Tag Archives: data

The report card is in: Green orgs are improving staff diversity, but still don’t reflect America

People of color are on the frontlines of the climate crisis: They live in areas disproportionately impacted by pollution, deadly heat waves, and extreme storms. So it stands to reason that the staffers and leaders of major environmental organizations should reflect the demographics of the communities most relevant to their work.

The Green 2.0 initiative, which was launched in 2013 to promote racial and gender diversity in the environmental movement, released its third annual diversity report card for the top 40 major non-governmental organizations and foundations on Wednesday. For the first time in its short history, the report brought good news: an overall increase in people of color and women on staff and boards of directors since Green 2.0 started collecting and releasing data in 2017.

According to the report, each green organization that provided data added 11 people of color to its staff between 2017 and 2019, on average. As for senior staffers, each organization added an average of two people of color to its upper ranks, while the number of women on senior staff remained unchanged over the same two-year period. (Overall, people of color constitute close to 30 percent of organizational staff; women constitute about 64 percent.) Each organization also added, on average, one woman and one person of color to its board. These improvements were determined to be statistically significant — though the numbers do exclude one unnamed outlier that skewed the results in a different direction.

Whitney Tome, the executive director of Green 2.0, said in a press call that the organization is “cautiously optimistic” after reviewing the findings. “We want the trend to continue and we want it to accelerate, so that it can match the racial demographics of the country,” she said.

Tome also highlighted the importance of further improvements to board composition. “When it comes to membership of the board, it is critically important that people of color sit on that stage,” Tome said. “The board needs to be as diverse as the country to ensure that its next leaders are people of color.”

For three years, Green 2.0 has surveyed the top 40 environmental NGOs and top 40 foundations across the country. NGOs were generally more active and willing to share their data than foundations. In fact, the participation rate among the top 40 NGOs increased from 82.5 percent to 90 percent between 2017 and 2019. Green 2.0 specifically called out the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of largest nonprofits with a mission to improve public policy by collecting data for research, for declining to participate in the survey multiple times. “It’s hypocritical,” Tome said in the press call.

Meanwhile, the participation rate among foundations remains stagnant at 35 percent, making it difficult for Green 2.0 to provide a concrete set of trends on the demographic composition of foundations.

Foundations funnel money to push policies, grants, and other resources as part of the environmental movement, so diverse viewpoints among their staff members are leaders are of critical importance. Ironically, many foundations ask grantees for their own demographic data, Tome pointed out — but the foundations themselves are unwilling to disclose their own data to the public.

“We recognize the environmental movement hasn’t always been as attentive to frontline communities and communities of color throughout its history,” Tome said. “So we really want to continue to push and advocate for having people of color in those senior leadership places, and for them to hopefully have a tremendous impact in policies going forward.”

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The report card is in: Green orgs are improving staff diversity, but still don’t reflect America

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11,000 scientists say that the ‘climate emergency’ is here

More than 11,000 scientists declared a climate emergency today in — where else — an article published in a scientific journal.

“Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any great existential threat and to ‘tell it like it is,’” begins the “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” published in BioScience. It continues, “On the basis of this obligation … we declare … clearly and unequivocally, that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.”

The declaration was co-written by William Ripple, a professor of ecology at Oregon State University and the founder of the environmental advocacy group Alliance of World Scientists, and undersigned by more than 11,000 scientists and climate experts.

These signatories aren’t the first to describe the present state of the climate as a crisis. Hundreds of governments of various sizes around the world, including New York City and the United Kingdom, have passed resolutions saying the same. This summer, some members of Congress proposed a resolution for the U.S. government to join the climate-emergency chorus.

This particular declaration is a little different, though — for one thing, it’s peer reviewed. It’s also the first time so many scientists have directly told the public that the current state of the climate constitutes a crisis, rather than letting their data speak for itself.

“Phrases like ‘climate change’ sound a little bit mild, in terms of how severe the problem is,” Ripple told Grist. “So, we wanted to publish language that is consistent with the data and the trends that we’re seeing.”

