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TOPIC: internet


Who Is Responsible For The Internet's Harm To Society?

A school in the US is suing social media giants for damage done to children's well-being. But fining tech giants is a feeble response to their attacks on society's welfare.

BUENOS AIRES - In January 2023, schools in Seattle in the United States took court action against the websites TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, seeking damages for losses incurred from the psychological harm done to their pupils.

They maintained that behavioral anomalies such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders were impeding pupils' education and had forced schools to hire mental health experts, develop special educational plans and provide extra training for teachers.

Here in Argentina just days after that report, two teenagers died from taking part in the so-called "blackout challenge" on TikTok.

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Mongolia Is Late To The Internet, And Falling Prey To Digital Fraud

The internet is a new experience for many in the country. That makes people easy prey.

DALANZADGAD — After a lifetime spent tending to cattle in the Mongolian countryside, Sainaa Tserenjigmed settled in the provincial capital of Dalanzadgad and began dreaming of a house of her own.

To build it, she would need a loan of 30 million Mongolian togrogs ($8,800), an amount that seemed out of reach until Sainaa stumbled across a comment on Facebook offering low-interest loans without guarantors. Her interest was piqued.

It was early 2018 and the internet was still a brave new world for Sainaa. The previous year, she’d bought herself a small, white smartphone and her son installed internet at home. “Facebook seemed new and strange, so I started digging tirelessly,” she says. Soon, she was using the platform to watch videos, keep up with the news and communicate with her family and friends.

The person offering loans on Facebook had a foreign-sounding name but his online persona seemed trustworthy to Sainaa and he had many friends, lots of whom were Mongolians. She reached out, expressing a desire to take out a loan.

The response was quick, she says, and the subsequent correspondence unusually friendly. Sainaa was instructed to transfer $120 as a processing fee to receive the first tranche of money. To speed up the process, she decided to schedule four separate transactions in different amounts via Western Union, two to three days apart, amounting to $1,000 in total — more than twice the average monthly salary in Mongolia at the time.

But the person kept asking for more money.

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Do It For The Money! What's Behind A Strange New Series Of Russian Propaganda Videos

A video series appeared then vanished this week from Russia’s only authorized social media platform. Its purpose seemed to be to recruit men (of all ages) to enlist in the war, as a way to make money. But who exactly is behind the campaign? What was the ultimate objective?

There was an episode this week on the Russian internet that was as bizarre as it was telling.

A series of five videos of dubious quality appeared Monday on Vkontakte, Russia’s most popular and currently only legally accessible social network. Shared on the I Mobilized public forum, the videos used soap opera-like scenarios to urge Russian men to enlist in the army. But rather than the usual calls to patriotism or neo-Nazi accusations against Ukraine, the odd recruitment videos were all focused on a singular motivation to sign up for the war: money.

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Yet after just three days, the videos disappeared from the social network, and all the content and comments were deleted. The day before they were scrubbed from the web, the Russian publication Vazhnyye Istorii wrote about the videos, and managed to get in touch with a few of the actors who took part.

Still, it remains unclear who was behind the project, who paid for it, and what the ultimate objective may have been.

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Google Search Or SciFi Time Travel? Why Post-War Ukraine Must Begin Now

Why has Russia invaded Ukraine? Internet readers want to know. What will Ukraine be like after the war? That's a question to start answering, even if the battle is far from over.


KYIV — During the first week of the war in Ukraine, the most frequently searched question on Google was, “Why did Russia invade Ukraine?" In response, a team of Ukrainian communications experts hoping to answer this question posted a large red ‘Why’ button on the official ‘War in Ukraine’ homepage, directing readers to an explanation of Russia’s ideological rationale for invading Ukraine.

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Last week, "cholera" and "Peter I" appeared among the top Google search queries linked to Ukraine. The reasons for each are easy to explain. For the first, outbreaks of contagious diseases, including cholera, have been reported in the occupied city of Mariupol. The city itself is deprived of access to clean drinking water and has no access to hospitals and doctors who specialize in infectious diseases.

And the second?

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Anna Lippert

Open-Source Methods, The Cyber Weapon Anyone Can Use In Ukraine War

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, journalists and citizens have used open source online intelligence to help the war effort and fight disinformation. NGOs and amateur investigators are even using it to look for evidence of human rights abuses.

“#OSINT”: These five mysterious letters and hashtag have flourished on social media since Russia’s offensive in Ukraine. Open Source Intelligence is older than this conflict which broke out last February, but it the idea became better known to the general public as videos, photos and other conflict-related content abound, especially on social networks.

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What’s hidden behind this acronym is a set of methods allowing the exploitation of open sources on the Internet: videos or photos posted on social media, location data, satellite images or the positions of planes and ships shared by a number of websites.

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Raphaël Balenieri

Don't Let The Metaverse Become Just Another Club For The Wealthy

Metaverses are introducing ownership and rarity to the internet for the first time in its history. It is already generating billions of dollars in transactions, but the risk is that it becomes a club exclusively for the wealthy.


