IRS, G Suite, Prisma, More: Friday Buzz, December 2, 2016


The IRS has launched a new tool to provide taxpayers with basic account information and while I think it’s a great idea it makes me really nervous. “This new and secure tool, available on allows taxpayers to view their IRS account balance, which will include the amount they owe for tax, penalties and interest. Taxpayers may also continue to take advantage of the various online payment options available by accessing any of the payment features including: direct pay, pay by card and Online Payment Agreement. As part of the IRS vision for the future taxpayer experience, the IRS anticipates that other capabilities will continue to be added to this platform as they are developed and tested.”


Google has launched a new App Maker for G Suites. “It’s a browser-based platform for building browser-based corporate apps for internal use. And though it has an emphasis on approachable features such as drag-and-drop widgets you can use to rapidly assemble features without writing code, Google has also aimed to give it enough power to tackle fairly meaty development challenges as well as basic ones.”

Prisma and Facebook are having a spat. “Style transfer startup Prisma added support to its iOS app for livestreaming its art filter effects in real-time via Facebook Live earlier this month — but almost immediately the startup’s access to the Live API was cut off by the social media platform giant. It’s a David vs Goliath tale that’s oh–so–familiar in tech.”


Useful stuff from the State Archives of North Carolina: Interpreting the North Carolina World War I Service Cards . “At the time of the War Department’s production of the cards, they created a 13-page list of abbreviations and their meanings as utilized on the cards. The State Archives is posting this list so that the public can understand the service history more completely when they access the online cards. Even with this list of abbreviations, it is still confusing to understand the context of the service history. In the course of my work with the Military Collection at the State Archives, I have had to learn how to interpret the cards’ information accurately, and would like to share a tutorial on using the cards.” The republished list (available as a PDF file) looks really handy for genealogists.

RAPS: Using Twitter as an Intelligence Tool: 85 Accounts Worth Following. “With the rise of president-elect Donald Trump, it’s become abundantly clear that Twitter matters. And it matters not just for politics. For regulatory affairs folks in in the pharmaceutical and medical device spaces, for investors, and even for the regulators themselves, Twitter is a great place to catch the day’s breaking news before the headlines are written.” Minimal annotation but enough.


One wonders what’s going on at Facebook. From The Verge: Mark Zuckerberg’s posts about fake news and the US election briefly disappeared Tuesday. “Two important posts from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his company’s role in the US presidential election and news dissemination disappeared from his timeline on Tuesday morning before being restored shortly before 1PM ET.”

New York Times: While We Weren’t Looking, Snapchat Revolutionized Social Networks. “Though Snapchat has overtaken Twitter in terms of daily users to become one of the most popular social networks in the world, it has not attracted the media attention that the 140-character platform earns, perhaps because journalists and presidential candidates don’t use it very much. Snapchat’s news division has become a popular and innovative source of information for young people, but it is rarely mentioned in the hand-wringing over how social media affected the presidential election.”

From Newsweek: Social Media Offers a Massive Collection of Glorious Corporate Screwups. “In the bursting septic tank that is social media, amid the flow of hoax news and hate speech from accounts with anime avatars and alarming reports of our country’s bleak descent into an autocratic kleptocracy, there’s not much left to enjoy. Still, it retains at least one entertaining utility: as a corporate complaints department. Not because it offers brands a chance to help their grimy customers (who cares?), but because it offers a bountiful public display of corporate screwups.” That was a bit cynical for my taste but the article does give some hints on how to find consumer complaints on social media. Warning: a couple of these pictures are gross. One made me gag.


If you use Firefox and Tor, better patch. “Mozilla and Tor have released patches for Firefox and the Firefox-based Tor Browser to block a live attack aimed at unmasking users of the Tor anonymity network. The patch, which Mozilla released on Wednesday, addresses a Firefox animation remote code execution flaw that on Tuesday was discovered to have been actively exploited to de-anonymize Tor Browser users.”

Hint: do not use the Internet to throw shade on the president of Azerbaijan. “Azerbaijan’s parliament has approved a new law which makes insulting the country’s president on social media a criminal offence. Online defamation was already a crime, but the new law makes specific provisions for the president. Offenders using fake accounts could face a 1,500 manats (£676; $855) fine and up to three years in jail for insults against Ilham Aliyev.”


I don’t watch much sports but this sounds like a book I’d like to read: The Effect Of Social Media On Sports Consumption – New Sports Book, ‘How We Watch Sports’, Released By Sports Analyst And Data Scientist Dan Voicescu (PRESS RELEASE.) “Sports analyst and commentator Dan Voicescu has announced the release of a new book about sports and the media, ‘How We Watch Sports: The Evolution of Fandom and Sports Consumption in the #postinternet Era’. Unlike other sports books, this sports book shows us how social media has changed the way we watch sports.”

EurekAlert: Narcissistic individuals use social media to self-promote. “A new statistical review of 62 studies with over 13,000 individuals found that narcissism has a modest but reliable positive relationship with a range of social media behaviors. The largest effects were with the number of friends/followers narcissists had and frequency of status updates, followed by selfie postings, according to University of Georgia psychology researchers.” Good morning, Internet…

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