genius dispatch

Mahbod Moghadam: Who’s Really Benefiting When We Censor Terrorists (and Ourselves)?

mahbod moghadam genius dispatch

On the day of the news of James Foley’s beheading, I was very sad. I thought he looked so brave, and I have a lot of respect for Americans who take an interest in the Middle East. I felt I could relate to him, and his death struck me on a personal level.

Naturally, I wanted to see the video the terrorists had released of his beheading. But every link I would click — there was nothing. All sites had removed the video.

When I told my friends that I wanted to watch the video, I got little sympathy. Nobody else wanted to watch it, they seemed to think it would be an act of disrespect to Foley to watch the video. Everybody seemed to think that I’m a sicko. Read More

Social Network of No

Social Network Is Powerless to Prevent ISIS From Using it to Recruit, Organize

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App creators are often surprised by how people end up using their creations. Unfortunately for *diaspora, a hands-off social network that allows people to control their own decentralized groups, their software is being used by terrorists.

Terrorist organization ISIS has now fled other social networks to the aptly named diaspora*, a company that, by its own admission, can’t actually kick anyone off of their network. diaspora* has responded by publishing a blog post advising their citizen moderators how to deal with accounts that could belong to terrorist organizations:

diaspora* is a completely decentralized network which, by its nature, consists of many small servers exchanging posts and messages. There is no central server, and there is therefore no way for the project’s core team to manipulate or remove contents from a particular node in the network (which we call a “pod”). This may be one of the reasons which attracted IS activists to our network.

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Tap It To Me

Retailers Like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy Band Together to Create Yet Another Mobile Payments App

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Before most consumers have gotten around to downloading a single mobile payments app onto their smartphone, a consortium of a big chain stores are preparing to push out yet another alternative. The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart, Target, 7-Eleven, Best Buy, CVS, Sunoco, and more are in the early stages of developing a horribly-named payments network called Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which will let users pay with a tap of their phone.

Rather than go the Starbucks route and partner with Square or follow other national retailers (like Duane Reade, RadioShack, Banana Republic, etc.) into Google Wallet, the group is going rogue, arguing that Google and other telecom providers–AT&T and T-Mobile have a payments app called Isis; Verizon and Vodafone have one as well–don’t understand customers like they do. The retailers behind MCX point out that they have a combined $1 trillion in annual sales and “serve nearly every smartphone user in the U.S.” Read More