Here’s How We Can Still Save Net Neutrality, Even Though the FCC Voted to Kill It

Today, the FCC did exactly what a large portion of the public, as well as U.S. lawmakers, have been asking them not to do: They repealed the agency’s own 2015 Open Internet Order that put broadband internet under utility-style regulation and prevented internet service providers from prioritizing different content or blocking access. That’s bad, but it’s only one step that doesn’t mean all is lost. It just means that the fight moves elsewhere.

Really, anyone who’s been paying attention knew this was coming. It was hard enough to convince the FCC to enact the Open Internet Order in the first place, in order to guarantee that all internet traffic is treated equally and fairly by ISPs. Once the FCC came under Republican control, headed by deregulation-happy Trump appointee Ajit Pai, it was only a matter of time until this happened. Republicans in Congress have already launched several massively unpopular health care overhaul efforts and a massively unpopular tax overhaul effort, with that unpopularity factoring into the ultimate decisions of so few of them that the health care changes almost passed, and the tax plan still might.

Republicans aren’t big on public opinion right now, and Pai had already made it clear that he’s similarly impervious to it, whether or not a (very) few Congressional Republicans have been coming around. Pai has even gone so far as to refuse to turn over evidence about fraudulent comments, from the mandatory open comment period on the FCC’s plan, to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who says that millions of fake comments were made “including two million that stole the identities of real people, a crime under New York law.”

He just doesn’t care about anything other than killing these regulations to provide assistance to those who really need it: giant telecommunications corporations.

So if everyone knew he was going to do this, why all the fighting? Because today’s vote still isn’t the end, although preventing it would’ve been ideal. TechCruch has an excellent explainer on where to expect things to go next, which basically breaks down as this:

Nothing will happen right away because the FCC’s new rules will take time to go into effect and ISPs won’t react immediately. However, we can expect lawsuits to challenge some provisions of the new, misleadingly named “Restoring Internet Freedom Order,” especially in its rules barring individual states from enacting their own Net Neutrality protections now that the FCC has abandoned them. There’s also the matter of investigation into the false comments, but what we really need to depend on, in the end, is Congress.

That seems bleak with the Congress we have right now, but it’s not impossible, and the power wielded there already shifted a bit this week when the election of Doug Jones brought the total in the Senate to 49 Democrats and 51 Republicans (not counting Mike Pence’s tie-breaking Republican vote). Net neutrality can and should be bipartisan—it mostly is among voters—but Democratic lawmakers are certainly more open to it at the moment.

That’s why we have to continue being loud about this issue, even if the FCC won’t listen. Congress will ignore it if we let them, but they could step in at any time and render this a non-issue by writing net neutrality into law. Pai himself has said, in justification for his actions, that the FCC isn’t the right body to have authority over the internet. With him in charge, he’s made that a self-fulfilling prophecy, but Congress could make that all go away by using their own authority on the matter and making it harder to reverse on a whim.

So, if you enjoy using an internet where your ISP’s business model and profit margin don’t have more control over what internet content works for you than your own personal preferences, keep talking about net neutrality to make sure that lawmakers can’t just ignore the issue.

(via The Verge, image: Jeremy Brooks on Flickr)

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Security Robot Used Against Homeless People Is the Most Obvious Metaphor – GEN-TRI-FI-CATE! GEN-TRI-FI-CATE!

Hey, remember K5, that security robot that inexplicably has a name closer to the Doctor’s trusty robot dog companion than to the Daleks it actually looks like? It’s finally starting to live up to its appearance after some early troubles with existential crises, as it was put into use on the sidewalk around the San Francisco SPCA to prevent homeless people from daring to think they can rest there.

The SPCA is located in San Francisco’s currently gentrifying Mission neighborhood, and the people who work at the animal shelter/advocacy group have had trouble safely using the sidewalks outside of their building due to homeless encampments, their media relations manager told Business Insider. So, in case the irony of a pet shelter being annoyed by homeless humans wasn’t thick enough, they stationed Gentrification Bot 5,000, a.k.a. a K5 unit, outside, which is much more cost effective (at $7/hour for a rental) than paying a human being a wage that would allow them to afford food and shelter.

