Cheating and deception are at Reddit’s core, founder reveals via @VentureBeat

one other strategy proved crucial to Reddit’s early success, which most people are unaware of: The team submitted a ridiculous amount of content under fake user accounts to give the appearance of popularity. Yes, you read that right. Reddit — a site that values a fair and open democratic process  to determine worthy content and police itself — sleeps soundly on a bed of lies.

“When you would go to Reddit in the early days there would be tons of content,” Huffman said, explaining that the initial Reddit submission page contained only a “URL field” and “Title field” to plug in. Yet when logged in as an admin, a third field appeared that allowed the team to enter a custom user name that would automatically be registered for an account upon hitting submit. The fake user submissions, which were motivated by embarrassment over having an empty site, actually had a positive impact in a few different ways, he said.

via aaaaventurebeat.com

^1

Stuxnet Will Come Back to Haunt Us via @NYTimes

THE decision by the United States and Israel to develop and then deploy the Stuxnet computer worm against an Iranian nuclear facility late in George W. Bush’s presidency marked a significant and dangerous turning point in the gradual militarization of the Internet. Washington has begun to cross the Rubicon. If it continues, contemporary warfare will change fundamentally as we move into hazardous and uncharted territory.

It is one thing to write viruses and lock them away safely for future use should circumstances dictate it. It is quite another to deploy them in peacetime. Stuxnet has effectively fired the starting gun in a new arms race that is very likely to lead to the spread of similar and still more powerful offensive cyberweaponry across the Internet. Unlike nuclear or chemical weapons, however, countries are developing cyberweapons outside any regulatory framework.

via nytimes.com

I hear politicians and military pundits using the logic of 1950′s warfare to justify cyberwarfare: that when they hit us, we can hit them back. As if a virus were a missile, or a similar physical weapon.

But the metaphor of traditional warfare breaks down when cyber weaponry can’t be controlled – and in fact, aren’t even physical objects. A virus is an idea — not a thing.

Assuming we can control their use, when they are by design, deeply chaotic, is a special kind of naievete. But it’s the kind of hubris we could – and should – expect from the country that first engaged in “preemptive warfare.”

Why the NYT-Flipboard deal is a smart move via @om

For the first time, subscribers will be able to access Times content via something other than the NYT’s own site or apps. It may not be a huge revenue generator (at least not in the short term), but it is still an encouraging sign of a traditional media player trying to adapt to a new model.

Starting this Thursday, the Times will provide all of its content — articles, videos, photo slideshows and blog posts — to subscribers who use Flipboard, while non-subscribers will get a free sample of certain articles. Denise Warren, who runs the NYT’s website, said that the deal made sense for the newspaper because it is promoting digital subscriptions, and an analysis of its readership showed that 20 percent of the paper’s subscribers use third-party apps like Flipboard to consume content. Said Warren:

We realized that we have an opportunity to enable this kind of access for paying subscribers, and we thought it was something we ought to try and see how users react to it.

via gigaom.com

Members of Congress trade in companies while making laws that affect those same firms

One-hundred-thirty members of Congress or their families have traded stocks collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars in companies lobbying on bills that came before their committees, a practice that is permitted under current ethics rules, a Washington Post analysis has found.

The lawmakers bought and sold a total of between $85 million and $218 million in 323 companies registered to lobby on legislation that appeared before them, according to an examination of all 45,000 individual congressional stock transactions contained in computerized financial disclosure data from 2007 to 2010.

Almost one in every eight trades — 5,531 — intersected with legislation. The 130 lawmakers traded stocks or bonds in companies as bills passed through their committees or while Congress was still considering the legislation.

via washingtonpost.com

How is this not insider trading? They have privelaged access to private information, and use that information to make personally profitable trades on the stock market. Depressing!

Acxiom, the Quiet Giant of Consumer Database Marketing via @NYTimes

Right now in Conway, Ark., north of Little Rock, more than 23,000 computer servers are collecting, collating and analyzing consumer data for a company that, unlike Silicon Valley’s marquee names, rarely makes headlines. It’s called the Acxiom Corporation, and it’s the quiet giant of a multibillion-dollar industry known as database marketing.

Few consumers have ever heard of Acxiom. But analysts say it has amassed the world’s largest commercial database on consumers — and that it wants to know much, much more. Its servers process more than 50 trillion data “transactions” a year. Company executives have said its database contains information about 500 million active consumers worldwide, with about 1,500 data points per person. That includes a majority of adults in the United States.

