on left wing politician, a card-carrying member of the NRA, tapping into the #OWS zeitgeist with a revenge fantasy against American bankers. Read More


TopGuest Went to Cali and All It Got Was This Strategic Exit


Considering a move to the West Coast, but not sure if you should do it due to all the Alley-boosting blog posts in Betabeat and your Tumblr feed? Here’s an Alley-to-Valley success story for you. TopGuest, a New York startup that launched in the beginning of 2010 to add social and mobile features to consumer loyalty programs, just had its big exit: an acquisition by San Francisco-based global customer service software company ezRez for an undisclosed sum.

CEO Geoff Lewis moved out to California with his two co-founders about a year ago to work on TopGuest, which raised $2 million and sported Peter Thiel as an advisor and Silicon Valley all-stars Keith Rabois and Ron Conway as angel investors, according to AllThingsD. Read More

SOPA Opera

Pot Calling the Kettle Pirate: Sony, Universal, and Fox Busted for BitTorrents


Ouhhhhhh, burn. People in SOPA-supporting Hollywood giants should stop throwing stones. Using a new site called You Have Downloaded, a Russian-based service that says it tracks about 20 percent of all public BitTorrent downloads, the fine folks at TorrentFreak took a look at IP addresses at entertainment conglomerates likes Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fox Entertainment and NBC Universal to see “whether these companies hold themselves to the same standards they demand of others.”

As you might expect, that’s a giant negative. Read More

10 Questions

10 Questions for Drew Magary, the Most Actually-Read Writer on The Internet*

Drew Magary, The Most Actually-Read* Writer On The Internet. It's true.*

Last week, Read It Later—the site and app that, like Instapaper, allows readers to “save” articles for later revisiting—released a series of charts in conjunction with long-form writing aggregator LongReads detailing statistics they had gathered over 2011. The first chart was of the “Most Saved” authors on the internet.

The second chart was far more telling: Those whose articles were both saved and eventually revisited by those who had saved them. In other words, they build a chart of some of the most actually-read individual writers on the internet, and at the top of that list was Deadspin blogger and columnist Drew “Balls Deep” Magary, whose cult following netted the (in equal measures, profane and profound) writer a book deal and bylines with the likes of GQ.

We wanted to know: What’s it like to be the most actually-read* author on the internet? So, we asked. And he answered: Read More


In Which Eben Moglen Like, Legit Yells at Me for Having Facebook


Yesterday afternoon, this reporter was scrambling to finish reporting a forward-looking story about how banks are exploring the possibility of using social media data to judge loan and credit applicants. My editor wanted a quote from a privacy advocate, so I immediately thought of Eben “Spying for Free” Moglen, a militant digital privacy advocate, founder of the uber-secure personal server FreedomBox, and the inspiration for the decentralized social network Diaspora. In hindsight, perhaps I should have just called Cory Doctorow.

Mr. Moglen, a law professor at Columbia University, was not particularly interested in talking about banks using social media to spy on their customers.

Everyone who uses Facebook, Twitter and the like shares the blame for the serious and ongoing global erosion of privacy enabled by the internet, he said. Banks aren’t the problem, he said; the users tempting banks with their Twitter and Facebook postings are the problem.

As are reporters who write about privacy issues with social media without first closing their Facebook accounts.

Read More

SOPA Opera

They Work For The Internet: Behind Silicon Alley All-Stars’ Marathon Coding Session at Tumblr to Fight Against Congress

Silicon Alley hits the political presses, snazzy logos and all.

DAVID KARP DOESN’T SEEM LIKELY FOR POLITICS. When the Tumblr founder and CEO explains what happened over the weekend, he speaks about it in his typically blazing conversational speed, a full paragraph at a time, with the intensity of someone who’s been sequestered on a coding project for the last three days:

“Basically,” he blasts off, “we had this gathering of the internet in our office, we had seventy people and a bunch of politicians on the phone”—and then pulls back to divest himself of credit—”though we didn’t organize the effort, it was the Demand Progress guys. We just put them up in our office, where we had forty-plus people around. We were in here all day on Saturday. We basically showed up to just say, ‘hey, anything we can develop we’ll help develop, in direct communication with dozens of people,’ and basically all of these founders and people in tech companies are standing by following all this,'” and by ‘this,’ Mr. Karp is referring to a piece of legislation going through Congress—”developing, working to figure out how they can seed it in their communities—propagate it—and get it out there. We literally just finished the copy, we had our team of engineers help build it.”

And yesterday morning, these efforts went live, the center of which was a quirky, live collage of user-submitted photos from those with jobs in the tech/online platform entitled I Work For The Internet that provoked the call to Mr. Karp. That was at the beginning of the day. Read More