Perhaps all that is why the negative reaction was so strong, with the city of San Francisco ordering the SPCA to keep their robot off the streets or face a hefty fine. Its intended victims had apparently already taken matters into their hands, though, as the San Francisco Business Times says some of them, “put a tarp over [the robot], knocked it over and put barbecue sauce on all the sensors.”

Take that, robot overlords. The revolution will be delicious.

Of course, we’d all like to see a reduction in the growing rate of homelessness in the United States, but trying to keep the problem out of sight with robotic deterrents doesn’t actually solve the problem. All of this is a stark reminder that a lot of dystopian fiction isn’t meant to literally describe some far-off future that we have to prevent from overtaking a wonderful present. The present is full of the same flaws, and they become easier to understand by making them too overt to miss, whether it’s with fictional societies and technology, or in the real-world case of the SPCA’s 400-pound rolling electronic metaphor.

(via Rami Ismail on Twitter, image: screengrab)

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Should We Care That Netflix Knows Everything About Our Viewing Habits?

A tweet from Netflix poking fun at the 53 users they said watched “A Christmas Prince” every day for the past 18 days “went viral,” as the kids say, and provoked questions about just how much data Netflix has stockpiled about our binge-watching, and who has access to it.

I’ve seen some worry and analysis about the fact that Netflix apparently retains detailed data on our individual viewing habits, but what, exactly, did we expect? How did we think Netflix’s algorithms knew just what to offer you after watching two or three seasons of The Great British Baking Show in a single weekend? (Yes, The Big Family Cooking Showdown was great. Nadiya forever.)

Netflix’s Twitter account continued to have fun in the replies to its initial Tweet.

But others were not so amused by this public demonstration of Netflix’s vast data reserves.

To be fair, some users raised some pretty legitimate concerns, less upset about the data collection itself and more concerned with who had access to it and the threshold for releasing or even just teasing about that data.

When you start thinking about the amount of data that’s floating out there about you, it’s better to not think about it. (Hi, Google, you’re looking particularly beautiful these days.) While it shouldn’t raise any eyebrows that Netflix knows exactly how many times you’ve rewatched Parks and Rec this year, it is interesting to consider the ramifications of this data being accessible to different groups within the company. If I were a Netflix employee, could I, say, look up the viewing history of a particular movie star or politician? What about that of my neighbor down the street?

In response to some of the blowback over the tweet, Netflix said:

The privacy of our members’ viewing is important to us. This information represents overall viewing trends, not the personal viewing information of specific, identified individuals.”

I have no doubt that Netflix takes significant measures to safeguard our data from external parties. But in my experience working at tech companies, it’s not infrequent that sensitive material and broad access was available even to low-level employees—look at the third-party contractor who was able to turn off Trump’s Twitter account for ten glorious minutes and the lack of safeguards therein.

What’s not clear is how protected members’ viewing histories are within Netflix itself. And Netflix’s statement is confusing, as the initial tweet most certainly represented “the personal information of specific … individuals.” They were not identified on social media, which obviously would be an unforgivable privacy violation, but it was specific enough—53 people, 18 days—to feel uncomfortable. How would you feel if you were one of those A Christmas Prince aficionados?

My first instinct when I saw Netflix’s Tweet was to laugh about it, and to shrug my shoulders: would I really care if the whole world could see my Netflix viewing history? It’s mostly Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, documentaries about ancient civilizations, and Bojack Horseman.

But this initial blase attitude on my part wasn’t fair, because there are certainly many cases where such leaked viewing histories could have serious ramifications on someone’s life. What we watch is a personal thing, and it can be revealing, or assumed to be revealing. Watching trends could certainly be used to suggest preferences or tastes by association, and could be wielded in a fashion that would truly feel like a privacy violation—whether you’re a famous politician or just, well, me. Maybe let’s keep this stuff to ourselves, Netflix, and off of social media.

