Google, US Parks, UCSF Clinical Trials, More: Tuesday Buzz, December 6, 2016


Google has launched a new personal safety app. “Whether it’s hiking alone or walking down a street after dark — sometimes you want to know someone’s got your back. To help you feel safe and give your friends and family peace of mind, today we’re launching Trusted Contacts. This new personal safety app lets you share your location with loved ones in everyday situations and when emergencies arise — even if your phone is offline or you can’t get to it.” Looks like it’s Android-only.

State Scoop has the skinny on an upcoming data repository for park data across the United States. “Next spring, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national open space conservation group, will release a wealth of park data through a new website called ParkServe. The data delivered by the new website is intended to guide cities on placement of new recreation areas, while helping citizens take advantage of local parks.”

The University of California San Francisco has launched a university-specific clinical trials site. “The recently launched website aims to reduce the impact of under-enrollment on hundreds of studies at UCSF. As of Dec. 1, there were 1,330 trials in progress on the UCSF Clinical Trials site. Of these, 666 are open and recruiting participants, including 190 open to pediatric patients under 18 and 82 open to healthy volunteers.”


Several tech companies are teaming up to crack down on terrorist content. “Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube are coming together to help curb the spread of terrorist content online. There is no place for content that promotes terrorism on our hosted consumer services. When alerted, we take swift action against this kind of content in accordance with our respective policies. Starting today, we commit to the creation of a shared industry database of ‘hashes’ — unique digital ‘fingerprints’ — for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images that we have removed from our services.”

The British Fashion Council (BFC) and Google are teaming up. “A new digital educational platform featuring content and stories from top British designers and fashion insiders is now live and available to view for free. The platform has been set up to support the BFC’s Education Foundation and aims to attract future talent into the industry. Content on the platform is comprised of more than 1,000 assets, including 20 multimedia exhibits, 25 videos and three virtual reality experiences, all accessible on desktop, laptop or mobile.”


A crowdsourcing effort is underway to digitize the TV show “Ozark Jubilee”. “The Ozark Jubilee was a live, nationally broadcast country-western variety show originating from the Jewell Theater — ‘the heart of the Ozarks’ — in downtown Springfield from 1955 through 1960. Many country music stars began or advanced their careers by appearing on the Jubilee including Porter Wagoner, Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Johnny Cash, and the Philharmonics. Currently over 60 episodes reside in kinescope form in the University of California, Los Angeles Film and Television Archive. With your help, the we will work with UCLA to digitize and make available all viable episodes on a dedicated YouTube channel.”

Bloomberg Quint: Google Looks for ‘Conservative Outreach’ Manager After Trump Election Win. “For most of Silicon Valley, Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential election win was jarring. Google is using its aftermath to burnish its bona fides in Trump’s political orbit. The Alphabet Inc. unit posted a job listing for a manager of ‘conservative outreach’ on its policy team 10 days after the election. The company is searching for a Washington veteran to ‘tell Google’s story in an elevator or from a podium,’ according to the description on Google’s career website.” Considering how much money Google spends on lobbying, this shouldn’t shock anyone.

Wow, do I feel old: one university is sending college acceptance letters via Snapchat. “It may be time to say goodbye to getting college letters in the mail — or even those sluggish online portals that require you to hit refresh several times before you get the answer. In a first, high school seniors who applied to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will receive acceptances via Snapchat.”

From Poynter: A look at Facebook’s billion dollar 2016 hit on the news ecosystem. “With a little help from advertising analyst Gordon Borrell, I’m estimating that Facebook has sucked well over $1 billion out of print advertising budgets for U.S. newspapers just this year. And that’s at a time when newspapers have seen that figure (once $43 billion a year) fall well below $15 billion.”


From the Bangor (Maine) Daily News: Lawmaker calls for scrutiny of state police use of social media monitoring. “The Maine State Police should explain whether it is using social media to monitor what the public says online, according to a state representative who is calling for a public hearing. A member of the state legislative committee that oversees law enforcement said he could not recall the state police briefing him on its use of Geofeedia, a controversial computer program that monitors public activity on social media. Two law enforcement officers told BDN Portland last week that the Maine State Police has purchased a license for the service.”

Wired: Alexa and Google Home Record What You Say. But What Happens to That Data? “If you got an Amazon Echo or Google Home voice assistant, welcome to a life of luxurious convenience. You’ll be asking for the weather, the news, and your favorite songs without having to poke around on your phone. You’ll be turning off lights and requesting videos from bed. The world is yours. But you know what? That little talking cylinder is always listening to you. And not just listening, but recording and saving many of the things you say. Should you freak out?”


The Guardian: Google ‘must review its search rankings because of rightwing manipulation’. “Google must urgently review its search ranking system because of ‘compelling’ evidence that it is being ‘manipulated and controlled’ by rightwing propagandists, leading academics have said, after the Observer reported that hate sites are now dominating searches on Muslims, Jews, Hitler and women. Cathy O’Neil, a data scientist and the author of Weapons on Math Destruction, said that unless Google acknowledged responsibility for the problem, it would be a ‘co-conspirator’ with the propagandists.” Good morning, Internet…

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