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Afternoon Reading List 07.25.13

Controlling information in the age of Reddit and Twitter — Reddit has become a dominating traffic-gobbler on the web, calling itself “the front page of the Internet.” It has millions of users that constantly post content, some of which goes viral. NYT’s Jay Caspian Kang examines what happens when false information is spread on the site, especially when it spills into the media. Within minutes of the FBI posting photos of Suspect #1 and Suspect #2 of the Boston Marathon Bombings, a Reddit user posted a photo of Suspect #2 beside a photo of Sunil Tripathi, starting a viral rumor that Tripathi was the suspect. This spread through Twitter and eventually made it to the Twitter accounts of journalists, such as BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski and Luke Russert of NBC News. The only problem was that Tripathi, a 22-year-old student at Brown, had been missing. His family had set up a Facebook page with the name “Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi,” but took it down after receiving threatening and hurtful messages from Internet users in connection with the Suspect #2 photo, all but abandoning their search. Kang uses this case to show how Internet communities like Twitter and Reddit have caused information to run wild on the web. The problem is, not all of it is true.

Why you should read it: Kang, in a compelling and well-written article, examines modern reporting practices and citizen journalism through the Internet and how false information affects innocent people. The article dives deep into how groups like Anonymous are contributing to this whirlpool of fact and rumor.

Anthony Weiner is no Bill Clinton Anthony Weiner was involved in a sex scandal (well, actually the count’s at three right now, but that’s beside the point) and his loyal wife stood by him and supported him and his career. Bill Clinton was also involved in a sex scandal (also more than one, but the Monica Lewinsky scandal is obviously the one we’re referencing) and his wife also stood by his side as he faced impeachment. But The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky argues that this is about the only thing Weiner and Clinton have in common. He writes that anyone comparing the couples doesn’t have a full understanding of what happened in the Clinton sex scandal, and promptly explains what did happen. Clinton was a president, not a disgraced congressman running for mayor. Tomasky lists accomplishments that made Democrats love him and Republicans come to despise him. The GOP was so set on stopping him. The couple came under attack by the GOP, and together they fought back. Weiner, however, is not some target of some conspiracy. Rather he’s got a strange appetite for phone sex and sexting, in which dirty rants on healthcare are the norm, not to mention promising his online girlfriend a job at Politico. Tomasky says Huma has no reason to stay with him, other than publicity and political power. Another difference between Weiner and Clinton: Weiner has been embroiled in a number of sex scandals, but so far hasn’t sealed the deal.

Why you should read it: Tomasky takes Huma from being a victim to questioning her reasons for staying with Weiner, even calling her a “co-conspirator” since she allegedly knew about the most recent scandal before Weiner announced his mayoral bid. It makes for a rather interesting perspective in the widely-reported story of Weiner and his sex scandals.

See our last pick…

 

Julian Assange, senator? — Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, has been been isolated at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past year to prevent extradition to Sweden. But he may need to figure out a way to get to Australia soon. As National Journal’s Matt Berman reports, Assange announced Thursday that seven candidates from his WikiLeaks Party will run for a Senate seat in Australia, including Assange himself. Assange has thrust himself back into the media by recently aiding Edward Snowden in his quest for asylum after leaking secret NSA documents. Though Assange and Wikileaks have paid for Snowden’s travel and legal assistance and aided him in searching for asylum, the relationship hasn’t been all beneficial for Snowden. Assange’s involvement with Snowden reportedly caused Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, to not grant asylum to Snowden. The relationship may also damage Snowden’s popularity among Americans, 77 percent of whom disapproved in a CNN poll of WikiLeaks’ leaks. The first step for Assange is getting elected, then he’ll need to figure out how to get to Australia.

Why you should read it: Most people could have seen Assange’s aid to Snowden coming, but the WikiLeaks founder threw a curveball by announcing himself as a candidate for the Australian Senate.

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