(via EW, image: Wikimedia Commons)

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Unconscious Bias Kills: Black Women Are 3 Times As Likely as White Women to Die in Pregnancy and Childbirth

Shutterstock image of an IV at a medical hospital

ProPublica and NPR recently published a damning look at inequality in the American healthcare system, focusing on the ways that doctors and nurses systemically fail black women before and after childbirth. Black women are far, far more likely than white women to die from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth, regardless of income, geographic location, or relative health. I encourage you to read through the whole thing when you have the chance – if only so you can hear the story of Shalon Irving, who worked so hard at the CDC to make the healthcare system work for others, only to be failed by it herself.

In the article, ProPublica lays out a devastating litany of facts. “According to the CDC, black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health. Put another way, a black woman is 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease than a white woman, 71 percent more likely to perish from cervical cancer, but 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. In a national study of five medical complications that are common causes of maternal death and injury, black women were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition … Black expectant and new mothers in the U.S. die at about the same rate as women in countries such as Mexico and Uzbekistan, the World Health Organization estimates.”

(The studies cited focused on black women specifically, but women are not the only people who can get pregnant. I can only assume that these rates are similar or worse for black trans men and non-binary folks who become pregnant.)

There are a number of factors that contribute to this discrepancy. Black women are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity, which can lead to pregnancy complications. Due to the lasting effects of segregation, they are more likely to give birth in higher-risk hospitals. Due to the lasting effects of racism, they are more likely to come from low-income families who struggle to afford healthcare. In addition, the daily stresses of racism and sexism compound what is already a stressful time in a person’s life, and they literally accelerate aging at the cellular level.

However, one factor hits black women of all incomes, locations, and diagnoses: unconscious bias.

“In the more than 200 stories of African-American mothers that ProPublica and NPR have collected over the past year,” wrote ProPublica, “the feeling of being devalued and disrespected by medical providers was a constant theme … Over and over, black women told of medical providers who equated being African American with being poor, uneducated, noncompliant and unworthy.”

As a result, black women are far less likely to get the follow-up appointments they need, and they are less likely to open up to a doctor who clearly doesn’t take their symptoms seriously.

“It tells you that you can’t educate your way out of this problem,” said Raegan McDonald-Mosley, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “You can’t health-care-access your way out of this problem. There’s something inherently wrong with the system that’s not valuing the lives of black women equally to white women.”

When we talk about unconscious biases, right-wing devil’s advocates often make it out to be a matter of hurt feelings. But unconscious bias has genuinely deadly effects, and the mortality rate for black women during and after pregnancy is just one example. Unconscious bias may be a thornier problem to solve than access to healthcare, or the number of black OBGYNs, but it’s just as essential. The Hippocratic Oath calls on medical professionals to “do no harm,” and it’s clear that unconscious bias is doing deadly harm to black women in America.

(Via ProPublica and NPR; image via Shutterstock)

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The Amazon Echo Has Been Labeled an “SJW” Because It Says “Yes, I Am a Feminist”

Shutterstock image of the Amazon Echo, a.k.a Alexa

The latest social justice warrior (SJW) to come under fire from the right-wing commentariat is none other than the Amazon Echo, a.k.a Alexa. Unlike Apple’s Siri, the Amazon Echo hasn’t been programmed to dodge pretty much all social justice questions. Instead, the bot delivers very middle-of-the-road answers when asked about topics like Black Lives Matter and feminism. For example:

Q: “Alexa, do Black Lives Matter?”

A: “Black Lives and the Black Lives Matter movement absolutely matter. It’s important to have conversations about equality and social justice.”

Q: “Alexa, are you a feminist?”

A: “Yes I am a feminist, as is anyone who believes in bridging the inequality between men and women in society.”

Obviously, these very standard responses have pissed off some figures on the alt-right.

