How-to

Privacy

TL;DR: short URLs produced by bit.ly, goo.gl, and similar services are so short that they can be scanned by brute force. Our scan discovered a large number of Microsoft OneDrive accounts with private documents. Many of these accounts are unlocked and allow anyone to inject malware that will be automatically downloaded to users’ devices. We also discovered many driving directions that reveal sensitive information for identifiable individuals, including their visits to specialized medical facilities, prisons, and adult establishments.

Tech

In effort to improve traffic flow, the City of Montreal began exchanging real-time data with the navigation application Waze in an unprecedented deal in the country. [...] In exchange for data provided by Waze's 103,000 Montreal users, the city's Urban Mobility Management Centre — which controls Montreal's hundreds of traffic lights — will send its own real-time traffic data compiled by cameras, sensors and radars.

As online users, we've become accustomed to the giant, invisible hands of Google, Facebook, and Amazon feeding our screens. We're surrounded by proprietary code like Twitter Trends, Google's autocomplete, Netflix recommendations, and OKCupid matches. It's how the internet churns. So when Instagram or Twitter, or the Silicon Valley titan of the moment, chooses to mess with what we consider our personal lives, we’re reminded where the power actually lies. And it rankles.

While internet users may be resigned to these algorithmic overlords, journalists can't be. Algorithms have everything journalists are hardwired to question: They’re powerful, secret, and governing essential parts of society. Algorithms decide how fast Uber gets to you, whether you’re approved for a loan, whether a prisoner gets parole, who the police should monitor, and who the TSA should frisk.

Visualizations