Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys

Journalist. Previously Grasswire & Reuters

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON April 21, 2016

Discussion

Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
I'm Matthew Keys, a freelance journalist and pundit of everything. I've worked in the digital media space for 10 years, first as a self-publisher, then working in corporate media and now freelancing where I can find work. I've worked at the Tribune Company, Disney-ABC and Thomson Reuters and was an early proponent of social media platforms at those companies. Recently, I was a managing editor for the startup news outlet Grasswire. As a freelancer, I've covered the intersections of policy, technology and media with a strong emphasis on surveillance and law. For the last three years I've been one of several unwitting examples demonstrating the flaws in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a federal statute that some have criticized as being antiquated and draconian. I'm open to your questions.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What would you do with 1Billion dollars
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@bentossell I wouldn't want $1 billion. That sounds like way too much responsibility.
Hey Matthew! Following your feeds since 2009. Tell what would you think is your biggest career moment and what you would like to achieve in the future?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@caa1000 First, thanks for following along so long! It's been a wild ride, hasn't it? It is hard for me to answer your question with respect to my career. I hope that my defining moment is yet to come, but I also recognize that it's something for others to define. So maybe it's happened already. I'm not really sure.
Niv Dror
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
What was going through your mind back in October when you were charged (other than this tweet which really says it all). On a different note, what was going through your mind when Snowden tweeted about your case?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@nivo0o0 I was charged in March 2013. I was convicted of those charges in October 2015 (we are appealing the case). Being charged was pretty devastating. It set me up for a fight that I didn't want to have, but also could not walk away from. At this point, it really doesn't matter whether people think I did or didn't do the alleged conduct (I've always said, and will say again, that I did not do it). Ultimately, I hope our efforts on the case bring about positive change to the law that governs all of our online activity. As for Mr. Snowden's support, I consider him one of many who voiced their sadness and shock that a case like this was brought, and I think it serves as yet another example that the public finds our computer laws to be out of touch with the behavior of today's Internet users. I wish Mr. Snowden would return my messages, but he strikes me as a very busy person.
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Based on your experience, what are the biggest opportunities and challenges for freelance journalists?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@tomstocklein The biggest opportunity is, in most cases, being able to pick and choose which stories you want to cover. The biggest challenge is surviving.
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Matthew thanks for joining us today. What needs to be done to bring the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act up to date?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@ems_hodge To start, lawmakers need a better understanding of how people use computers and the Internet today. The CFAA is a statute dating back to the mid-1980s that governed potential computer activity in the pre-Internet era. Many have criticized it for failing to keep pace with the evolution of technology and technological services. Part of the problems comes from elected officials being wholly out of touch with how people use technology today. Americans should start electing representative officials who demonstrate an understanding of how today's technology works and how average citizens use it. Those who are already in office should consult with leaders in the technology space when it comes to the laws that govern computer use and online behavior so they don't wind up criminalizing activity like trading a Netflix username and password (which is not only a federal offense, but because the federal definition of terrorism includes CFAA-related offenses, is also considered an act of domestic terrorism) or doling out harsh punishments for downloading large volumes of academic papers in potential violation of a website's terms of service. Unfortunately, our current presidential administration and lawmakers have gone in the opposite direction. President Obama and Congressional lawmakers have proposed reforming the CFAA so that it criminalizes additional behavior and dishes out harsher punishments to those who violate the law. Share a news story that contains information obtained from a leaked database? Under President Obama's proposals, that activity would constitute a violation of federal law — and those who violate it could be labeled terrorists. Calls for reform have, in recent years, fallen on deaf ears. I could not even get the White House's own Chief Digital Officer, @goldman44, to respond to a question on the topic of CFAA reform during a Product Hunt LIVE chat held earlier today. That means those calls for reform are not loud enough — which means the best option going forward is to express your opinion on the CFAA with your vote.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are the first tabs you open every morning?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@jakecrump I almost always start with my e-mail. Next thing I open up is Facebook, followed by the New York Times website. From there, it varies.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What would you tell your 20 year old self?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@bentossell Party more. You've got all the time in the world to work hard and make something of yourself, but you only have one chance to be a young and stupid 20-year-old.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
If you could have your pick, who would you love to interview?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@jakecrump Jesus. A lot of people these days assume Jesus is on the side of their cause(s). I'd like to get his take on that.
