The Download: Police used social media to surveil Black people, and India’s worsening heat waves
Plus: Elon Musk is already criticizing Twitter executives
This is today's edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what's going on in the world of technology.
Minneapolis police used fake social media profiles to surveil Black people
The Minneapolis Police Department violated civil rights law through a pattern of racist policing practices, according to a damning report published today by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The report found that officers stop, search, arrest, and use force against people of color at a much higher rate than white people, and covertly surveilled Black people not suspected of any crimes via social media.
The findings are consistent with MIT Technology Review’s investigation of Minnesota law enforcement agencies, which has revealed an extensive surveillance network that targeted activists in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. Read the full story.
—Tate Ryan-Mosley and Sam Richards
Climate change is making India’s brutal heat waves worse
Blistering temperatures: Heat waves are scorching India and Pakistan this week, breaking records as the region enters the hottest time of the year. Some states in India have already seen temperatures top 43 °C (110 °F).
Peaking early: Extreme heat can be deadly, especially for a region where many lack access to cooling. And climate change is making heat waves more frequent and severe. Usually, peak temperatures in the region come in May and June, just before monsoon rains bring relief, but this year has been particularly hot, particularly early.
Accelerated change: The effects of climate change on weather can sometimes be difficult to tease out. But for heat waves, researchers have “very high confidence” that climate change is making the problem worse. Read the full story.
Quote of the day
“I’m sure everyone will say hi to me. Everyone will be my friend.”
—Artur, a 10-year-old from western Ukraine, is optimistic about settling into his new home in America, according to The Guardian.
I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 Elon Musk attacked Twitter’s top lawyer
His tweets criticizing her triggered a wave of racist abuse. (WP $)
+ Women and minorities are all too familiar with how it feels to be harassed on Twitter. (NYT $)
+ Republican senators gained followers in the wake of the deal announcement. (Economist $)
+ No CEO is an island when it comes to running a social media platform. (WP $)
+ Twitter hid tweets promoting a documentary about QAnon. (Gizmodo)
2 Russia is still being flooded with cyberattacks
While hacks targeting Ukraine have decreased. (Wired $)
+ Many of Russia’s cyberattacks appear to support its military strikes. (NYT $)
+ Ukrainians are fighting a colonial war. (New Yorker $)
+ Ukrainians are posing with destroyed Russian tanks for social media shots. (WP $)
3 A second country has adopted Bitcoin as legal tender
Though just 4% of people in the Central African Republic even have access to the web. (BBC)
+ Crypto millionaires are pouring money into Central America to build their own cities. (TR)
4 Meta’s revenue growth is the slowest it’s been in a decade
But it’s finally stopped losing users. (FT $)
5 North Koreans are jailbreaking smartphones to access foreign media
And it’s helping them to challenge the government’s regime. (Wired $)
+ North Korean defectors have flown propaganda leaflets into the country. (Reuters)
6 Google may remove search results that could be used to dox you
That’ll involve taking down personal information such as your address or login credentials. (The Verge)
+ A reminder that your social media timeline is not a democracy. (Politico)
7 Shanghai residents are crowdsourcing aid to survive lockdown
As the city enters its fifth week of restrictions, people are forming networks to swap everything from recipes to pet care tips. (WSJ $)
+ Fury over lockdowns is testing China's triumphant covid narrative. (NYT $)
8 Marine biologists have developed GPS for the ocean
Hopefully it’ll make tracking sea creatures less challenging. (Economist $)
+ A gigantic ocean current appears to be slowing down. (Scientific American)
9 Lost your phone? Here’s how to get into your accounts
To prevent anyone else getting their hands on your private info. (WP $
10 Zoom meetings may be making us less creative
Because brainstorming with others is easier and more fruitful in person. (The Guardian)
We can still have nice things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet 'em at me.)
+ This strikes me as parenting at its finest.
+ The winning picture of this food photography contest makes me want a delicious kebab.
+ Time to brush up on more than 10,000 years of Indian art history, thanks to this amazing open-source encyclopedia.
+ Harry Styles’ Better Homes and Gardens cover shoot is so much fun.
+ A useful explanation of how keys open locks, if you’ve never really understood.
+ An essential investigation into which characters from The OC would be Bitcoin moguls.
+ Finally, a joke about Twitter we can all enjoy.
How to preserve your digital memories
Following recent announcements by Google and Twitter, more data deletion policies are coming.
Your digital life isn’t as permanent as you think it is
Google will delete accounts after two years of inactivity, and experts expect more data deletion policies to come
Catching bad content in the age of AI
Why haven’t tech companies improved at content moderation?
Behind the scenes of Carnegie Mellon’s heated privacy dispute
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University wanted to create a privacy-preserving smart sensor. They were accused of violating privacy instead.
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