The Outline

Jon Christian

Jon Christian
The Future Apr 13

In Twitter’s early days, only one celebrity could tweet at a time

Early Twitter workers are dishing on the site’s blunder years

The Future Apr 12

Cancer surgery might make the disease more likely to recur

Surgery weakens the immune system, which might make bodies more vulnerable to more tumors.

The Future Apr 10

Here are the 13 most popular Russian troll accounts on Reddit

Reddit believes close to a thousand accounts circulated propaganda for the IRA.

The Future Apr 09

How platforms alter history

The rush to delete digital evidence of violent tendencies or ideologies is understandable, but what is the cost?

The Future Apr 09

If you see a tweeted link, chances are it’s a bot

Bots are doing most of the link tweeting now, according to new research.

The Future Apr 06

No wonder the teens are vaping

A study shows Facebook is doing a bad job of policing tobacco-adjacent ads, even in accordance with its own policies.

The Future Apr 04

Zuck won’t commit to EU privacy protections for all, but it may not be his choice

Whether Facebook must protect all users according to new EU laws is still a matter to be settled in court.

The Future Apr 03

Google bans covert crypto-mining from Chrome

After all, Chrome needs all the memory it can get HI-YOOOO

The Future Apr 02

How “David Jewberg” fooled the Russian media for years

Russians do fake news to their own country, too.

The Future Mar 30

California needs to chill out

A coffee-roasting byproduct means that CA coffee shops will now carry an overzealous warning.

The Future Mar 27

Wylie: It’s possible that the Facebook app is listening to you

But it’s probably not using speech recognition.

The Future Mar 26

The ocean’s ancient history reveals a violent future

How raising the planet’s temperature can cause catastrophic storms and kill all ocean life.

Mar 26

The long arm of the law embraces Facebook

The FTC formally filed an investigation and European privacy regulations are coming in a mere few weeks.

The Future Mar 23

Tumblr bans accounts associated with Russian election meddlers

An email sent around to users who interacted with the accounts claims “democracy requires transparency.”

The Future Mar 23

Don’t let anyone tell you platforms can’t be regulated

We have strict, proactive regulations for lots of industries, and we can definitely get a handle on Facebook and everything else.

The Future Mar 22

Buzz Lightyear has nothing on these foldable wings that are inspired by earwigs

Gross bugs are the inspiration for a new “programmable metamaterial.”

The Future Mar 22

Congress says jump, Reddit asks how high

Reddit took down r/BeerTrade and several other innocuous subreddits because a new act passed Congress.

The Future Mar 21

We still can’t predict major earthquakes

Detection systems pick up even minor earthquakes, but can’t tell us if they will get bad more than a few seconds before.

The Future Mar 20

Will Zuckerberg sweat through his hoodie again?

International governments are clamoring for Facebook's founder to provide answers

The Future Mar 19

If you downloaded the Bitcoin blockchain, you may have downloaded child porn

A new paper reveals some troubling implications for the blockchain when no one oversees what’s on it.

Mar 16

A list of all the places that the sea already came for

From San Francisco to Easter Island, it could all become Atlantis.

The Future Mar 13

The UN confirms Facebook is tearing Myanmar apart

Ethnic violence in the country is being driven up by Facebook, one of the only free resources of information in the country.

The Future Mar 12

The stress of a bad economy is literally killing us

A new study found that the Great Recession correlated with upticks in blood glucose and blood pressure.

The Future Mar 09

This insanely popular YouTube channel is making bank off fake science

Some of the channel’s videos have millions of views, but its explanations appear completely fabricated.

The Future Mar 09

The tricky way Facebook spammers plagiarize and get away with it

How to steal an article, make it go viral, and keep it invisible from Google.

The Future Mar 08

Bad gut bacteria can spread to the rest of your body

Researchers are still figuring out all the ways our gut biome affects our well-being.

The Future Mar 08

Here’s proof of what we all suspected: fake news travels faster

An analysis of six million tweets over eleven years proves out the old saw that lies travel faster than the truth.

The Future Mar 07

Google is still hawking Infowars snake oil

YouTube has started taking down Alex Jones videos and pulling advertisers who have objected to him, but Google itself is happy to keep making money from him.

The Future Mar 06

Under pressure, Reddit bans infamous gore forum NoMorals

After pressure from users and the media, Reddit has shuttered the community known for making memes of dead children, and posting gory videos.

The Future Mar 02

Cuba “sonic attacks” may have been spy device audio interference

Researchers think they found out what caused the mysterious concussion-like symptoms people experienced in Cuba.

