Lei Wang

Lei Wang

Editorial Fellow

Lei (Kanglei) Wang has been a science reporter in Hong Kong, a well-being researcher at a psychology center, and an international background checker. She is interested in the why’s behind human actions: the psychological backstories of both great crimes and great charity. You can contact her at lwang@motherjones.com.

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Thailand's New Military Government Is Secretly Vacuuming Up Facebook Data

| Wed Jul. 9, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

Despite all the ways Facebook has flouted privacy standards—like how it recently experimented with 700,000 users' emotions by manipulating the positive and negative content of their newsfeeds—the company hasn't yet provided personal data to oppressive governments. But that didn't deter the Thai junta. When Facebook refused to help Thailand's newly installed military government access users' personal information, the junta created a misleading Facebook application to capture its citizens' names and email addresses. 

The military government posted that they were collecting this data to "handle more witnesses which can lead to more prosecutions and will make the online society more clean."

As you might remember, back in May, after months of anti-government protests, Thailand's military staged a coup. Once in power, the military suspended the constitution, installed a 10 p.m. curfew, banned gatherings of more than five people, and attempted to suppress dissidents—including any of the estimated 28 million Thai users on Facebook, a third of the country's population. On May 29, the new government tried to have a meeting with social-media companies, including Facebook, to discuss censoring Thailand's anti-coup dissent, but none of them showed up.

But the Thai junta didn't take this as a sign to give up on tapping into the power of social media. Instead, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation reports, the junta placed a Facebook login button to track users on more than 200 of the government's restricted websites, like the webpage of Human Rights Watch.

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What Does "Natural" Mean?

| Wed Jun. 18, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

Last year, according to Nielsen, foods labeled "natural" generated $43 billion in sales. That's more than five times the figure for foods carrying an "organic" label ($8.9 billion). A new Consumer Reports survey of 1,000 people found that two-thirds of respondents believed  that a "natural" label meant that a food contained:

  • No artificial materials during processing
  • No pesticides
  • No artificial ingredients
  • No GMOs

More than half of those surveyed said that they specifically looked for a "natural" label on their foods.

There's just one problem: There are no real federal regulations around the word "natural."