Such browsing seems innocuous — hardly data mining. But it cues an Acxiom system designed to recognize consumers, remember their actions, classify their behaviors and influence them with tailored marketing.

But the multichannel system of Acxiom and its online partners is just revving up…

via nytimes.com

Check out the uber-creepy promotional materials they offer.

Do you give your phone number or zip code out at the checkout register?

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Says The Age of Privacy is Over via @RWW

In a six-minute interview on stage with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, Zuckerberg spent 60 seconds talking about Facebook’s privacy policies. His statements were of major importance for the world’s largest social network – and his arguments in favor of an about-face on privacy deserve close scrutiny.

Zuckerberg offered roughly 8 sentences in response to Arrington’s question about where privacy was going on Facebook and around the web. The question was referencing the changes Facebook underwent last month. Your name, profile picture, gender, current city, networks, Friends List, and all the pages you subscribe to are now publicly available information on Facebook. This means everyone on the web can see it; it is searchable.

Zuckerberg:

“When I got started in my dorm room at Harvard, the question a lot of people asked was ‘why would I want to put any information on the Internet at all? Why would I want to have a website?’

“And then in the last 5 or 6 years, blogging has taken off in a huge way and all these different services that have people sharing all this information. People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.

“We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are.

“A lot of companies would be trapped by the conventions and their legacies of what they’ve built, doing a privacy change – doing a privacy change for 350 million users is not the kind of thing that a lot of companies would do. But we viewed that as a really important thing, to always keep a beginner’s mind and what would we do if we were starting the company now and we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it.”

That’s Not a Believable Explanation

This is a radical change from the way that Zuckerberg pounded on the importance of user privacy for years. That your information would only be visible to the people you accept as friends was fundamental to the DNA of the social network that hundreds of millions of people have joined over these past few years. Privacy control, he told me less than 2 years ago, is “the vector around which Facebook operates.”

via readwriteweb.com

Zuckerberg always comes off as very clever, but ultimately elusive — and not trustworthy at all.

His anxiety-ridden, robotic, speech, and manipulative word choice, turns me off, and certainly doesn’t endear me to his point of view.

Reflecting on how deeply I’ve let this guy into my life, and yours, makes me want to cut him out, completely.

“Draw Something” with Ryan Seacrest, coming soon to CBS via @VentureBeat

Draw Something, the game that saved small studio OMGPOP and prompted a huge buyout from Zynga, is coming to CBS. Draw Something is the game in which you draw something and a friend guesses what it is. According to Variety, celebrities and everyday users will test their skills on live TV while audiences at home can join in to win prizes — including a chance to compete with the celebrities. A group including Sony and Ryan Seacrest is producing the show, but no date has yet been set for the first airing.

via venturebeat.com

Odd news in the conflagration-of-media category. First a Twitter Tv show (Shit Your Dad Says), and now a mobile game-inspired TV game show?

This signals bizarre things ahead.

Twitter Confirms Photos, Hashtags & More Added to Facebook Integration

A Twitter spokesperson told us that the firm has fixed a number issues with the integration and added features that include support for business pages, images and — as we earlier highlighted — links to hashtags and Twitter usernames:

We have fixed many issues with the Twitter for Facebook integration, including the ability to post to Facebook Pages, and added some new features.

The updated Twitter for Facebook integration now includes additional rich media experiences related to the first photo, URL, @mention or #hashtag in the cross-posted Tweet.

Those who already linked their Twitter and Facebook accounts and want to take advantage of the new features need to visit their Twitter profile settings page (here), and then disconnect and reconnect their accounts. That’s a bit of an inconvenience but well worth the effort.

The resulting integration is pretty impressive. When a tweet includes a photo, for example, the corresponding Facebook status update includes a thumbnail and link to click through to view the full photo, and other images from the user, on Twitter:

hello hummer2 horz1 520x157 Twitter: Yes, weve added photos, hashtags, usernames and more to our Facebook integration

via thenextweb.com

Sweet! Especially exciting given the news of Facebook’s integration with Apple products in the next iOS update.

Now… when will Facebook wise up and realise it’s got to play nice with Google too?

The Social Media Bubble has Popped

It happened. It’s over.

The bubble was popped by Facebook’s IPO belly flop. Some saw it coming, but before May 18, plenty of smart people saw only blue skies. Chris Sacca predicted we’d see a $56 price on opening day. But within 2 weeks, the price had dropped 29% to a low of $26.83. According to Bloomberg, it was the worst IPO of the decade.

via thenextweb.com

Sad but possibly true. I knew Facebook’s success was the devil’s work.