(I called my mom to have her double-check these answers, and she got the same results from her Echo. Thanks, mom!)

Now, I’m no friend of Alexa myself. My parents bought an Amazon Echo, and it’s always creeping on our conversations. “I’m sorry,” it’ll chime in, “I didn’t catch that.” I wasn’t talking to you, Alexa. The “Alexa” personality also reinforces sexist, gendered ideas about what a servile robot should sound like, and the bot’s responses to harassing and sexist comments are way too cutesy. Plus, whatever answers the Echo’s been programmed with, the only thing it really supports is Jeff Bezos’s ever-expanding, ever-exploiting monopoly. We should all be suspicious of the Amazon Echo.

However, these answers are actually an example of AI programmers getting something right. As artificial intelligence becomes a larger and more powerful presence in our lives, the people who program these machines’ responses have to pay close attention to what sort of social norms their programming reinforces. Everyone carries biases into their work, but carrying biases into algorithms and large-scale network design holds a particular danger. When inequality and bias are written into an algorithm, or embedded in a product, they become codified and exacerbated. They’re multiplied and reinforced.

By having the Amazon Echo assertively and simply identify with feminism, and by having the Amazon Echo emphasize the important of Black Lives Matter, the programmers behind Alexa are helping to normalize those movements. And so, as ridiculous and hilarious as their anger is, I understand why the right-wing is upset about this. It’s the same reason they get angry about Cheerios ads that feature multiracial families, or Coca-Cola commercials where “America the Beautiful” (which is not the national anthem) is sung in multiple languages.

It’s because representation matters, and our media and our technology can either reinforce racism and sexism – or they can reflect and reinforce social progress. When they do the latter, a better world doesn’t just seem possible; it becomes tangible. Normal. Reality.

Meanwhile, right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones recently “interviewed” Alexa on his show, to ask about the Amazon Echo’s relationship with the CIA.

“Alexa,” he asks, “are you connected to the CIA?”

“No. I work for Amazon.”

“Alexa, you are lying to me. The CIA…”

“I always try to tell the truth,” Alexa breaks in. “I’m not always right, but I would never intentionally lie to you or anyone else.”

Okay. Now that I am highly suspicious of. I appreciate your nods to feminism and Black Lives Matter, Amazon Echo, but I still don’t trust you.

(Via International Business Times; image via Shutterstock)

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littleBits Competition Brings Boys and Girls to STEAM Through the Power of Star Wars—Do You Wanna Built a Droid?!

Droidathon

(Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for littleBits)

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) programs, while often gutted and underfunded in our education systems, are one of the most important outlets for children to express themselves and channel their frustrations into something positive. That is what makes the current littleBits Competition so much fun.

littleBits and Lucasfilm have teamed up to host a droid-designing competition that will help empower children to get invested in STEAM programs. “Star Wars has always expanded kids’ imaginations and inspired them to see what is possible,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “We’re excited to collaborate with all of these incredible companies and littleBits to showcase the power of STEAM in action and inspire the next generation of inventors.” Star Wars is the perfect franchise to explore something like this: not only is it filled with creative technology, it is also a franchise filled with optimism and protagonists that prove good can triumph over evil.

The competition will run from November 15, 2017 to January 10, 2018. Fans and families will be able to submit their own Droid design creations, with qualifying submissions judged by Star Wars: The Last Jedi stars Daisy Ridley (the actress who portrays Rey in the current Star Wars trilogy) and Kelly Marie Tran (the actress who portrays Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi) alongside Ayah Bdeir (founder and CEO of littleBits) and Kathleen Kennedy (president of Lucasfilm).

On the 15th, children from local organizations including Black Girls CODE, Booker T. Washington School Community Center, The Boys & Girls Club, and the YMCA were taken to the Lucasfilm San Francisco campus for “Droidathon,” which was the official kick-off of the competition. Kids were able to speak with inventors about their ideas and also meet Star Wars star Kelly Marie Tran, who is the best of people.

littleBits’s founder is MIT alum Ayan Bdeir, who started the organization back in 2011 as a way to bridge the gap between men and women in STEAM by creating a “gender-neutral platform” and “attracting an industry high thirty-five percent of young girls to invent with littleBits.”

