‘Berlin Station’ and ‘Americatown’

‘Berlin Station’ is a new spy drama/thriller from the cable network EPIX, which focuses on a leak of classified information at the titular CIA office, and the agents tracking it down. Motherboard spoke to series writers Brad Winters and Larry Cohen, who also worked together on a separate project: a graphic novel series called ‘Americatown’ about a near-future dystopia where Americans are the immigrants.

iPhone Touch Disease

Tens of thousands of iPhone 6 Plus phones have been spontaneously losing their touchscreen capability because of an engineering flaw, but Apple still won’t admit there’s a problem. Motherboard spoke to Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, about what’s causing the issue and what Apple should do about it. We also talk with an Apple Genius about your options if you have a phone with the problem.

Why Facts Don’t Matter in the 2016 Presidential Election

Between the hours of 3 AM and 5 AM Friday morning, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump went on a tweetstorm in which he was, you know, just saying that Hillary Clinton helped former Miss Universe (and a target of Trump’s misogyny) Alicia Machado become a US citizen “so she could use her in the debate.”

Is that true? Like, almost certainly not—but in this election season, truth and facts hardly seem to matter. Trump’s attacks on Machado are just the latest data point in an election cycle that has seen wild speculation, rampant exaggeration, and outright lies become accepted as fact by huge swaths of the electorate on both sides of the aisle.

If we’re living in a post-factual era, how did we get here? Vincent F. Hendricks set up the Center for Information and Bubble Studies at the University of Copenhagen to study how individual and media behavior online has created a reality where virality, social spread, and repetition is all that’s required for people to believe something is true.

While “facts” haven’t gone totally by the wayside, the way we cherry pick facts to make alternate realities has created a political system (and a culture) where we can’t have rational arguments because we can’t even agree on a baseline of truth.

Radio Motherboard spoke to Hendricks about this week’s debate and about his new book, Infostorms, which explores how our likes, upvotes, retweets, coupled with social media algorithms and brash politicians with a disregard for the truth are redefining rational society.

Can ‘Snowden’ the Movie Save Snowden the Man?

At times, Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ feels like a remake of ‘Citizenfour,’ Laura Poitras’s Oscar-winning documentary. Citizenfour is the superior film, but Stone’s spy thriller is still a fun look into this generation’s most important whistleblower. The most interesting thing about ‘Snowden’ the film, however, doesn’t even happen onscreen. The film’s success won’t be viewed in terms of box office numbers, but in whether it has the ability to culturally and politically move the needle for its protagonist. Just days before ‘Snowden’ was released, the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International launched the most serious bid to secure a presidential pardon for Edward Snowden. So, is the movie good enough to change the hearts and minds of those who still view him as a traitor?

Rocko’s Modern Life Predicted Our Lame Future

On this episode of Radio Motherboard, we speak with Joe Murray, creator of Rocko’s Modern Life, about the show’s upcoming hour-long special and how a show about a 90s vision of modern living has stayed relevant today. We also chat with Sean Yeaton, formerly of Motherboard and now of Parquet Courts, about his vision for our technofuture and how cartoon like Rocko will influence our kids.

Inside the Tesla Gigafactory

Elon Musk’s new temple of energy is open for business in the middle of the desert outside Reno, Nevada. A few weeks ago, I went to the opening of the Tesla Gigagfactory, where Musk proposes to ramp up production of car batteries to the point where Tesla can begin to sell an affordable, mass-market electric cars.

Musk’s ideas and Tesla’s futuristic cars get a lot of attention, but the company has still only sold just over 150,000 cars. The good news for Tesla is that many of those 150,000 customers are rabid fans who are happy to evangelize for the company. I went to the Gigafactory’s opening party to meet the people who not only owned a Tesla, but also convinced five of their friends to buy one.

This podcast is meant to be a quick primer on the world of Tesla—what’s it like to own one? Who are these superfans and why do they love the company so much? What’s it like to drive a Model S in “Ludicrous Mode?” What’s inside the Gigafactory? And what is Elon Musk’s long-term vision for the future of transportation and energy?

The Real Impact Your Phone Has on the Earth

*This podcast is presented as a partnership between Radio Motherboard and Douglas Rushkoff’s new podcast, Team Human*

Your phone uses the equivalent of two refrigerators’ worth of electricity every year.

If you add in all of the electricity required to store and move data across high-speed cable and wireless networks and climate-controlled server farms to deliver an hour of video to your phone each week, in the space of a year it adds up to more power than two new Energy Star refrigerators consume in the same time.

This week, Douglas Rushkoff takes over Radio Motherboard in partnership with his brand new podcast,, Team Human. You can find future episodes of Team Human at teamhuman.fm.

Leslie Jones and the Ethics of Amplifying Online Harassment

Soon after news broke that Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones’s website had been hacked and replaced with stolen nude photos and racist memes, I got an urgent email from Whitney Phillips, one of the world’s foremost experts on online trolling and harassment (Phillips quite literally has a doctorate in 4chan). Phillips wanted to know if Motherboard was going to cover the hack, and how we were going to do it.

“I have some thoughts on the ethics of amplification—how, we can’t not comment on stories like this, but commenting perpetuates the disgusting narrative and associated imagery. The question being, what’s the ethical way not just for journalists and academics to respond, but for individuals, as well?” she said.

“Is more harm than good done when the association of Jones with Harambe is given longer life? I’m honestly not sure,” she added. “BUT I WANT TO HAVE THAT CONVERSATION.”

In her book This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, Phillips explores how early trolls from 4chan’s /b/ board manipulated the media into spreading their message. Though “trolling” is now an outdated, imprecise term, the Twitter harassment and illegal hacking of Jones’s website are amplified the more journalists write about it, the more people retweet it, the more we allow it to stay in our collective consciousness.

Phillips emailed me as I was also considering whether there’s an ethical way to cover abhorrent behavior on the internet—decisions about how and whether to write about racially, sexually, or xenophobically motivated hacks and harassment is a question the Motherboard staff considers all the time, but it’s rarely a conversation that ever makes it to the public.

And so I decided to have that conversation with Phillips and the roles we all play in amplifying questionable or grotesque online behavior.