Sally Kohn: Don’t like clickbait? Don’t click


Sally Kohn is a liberal political commentator, community organizer, and founder and chief education officer of the Movement Vision Lab, a grassroots think tank. Kohn was a contributor for the Fox News Channel.


The internet can be a nasty place, and has been shown to be much worse if you are gay, a woman, or a person of colour. Sally herself has found a fake twitter account which accuses her of being a bull dike, a man hater, and someone who only talks to spread her ‘perverse sexuality’.

However, if everyone hates this, we can change it by making a small sacrifice. People are no longer passive receivers of a media run by elites – no longer is the world divided into media creators and media consumers. By reading twitter or posting to a blog we are making a public act. We decide what gets attention by clicking on something – algorithms will decide that is what you need to see more of.

60% of Americans think America is becoming incivil, but they also click these the same ridiculously worded rumour-mongering articles. In an increasingly noisy media landscape, there are more incentives to make as much noise as possible. The tyranny of the loud encourages the nastiest comments. We need to change the incentives.

When you see someone abused, do something – drown out the negative with the positive. And don’t click on nasty and inane stories – it only encourages more of them. Clicking on them will force more stories of the same to appear.

My Thoughts

Good advice to all – however I disagree with her about ‘doing something’ to online trolls. By ‘being a hero’ and fighting nasty comments, you are giving them merit. By responding to a nasty article or a nasty person, you are triggering another incentive in both the article and the trolls. The articles are nasty because that generates controversy – by responding to an article you are feeding that controversy.

Beyond that – spread the word to others. Don’t click on garbage – it only encourages more garbage.

Drew Curtis: How I beat a patent troll


Drew Curtis is creator of – an internet news aggregator.


In January 2011, Fark was sued along with MSN, reddit, yahoo for violation of a patent. The patent was for “creation and distibution of news releases via email”. This happens all the time, where a simple thing that is already happening can be patented, especially for a new emergent technology. These ‘Patent Trolls’ often sue major companies, ending in out of court settlements allowing them to claim they won the case.

The flaw in the case against Fark was that news release has a specific meaning in media – a press release by a company. Drew believed this meant he was not in violation, but a quirk in patent law is that the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove they have not violated the patent. Best case is that this can cost $2million and take 18 months to prove if they win. Most of the other companies in this case opted to settle out of court despite none of them violating the patent.

When Drew demanded screenshots showing where Fark had violated the patent, his troll was very quick to want a settlement: immediately demanding Drew’s “Best and final offer”. He offered nothing and no non disclosure agreement, and they accepted. This allowed him to talk about his experience in a way most other companies could not.

What Drew learnt about this case

  • Don’t fight the patent, fight the infringement – it’s a lot easier to prove that you haven’t infringed.
  • Either say you have no money, or that you’d rather spend money fighting the troll instead of giving it to them. Patent trolls need to recover their money, and if they’re less convinced they’ll get anything they are no longer interested in pursuing the case.
  • Tell them you will make this process as annoying and painful and difficult for them. These are the strategies a patent troll will use on you, but they need a quick return so it works really well when you reverse it.

“Do not negotiate with terrorists” – lawsuits from patent trolls have cost the US economy more every year than the all time cost of terrorists on US soil. Patent law is big, and driven by the needs of industries that want to protect inventors (healthcare industry) versus producers. These forces are on opposite ends of the patent spectrum, and patent trolls manage to exist in the gaps between them.

My Thoughts

Good summary of the dangers of patent law, and how to fight a frivolous lawsuit. Drew presents well and has a lot to tell us in such a short talk.