To End Student Debt, Tie Tuition to Post-Graduation Salaries

Every year, people as young as 17 accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt in order to get an education. Students assume massive risk, with no guarantee of success. At $1.6 trillion, student debt is the second-highest consumer debt category, behind only mortgage debt; the national total for student loan debt is higher than that of both credit cards and auto loans. When I went to college, nobody talked about student debt. Nobody talked about trade-offs. Everybody lived by one credo: Go to the best school you can, study the thing that you love, and it will work out on the other side. Frankly, for Boomers, that’s what happened. If you got a degree, you could expect to land a decent job with a …

Greed Is to Blame for the Radicalization of Social Media

Last week, Reddit quarantined "r/The_Donald," a pro-Trump message board, after the company determined that the subgroup had encouraged and threatened violence. Likewise, Twitter is signaling that it will flag—but not remove—posts by government officials who violate its rules. As with YouTube’s demonetization (rather than deletion) of anti-gay videos, these are welcome, but insufficient measures. Until recently, social media platforms could feign ignorance about the scope and impact of harmful content on their sites. Now bigotry and conspiracy theorizing, which could once be dismissed as the rants of outliers, have hijacked mainstream discourse—including on media produced by President Trump and his allies. As such posts have become some of the most popular, moneymaking content being viewed and shared, social media executives …

I Scraped Millions of Venmo Payments. Your Data Is at Risk

Like many people, I use Venmo to pay for stuff: to split the check at dinner, to send my roommate my portion of the utility bills each month, to reimburse friends for concert tickets. It's a useful app for sending and receiving money, regardless of who you bank with. Last summer, after paying my portion of the electric bill via Venmo, I started to wonder if there were holes I could poke in the app. I was a grad student studying information security at the time, and I thought I might make some extra cash. Venmo is owned by PayPal, which has a public bug bounty program—that is, it pays hackers to report security vulnerabilities in its products. After proxying …

Russia and Iran Plan to Fundamentally Isolate the Internet

For years, countries have spoken in vague terms about creating domestic internets that could be isolated from the world at will. Now we’re seeing some begin to execute that vision. Last month Iran announced that its "national information network"—essentially a domestic internet—is 80 percent complete. Earlier this year, Russia launched a major initiative to build a domestic Russian internet, purportedly to defend against cybersecurity threats—though also a likely expansion on the Kremlin’s desire to control the flow of information within its borders. With Russia and Iran spearheading a new level of internet fragmentation, they’re not just threatening the global network architecture (cables, servers) or working to allow the government to greatly control information flows and crack down on freedoms; their …