Ripple organized a similar initiative back in 2017, when he and 15,000 other scientists issued a “warning to humanity” about climate change (which was itself an homage to a climate warning written by a different group of scientists in 1992). But Ripple decided it was time to upgrade the warning to a declaration of emergency after talking to Representative Earl Blumenauer from Oregon, who introduced the resolution for Congress to declare a national climate emergency back in July.

“In my view, declaring a climate emergency should mostly be based on the data,” said Ripple. “These governmental bodies, they’ll look to the science to see if they are on solid ground before they pass these resolutions.”

Even though outright climate denialism is increasingly illegitimate in mainstream news, the debate over whether to use words like “catastrophe,” “emergency,” or “crisis” continues. So Ripple wanted politicians, activists, and the general public to know that the science supports urgency. He wrote the letter, which details the basic facts of climate change — how human impacts, like CO2 emissions and deforestation, have environmental consequences, like the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and global temperature rise — and sent it around to other scientists, who added their names to the message by the thousands.

But what exactly does it mean to declare a climate emergency? Sure, the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one, and advocates of climate emergency resolutions point out that acknowledging the severity of the problem posed by our warming planet is a prerequisite for action.

It’s easy to look skeptically at climate emergency resolutions, though, since they’re largely symbolic measures at a time when there are so many tangible actions that need to be taken — transitioning the energy sector from fossil fuels to renewable sources, say. Resolutions also usually (although not always) call for vague, nonbinding measures without legal mechanisms to hold governments accountable for meeting them.

Whether or not you think climate emergency resolutions are an effective tactic for inspiring more concrete actions, it’s a pretty big deal that so many scientists have decided it’s necessary to step out of their labs and into the political arena. If you didn’t believe our warming planet is in a state of emergency, just know that several thousand scientists want you to know otherwise.

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11,000 scientists say that the ‘climate emergency’ is here

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Storytelling with Data – Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic


Storytelling with Data

A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals

Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

Genre: Mathematics

Price: $25.99

Publish Date: October 7, 2015

Publisher: Wiley

Seller: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Don't simply show your data—tell a story with it! Storytelling with Data teaches you the fundamentals of data visualization and how to communicate effectively with data. You'll discover the power of storytelling and the way to make data a pivotal point in your story. The lessons in this illuminative text are grounded in theory, but made accessible through numerous real-world examples—ready for immediate application to your next graph or presentation. Storytelling is not an inherent skill, especially when it comes to data visualization, and the tools at our disposal don't make it any easier. This book demonstrates how to go beyond conventional tools to reach the root of your data, and how to use your data to create an engaging, informative, compelling story. Specifically, you'll learn how to: Understand the importance of context and audience Determine the appropriate type of graph for your situation Recognize and eliminate the clutter clouding your information Direct your audience's attention to the most important parts of your data Think like a designer and utilize concepts of design in data visualization Leverage the power of storytelling to help your message resonate with your audience Together, the lessons in this book will help you turn your data into high impact visual stories that stick with your audience. Rid your world of ineffective graphs, one exploding 3D pie chart at a time. There is a story in your data— Storytelling with Data will give you the skills and power to tell it!

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Storytelling with Data – Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

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Lukewarming – Patrick J. Michaels & Paul C. Knappenberger



The New Climate Science that Changes Everything

Patrick J. Michaels & Paul C. Knappenberger

Genre: Earth Sciences

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: September 13, 2016

Publisher: Cato Institute

Seller: Ingram DV LLC

In Lukewarming , two environmental scientists explain the science and spin behind the headlines and come to a provocative conclusion: climate change is real, and partially man-made, but it is becoming obvious that far more warming has been forecast than will occur, with some of the catastrophic impacts implausible or impossible. Global warming is more lukewarm than hot. This fresh analysis is an invaluable source for those looking to be more informed about global warming and the data behind it.

