Week of December 3, 2018

A few things of note from around the Internet this week:

Rabbit Hole

Jenny Odell's investigation into a particular corner of the strange, spammy Amazon clickbait landscape, and the equally weird drop-shipping empire that is behind it.

Recently, one of my students at Stanford told me a strange story. His parents, who live in Palo Alto, Calif., had been receiving mysterious packages at their house. The packages were all different shapes and sizes but each was addressed to “Returns Department, Valley Fountain LLC.” I looked into it and found that a company called Valley Fountain LLC was indeed listed at his parents’ address. But it also appeared to be listed at 235 Montgomery Street, Suite 350, in downtown San Francisco. So were 140 other LLCs, most of which were registered in 2015.

Shock

Incentives matter:

Amanda told Mader that while there was no way to accept the loss of her brother, she and the family were heartened that the last person Williams had spoken with was Mader — someone, she said, who had seen the man’s despair and done his best not to worsen it.

Rage

Again, incentives matter. Frederic Filloux on the populist revolt going on in France:

Facebook is the most threatening weapon to democracies ever invented. Over the last two years, the hijacking of the social network by populist groups or parties has tainted about a dozen election processes across the world and brought to power a string of populists leaders that will have a profound effect on their countries.