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What we’re reading: On the internet, ecommerce, AI, the media & more


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whatweread

MP list for 2012-15 shows dodgy websites run by journalists got Rs 14 crore in govt ads – Indian Express

At least 26 websites got advertisements worth Rs 10 lakh or more, of which at least 18 are run by journalists or relatives of journalists. At least 81 websites, many of them run by relatives of journalists, got advertisements worth Rs 5-10 lakh.

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The blockchain is a threat to the distributed future of the Internet – El Correo de las Indias

Because blockchain is consensual, after a certain point of centralization, the rules of the system depend on very few users. For example, the bitcoin “update” would be unviable if the two more Chinese mining organizations had refused to implement it. A network of nodes designed this way has a power structure with clear centralizers—the owners of infrastructure—that in the end presents a threat to the distributed future of the Internet.

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Fake orders: The dark side of China’s booming ecommerce business – Internet Retailer

The Shanghai based flower e-tailer Shanghai Aishang Flowers Co Ltd spent $113,690 to hire individuals who placed 163,676 fake orders on marketplaces in the first 7 months of 2015, representing 42.02% of its total orders.

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How our Fake Food Business ended up winning an Award thanks to Online Marketing! – Digital Defynd

So we bought a 24,000 strong Twitter following. This took us 30 minutes and cost $30 (But big deal right, everyone knows people have been stupidly buying social followings for years…yeah, fair enough…let’s dig a little deeper then). We then paid “influencers” with a hefty Twitter (15K+) following to promote our business. They were even happy to Tweet using images with our logo Photoshopped on it!Total cost was $25 and three hours time.

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How the Internet works: Submarine fibre, brains in jars, and coaxial cables – Ars Technica

Have you ever thought about how that cat picture actually gets from a server in Oregon to your PC in London? We’re not simply talking about the wonders of TCP/IP or pervasive Wi-Fi hotspots, though those are vitally important as well. No, we’re talking about the big infrastructure: the huge submarine cables, the vast landing sites and data centres with their massively redundant power systems, and the elephantine, labyrinthine last-mile networks that actually hook billions of us to the Internet.

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The bank robber – The New Yorker

Somerset Maugham once described the Côte d’Azur as “a sunny place for shady people,” and Falciani, who was now a fugitive, hunkered down in Castellar. As a precaution, he had not travelled with the stolen data, instead uploading the information to remote servers. He now downloaded the files onto his laptop. The Swiss had asked French authorities to help track down Falciani, and at dawn on January 7, 2009, gendarmes raided his parents’ house.

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Machine bias – ProPublica

We also turned up significant racial disparities, just as Holder feared. In forecasting who would re-offend, the algorithm made mistakes with black and white defendants at roughly the same rate but in very different ways. The formula was particularly likely to falsely flag black defendants as future criminals, wrongly labeling them this way at almost twice the rate as white defendants. White defendants were mislabeled as low risk more often than black defendants.

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Got a beef with the media? Pay someone else to sue them – Wired

Regardless of how you feel about Gawker, Hogan, or Thiel, this financial arrangement sets a dangerous precedent for anyone running a business—especially a media business. Litigation finance is a booming industry, and Thiel’s success likely makes the entire media industry vulnerable to professional litigation financiers willing to fund other vendettas.

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Read previous articles from this series here.

Image source: Flickr user Robert under CC BY-NC 2.0

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  • Santanu Chari

    Thanks for this update. Particularly liked the alert about dodgy websites and how the internet works!