Cyberculture agenda: Instagram’s Justin Bieber Problem fixed… “Inside the Aaron Swartz Day hackathon…

How Instagram Solved Its Justin Bieber Problem

Back in the day, Bieber pics would receive so many “Likes” that they’d crash Instagram. Here’s how they fixed it.

Inside the Aaron Swartz Day hackathon

Golden light flooded the room through the tall, stained windows all afternoon last Saturday in San Francisco as the speakers spoke of the benefits of encryption and the evils of third-party trackers. Inside the cavernous amphitheatre of the Internet Archives, a former Christian Science church, the light gave the presentations an aura of elevated importance.

AN ENORMOUS CACHE of phone records obtained by The Intercept reveals a major breach of security at Securus Technologies, a leading provider of phone services inside the nation’s prisons and jails. The materials — leaked viaSecureDrop by an anonymous hacker who believes that Securus is violating the constitutional rights of inmates — comprise over 70 million records of phone calls, placed by prisoners to at least 37 states, in addition to links to downloadable recordings of the calls. The calls span a nearly two-and-a-half year period, beginning in December 2011 and ending in the spring of 2014.

Illustration: The Intercept

An important story out today confirms that SecureDrop, the open source whistleblower leak system originally programmed by Aaron Swartz and maintained by Freedom of the Press Foundation, works.

SecureDrop Leak Tool Produces a Massive Trove of Prison Docs

The Intercept confirms that its latest anonymous leak of secrets arrived through its use of SecureDrop, a WikiLeaks-like, Tor-based upload system.

Reddit replaces shadowbans with suspensions to punish spammers and trolls

Reddit suspension
Reddit has introduced a new account suspension system to punish users who violate the site’s content policy. Suspensions will replace shadowbans, which previously caused users’ submitted content and user profile page to be visible only to themselves while logged in.

An Afghan man works on a construction site in Shiraz, Iran. With few alternatives for work, construction is often the only work Afghans will find, yet they are still derided for taking jobs away from ethnic Iranians. Image by Simon Monk (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Apple’s approval process for the App Store is supposed to safeguard users, but one slipped through the cracks. An Instagram app named InstaAgent — with nearly 500,000 downloads from the Play Store —


An overlooked aspect of the draft Investigatory Powers Bill is the significance of demanding that service providers store 12 months’ Internet connection records. A record of every website visited and Internet service connected to, the government presents this as the online equivalent of an itemized phone bill. But this is a false analogy: Internet connection records carry far more detail than a phone book, and the government’s move to claim them represents an unprecedented intrusion into our lives.

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