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Lukewarming – Patrick J. Michaels & Paul C. Knappenberger

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11 Signs that Your Social Media Habits are Unhealthy

Any addiction is unhealthy, so if you?re a self-proclaimed social media addict or tech addict, then you?ll want to examine your relationship with it immediately. But maybe you don?t know whether you?re an addict. If that?s the case, then peruse these signs of social media addiction to determine where you fall on the spectrum.

11 Signs of Social Media Addiction

1. You check your phone constantly.

You know this has to be the first one because the rate of usage is always the first sign. If you?re constantly on your phone, scrolling your social media accounts then that?s a big red flag.

2. You can?t wait in an elevator, line, or at a traffic light without checking your phone.

Silence kills you. Even if you have music blaring in your car and you’re waiting for the light to turn green, you can?t keep your hands off your phone. In fact, it?s so habitual that you don?t even realize you?re doing it. Then one day you run into the car in front of you because some guy in the right lane decided to run the red light. And your peripheral vision tricked you.

3. Your phone is in your hand (and possibly on and facing you) while you?re in an intimate conversation.

If you can?t leave your phone in your pocket or purse during dinner or while you?re in a conversation with a lover, then you?ve got a problem. More than one. First, you?ve got your addiction. Then you?ve got the problem caused by the addiction: an upset lover, friend, or family member.

4. You document your every move.

Go ahead and review your timelines. If your life is so thoroughly documented that you know what you ate for dinner four years ago on Friday the 13th of January at 7:08 pm, then you?ve got an unhealthy relationship with social media. The same goes for when you know every nail polish color you?ve had on your toes and fingers for the last five years.

5. You spend more hours on social media than you do with real people.

You can track how much time you spend on social media with neat apps. Some apps will even show you how many times you open social media or simply open your phone throughout the day. Try tracking yourself for a few weeks. More hours on social media doesn?t nurture a healthy social life. It actually hinders it.

6. You experience FOMO when you go without social media for any amount of time.

If you miss anyone?s posts, even your own, and you experience a deep fear of missing out, then you need to back away from social media for a while. You will miss out on things in life. And you?re making yourself crazy thinking that you won?t. You?ll experience exactly what you need to when you need to.

7. Your sense of self-worth depends on the number of likes, shares, or friends you have.

It?s sad but true. Some individuals rely heavily on the amount of fake congeniality they experience online to bolster their sense of self-worth. This is an extremely unhealthy relationship with social media that has a far-reaching impact. If you depend on likes, shares, or friend requests to feel good about yourself, then you need to reexamine your relationship with social media today. You are worth far more than a mere click of a mouse.

8. You accept friend requests from strangers.

You don?t need to be friends with anyone you don?t know. The only time this would make a difference is if you are a business. And you?re business needs customers. Then you?ll definitely have people you don?t know friending you on Facebook. That?s the only time it?s okay. New friends are to be made in person, then friended on Facebook. Or, if you?re dating and you meet online, that?s a different story. But most of the time, the strangers friending you on Facebook aren?t real anyway.

9. You check your phone first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.

If your morning ritual consists of your phone, then you need to take a step back. Bombarding yourself before you get out of bed and before you go to sleep at night with what other people are doing diminishes your connection with yourself. The more impaired your connection to self, the more you depend on others to give you your sense of self.?That’s?an unhealthy, codependent relationship, even if it is through social media alone.

10 . You walk down the street looking at your phone.

You are putting yourself and others at risk. You could inadvertently walk into traffic, crash into someone carrying groceries, or trip and break a wrist. It?s not worth it.

11. You had to increase your data plan to accommodate your usage.

You may need more data for other reasons, but if you have an unhealthy relationship with social media, then you know that you?re increasing your data for one reason and one reason alone: increased scroll time.

Final Thoughts

You know you?re addicted to social media before you even read these 11 signs. While social media addiction isn?t as big a problem as some might think, it still exists. And it?s more likely to occur in those with addictive personalities.

The same types of people who are likely to get addicted to drugs can experience a social media addiction. Seek help sooner rather than later. Real life social interactions are far more important than the superficial interactions of social media. Plus, real life social interactions have proven to play a role in longevity and overall health.

