Watching the Internet Grow Up

A Note from Darryl in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, suggests, “I know you have been around since the beginning of the internet as one of the longest (and also I would say one of the best) running e-newletters. I ran across this story in Time magazine and thought it would be an interesting article to add into your weekly post.”

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Why I’ve Removed Google’s Ads

It’s a Matter of Control.

As of today, I’ve turned off Google’s “Adsense” service on this site.

This is True went online in the first half of 1994, so True has been in business longer than many big names in the Internet biz, including Google (1998). As a classic feature column, I received (and turned down) syndication offers from two different newspaper syndicates, including one of the biggest in the business, because I wanted full control of True’s publication rights — including its online presence. I’m not about to let Google control what I write about in this context!

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The Biggest Mistake People Make Online

The threat from criminals online continues to grow. It’s not just “hackers” but actual criminal activity, backed by organized crime, and perhaps even some governments. They want your passwords, especially for bank and other financial accounts, so they can drain them for you, and they use some pretty tricky and often sophisticated means to get them, either from you, or from sites they break into.

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Facebook: What Are They Selling?

To answer the very important question of the title, you need a little background, which is illustrated by a question from reader Steve in Texas:

Some time ago, I “Liked” the This is True Facebook page, but almost never see any posts. I figured you weren’t active until I went back to the page, and saw a ton of stuff I thought was great! How come I’m not seeing it regularly? I see most posts from my friends.

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The Taylor Swift Cop Video:
Call Me a Contrarian

Swift performing in Los Angeles during her RED Tour, August 2013. (Photo CC “Denielle” on Flikr.)

OK: Call Me a Contrarian. Sure the lip-synching cop was entertaining! The song is fun, and who can’t like the earnest and drop-dead gorgeous (and cute! — see below) Taylor Swift?

But really: we are in a cycle of big distrust of cops in this country, so their solution is to lie about just happening to find this video of the cop in their random review of dashcam footage?

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20 Years …and Counting

This Week Marks a Huge Milestone for This is True: the end of its 20th year. It started as a bulletin board item outside my office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The first one, dated 26 June 1994, was written to go into my business plan — I hadn’t actually gotten distribution set up. As I was working on the tech, I kept writing a new column each week and, when it went online in July 1994, it was an instant hit, quickly ramping up in circulation.

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Band of Brothers

A story in this week’s True absolutely demands that I include the video mentioned in the story, so it’s being published here (with the video) rather than in the newsletter. From True’s 29 September 2013 issue:

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Bashing the “Lamestream Media”

A good friend “shared” something on social media not too long ago that really made me roll my eyes. It was about the wanna-be terrorist “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid. Just before Christmas in 2001, Reid, a Brit, got on an American Airlines plane from Paris to Florida, and while in-flight he tried to light a bomb in his shoe. Other passengers subdued him, and his airplane bombing fizzled. He’s now in prison in the U.S., serving a life sentence without parole.

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Sorry You Weren’t Offended

This is True has tackled the issue of people choosing to be offended on a number of occasions (such as in the tagline of this story).

Most times, of course, the offended are complaining about a story, not embracing it. On most of those occasions, when someone is writing to complain how they’ve chosen to be offended by something I said (or, often, didn’t say!), I’ll often get an amusing response from other readers — the ones who don’t unsubscribe in protest.

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