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
Why does Product Hunt's kitten mascot wear Google Glass?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
Hey me, good to see me here. That's a great question. I asked the Product Hunt people that same question, and the response that I got was that the kitten artwork is slightly outdated. Hopefully we'll see an Oculus-wearing kitten sometime in the future.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@matthewkeyslive it gets better with age! It's actually all @JESS3's fault. 😸
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@rrhoover @jess3 All blame starts at the top :P
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
In your career as a journalist, what story that you've covered has most shocked you and why?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@ems_hodge I'll never forget covering the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. I was working for Reuters at the time, and a number of people in our newsroom had connections to Newtown, to Sandy Hook and even to the suspected shooter Adam Lanza. It brought about a different dimension to the story. It also happened to be the last story I covered before heading back to California for Christmas vacation — and that story really set the tone for the following weeks to come. As a freelancer, I landed an exclusive out of Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. The city's former police chief Thomas Jackson defended the release of a surveillance tape showing 17-year-old Michael Brown at a convenience store minutes before he was fatally shot by a police officer. The release of the tape was heavily criticized as an attempt to smear Brown's name (it had been reported prior to the tape's release that Brown had shoplifted tobacco products from the store). The police chief defended the release, saying there had been a number of public records requests for the tape. Acting on knowledge that public records requests are themselves public records, I filed a request for just that. What I learned is that, contrary to what police had claimed, there had been no records requests made for the tape. We broke the story a few weeks after the shooting, and it was picked up by the Huffington Post, Wonkette, MSNBC and others.
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What's one piece of advice you've received that's impacted your life? How?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@ems_hodge Not one specific piece of advice, but my colleague Jason Leopold has been a constant source of inspiration, good advice and positive encouragement. Jason is an incredibly hard-working journalist who uses federal and state public records laws to break stories and hold government officials accountable. Because of his tenacity, we know about Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server as well as revelations related to the detention of inmates at Guantanamo Bay prison that, without his effort, may have gone unnoticed or remained unknown. Jason is one of the most-important journalists of our time. All of that said, he always has a moment to field questions and offer advice on FOIA laws, exemptions and records requests in general. I feel incredibly privileged to have his ear, and I'm glad that his hard work is finally receiving the recognition it deserves.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What's the best piece of advice you could give someone?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@jakecrump There has never been a better time for people to be themselves. A lot of people hold back on their interests, wants or desires because they're afraid of outward perceptions. But people these days are too wrapped up in themselves to care about what other people are thinking or doing — so, really, do whatever you want. Be whoever you want to be.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are some of your most used apps?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@jakecrump I use a lot of music apps. I have T-Mobile* and it's nice not having to worry about streaming music eating into my data bucket. I use Spotify, TuneIn, iHeart Radio, Google Play Music, Dash Radio, Noon Pacific, IndieShuffle and Pandora to discover new music. I also build Spotify playlists to share with others. For news, I open the New York Times and Guardian apps daily. For news podcasts, I use PocketCasts. I keep on top of the news via Facebook, TweetBot and YouTube (YouTube is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated services for news — there's a lot of great news content on YouTube). (* - not an advertisement for T-Mobile)
Frank Nolan
Frank Nolan@frank_j_nolan
When it comes to survelliance in the future and with the security concerns of cyberspace in what areas do you think it has the potential of improving?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@frank_j_nolan Can you re-phrase or clarify your question?
Frank Nolan
Frank Nolan@frank_j_nolan
@matthewkeyslive Yes, sorry to respond back to you so late after the chat. In other words in what ways; could digital survelliance or security be better improved to prevent future internet vulnerabilities?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@frank_j_nolan I think I'm the wrong person to ask about that. Someone who has a deeper understanding of online vulnerabilities and encryption systems would be better versed.