PARIS — Gas, electricity, paper… The prices of everything are soaring. But this is nothing compared with what is happening in the metaverse, a place of a multitude of new, virtual and immersive universes, populated with 3D avatars.

In The Sandbox, a metaverse launched in 2012 by two Frenchmen and backed by the Japanese conglomerate Softbank, the prices of virtual lands (more than 166,000 of them exist on the platform) compete with real estate prices in Paris, London or Hong Kong. A user called “EnzoFar” recently put his land for sale … for 66,666 Ethers (a top cryptocurrency, along with Bitcoin), or more than $227 million at the current exchange rate.

Others have done even better. Since their creation by four friends in 2021, the 10,000 unique virtual apes of the Bored Ape Yacht Club have generated what equates to $1.5 billion in transactions. Justin Bieber, Paris Hilton, Snoop Dogg and Eminem have all succumbed to the craze and bought their own.

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Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Attack Of The Visa Bots: When Hackers Make Life Hell For Immigrants

A first-hand experience of how illegal bots are making it impossible for many immigrants in France to live here legally.


PARIS — On a Sunday night in mid-January, I was prepared with a computer and phone to try to get a ticket for the hottest event in Paris. A cool new band concert? A Champions League soccer match? No, as an American citizen living in France, I was simply trying to get an appointment to pick up my renewed visa. When the clock hit midnight — when new slots were supposed to open up — I immediately clicked on the button to see the available times.

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Anna Akage

Navalny Censored: Russian Media Forced To Remove Putin Probes From Websites

Russian media outlets have received government orders to remove archived material about Alexei Navalny and his investigations into corruption by Vladimir Putin and his associates. While the jailed activist’s past work can be found elsewhere, YouTube and other foreign internet platforms may be the Kremlin’s next target.

A new phase of Russia's crackdown on Alexei Navalny has begun — virtually. He has already been in jail for a year now, after being poisoned; his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and headquarters have been deemed extremist organizations; many of his supporters have either emigrated or are also in jail. Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin's apparent obsession with the lawyer and anti-corruption activist just won't go away: not enough for him to lock him up, he wants to erase his very name — at least off screens in Russia.

Following a decision Tuesday by the Prosecutor General's Office, citing anti-terrorism laws, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications (Roskomnadzor), which regulates the internet in Russia, demanded the removal of materials connected with Navalny's investigations into corruption and massive wealth allegedly acquired by Putin.
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Raphaël Suire

The Metaverse Will Make All That's Bad With The Internet Worse

The change of Facebook's name to Meta is a hint to the general public of where social media and digital sovereignty risks taking us in a future "virtual" world.


PARIS — The first bricks of the internet emerged in post-World War II California at the crossroads of a double ideology: military and libertarian, based on the virtues of decentralization. It was all about inventing a network infrastructure that was resilient to targeted attacks. It also allowed for individuals to be emancipated through a new set of capabilities, including in communication, interaction and learning, facilitated through a microcomputer.

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Cameron Manley

REvil Bust: Is Russian Cybercrime Crackdown Just A Decoy From Ukraine?

This weekend’s unprecedented operation to dismantle the cybercriminal REvil network in Russia was carried out on a request and information from Washington. Occurring just as the two countries face off over the Russian threat to invade Ukraine raises more questions than it answers.

The world’s attention was gripped last week by the rising risk of war at the Russia-Ukraine border, and what some have called the worst breakdown in relations between Moscow and Washington since the end of the Cold War. Yet by the end of the week, another major story was unfolding more quietly across Russia that may shed light on the high-stakes geopolitical maneuvering.

By Friday night, Russian security forces had raided 25 addresses in St. Petersburg, Moscow and several other regions south of the capital in an operation to dismantle the notorious REvil group, accused of some of the worst cyberattacks in recent years to hit targets in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West.

And by Saturday, Russian online media Interfax was reporting that the FSB Russian intelligence services revealed that it had in fact been the U.S. authorities who had informed Russia "about the leaders of the criminal community and their involvement in attacks on the information resources of foreign high-tech companies.”

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Alidad Vassigh and Irene Caselli

Free WiFi For All? Cities (And Nations) Making Universal Digital Access A Right

Whether it's to bridge the socioeconomic digital divide or to attract tourists, foreign businesses and digital nomads, the time may be ripe to offer free internet access across society. Here are some of those leading the push.

For years, certain big cities have been wooing tourists and remote workers by offering free WiFi hotspots to help find the best restaurants or connect for meetings from a park bench. This month, Mexico City won the Guinness World Record for most free WiFi hotspots in the world, with 21,500.

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Rocío Magnani

Teacher A Viral Hit In Argentina After Holding Student's Baby During Class

A high school history teacher has won hearts and minds after carrying a young mother's baby in class so she could do her work.

BRANDSEN, ARGENTINA — It was a small act of kindness: A schoolteacher in the Coronel Brandsen district outside of Buenos Aires held a baby in class so her teenage mother could study in peace. Federico Tenreyro said he offered to hold the infant while teaching in order to help dissuade his pupil, Ludmila Disante, from any thought of dropping out of school to raise a child.

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