News in the Age of Algorithms


How Did This Become Facebook’s Most-Shared Story of 2019?

On an ordinary Sunday in late January, a 32-year-old web editor for a chain of local radio stations in Central Texas wrote up a brief news item about a local crime that he found interesting. What he posted would become Facebook’s most-shared story of 2019 so far, Slate reports. The story’s wild success suggests that, for all of Facebook’s efforts to improve its news feed, the social network remains as capricious and opaque an information source as ever.


Sensitive Data for 540 Million Facebook Users Left Exposed


More than 500 million Facebook users' personal data was left exposed on public servers by app developers, Business Insider reports. Researchers at security firm UpGuard found that the user data, harvested from Facebook by third-party app developers, was sitting without any password protection on public Amazon servers.


Gmail Turns 15, Unveils Improvements

Fifteen years ago, Google confused everybody by launching its long-awaited web-based email client on April 1. This definitely wasn’t a joke, though, and Gmail went on to become one of Google’s most successful products. This week, TechCrunch reports, to celebrate its 15th birthday, the Gmail team announced some new and useful Gmail features.


Zoox CEO Aicha Evans on Reinventing Urban Mobility


A month into her job as the new CEO of self-driving car startup Zoox, Aicha Evans is focused on one thing: Fulfilling the co-founders' mission to reinvent mobility for dense urban environments. Evans, a former Intel executive, took over as CEO after the board's unexpected dismissal last August of Zoox's creative visionary, Tim Kentley-Klay. Axios says it's up to her to commercialize the technology amid deflated industry hype about self-driving cars.


Great Versus Good—Is There a Difference?


The field of digital design is at a point where it needs to strive for greatness, rather than just being content with being “good,” writes Jamal Nichols on Medium. But what does great design look like? How does it differ from good design? He suggests a set of principles.



The Tribe That Wants to Optimize the World

Coders, who have remarkable influence over our everyday lives, “are all quite captivated by and obsessed with efficiency and optimization," says Clive Thompson, author of the new book "Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World." In the book and an interview with Vox, Thompson explores questions such as how coding became so white and male and what platforms like Facebook and YouTube can do to prevent radicalization.


The Hidden Price of Cashless Retail


Cashless (and cashier-less) stores will lead to death by a thousand cuts for the American economy, argues Charlie Thaxton, a researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Community-Scaled Economy program, in an opinion piece on He says the cashless trend puts more power and control in the hands of billion-dollar credit card companies and trillion-dollar banks—at the expense of local retailers, who otherwise might offer better wages, add new services, or lower prices.


Why Marketers Can No Longer Ignore Audio Content

As users, especially those under 55, shift away from Facebook, increasingly they are moving toward audio content. Not just podcasts, but online radio, audiobooks, and content through smart speakers too. In fact, Contently reports, time spent listening to any kind of online audio content is at a record high.


Apple Pulls the Plug on Its Wireless Charger

Apple last Friday canceled its wireless charging product, AirPower, saying in a statement that the product was unable to meet its own standards for design and manufacturing. This is the first time in recent memory that Apple has canceled an announced product before shipping it, BuzzFeed reports.


Uber for Haircuts


For many black British men, barber shops are a place to hang out, chat and meet friends. But for others they waste too much time, the BBC reports. Enter Trim-It, a service its founders describe as "like Deliveroo, or Uber Eats, but instead of delivering food, we deliver haircuts." The firm currently has three vans buzzing around south London and another in the northwest of the city.