Rod Austin
Rod Austin@webtech · Growth Hacker, Developer
Where do you see traditional journalism evolving to as traditional media wanes?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@webtech Journalism will move toward whichever platform people are using to consume information. The biggest problem with this approach isn't accessibility or monetization. Its the platforms themselves. The biggest platforms right now are Twitter and Facebook. Those services are exercising their own kinds of editorial discretion in that they formulate partnerships with content creators they consider to be important, giving special attention and highlight their works over others. That puts up-and-coming news outlets and journalists at a major disadvantage, especially if they're unable to network on the level of journalists at more-prestigious news outlets. It also puts smaller or emerging news organizations at a disadvantage. If a NBC affiliate in a small news market breaks a compelling story, and NBC News picks up that story and re-reports it, the greater likelihood is that NBC News — which has content partnerships with Facebook, Twitter and others — will get the attention, even though the NBC affiliate did all of the legwork. We had this issue at Grasswire. Despite our best efforts, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook were willing to give us a space to publish but were otherwise not interested in giving us the same level of attention and customer service that they gave other publishers. Twitter flat-out told us that it would not verify our news accounts or those of our editorial staff. Facebook was happy to take our advertising money, but because of pre-existing relationships with other newsrooms, stories that we broke often fell off Facebook feeds. In some cases, stories we broke were picked up by other news outlets who received greater visibility on Facebook and Twitter than we did. If social media platforms want to become the preeminent distributor of news and information — and all indications suggest that they do — they have an obligation to provide a level playing field for everyone in that space. Right now, they don't. In the short term, that will work, but in the long term, that will be disastrous.
Rod Austin
Rod Austin@webtech · Growth Hacker, Developer
@matthewkeyslive Well said. We tried to tackle the social leverage issue by creating a platform that shows all social activity, regardless of how 'big' the source is: https://dotmos.com/ Not many adopters of the platform yet, and I don't think the issue is important to the general public. Thanks!
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@jakecrump There are no typical days. These days, though, my time is mostly consumed with trying to convince someone to pay me to commit acts of journalism. Considering my track record, it's become a tougher sell than I'd imagined. Someone who wants a self-starter and a hard-worker will snatch me up one day.
Lesley Wu
Lesley Wu@deleted-407305
@matthewkeyslive @jakecrump you are so cute,smart,good sense of humor!sent you a flower,hope you enjoy it!
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Which social media platforms to you find most useful as a journalist in terms of 1) identifying the latest and most relevant news 2) reaching your audience?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@tomstocklein 1.) Twitter 2.) Facebook
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg created and hosted the All Things D conference and later also co-founded Re/Code. Do you have any similar plans or have you ever considered building up your own mobile app/platform or launching a major online publication?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@tomstocklein I have thought about doing something similar. A few weeks after I was fired from Reuters, I launched a news site called The Desk where I still self-publish on occasion. Building a news product from scratch is incredibly hard, especially if you lack an already-existing audience somewhere else and/or deep pockets. A good example is the Huffington Post, where it took years for the site to gain critical momentum even though the site's proprietor, Ariana Huffington, was well-connected. As for building an app — I've got a handful of ideas that I think would make for a great app. But I can't code, so it probably won't happen.
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
@matthewkeyslive That's great. Good luck with building up The Desk! Hope it'll become as successful as the HuffPo. As far as building apps, check out the excellent and free online courses that Udacity is offering for both Android and iPhone development: https://www.udacity.com/courses/all
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Which other journalists, writers and authors do you admire/did you learn from in terms of their writing style?
Matthew Keys
Matthew Keys@matthewkeyslive · Journalist & Internet of Person
@tomstocklein I read the New York Times daily. The research and reporting style of the New York Times is one that should be franchised to other news outlets. I really admire newspaper reporters and editors. They work incredibly hard under tight deadlines, they thoroughly research and vet their sources and facts and they often break major news stories for which they generally receive little credit (it's not uncommon for a newspaper to break a story only to have other media outlets — television, radio, digital — repurpose those stories to their own audience).