The Future Mar 01

The flu is getting stronger and it's all our fault

On the heels of the worst flu season in a decade, research shows that our survival of diseases might mean the worst infections survive, too.

The Future Mar 01

This skate punk album was created by artificial intelligence

A neural network used NOFX’s music to create ten new tracks.

The Future Feb 28

Coral reef death means violent, destructive waves are coming

New research shows reefs break up tidal forces; without them, coasts and small island nations will be hit hard.

The Future Feb 27

China is using big data to target minority populations

The Chinese government is watching citizens with cameras, facial recognition, and device tracking.

The Future Feb 27

This MIT archive will be your trippiest scrolling experience today

A Center for Visual Studies archive scatters 50 years of art across three-dimensional space.

The Future Feb 26

Russia wins the gold medal in hacking

U.S. intelligence confirms it was Russia that ruined the opening ceremonies; North Korea may still be the bigger threat.

The Future Feb 23

The 2018 election will be extremely vulnerable to hacking

Keeping voting systems offline wouldn't even remotely keep them safe.

Power Feb 22

Trump is about to piss off the same gamers who helped put him in office

By linking video games to mass shootings, he repeats an old myth and risks angering his online base.

The Future Feb 22

When climate change gets bad, the ocean will make it worse

You won't like the sea when it’s angry.

The Future Feb 21

People share bad opinions online because everyone is exhausted

Congrats Facebook: people are sharing more and more because they have lost all perspective of what should or shouldn't be shared.

The Future Feb 19

“What’s a spliff?” And other things doctors need to learn about legal weed

One doctor explains to his peers how to talk to patients about marijuana, plus the right formats and amounts.

The Future Feb 15

When the government deactivates your implant

Should your transit card chip be invalid just because it’s under your skin?

The Future Feb 14

The most-shared tweets made by Russian trolls that Twitter scrubbed from the internet

They might surprise you.

The Future Feb 13

Website slow? Could be secret crypto-mining

More and more sites are trying to use latent processing power to mine for themselves.

The Future Feb 13

The sea is coming for us

The water isn’t just steadily rising; it’s accelerating.

The Future Feb 12

Neural networks: from Google gimmick to creepy, beautiful, uncanny art

Artists, like the rest of us, are working to grasp the point of programming in art.

The Future Feb 09

The problem isn’t whether people can identify fake news

It’s whether they feel like it.

The Future Feb 09

Oh, the places you can go and still hear “Shape of You”

A map that lets you hear the most popular song in any of 3,000 cities.

The Future Feb 08

Fake reviews on Amazon means you get free stuff

Mysterious packages are showing up on random doorsteps.

The Future Feb 07

YouTube science bros will get your ass to the gym

Or even make you feel like you already went.

The Future Feb 02

Reddit can’t keep porn ads off its front page

Given the platform’s massive resources, why is this vital part of their business so bad?

The Future Feb 01

Experts fear face swapping tech could start an international showdown

Video forensic specialists are worried Deepfakes could have national security repercussions.

The Future Jan 31

MIT students are being scared straight with episodes of ‘Black Mirror’

Those who create future technologies should also fear their power.

The Future Jan 26

You can now watch Nicolas Cage play James Bond

The same tool that let Redditors map celebrity faces into porn is being used to insert the actor in iconic roles he never played.

The Future Jan 26

Experts: Facebook’s media survey could actually work if it doesn’t get gamed

It depends on how many users see it and what Facebook does with the data.

The Future Jan 23

YouTube is overrun with fake livestreams

You’re not the only one frustrated by fake live concerts on YouTube.

The Future Jan 22

I tried to switch to secure email and I want to bang my head on a desk

ProtonMail wants to be a Gmail competitor, but it’s just not that great to use.

Power Jan 18

These are the people paying journalists to promote brands in articles

How some publicists recruit writers to secretly mention or link their clients in stories on HuffPost, Forbes, and other sites.

The Future Jan 17

User interface designers are horrified by Hawaii’s missile alert system

Here’s how UX experts say Hawaii could improve its interface and prevent mass panic.

The Future Jan 10

Are scammers invading Dogecoin again?

The whimsical joke currency and its trusting community have attracted predators in the past.

The Future Jan 08

We’d love to link you to this website but it’s impossible

A frustrating piece of art that challenges how your brain thinks about the internet.

The Future Jan 05

Why is South Korea using a wooden computer to communicate across the DMZ?

The dedicated communications channel between North Korea and South Korea appears to run Windows XP.

The Future Jan 05

The hot new trend in political strategy: email security

An entrepreneur-turned-activist is training politicians to take digital security seriously in the era of John Podesta’s email hack.

