Alex Howard Profile picture
Director, Digital Democracy Project @DemandProgress | Editor @ePluribusUnum | @OpenGov advocate | @Epicureanist | @CivicTexts: 4108499808
SLT-TMK Profile picture 1 added to My Authors
11 Jul
67,000+ new #COVID19 cases yesterday here in the USA.🦠
But @delfuego’s description of how the @moderna_tx vaccine works:…
inspired me, renewing hope that scientists & our government will give us the means to save millions of lives:…
July 16, 2020s 75,643 new #covid19 cases in the US…

Today’s ray of hope: Researchers in Australia devised a test they say can determine a novel coronavirus infection in about 20 minutes using blood samples:…
The method the Australian team devised for detecting the novel coronavirus is fascinating: they combine agglutination assays used in blood typing with peptide–antibody bioconjugates.… Team estimates a 10-30 minute turn around.
Read 3 tweets
3 Jun
The @FBI found no intelligence indicating 'Antifa' was involved in Sunday’s violence, per @kenklippenstein:…
Reminder: Director Wray told Congress the FBI views 'Antifa' "more as an ideology than an organization."…
@FBI @kenklippenstein The @FBI Director told Congress that the primary domestic terrorism threat in 2020 is from violent extremists motivated by racial or religious hatred – & the majority of these attacks in America "fueled by some type of white supremacy."… This remains true.
@FBI @kenklippenstein Reminder: There is no legal mechanism for designating domestic extremist groups as terrorists in the USA. (President Trump is a paper tiger.)…
If there were, white supremacist & ethno-nationalist groups would be on it – starting with the KKK.
Read 10 tweets
25 Mar
"In a statement, the president of Nambia continued to politicize the #COVID19 outbreak, accusing the 'LameStream Media' of trying to influence him to keep social distancing – which doctors recommend to protect vulnerable people – because it would affect this fall's election."
“The President of Nambia fired a 3rd government inspector general, continuing a purge of independent watchdogs he perceived as disloyal to him for documenting errors, waste or abuse, & retaliating against civil servants who inform Parliament of his corruption or testified to it”
"During a pandemic briefing, the President of Nambia speculated about injecting patients with disinfectant & exposing them to a high dose of UV light. For months, he's repeatedly spread medical misinformation, touted unproven therapies, & contradicted public health authorities."
Read 14 tweets
6 Mar
“Official disinformation concerning all matters of governance is bad for democratic norms and human rights such as freedom of information and the right to truth”-@davidakaye…
"Government disinformation about public health is itself a public health risk"–@davidkaye
If spreading Trump's disinformation damages public health, as it as with #coronavirus, government officials + media face a challenge: how to prevent harm by containing the lies of a POTUS.
To put it another way, Trump’s lies are disinformation viruses.
News organizations are a host.
Partisans, the public, & bad actors spread them, too.
Publishers, platforms & the public should put disinformation viruses in "epistemic quarantine."

Read 11 tweets
29 Feb
“What proved even more deadly was the government policy toward the truth”-John M. Berry, on the 1918 flu pandemic…
“while influenza bled into American life, public health officials, determined to keep morale up, began to lie.”
“The most important lesson from 1918 is to tell the truth. Though that idea is incorporated into every preparedness plan I know of, its actual implementation will depend on the character & leadership of the people in charge when a crisis erupts”-John Berry…
The way to a contain a pandemic’s impacts on public health, economies, & social cohesion is to invest in capacity, institutions, & trustworthy info to create shared facts. Denial & BS won’t stabilize markets or regain trust: evidence of effective response & moral leadership will.
Read 6 tweets
25 Feb
1) Trump cut @WHNSC staff & programs for pandemic response created under Bush & @POTUS44:…
2) Trump focus on stock market has put public health at risk
3) Years of lies make this @POTUS not credible; need to have @CDCDirector @Surgeon_General inform public
4) @CDCgov says Americans should prepare for the spread of #coronavirus… “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but rather…of exactly when this will happen & how many people in this country will have severe illness”-@DrNancyM_CDC
This @WhiteHouse & @potus are putting out different messages on #coronavirus than @CDCgov:… @larry_kudlow contradicted CDC today.

Every reason to expect Trump will double down, not admit fault, & overreact after gutting @WHNSC capacity for pandemics.
Read 12 tweets
7 Feb
5 questions journalists need to answer covering Trump:
Can what appears to have happened be confirmed?
If so, was it unprecedented?
Is this recent act of governance normal by the usual standards?
Is what happened a threat to transparency — or democracy?…
1) Yes, @SecretService is paying rates as high $650/night for rooms at @Trump properties:…
How does we know? Not the @WhiteHouse or @USASpending or @Trump. The @WashingtonPost obtained records of payments under the FOIA. Receipts:
2) Yes, @realDonaldTrump‘s business relationship with the US government is unprecedented for a @POTUS in American history.
Past presidents allowed the @SecretService to stay at their properties for free.
The Post found @VP44 had charged rent, & that that spending was disclosed.
Read 10 tweets
15 Jan
The Senate is restricting freedom of the press during the impeachment trial, from electronics bans to magnetometers to press pens (AKA First Amendment zones):… Please follow @rcfp & ask @RoyBlunt @amyklobuchar to reverse these unprecedented restrictions.
Reporters felt the impact of the Senate’s new restrictions on #PressFreedom at the @uscapitol today:… It is outrageous that @CapitolPolice interupted interviews, but maybe even more so that the US Senators involved didn’t push back. More on this tomorrow.
Letter from @ACLU @EFF @Public_Citizen @NiskanenCenter @CREWcrew @OpenTheGov & more falling on the Senate to rescind restrictions on press access & let @cspan position its cameras:… #opengov
Read 3 tweets
14 Dec 19
These recommendations from 2017 (!) to improve societal resilience against dis/misinformation hold up:
•Fund the journalism outlets & models that create citizenry capable of informed decisions
•Fund public education for all ages that improves civic, digital & media literacy
Finland has shown the world how to increase societal resilience against disinformation:…
The USA needs a “whole of country” approach as well.
Unfortunately, our biggest source of disinformation is coming from inside of the @whitehouse, & is unfit to lead it
Read 2 tweets
14 Dec 19
Journalism schools should teach this article as a egregious example of false equivalence in an age of asymmetric polarization. The reporter & editors do not provide sufficient context nor verification to inform the public, rendering “both sides” the same.…
Compare to @isaacstanbecker’s piece, focused on the social media bubble of illiberalism surrounding the impeachment hearings, which accurately reports on the dynamic of facts vs partisan distraction, deflection, & furor… False equivalency masks this dynamic
I'd flag this to a public editor, if the Times had one. (Sadly, @sulliview has left the building.)
The @NYTimes did neither itself nor the public favors by reporting out the dynamics of impeachment this way. Making "both sides" equivalent in this debate implicitly favors the GOP.
Read 6 tweets
12 Dec 19
The @DNC announced details of the next 4 presidential primary debates.
News: @Apple is a partner.

