Responsible Innovation Team

Welcome back all! Here’s Digitally Literate, issue #343.

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Twitter Whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko Complete Opening Statement

In Nov. 2020, Peiter Zatko, the hacker known as “Mudge,” was hired as Twitter’s security lead, with a global remit to fix gaping vulnerabilities in one of the world’s most important communications platforms. But 14 months later, he was fired.

Six months after that, he filed a sweeping whistle-blower complaint that describes Twitter as crippled by rudderless and dishonest leadership, beset by “egregious” privacy and security flaws, tainted by foreign influence, a danger to national security, and susceptible even to total collapse.

Ronan Farrow reports on how this whistleblower complaint caused efforts to attack and harass Mudge, his family, and his friends.

This is important as it outlines efforts to prioritize profits over security and user data. You may not use Twitter and do not see a need for concern. Twitter is a fundamental fabric of the Internet and connects with users (and non-users) of the network. I believe these concerns about Twitter can be seen in most of the other social networks and platforms that we use on a daily basis.

Framing the News: An Example

James Fallows suggests that the people pointing the spotlight, have some responsibility for where the spotlight goes.

Framing is the idea that the assumptions behind the presentation, emphasis, and selection of stories are generally far more important than usual indicators of “bias,” overt as they might be.

Media, and content creators, need to spend more time keeping ideas and issues in perspective while living in the shadow of the past.


A broken pipeline: The issues contributing to the U.S. teacher shortage

The Biden administration unveiled a new public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Education, AmeriCorps, and Johns Hopkins University to help students recover and thrive after the impacts of COVID-19.

Historically we’ve accepted this fallacy of “They’ll do this out of the goodness of their hearts because they love the kids so much,” but that thinking doesn’t cut it anymore. We have to come up with approaches where school districts treat teacher recruitment like major corporations treat talent acquisition, and schools of education should be partners in rethinking that process.


Will Nonbelievers Really Believe Anything?

I don’t really write about religion. I think it’s due to my struggles to figure it out in my own life. This is a challenge as there are many, many connections between religion and most of what I write about in my work.

This post from Scott Alexander is inspired by this Twitter thread from Amjad Masad.

I feel like I disagree with most of what Alexander lays out in the post…and Masad in the Twitter thread…but I’m unsure. What do you think?


Doomscrolling linked to poor physical and mental health, study finds

New research suggests the compulsive urge to surf the web can lead to poor mental and physical health outcomes. The study, published in the journal Health Communication, found that 16.5% of about 1,100 people surveyed showed signs of “severely problematic” news consumption, leading to greater levels of stress, anxiety, and poor health.


Meta dissolves team responsible for discovering ‘potential harms to society’ in its own products

It took a couple of years, but Meta’s Responsible Innovation Team finally recognized that Facebook is a potential harm to society. (⊙_⊙’)

The Responsible Innovation team was first formed “several years ago,” according to a 2021 blog post written by Meta’s Margaret Stewart, the Facebook VP who oversaw the team. The team was made up of engineers as well as people with backgrounds in civil rights and ethics, in order to advise the company’s product teams on potential harms across a broad spectrum of societal issues and dilemmas. The Responsible Innovation Team is no more

What do cream cheese, beef brisket, jalapeños, and bacon have in common?

A Texas Twinkie is a jalapeño stuffed with cream crease and brisket, wrapped in bacon. That concoction is then deep fried and topped with whatever BBQ sauce, or any salsa for that matter.

This looks equally good…and bad for you. 🙂

Language is courage: the ability to conceive a thought, to speak it, and by doing so to make it true.

Salman Rushdie

Sometimes I’m unsure of myself.

Other times…I feel like this. (•̀ᴗ•́)و

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