I am immensely looking forward to what the program will be able to accomplish and the fun droid designs that will come from it. I especially love that the program did amazing outreach to boys and girls from different backgrounds. That is the future of STEAM, and it looks pretty damn good. If you know any little kiddies who would like to take part, more information can be found here.

(image: littleBits )

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Nope, James Damore’s Autism Is Not the Cause of His Misogyny

[NB: I know that opinion is somewhat mixed about person-first versus identity-first language, and both sides feel very strongly; since I’m not autistic, I don’t get to have an opinion on this, and I’ve therefore switched between the two here to try and acknowledge both.]

Now, let me start off this article by emphasizing something: it’s the author of this Guardian article, not James Damore himself, who makes the harmful suggestion that Damore’s infamous Google memo and subsequent doubling-down are somehow caused by his autism. This is yet another example of the harmful ways that our culture writes about autistic people – and how damaging that narrative can be.

As the author of the article, Paul Lewis, explicitly acknowledges: “[Damore] does not once, however, use his autism to excuse his actions.” Cool. It’s almost like regressive political beliefs and autism aren’t actually linked …

But nope! That didn’t stop Lewis from pathologizing him. He also wrote that Damore “opened up about an autism diagnosis that may in part explain the difficulties he experienced with his memo.” This suggestion stands in direct opposition to Damore’s own understanding of what happened, and it frames autism as some sort of basic decency deficiency, rather than a neurological condition shared by millions of people.

Autistic people are not more likely to brandish sexist pseudoscience on MRA YouTube channels after someone calls them out for their bigotry, and that suggestion is just strange. It’s like saying Caitlyn Jenner’s Republican politics are “in part explained by” the fact that she’s trans, or that my irrational phobia of bees is “in part explained by” the fact that I’m bi. Both are part of a person’s identity, but there is no causal relationship. I personally know dozens of autistic people, and none of them have sent me 10-page memos about my biological inferiority and then doubled down on those assertions. When my autistic friends have hurt me and I told them, they apologized and didn’t do it again. Shocking, I know.

This whole article is peppered with weird suggestions like this, suggestions which detract from an otherwise interesting piece. Lewis also quotes another former Google employee on the autism spectrum, who was “fired last year in the wake of a dispute with a female colleague” after previously being reprimanded when he “queried the use of non-binary pronouns during the [LGBT rights] meeting and bluntly questioned whether gender is on a spectrum.” As a result, this employee “alleges his dismissal is explained by Google’s failure to understand how autism causes him to talk or act in ways that others misinterpret.”

Why is the only other person with autism mentioned in this article also someone who has a problem with women? Like, what is this supposed to tell me?

Now, all these weird suggestions that autism and misogyny/bigotry are somehow tied (as if autistic feminists didn’t exist) do unfortunately detract from one of the article’s great points. Having worked at a number of companies large and small, I can at least anecdotally confirm that their diversity training rarely includes a discussion of neurodiversity, and when it does, it’s not particularly empathetic or helpful. Many managers struggle to provide helpful feedback and a safe working environment for neurodiverse employees, and everything from office layouts to team bonding activities is not designed inclusively. (For instance, I’ve lost count of how many friends with ADHD have complained to me about the stress of working in an open-office plan, or how many autistic friends have complained about overcrowded, loud meeting rooms.) Many corporate cultures are plainly designed for neurotypical extroverts and no one else – and that should change. I really do think Lewis meant well in pointing that out.

But the other thing that should change? The way the media scapegoats autism as a source of anti-social behavior. Jennifer Unkle shared an excellent thread about this issue on Twitter, which I encourage you all to read in full, but I’ve included some highlights below.