Image via Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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11 Signs that Your Social Media Habits are Unhealthy

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Container ships are getting cleaner, but the effort is adrift

The giant vessels that carry colorful boxes of cargo around the world are becoming more energy efficient.

China’s COSCO Shipping has outfitted its container ships with new propellers and a protruding “bulbous bow” to reduce wave resistance and curb fuel consumption. CMA CGM of France has equipped vessels with electronically controlled engines to optimize performance, and more of its ships can plug into shoreside electricity supplies to avoid running their massive diesel engines at berth.

As a result, carbon emissions associated with moving those boxes have steadily declined in recent years. From 2009 to 2017, container ship emissions dropped roughly 37 percent on average — per container, per kilometer for global ocean transportation routes, the Clean Cargo Working Group reported earlier this month. (Per mile, that’s about a 60-percent reduction.)

But that progress is starting to level off, showing the limits of the shipping industry’s existing actions to tackle climate change, according to the new study.

Examining the emissions-reduction efforts of those operating container ships could help illuminate some of the challenges involved in getting oil tankers, bulk carriers, and other types of cargo vessels to curb pollution. Container ships account for only about 5.5 percent of the world’s merchant fleet, and it’s the only sector that reports its collective emissions in such a comprehensive way.

When it comes to emissions data, says Suzanne Greene of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, “The shipping industry has so much potential to be more transparent.” (Greene was not a contributor to the new report.)

The container ship survey tallied annual data from about 3,200 vessels, or nearly two-thirds of the world’s container fleet, shared by 22 companies. The data don’t reveal exactly what portion of the reductions were due to energy-efficiency investments or were a result of external factors, such as the consolidation of major container carriers or shifting trade patterns, says Nate Springer, who manages the Clean Cargo Working Group for BSR, a sustainability-focused consultancy. However, he adds, “The consistent progress since 2009 provides compelling evidence that progress is due in large part to industry efforts.”

Like its rivals COSCO and CMA CGM, A.P. Moller-Maersk has invested in new, fuel-efficient vessels and retrofitted older ships with energy-saving designs. Its real-time tracking system allows it to avoid delays, maximize cargo space, and optimize ship speeds for fuel efficiency. Thanks to these measures, the company’s container division — the largest in the world — has seen a 43-percent drop in emissions per container moved since 2007.

Despite all of this, the rate of emissions reductions is slowing down for the broader container industry, the report said. Container-related emissions fell by 1 percent from 2016 to 2017 — below the 2.4 percent from 2015 to 2016, which was below the previous year’s reductions.

Springer says he expects container companies will continue reducing emissions. But he concedes: “We know that if the progress continues at this lower rate, then it will be difficult to remain on track to meet the ambitious climate goals recently announced in the International Maritime Organization climate strategy.”

Last April, the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from global shipping by at least 50 percent from 2008 levels by 2050. If all types of cargo ships formed a country, their total annual emissions would rank in the top 10, between those of Japan and Germany.

The Clean Cargo data don’t provide a full picture as to why carbon reductions are shrinking. But one partial explanation could be that rising shipping activity is offsetting improvements in efficiency.

Container port traffic rose by nearly 15 percent from 2013 to 2017, while ships of all types unloaded more than 12 percent more cargo tonnage over that five-year period, according to a United Nations trade database. At the same time, the world’s container fleet has added dozens of new (and enormous) vessels.

Another explanation might be be that companies’ individual efforts are beginning to hit a wall. “We are reaching the point where it will be more and more challenging to drive significant CO2 efficiency on our own,” says John Bang Kornerup, head of sustainability strategy and shared value at Maersk.

Companies can only do so much to trim emissions from existing technology. To truly move the needle, the entire industry will need to shift toward cleaner fuels and zero-emissions propulsion technologies. That requires widespread investment in research and development to make alternatives more commercially viable, Kornerup says.