1/14: @CNN/ @DMRegister
2/7: @ABC / @WMUR9 / @AppleNews
2/19: @NBCNews / @TheNVIndy
2/25: @CBSNews / @CBCInstitute / @Twitter
@DNC @Apple @axios @CNN @DMRegister @ABC @WMUR9 @AppleNews @NBCNews @TheNVIndy @CBSNews @CBCInstitute @Twitter As @SarahFisher highlighted, this is the first time that @AppleNews is a partner.
Some unknowns about the role Apple will play:
Will editorial staff will be involved? Who?
Will @Apple promote the debate, be involved in streaming, or sourcing questions?
cc @tim_cook @lizschimel Image
The role @Twitter will play isn't entirely clear yet, but we can guess: a dedicated URL for livestreaming with hashtags & maybe sourcing questions.

A 2015 #DemDebate had a tweeted question:…
What if hosts posed the most retweeted questions? Too gameable?
Read 8 tweets
18 Aug 19
In a statement that could have been issued by Stalin or Mussolini, the President of the United States called journalism “an evil propaganda machine” with “false, biased & evil” reporting. The catalyst? A leaked @NYTimes town hall that debated his racism:…
Hard to start a Sunday morning with a new low in authoritarian rhetoric from a American President instead of a message of peace, grace, kindness, charity, or love.
Sadly, this what is what unhinged, unchecked, pathological narcissism & anti-social personality disorder looks like.
When a debate at a town hall with the journalists of a newspaper of record focuses on the question of *how* to report on Trump’s well-documented racism:… instead of *if* he is a racist, the jig is up. He knows it. So he attacks the @nytimes’ credibility.
Read 7 tweets
7 Jun 19
I’m back at the @uscapitol, this time for a Congressional Transparency Caucus event on tools for Congressional staff:… Impressive line up of speakers & organizations. Thanks to @RepMikeQuigley for hosting & championing #opengov! #CivicTech
First up: Michael Horowitz, the inspector general (@JusticeOIG) of @TheJusticeDept, talking about, which brings together IG reports from across US government. @OversightGov tweets out every new report when it’s posted. Goal: inform the public! #opengov
1 million hits/year for @OversightGov, Horowitz says. Enhancements are planned. Public will see thousands of recommendations that have not been implemented & would result in cost savings, he explains, & a IG vacancies dashboard. Cc @POGOBlog… #opengov
Read 20 tweets
7 May 19
Today at 12 ET, @SURfdn is convening a discussion at the @uscapitol with @AshaRangappa_ @astepanovich
@justinhendrix & @acarvin about how we can all address the threats that disinformation & misinformation pose to democratic societies – & what do about it…
@SURfdn @uscapitol @AshaRangappa_ @astepanovich @justinhendrix @acarvin I started working with @SURFdn in the fall of 2018 (when it was @StandUpIdeas) as a project manager for, commissioning & editing expert perspectives about what's happening at the intersection of media, tech, (de)regulation, misinformation & disinformation.
@SURfdn @uscapitol @AshaRangappa_ @astepanovich @justinhendrix @acarvin I joked that “a lie can be tweeted halfway around the world while the truth is still unlocking its smartphone,” but our reality is disinformation & misinformation cascading across billions of screens pose serious risks to much more than election integrity.…
Read 21 tweets
10 Jan 19
Encountering special characters on Twitter is only one of many accessibility challenges that persist on social media, 4 years on:…
To @Facebook's credit, it's applied AI for good here:…
@facebook I need to come back to this today. In 2011, I wrote about a study by @SusannahFox which found that disability or illness hindered millions of Americans from using the Internet:…
Today, a disability divide endures:…
@facebook @SusannahFox My piece highlighted @TheJusticeDept's 2010 rulemaking on whether it should apply the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to websites that offer public accomodoations, thereby making many more online resources accessible to millions of our fellow Americans.
Read 7 tweets
14 Dec 18
Getting a briefing on @facebook’s transparency report. Spoiler alert: Government requests keep growing.
disclosing data how quickly it reacted to consumer reports & how many mistakes remains an aspirational goal. #CatoSpyCon
Same trend at @Google: rising requests for user data, use of National Security Letters, FISAs.
Transparency can inform the debate about what should be done, says @DavidLieber. Indeeeeed. #CatoSpyCon
Read 2 tweets