The Future Dec 22

Is it legal to shut down a Bitcoin exchange while the price is falling?

One of the biggest Bitcoin exchanges could get hit with lawsuits after halting trading for two hours.

The Future Dec 22

The bot that tweeted “fuck” in front of every word was doomed from the start

Twitter suspended @fuckeveryword after it tweeted a racial slur.

The Future Dec 21

Should AI decide who gets a kidney?

Researchers are training artificial intelligence to make doctors’ hard decisions.

Power Dec 19

The world’s worst dream journal

What do your Trump dreams mean? This psychotherapist wants to find out.

The Future Dec 18

Scammy startups want to pay writers in worthless cryptocurrency

Some cryptocurrency entrepreneurs are trying to convince bloggers to write articles for tokens.

The Future Dec 14

The hot new trend in digital currency: pump and dump

“Penny cryptos” are the latest scam to prey on those with Bitcoin FOMO.

The Future Dec 12

Meet the man trying to catch Google search at its worst

Robert Epstein may be paranoid, but he is right when he says search engines should be kept in check.

The Future Dec 11

When news breaks, Google still can’t separate rumor from fact

After a bombing in New York, Google surfaced unconfirmed claims by sources including an Infowars editor.

The Future Dec 07

This Christian botnet showed me how spam works on Twitter

A congregation of #Christian #Believers mobbed me with mugs and T-shirts.

Power Dec 05

How brands secretly buy their way into Forbes, Fast Company, and HuffPost stories

An Outline investigation found that contributors to prominent publications have taken payments in exchange for positive coverage.

The Future Dec 01

This frostbitten black metal album was created by an artificial intelligence

And it shreds.

The Future Nov 30

Who funds the crowdfunders?

Equity crowdfunding platforms were supposed to fund startups. Now they’re just trying to fund themselves.

The Future Nov 24

Interview with a spampire

Meet the guy who sells your phone number to telemarketers.

The Future Nov 22

We still don’t know how Google News works

There is no specific criteria and no full list of publications.

The Future Nov 20

Spam is back

It seemed like we had defeated electronic junk mail. Then the spammers rose from the dead.

The Future Oct 26

Weird Facebook is monetizing

Dank meme and vaporwave pages are now selling novelty mugs and T-shirts.

The Future Oct 16

What would the average human do?

Artificial intelligence researchers want to teach computers to make moral choices based on millions of human survey responses.

The Future Oct 06

Why does Amazon have two completely different products called Alexa?

Who is Alexa, and why is Amazon obsessed with her?

The Future Oct 04

Everipedia is the Wikipedia for being wrong

The site has a pattern of creating erroneous articles for non-notable people that capture search traffic after tragic news events.

The Future Feb 08

MIT released a tool that uses real people’s Twitter feeds to show you the “other side”

FlipFeed lets you drop into someone's liberal or conservative Twitter feed and see the world as they do

Power Jan 30

Regretful Trump voters, now on display

Blogs highlighting tweets from Trump supporters show people turning on him over the ACA, the Dakota Access pipeline, and now immigration.

The Future Jan 27

The 3D printed gun scare never actualized

But the movement is still around.

Power Jan 26

Trump’s @POTUS Twitter account left vulnerable for nearly a week

Set your expectations low for cybersecurity under President Trump.

Power Jan 26

The most despicable and strange things Trump told ABC News

Here we go.

Culture Jan 24

Nice to meet you. Now cut the small talk.

This researcher thinks you can form compelling bonds in no time by skipping straight to the deep questions.

The Future Jan 19

Washington state senators are pushing to ban bitcoin in weed shops

A new bill proposes to cut the industry off from one of the solutions to its banking problem.

Culture Jan 19

Emerson College plans to hire a full-time eSports professor

Schools around the country are launching classes and programs around professional gaming.

The Future Jan 15

Does Europe have a more civilized internet?

Stricter internet laws keep deception and hate speech down.

Culture Jan 13

An engineer rigged a rotary phone to play a text adventure

Instead of typing, you talk into the phone.

Culture Jan 13

Two professors created a course on how to recognize bullshit

Sifting through misleading and incomplete information is an art these days.

Culture Dec 23

Why players of the championship video game ‘Dota 2’ are suddenly in crisis

What happens when the rules of your world change overnight?

The Future Dec 12

No one wants your money

Some of Bitcoin’s rivals have struck it big, but most have slipped into a slow, sad immortality.

Power Dec 06

Patient zero in the fake news epidemic

Bullshit artists made a massive fake news story go viral months before the election. How did we not see this coming?