I clicked them so you don’t have to.

➡️ This story has been updated and moved to the “Transparency Matters” blog.

Person (Me) petting a baby goose (Facebook) while an adult goose (Mark Zuck) steals cash from her purse (My personal data)
Credit: Unknown — if you know the original author, let me know and I’ll cite it.

Around 2015, people started realizing that all the stuff they thought they were privately sharing with their friends on Facebook was actually being monetized and exploited for profit. So to combat this, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was passed. It said that by 2020, companies have to let users say no to the sale of their personal data. Other states are now passing similar bills.

So what’s “personal data”? The most common form of personal data is your unique IP address — it looks like “”, and it’s…

Dear Every Single Tech Company, Please Steal This Idea

➡️ This story has been updated and moved to the “Transparency Matters” blog.




When you send a photo to someone, your messaging app actually first sends the photo to an app’s server, which then sends the photo to them:

And sure, in the 90’s, when the internet was just starting to get big, this might have been what happened. But somewhere along the line, someone figured out how to profit from user data, and so now here’s what actually happens:

“Just recently we passed $70 billion paid out to developers, 30% of that in the last year alone.” — Phil Schiller, Apple SVP @ WWDC 2017

It’s far easier than you think. No luck or perseverance necessary.

➡️ This story has been updated and moved to the “Transparency Matters” blog.



At WWDC, Apple reported that they’ve paid out $70 billion to developers, with 30% of that ($21 billion!) in the last year. That’s a huge spike, and surprising to me because it didn’t seem like my friends and I were spending more on apps last year. But that’s anecdotal, so I wondered: Where are these revenues coming from? I opened App Store to browse the top grossing apps.

Step 1: Follow The Money

The short journey to the front page of Silicon Valley


It’s July 4th and I just bought a 24 pack of Coronas with my roommates, and the three of us are hanging out in the living room. Two beers in, Rahul says, “let’s have a hackathon.” The thought of competition spikes my adrenaline. Let’s do it.

But what to build?

I opened up my ideas notepad. The last entry I wrote:

- rate peoples twitters by grade level. justin bieber

Sounds good to me. The motivation for this was a vague passing thought one day about the effect of Twitter on communication. Twitter was never useful for me because…

Johnny Lin

building & writing

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