Cancer Research, Park Maps, Facebook, More: Tuesday Afternoon Buzz, June 7, 2016


Joe Biden has launched a new database for cancer research. “The database, called the Genomic Data Commons (GDC), contains genomic data for 12,000 patients, with a plan for more to be added. Researchers can search the database to look for patterns in how different patients responded to different treatments.”

There was an article about it at the beginning of May, but I’m only just now reading about this online archive of National Park maps. “During the government shutdown of 2013, with plenty of free time on his hands, [Park Ranger Matt] Holly put his interests together and launched the website National Park Maps. The idea was to build a hub for browsing and downloading maps from all of the national parks without having to visit multiple websites, even though he had no idea how to develop a website at the time.” Sounds like my kind of guy. Currently the site has over 1000 maps.


From NewsWhip: Links aren’t Getting as Much Engagement as They Used to on Facebook. “If we look back at 12 months of Facebook data for leading websites, there’s a noticeable decline in engagement. From what we’ve seen, this isn’t restricted to any one genre of site. We took a closer look at the trend, focussing on the very top cohort of sites in our monthly rankings.” I think this is Facebook playing with some of the algorithms. Last week, I posted a video I made to a page I manage (not ResearchBuzz, I’m still trying to figure out what I’d make videos of) and it did very well. Links and so forth, not so much…

Does Facebook want to get a bit… Snapchatesque? “Facebook is testing a new option for how you create status posts: you can hide them from your timeline from the new post box, so they only show up on News Feeds and search.” Or maybe it’s just adding functionality that Pages have; as I recall you can post something on your Facebook Page that doesn’t appear on your timeline.


MakeUseOf: 5 Ways to Find Facebook Groups. A little bit on how to use Facebook’s search here (which isn’t that great, but…)


Interesting: HarperCollins has launched a Facebook Live program for authors. “The HarperCollins Facebook Live presentations will last from 15 to 45 minutes, and the publishing house expects to post a schedule of the weekday events on its HarperCollins Facebook page as well as its Book Studio 16 Facebook page, where it houses many of the videos it produces. The video discussions will be seen on those pages as well as individual author pages, and will be available for later viewing.”

In case you’re someone who needs assurance for things like this: nobody dies. What happens when a 50-something journalist gets a week’s worth of news from Snapchat Discover? “Snapchat wants to be a news source, so I spent the last week on a Snapchat-only diet. I gave up my breakfast routine of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Politico Playbook and tried to survive on the light snacks from the app’s Discover providers. In the words of the cliché-loving journalists who write for Snapchat’s content partners, the results may surprise you!”

Publishers are giving Google’s AMP project a resounding “meh”. Can you give a resounding meh? It would have to be just an apathetic meh, wouldn’t it? “AMP — considered Google’s answer to Facebook Instant Articles — is basically open-source code that strips down web pages so they load faster on mobile devices. It’s free to any publisher to implement. The extra carrot is that publishers that don’t play along risk being disadvantaged in Google’s search results, as Google has made it clear that its algorithm gives preference to faster loading articles. Two publishers, Slate and The Atlantic, said they’ve been formatting nearly all their content for AMP, but that AMP pages are accounting for 4 percent of their site visits or less. ”


JavaScript is turning into a scary security problem. “Threat actors have been using attached Microsoft Office files with embedded malicious macros for years, said Bryan Burns, [Proofpoint]’s vice president of threat research in a telephone interview. Users have become savvy to the hazards of opening a .exe file attached to emails, but the use of JavaScript – not to be confused with Java – has only ever been used occasionally. Until now. The use of .js files to spread ransomware and malware has spiked dramatically in the past two months, said Burns, with campaigns appearing in unprecedented volumes with hundreds of millions of messages being sent across Proofpoint’s customer base.”


From Medium: A First Amendment for Social Platforms. “As it now stands … major platforms have improvised their own rules. (Facebook’s is here, Twitter’s here, for example.) They cover policing everything from hate speech to graphic content. These rules are rooted, however, in no clear precedent, tradition, or philosophy. Critically, people have no way of knowing how a platform’s broadly stated community norms work in individual instances. Transparency requires that these ‘cases’ on which platforms rule should be made public in some form.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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