Phoenix police don’t follow Fe’La iniko on social media, but he knows they’re watching.
“They’re pretty hip to Instagram,” the racial justice activist said. “Sometimes they’ll pop up in my story views.”
Iniko, whose given name is Milton Hasley, often uses social media to share fliers on upcoming protests or speak out against police violence. So when officers surrounded his car last summer while he was leaving a demonstration against the killings of George Floyd and Dion Johnson, iniko worried he might have been targeted in advance for his views. As a handful of cop cars trained their spotlights on him, he was careful to keep his hands visible as he placed them on the steering wheel, a video he posted on Instagram shows.
“Try not to look threatening,” he remembered thinking.
Hours later, iniko was booked into jail and charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors, all of which were later dropped. He was one of hundreds of Phoenix protesters arrested during last year’s demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality, which were met with an aggressive police presence and a number of controversial charges from prosecutors.
Police reports and court records would later reveal that police surveilled some of the protesters on their social media accounts during the summer and fall.
It was a year that would see Black Lives Matter demonstrations and civil unrest followed by anti-lockdown rallies, election protests and the fatal Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. In the Capitol insurrection, law enforcement officials scoured social media platforms, sweeping up photos, videos and comments that have helped to identify, arrest and charge hundreds of people.
This form of online policing has gained traction as a means of addressing the looming threat of domestic terrorism. But many agencies — including the Phoenix Police Department — work under barebones guidelines when monitoring online activity.
PHOENIX – Sports is a billion-dollar industry, with revenue streams ranging from television rights to ticket sales. Add cryptocurrency and NFTs to the mix, and this latest gold rush has leagues, teams and players taking advantage of opportunities in an unlikely territory.
Former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Taijaun Walker, now with the New York Mets, was the first known and active Major League Baseball player to create and sell a piece of digital art through a non-fungible token, otherwise known as an NFT, the New York Times reported. The piece of art sold for 2.35 Ether, a form of cryptocurrency, or roughly $4,275. Proceeds from the auction benefited the team’s charity, the Amazin’ Mets Foundation.
Walker’s NFT announcement opened eyes and raised eyebrows about this new way athletes could generate income.
“(It is) a piece of digital asset, which can be video, file, photo, really anything that you like, to be managed by smart contracts,” said Dragan Boscovic, director of ASU’s Blockchain Research Lab.
Simply, think of it as something intangible – something you can’t hold in your hand – such as Walker’s digital art, or a unique video or Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, which fetched a cool 1,630.58 Ether, the equivalent to about $2.9 million.
Boscovic added that with a smart contract “you can basically control certain properties of that digital asset.” If it’s a photo, for example, you can control who has access to it and how many copies of it can be made.
Two of the leading Republican firebrands in Congress touted big fundraising hauls as a show of grassroots support for their high-profile stands against accepting the 2020 election results.
But new financial disclosures show that Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., relied on an email marketing vendor that takes as much as 80 cents on the dollar. That means their headline-grabbing numbers were more the product of expensively soliciting hardcore Republicans than an organic groundswell of far-reaching support.
Hawley and Greene each reported raising more than $3 million in the first three months of the year, an unusually large sum for freshman lawmakers, according to new filings with the Federal Election Commission. That’s more than the average House member raises in an entire two-year cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The tallies generated favorable press coverage for Hawley and Greene, and they both seized on the numbers to claim a popular mandate.
Politico called Greene’s result “eye-popping” and “staggering,” a sign that she “appears to have actually benefited from all the controversies that have consumed her first few months in office.” The House voted in February to remove Greene from her committee assignments because of her social media posts that promoted far-right conspiracy theories; racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric; and violence against Democratic leaders.
“I am humbled, overjoyed and so excited to announce what happened over the past few months as I have been the most attacked freshman member of Congress in history,” Greene said in an emailed statement on April 7. “Accumulating $3.2 million with small-dollar donations is the absolute BEST support I could possibly ask for!”
As for Hawley, who was the first senator to say he’d object to certifying the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, Politico proclaimed that his massive increase showed “how anti-establishment Republicans are parlaying controversy into small-dollar fundraising success.” Hawley’s pollster, Wes Anderson with the political consulting firm OnMessage, said in a memo distributed to supporters that the “fundraising surge” made “crystal clear that a strong majority of Missouri voters and donors stand firmly with Senator Hawley, in spite of the continued false attacks coming from the radical left.”
It wasn’t until later, when the campaigns disclosed their spending details in last week’s FEC reports, that it became clearer how they raised so much money: by paying to borrow another organization’s mailing list.
“List rental” was the No. 1 expense for both campaigns, totaling almost $600,000 for each of them. It’s common for campaigns to rent lists from outside groups or other candidates to broaden their reach. But for Hawley and Greene, the cost was unusually high, amounting to almost 20% of all the money they raised in January, February and March.