“Efficiency measures alone are not enough to deliver shipping’s share of achieving the Paris ambition,” he explains, referring to the landmark climate agreement. He adds that it is “an industry challenge to drive the needed innovation in new propulsion technologies.”

Yet many shipping companies, container or otherwise, still haven’t adopted even relatively straightforward strategies for curbing emissions, such as tracking and reporting their carbon footprints. Much of the data available today is based on averages from shipping routes or sectors, not individual ship performance.

Without more rigorous accounting, it will be difficult to truly know how well the industry is progressing toward meeting its climate targets, says Greene, the MIT logistics expert. That lack of data will also make it harder for major shipping customers — the IKEAs and DHLs of the world — to calculate their supply chain emissions.

“The bottom line in sustainability these days is really the carbon emissions number,” she notes. “And if that’s what we’re using, it should be decently accurate.”

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Container ships are getting cleaner, but the effort is adrift

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Bad news: Global emissions are on the rise again.

The only problem: That’s not what the data shows.

In “the early days of all of the Obama administration regulations, everyone said the sky is falling, we’re going to have to fix all of these plants simultaneously,” energy consultant Alison Silverstein said during a panel last Friday. “Um, not so much. It turns out that when people have to actually do a job they find cheaper ways to do it.”

Silverstein, a veteran of the Bush administration, was tasked by fellow Texan Rick Perry to write a Department of Energy report analyzing the data on coal plant closures. But she found that regulations and renewable energy did not play a significant role in shutting down coal-burning power plants. The aging plants were instead condemned by cheap natural gas and falling electricity demand.

According to Silverstein, the Energy Department pushed back on her results, which did not support the hoped-for conclusion. Her draft report was leaked to the press in June, and the DOE released the final report in August, largely unchanged.

Nevertheless, in September, Perry submitted a rule requesting subsidies for nuclear and coal plants, citing Silverstein’s report for support. It was “as though they had never read it,” Silverstein said. Not a bad guess.

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Bad news: Global emissions are on the rise again.

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Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data – Charles Wheelan


Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

Charles Wheelan

Genre: Mathematics

Price: $12.99

Publish Date: January 7, 2013

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton

“Brilliant, funny . . . the best math teacher you never had.”—San Francisco Chronicle Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, has actually called “sexy.” From batting averages and political polls to game shows and medical research, the real-world application of statistics continues to grow by leaps and bounds. How can we catch schools that cheat on standardized tests? How does Netflix know which movies you’ll like? What is causing the rising incidence of autism? As best-selling author Charles Wheelan shows us in Naked Statistics, the right data and a few well-chosen statistical tools can help us answer these questions and more. For those who slept through Stats 101, this book is a lifesaver. Wheelan strips away the arcane and technical details and focuses on the underlying intuition that drives statistical analysis. He clarifies key concepts such as inference, correlation, and regression analysis, reveals how biased or careless parties can manipulate or misrepresent data, and shows us how brilliant and creative researchers are exploiting the valuable data from natural experiments to tackle thorny questions. And in Wheelan’s trademark style, there’s not a dull page in sight. You’ll encounter clever Schlitz Beer marketers leveraging basic probability, an International Sausage Festival illuminating the tenets of the central limit theorem, and a head-scratching choice from the famous game show Let’s Make a Deal—and you’ll come away with insights each time. With the wit, accessibility, and sheer fun that turned Naked Economics into a bestseller, Wheelan defies the odds yet again by bringing another essential, formerly unglamorous discipline to life.

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Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data – Charles Wheelan

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Lowering Taxes on the Middle Class Is a Loser for Democrats

Mother Jones

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Eric Levitz argues today that Democrats need to campaign on lowering middle-class taxes:

The party has plenty of internal disagreements on pocketbook issues. But there is a broad consensus on Team Blue that the tax code should be more progressive. It shouldn’t be difficult for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to unite most elected Democrats around a tax-reform blueprint.

Such a plan could combine return-free filing with a massive increase in the tax credits for earned income and child care, financed by healthy increases in the taxation of high-income individuals and multi-million-dollar estates. The party could also go more ambitious, and offer a detailed plan for overhauling the tax system with an eye toward simplicity and progressivity.

