ISSUE 2.18

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Internet Disconnect

Facebook scraping all your data, craigslist dropping personals, child porn in the blockchain, and more.

Hallo! Have a wonderful, calming track. I hope you enjoy it. Alex Cortiz - The Wondrous World of 6 AM. On to the articles!


Facebook scraped call, text message data for years from Android phones

Remember that hooplah about how Messenger requests access to everything on your phone a few years ago? Yeah, the other shoe dropped on that. Turns out that it's been scraping data for everything on your phone, including phone calls and their metadata that aren't even related to Messenger. Granted, we knew this. But it took a tweetstorm to drive it home, I guess.


Missed Connections: Craigslist Drops Personal Ads Because of Sex Trafficking Bill

Here is some very, very bad news. The SESTA-FOSTA sex trafficking bill enables extremely loose criminal claims against sites that enable sex work or even vaguely accidentally indicate it, and by extension, censoring the internet. Reddit has also started preemptively banning related communities, and now you can no longer find hookups on craigslist. I guess it's back to underground anonymous sites and high-risk offline-first encounters for people who wanted to use these and related services? If two of the biggest sites are already taking communities offline (and for craigslist, personals are its dramatic soul), then there isn't much hope for smaller sites that aim to be reputable and safe. And you know this is only the beginning


Child abuse imagery found within bitcoin's blockchain

Oh, man. There's some really fucked up poem that's asking to be written about this, or something. Basically, if you run a full blockchain node, congrats! You technically are in possession of child porn. In the words of someone on my Slack channel, "when they told me bitcoin was cp money i thought they meant cyberpunk".


In A Future Ruled By Big Pharma, A Robot Tentatively Explores Freedom — And Sex: 'Autonomous'

Here's a science fiction book that multiple I respect have recommended that I have not read but probably will. Since that's all I can say, here's a passage directly from the article: "Autonomous' main interest is the danger our late capitalist modernity poses to personhood, and the intricacies of what it means to be free – from ownership, from programming, from the circumstances of one's birth. But the parts that enthralled and moved me most – to laughter, to tears – were the musings on sexuality, and the contrast between Jack and Paladin's respective experiences. Throughout most of the novel, Jack's relationship to sexuality is written in clinical, chemical terms, a physical means to a physical end; Paladin's, meanwhile, is explored in intimate, puzzled probings, often starkly contrasted with the extreme violence for which Paladin was built. I loved the contrast between seeing a woman treat sex as casually as an itch to scratch, and a genderless robot building romance and sexuality from first principles, through internet searches, conversations with other AIs, and awkward, fumbling experiments." I think I'll check it out!


Escaping Poverty Requires Almost 20 Years With Nearly Nothing Going Wrong

Here we see the dual economy, between people who are "skilled, tech-savvy workers and managers with college degrees and high salaries . . . in fields such as finance, technology, and electronics", who make up 20% of Americans, and then the other group, which is just called the "low-wage sector". (Ominous. Do I smell another YA revolution novel in the making?).


Astronaut's DNA changed by time in space

Time for more weird space stuff. A twinstronaut (that is, one twin who is an astronaut out of a pair of twins) went to space, came back, and found that "a subset of several hundred 'space genes' remained disrupted" (7%), mutations that appear to only show up after spaceflight. Details on what exactly changed here. Scientists surmise that the stress of space and lower-than-normal oxygenation caused the gene changes. I'm not a scientist, so I'm just going to say it: it was probably aliens with laser rays.