Google My Business, Twitter, Web Stats Tools, More: Tuesday Buzz, November 29, 2016


Google is testing chat for businesses. “Google is now testing a new feature in the Google My Business area that lets customers initiate a chat with your business from your local listing in Google search or Google Maps. This was first spotted by Dino Basaldella who posted it on Google+.”


Good stuff from Glenn Fleishman: How to protect yourself on Twitter with its improved mute, report, and filter tools. “There’s a tendency for media to accuse people of living in echo chambers composed only of like-minded people, reinforcing sometimes ill-conceived notions about others. Twitter’s filtering and blocking tools can play into that. But there’s an obvious difference between being exposed to ideas that differ from ones you hold and being being bombarded by offensive or abusive statements and images. Here’s some advice about how to configure and use Twitter’s new tools, including one rolled out earlier this year, both to fight abuse and to keep your timeline more to your liking.”

From Hongkiat: Top 8 Free Web Statistics Tools. “A web analytics tool is mandatory for every website to keep track of traffic and create strategies according to it. Thankfully, there are many web statistics tools available that you can use on your website to track traffic count, type and behavior, etc.”

From Search Engine Land: SEO without SERPs is here with Google Assistant, Home and Amazon Echo. Here’s how to survive. “There are many times where Google Home gets stumped and says ‘Sorry, I’m not sure how to help with that,’ but not nearly as many as Amazon Echo, as you can see in Danny Sullivan’s review. For the most part, it’s useful — and sometimes fun. And as more people use smart speaker devices like these to get their information in a world without search engine results pages (SERPs), SEOs will have to adjust if they want to stay relevant. Here are three ways SEOs can best position themselves for a world of assistant search without SERPs, powered by devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo.”

If you want to shop online but want to know the backstory behind what you’re buying, this Chrome extension might help. “DoneGood, a new browser extension and mobile app, helps you find ethical and sustainable alternatives when you shop for anything online. All you need to do is download the free extension, and when you search for an item (‘men’s dress shirts,’ for example), DoneGood will pepper your search results with better businesses that support workers’ rights and environmental protection.”

A useful explanation: How Google Knows When Your Bills Are Due. “This week my smartphone received an alert from Google listing the balances due on my credit cards. My response was “never” do it again, but I have to wonder about my personal financial/identity security. How did they get this information? Is it legal?”


PC World: Why you should start using Google Keep right away. “Google Keep is probably the best Google service that most people don’t use. Services like Keep, Evernote and Microsoft OneNote are often called ‘note-taking apps.’ But it’s an obsolete label. They’ve grown beyond their roots, now offering collaborative workflow, reminders, checklists, geofencing, optical character recognition, voice transcription, sketching and more.”’s word of the year, is, unfortunately, xenophobia. “In a Monday statement, said searches for the word began rising last year but took off in the wake of the successful Brexit vote that will have the UK leave the European Union. The site said searches for xenophobia spiked 938 percent on June 24, the day after the vote, with hundreds of users looking it up each hour.”

About a week ago a lovely ResearchBuzz reader sent me some Cabot cheese. We had a cheese tasting party at dinner and a week later had a grilled cheese sandwich party featuring the cheese I brought, my uncle’s vegetable soup, and my husband’s cooked apples. (Not all in the same dish, obviously.) I am so grateful to Wendy for her generosity, and after reading this story I’m even more grateful that I’ve never been sent a toe. “Nothing like two people meeting over the internet and one person sending the other a toe in order to get a necklace made.” WARNING: This story has images of an amputated toe.


Norton has released a cybersecurity report that seems to indicate that people know how to protect themselves online, they just tend not to. “According to the 2016 Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report by Symantec Corp., which surveyed 20,907 consumers in 21 markets, 76 percent of respondents said they know they should actively protect their information online, but still engaged in risky behaviors, including sharing passwords. Globally, 35 percent of people said they have at least one unprotected device, vulnerable to ransomware and phishing attacks, the report found. Within the last year, the report found that 689 million people in 21 countries experienced a cybercrime.”


I missed this Nature article from early October and I’m annoyed at myself: Democratic databases: science on GitHub. “When the Ebola outbreak in West Africa picked up pace in July 2014, Caitlin Rivers started to collect data on the people affected. Rivers, then a PhD student in computational epidemiology, wanted to model the outbreak’s spread. So every day she downloaded PDF updates released by the ministries of health of the virus-stricken countries, and converted the numbers into computer-readable tables. Rather than keeping these files to herself, she posted them to, a hugely popular website for collaborative work on software code. Rivers thought the postings might attract those interested in up-to-date information from the Ebola outbreak. ‘I figured if I needed it, other people would, too,’ she says. Rivers was right. Other researchers began to download the data and contribute to the project.”

Poynter: Facebook referrals are crucial for traffic to hyperpartisan and fake news sites. “Facebook is an important source of traffic for virtually all news outlets in the United States. New data, however, indicates that the social network is a far more important channel for some of the largest hyperpartisan and fake news sites in the country.” This is my shocked face.

What an interesting way to look at it: Has the internet become a failed state? “The Fragile States Index, an annual report published by the US thinktank the Fund for Peace and the magazine Foreign Policy, defines a fragile state as one ‘whose central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations and sharp economic decline’. Some, but not all, of this maps neatly on to cyberspace.” Good morning, Internet…

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