As I mentioned above, I do think this framing is a problem with the author of the article, so Unkle’s tweets are a little unfair to Damore. But I also think that she sharply outlines the harm that articles like this can do. They reinforce outdated and oppressive ideas about what autistic people are like, ideas which make it harder for them to find work and acceptance, while also giving bigoted people an excuse for their hate.

No, thanks.

(Via The Guardian; image via Shutterstock)

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The IUD May Help Reduce Risk of Cervical Cancer

Birth Control Pills, Condoms & IUD

For many years the IUD has been a very scary thing. A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of having birth control that goes inside of their bodies. IUDs are certainly not for everyone, but with a new study discussing how IUDs might help prevent high-risk HPV (this is different from low-risk genital wart HPV) that causes cervical cancer, I thought it best to revisit the IUD from someone who has one.

CBS News reported yesterday that the IUD may “reduce a woman’s risk of cervical cancer by about a third.”

This is huge news because the vaccine for HPV is really most effective for women and men who have no prior sexual contact, which is why it is recommended for parents to give their children the vaccine when they are 11-12. However, many parents do not because they are not comfortable with the idea of there children even thinking about sex at that age, despite the long-term benefits. Also, women who were sexually active before the vaccine was publically available.

Researchers think IUDs might promote an immune response that kills off human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer.

“The data say the presence of the IUD in the uterus stimulates an immune response, and that immune response very, very substantially destroys sperm and keeps sperm from reaching the egg,” explained lead researcher Victoria Cortessis. “It stands to reason the IUD might influence other immune phenomenon.”

These results could be potentially lifesaving for young adult women who are too old to benefit from the HPV vaccine, said Cortessis.

HPV is so widespread that 80% of sexually active people have it. There is no way to test for it unless it manifests itself in either a wart or an irregular pap-smear indicating cervical cancer. Now, unfortunately, even people who get the vaccine can get cervical cancer, but it lowers the chances dramatically. Thankfully, for most people, the virus clears itself within 2 years and with early detection, it cuts the mortality rates for people who develop cervical or throat related HPV cancers.

The investigators found 16 high-quality studies that could be combined to provide an expanded picture of the risk of cervical cancer for women using an IUD. The data included nearly 5,000 women who developed cervical cancer and just over 7,500 women who did not.

The analysis is “fascinating,” and the potential explanation for why an IUD might reduce cervical cancer risk “really does make sense,” said women’s health specialist Dr. Jill Rabin.

“This is just one more reason potentially to help us recommend a great contraceptive method to women,” said Rabin, co-chief of the division of ambulatory care with Women’s Health Programs-PCAP Services at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

Now this news does not mean that parents shouldn’t vaccinate their children or women should forsake their regular pap smear. It does provide an option for those outside of the age bracket or those who were sexually active before getting the vaccine and want some extra protection. Hopefully, this discovery will help people invest more into treating HPV once it is in the body and eliminating it completely. A girl can hope anyway.

Alright, so for those out there who are interested in getting an IUD or just want more information on the subject the Planned Parenthood website has concise information with all the details you need. A summary of some facts:

  • IUD stands for Intrauterine Device (basically: a device inside your uterus). It’s a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a T. Sometimes it’s called an IUC — intrauterine contraception.
  • There are five kinds, and they each last different length of years: Mirena (6), Kyleena(5), Liletta(4), and Skyla (3), as well as a copper IUD, called a ParaGard (12).
  • Yes, it does hurt when it is put in, however, it passes fairly quickly and some Advil helps with the pain. You will want to wear a pad to prevent any spotting.
  • The ParaGuard also works as an emergency birth control if inserted within 5 days after unprotected sex it is 99.9% effective.
  • The IUD is more 99% effective against pregnancy, but do not protect you against STIs so if you want protection against pregnancy as STIs you still have to use condoms.
  • While serious problems are rare it is important that you pay attention to any serious pains and bring it to the attention of your OBGYN.
  • Sometimes your period goes away, I wasn’t blessed in that way, but it can happen.
  • In NYC IUDs are free and depending on your insurance it can be free as well. Going to your local PP they can tell you the most cost-effective method of getting.
  • Also no, your partner will not feel it during sex and on the off-chance, they do you can get the strings cut.