Here’s the problem with this: Middle-class Americans barely pay any federal income tax at all. Here’s the data from the Tax Policy Center for 2013:

The income quintile in the dead middle pays 2.6 percent of its income in federal income taxes. How much less do even Democrats want to make it?

If liberals really want to have an impact on the middle class, they have to focus on other taxes. For the middle quintile, the payroll tax is about four times higher than the income tax. State sales taxes are in the same ballpark. Those are the taxes that matter. As far as the federal income tax goes, if Democrats really want to lower and simplify it, they should just propose a zero percent rate up to an income of $100,000, along with an EITC that refunds money to the working poor. That would be pretty popular.

Of course, it would also mean that Democrats have decided to battle Republicans on their home field, which is probably a losing strategy. It also means they’ll have a much harder time justifying single-payer health care, free college, subsidized daycare, and all the other stuff they support. Sure, they can pay for some of this stuff by raising taxes on the rich, but that only takes you so far.

If I had to guess, I’d say Democrats are better off focusing on more and better services for the middle class, not lower income taxes. That redistributes income at least as well as progressive tax rates. Probably better.

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Unroll.me Is Latest Victim of Two Minutes Hate

Mother Jones

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Have you heard of Unroll.me? I hadn’t until they suddenly popped up in my Twitter feed because everyone was telling me to uninstall their app and never do business with them again. It turns out that Unroll.me is a company that scans your email and unsubscribes you from all your spam. Useful! And free! So how do they make money? By selling data to folks who will pay them for it.

In particular, it turns out that one of their clients is Uber, which was interested in keeping tabs on its biggest competitor, Lyft. Unroll.me helps by scanning email for Lyft receipts and telling Uber whether Lyft’s business is up or down. This is what caused the commotion.

My initial reaction was: Duh. What did you think Unroll.me was doing to make money? I didn’t bother writing anything about it because I didn’t really care that much, but today co-founder Perri Chase (who’s no longer with the company) comes to the defense of her friend and Unroll.me CEO Jojo Hedaya:

Anonymized and at scale why do people care? Do you really care? Are you really surprised? How exactly is this shocking?

Or maybe you just hate yourselves because you think Uber is gross but you use them anyway and “why are these tech founders such assholes” that they have to ruin your experience where you need to delete your apps? And you love Unroll.me and you feel righteous and you have to delete that now too because you need to take a stand against these plain-as-day-in-the-terms-of-service practices.

….Let’s look at why we are really in this situation. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is out of control and no one can stop him. No one except a board who refuses to hold him accountable for his disgusting behavior. Yeah. As a woman I think he is disgusting. As a founder, the truth is I’m like DAMN. That guy is willing to do whatever it takes and I have a mild amount of envy that I’m not a shittier human willing to go to those lengths to be successful. See, Silicon Valley rewards it. He is setting the example for the future founders who want to “crush it” and be unstoppable. It’s gross. You don’t hate that Unroll.me sells your data. You hate that Unroll.me sells your data to Uber.

I still don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, I’m distinctly unthrilled with the fact that that we all give companies access to so much personal information about ourselves—and we do it for a pittance. On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that I’m in a tiny minority. Even when people know precisely what’s going on, they mostly shrug and sign up anyway. That’s the world we live in.

Chase’s “plain-as-day-in-the-terms-of-service” defense is pretty disingenuous since she knows perfectly well that nobody reads the terms of service for the apps they use. But even if they did I doubt that Unroll.me would lose more than a few percent of their customers. Most of them probably wouldn’t care if Unroll.me sold their names and email addresses to Uber, let alone a harmless bit of aggregate data.

For what it’s worth, what I’d like to see from companies like Unroll.me is a really clear explanation on their websites of what they do. Maybe just a short, punchy bullet list: Examples of what we will do and examples of what we won’t do. That’s what I’d like. And a pony.

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Unroll.me Is Latest Victim of Two Minutes Hate

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