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  • News & article

    Putin lacks the clout to cut isles deal with Abe

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 24/01/2019

    » The window of opportunity for Russia and Japan to officially end World War II with a peace treaty narrowed again after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Moscow on Tuesday failed to end in a breakthrough. There's still time for Mr Abe to secure his legacy, but a lot depends on President Vladimir Putin's increasingly shaky domestic standing.

  • News & article

    Yes, Russia abused Facebook. But did it actually work?

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 20/12/2018

    » Russia's propaganda operations during the 2016 US presidential election were broader than previously thought, according to two recently published studies. But they don't provide proof the influence campaign was as effective as the Kremlin may have hoped. Both reports, based on data provided by social networks, combine a distrust of the companies' disclosures and a naive trust in the metrics they tout.

  • News & article

    Elon Musk doesn't need more sleep, he needs better sleep

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 22/08/2018

    » Last week, Arianna Huffington said Elon Musk's lack of sleep is impairing his performance. "The science is clear," she wrote after Tesla's chief executive officer told <i>The New York Times</i> that he works 120 hours a week, leaving him with little time to rest.

  • News & article

    What's scary about Facebook's new troll findings

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 03/08/2018

    » Facebook's widely publicised discovery of a possible influence operation through "inauthentic" accounts warrants some scrutiny -- and some reflection about the difference between a genuine political debate on social networks versus its simulated version.

  • News & article

    Innovation no fix for urban transport ills

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 03/07/2018

    » Urban transportation is undergoing a revolution. Offerings such as Uber and Lyft, as well as car- and bike-sharing services are widely believed to reduce congestion and generally make urban dwellers more mobile; driverless cars are expected to provide further benefits. Yet the notion that these innovations always make things better is far from a given: The new services are a net good only if they complement traditional public transportation systems rather than compete with them.

  • News & article

    Cambridge Analytica's business simply isn't data

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 23/03/2018

    » As the Cambridge Analytica scandal unfolds, the Western world is meeting a little-known part of its political industry, the one that has operated in developing nations since at least the 1990s. CA's methods as revealed by Britain's Channel 4 News, whose reporter posed as a potential Sri Lankan client, may be a bit extreme -- but for the most part, the consultancy has been one of many firms that have brought Western-style electioneering to lawless environments in which it has been blatantly abused.

  • News & article

    The Cambridge Analytica red herring

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 21/03/2018

    » Facebook is being hammered for allowing the data firm Cambridge Analytica to acquire 50 million user profiles in the US, which it may or may not have used to help the Trump campaign. But the outrage misses the target: There's nothing Cambridge Analytica could have done that Facebook itself doesn't offer political clients.

  • News & article

    Twitter struggling to engineer healthy conversation

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 05/03/2018

    » Facebook's self-regulatory contortions in the wake of fake news and trolling scandals have gone on, with little visible effect, for months. Now Twitter founder and Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey has announced his company is going to try a different tack -- but Mr Dorsey's approach is arguably even more far-fetched than his Facebook peer Mark Zuckerberg's: It's an attempt to view Twitter's social mess as an engineering problem.

  • News & article

    Putin struggles to keep wars separate

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 16/02/2018

    » Late on Feb 7 and early on Feb 8, US forces in Syria likely killed the greatest number of Russians since the end of the Cold War -- more than 200 soldiers. There will, however, be no international repercussions, nor will any of the Russians get posthumous medals like Roman Filipov, the fighter pilot who was shot down over Syria earlier this year and resisted capture until he was forced to blow himself up with a hand grenade.

  • News & article

    Facebook's new mission looks well nigh impossible

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 17/01/2018

    » If Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is sincere in a recent post about gradually taking the media element out of "social media", he's striking a powerful blow for tech self-regulation, as well as preparing to pay a heavy price for the evolution of his vision. But getting the genie back into the bottle may be too difficult even for Mr Zuckerberg, and, in any case, his creation's problems go far beyond his proposed fix.

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