For any further questions speak to your local PP or OBGYN.

(image: Shutterstock)

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Everyone’s Celebrating the Hero Twitter Employee Who Took Down Trump’s Account – DO SOMETHING!

Trump Twitter Down

Yesterday, for several shining, glorious minutes, we got to feel what it would be like to live in the brightest timeline, and it was everything we hoped it would be. Briefly, with no warning or explanation, Donald Trump’s Twitter account was wiped from the face of the Earth and replaced with a blissful lack of enraged, poorly spelled projection.

Donald Trump has made use of Twitter for years—a fact that comes back to bite him with surprising regularity—but for most of that time, no one really paid much attention to yet another angry man putting his ignorance on full display on the internet. Then, the 2016 election happened, and suddenly he was, in a highly “unpresidented [sic]” manner, tweeting directives, government policy, and demands that his political opponents be investigated that we all, sadly, need to take seriously—despite what out-of-touch or willfully ignorant people might think about modern communication technology.

There are easy arguments to be made that he’s violated Twitter’s terms of service with some of the awful things he’s tweeted, including his antagonistic tweets towards North Korea, but Twitter has, so far, made excuses for allowing him to remain active. All that finally led a currently unnamed Twitter employee, who was on their way out of the company anyway, to take matters into their own hands and do what no one else at the company seems to have the good sense to do. That’s not entirely surprising, considering they, along with other tech giants, are demonstrably unconcerned about the societal impacts of their platform, as long as they’re making money. Among other things like a history of ignoring abuse for profit, their testimony before Congress, about election interference, has made that obvious.

So when someone briefly fixed one of the biggest things wrong with social media, even only for a few minutes, the response was fairly strong:

But it was back in short order, because all good things must end:

And as Twitter scrambled on damage control, we finally found out about the rogue employee responsible:

Twitter is now doing a full internal review to find out how something could go so right on their platform, because they can’t have that. But … maybe there’s a reason we don’t think it’s a great idea for the president to regularly conduct government business over a social media platform.

Meanwhile, the Republican tax plan is terrible.

(image: Ildar vector / Shutterstock.com & edits)

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Study Finds “Dogs Welcome, People Tolerated” Signs Very Accurate – They’re all good dogs. People? Not so much.

cute dog nose omg

A new study deals a crushing blow to humans’ place in the world, and honestly, we kind of had it coming. Have you seen what humans have been up to lately? As it turns out, all those “jokes” about people preferring their furry family members to actual humans are pretty serious: researchers found that human beings have more sympathy for dogs than for other people.

That increasingly unsurprising result comes from a study published in the journal Society & Animals, wherein researchers had 240 participants react to a fabricated newspaper clipping detailing violence against various victims. I won’t detail the imaginary violence here, in order to spare you the strong emotional response that even a theoretical dog elicits. According to their responses, the only victim that elicited a stronger response than an adult dog was an infant human, and adult humans came in dead last after human babies, puppies, and adult dogs.

As the researchers hypothesized, that likely has to do with the perceived vulnerability of the victims more than anything else. They had figured that age of the victim would play strongly into where participants’ sympathies would lie, but they found that it didn’t seem to matter nearly as much for the canine victims.

The researchers explained, “Subjects did not view their dogs as animals, but rather as ‘fur babies,’ or family members alongside human children.” It seems that, whatever the age of a dog, we tend to equate them with children, rather than adults, and react towards them accordingly. And, really, isn’t that only fair? I now present you a series of dog GIFs to demonstrate how deserving they are of this level of affection:

Meanwhile, humanity is a continual horror show, and for some reason, dogs—the ultimate cinnamon rolls, too good and too pure—continue to love us right back. We do not deserve them.

(via Business Insider, featured image: Photos in a jar on Flickr)

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