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Big Technology

‘Of course it’s performative, but you know what? It’s a better world if brands feel they have to be performative’

Zeynep Tufekci
Zeynep Tufekci

OneZero is partnering with Big Technology, a newsletter and podcast by Alex Kantrowitz, to bring readers exclusive access to interviews with notable figures in and around the tech industry.

This week, Kantrowitz sits down with writer and researcher Zeynep Tufekci to discuss the evolution of social media-driven movements, from Gezi Park in Istanbul to Black Lives Matter today. This writeup of their discussion has been edited for length and clarity.

To subscribe to the podcast and hear the interview for yourself, you can check it out on iTunes, Spotify, and Overcast.

In 2013, writer and researcher Zeynep Tufekci and I…


What we learned from social media this week

In the midst of protests over widespread institutional racism, triggered by the murder of George Floyd, a Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter account put out a tweet. “For those who think we have no business as a Sonic site covering what is happening in the U.S.,” it began, “Sonic is wrongly detained by law enforcement in the first minute of SA2, and escaped. The plot + gameplay of Sonic Forces centers around ‘resistance’ rising vs. Eggman’s oppression.”

Over the next few days, I found myself thinking about this tweet. It was at once trivial and awful. Comparing Sonic with actual violence…


Clicktivism is having a renaissance

In the early 2010s, in the wake of the Moldovan parliamentary election protests and Occupy Wall Street, digital observers coined the term “clicktivism” in an effort to delegitimize cyberactivism. Malcolm Gladwell even went so far as to assert that clicktivism (or slacktivism as it is more pejoratively known) lacks “discipline and strategy” and those who champion it “have forgotten what activism is.” A decade later, a new way of organizing is being pioneered on YouTube, a decidedly clicktivist initiative dubbed Views for a Vision that is legitimizing and monetizing passive protesting.

The concept is simple — creators upload videos to…


AmazonSmile generates donations for the Los Angeles Police Foundation, San Diego Police Officers Association, and others

To the millions of shoppers who use Amazon, the company features a clear and concise statement on its homepage in support of ongoing protests in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd: “Black lives matter, Amazon stands in solidarity with the Black community.”

But the company has, in recent months, come under increased scrutiny for its own racial controversies and for its sale of surveillance tools to law enforcement. The company’s popular fundraising platform is also channeling money directly to police departments nationwide. …


Simple tools to obscure faces, and erase metadata

A photo of a protestor taking a video of spray painting on the CNN lego.
A photo of a protestor taking a video of spray painting on the CNN lego.

More than ever, it seems, people are mindful of how sharing and disseminating images can lead to their identification and prosecution of protesters by law enforcement. In an increasing number of these photos, participants are being digitally anonymized, with their faces, shoes, and clothing logos all blurred out.

But blurring images or otherwise obscuring the subject of a photograph may not always be enough to avoid detection, particularly if a smartphone with the unedited photos is seized by law enforcement. Original images come with metadata that may contain timestamps and location information related to when and where the photo was…


The moment it became A Moment, the message got lost in the sauce

On the day after the pumpkin declared war and threatened martial law on Black American protesters, music executives from the industry’s most influential companies ordered all operations interrupted. The initiative and hashtag, #TheShowMustPause, created by Atlantic Records’ senior director of marketing, Jamila Thomas, and Platoon’s senior artist campaign manager, Brianna Agyemang, to “disrupt the work week” and, more importantly, “take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community,” scans strangely at a time when getting loud about frustrations in the face of fascism seems to be…


Fifty years after development began, the supposedly nonlethal Taser has failed to reduce the use of firearms by police

You hear a click, like the sound of a pencil being snapped. That click — and the searing pain that accompanies it — are nearly instantaneous, but your mind tricks you into thinking that there’s a distinct period between them.

When a Taser shock hits you, no matter how much you expect it, it comes as a surprise — a literal shock, like a baseball bat swung hard and squarely into the small of your back. That sensation, which is actually two sharp steel barbs piercing your skin and shooting electricity into your central nervous system, is followed by the…

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